FSW Alumna Awarded the APEX Award for Professional Excellence

Kathryn Kelly Kathryn Kelly has spent her life defying gender barriers.

She recently earned the 2014 APEX Award for exceptional women in business and while reflecting on her past she credited Florida SouthWestern State College with helping develop the foundation she needed to conquer the world.

In 1972, Kelly graduated from Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers and was determined to be the first member of her family to earn a college degree, back when FSW was called Edison Community College. She was also determined to study science and pursue a career in medicine.

"Girls just didn't do that back then," she laughed.

Throughout her time at FSW, she took every science class the college had to offer: biology, anatomy and physiology, physics, chemistry, and anything else that had open spots. She was also part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for students enrolled at two-year colleges.

"Edison was a great stepping stone for me, being born and raised in Fort Myers," she said. "I had no one in my family to assist me so I relied heavily on the counselors. If I had gone straight from high school to the University of Florida, I don't know how I would've navigated that."

Although she later transferred to UF and earned a bachelor's degree in architecture, her time at FSW prepared her for that major transition between grade school and higher education.

After working in the architectural field for 20 years, she launched The Heights Foundation to build self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood through education, opportunity, and enrichment. Today, she serves as president and CEO of the foundation, which recently completed construction on a new 14,000-square-foot community center.

Over the years she has maintained a relationship with FSW. Through The Heights Foundation, she invited FSW financial aid advisors for college nights each year to help families make important decisions for their children's education. One of the children involved with the foundation in its early years is now attending FSW's Collegiate High School, an opportunity the child wouldn't have had without the foundation's help, she said.

Kelly is one of the most successful businesswomen in Southwest Florida, helping other young women in the community. She is serving in Rotary Club, Tiger Bay Club of SWFL, on the Board of Trustees at Canterbury School, and has an active role in the Westminster Presbyterian Church. In her spare time, she pursues her own passion of scuba diving and underwater spear fishing.

With as much as she has achieved in her life and as many fond memories she has collected over the years, she'll never forget her time at FSW.

"I have really great memories of being on campus. It was my first time being on a college campus. I loved being there and it set me up for an appreciation of higher education," she said.

Kelly was awarded the 2014 APEX Award from Women in Business and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce on September 20, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. Nominated by their peers, the award recipients are recognized based on professional excellence, leadership and mentoring, and philanthropy in the community.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Florida SouthWestern State College Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Florida SouthWestern State College Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 8099 College Parkway Fort Myers, FL 33919, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to FSW or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to FSW as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to FSW as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and FSW where you agree to make a gift to FSW and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.