DATE: March 1, 2024

TIME: 11:30 AM

LOCATION: Kensington Country Club – 2700 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples, FL 34109 (map)

We are pleased to announce that Debbie Mathews Finch, Class XXI, has been selected to receive the 2024 Distinguished Leadership Award in recognition of her significant contributions to civic and charitable organizations throughout Naples, Collier, and Lee Counties.

Debbie will be presented the Distinguished Leadership Award on March 1 at 11:30 AM at the Kensington Country Club.
In 2015 Debbie began her service in Naples working with the United Way of Collier County, an organization focused on making an impact on current issues facing residents of Collier County such as: workforce housing, at-risk children, and programs for the poor and undereducated.
Debbie became the Human Resources/Board Partner to the United Way of Collier County bringing her business, board, and human resource consulting skills to United Way and its 40+ partner agencies on a pro bono basis.
She developed a solution for the United Way partner agencies to meet their human resource needs. The response, working with Hodges University’s “Center for Nonprofit Excellence”, created five workshops and delivered training sessions at the “Center for Nonprofit Excellence” for all Collier County and Lee County nonprofits.
In 2016, Debbie joined the United Way Board becoming the chair in 2018. In the time before Hurricane Irma hit, Debbie led the United Way and partnered with the Community Foundation, to develop “Collier Comes Together” This initiative helped many people in the aftermath of the hurricane by securing a $2.7 million grant which provided local funding to:

  • assist CCPS in bringing the internet to Immokalee,
  • provide funds for Grace Place to purchase tools for student learning
  • assist homeowners with hurricane repairs.
Working with the Board Chair of the United Way of the Keys for over a year, Debbie and their Board Chair successfully merged the two United Way organizations for the mutual benefit of Monroe and Collier County residents. They are now known as the United Way of Collier and the Keys.
After serving for several years as a primary Board Consultant and Chair of the Development Committee for Grace Place, Debbie joined the organization’s Board in 2018, at which time she helped the board develop a new Strategic Plan. After a change in leadership at Grace Place, Debbie stepped up and helped run the organization for the next nine months. Debbie was also selected to Chair the Grace Place Governance Committee and is currently serving as Vice Chair with the plan to become Board Chair of Grace Place in 2025.

Since 2015, Debbie has also been integrally involved with the Collier County’s SCORE organization in Naples helping small businesses and startups achieve their goals through business mentoring and training. Her efforts facilitated the connection of the seasoned business mentors at SCORE with the United Way nonprofits who needed help with marketing, finance, accounting, and other issues.
At New Horizons, an after-school tutoring program for “at risk student populations” in Collier and Lee Counties, Debbie has been tutoring and serving on the Board for over eight years. The students are referred to the program by their teachers and churches and with help from volunteers are provided guidance and mentoring including assistance with homework. It is a highly successful program with a 92% graduation rate.
Debbie is also integrally involved with her church Trinity by the Cove, and she has served as a GNL Committee Chair and Board member.
Upon learning of this award Debbie said”

“GNL has provided me with the background, networking, insights, perspectives, and classmates who have given me so much and have helped me in so many ways with my nonprofit Board and Committee assignments.”
Congratulations to Debbie on an honor well deserved!
Please join us for the Distinguished Leadership Award Luncheon on Thursday, March 1st from 11:30am to 1:30pm at Kensington Country Club.  Members should sign-up as soon as possible, using the button, below.  If you are not a member of GNL and wish to attend, please email