An overflowing crowd in the historic Stone House Ballroom heard David A. Marley Jr., a veteran of the financial services industry and a dedicated Deering Estate Foundation board member, become installed as the 12th president for the term 2014-15. Out-going president Eric Haas received well-deserved gratitude for his motivational leadership and many accomplishments during his tenure. Rounding out Marley’s Executive Committee are vice president Buff March- Bye, treasurer Vicki Simmons-Hinz and secretary Liede DeValdivielso. New to the board of directors are Mark Boulris, Leo Lagomasino, Marco Lopez and JoAnn Szaro. Joining the ranks of Trustees are Karl Wulf and David Turner. All will be working with Mary Pettit, executive director of the Deering Estate Foundation. Jack Kardys, director of Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, congratulated the group and said, “the estate is a benchmark for the great programs on the environment, historic preservation and education, and serves as an example for the rest of the park system.” Following the installations were the award presentations honoring Champion Partners in the community. The 2013 Champion Partner Award honorees are: Preservation Partner – Mrs. Charles Deering (C.D.) McCormick, for her generosity in helping to establish a Preservation Fund dedicated to the care and upkeep of the historic homes and outbuildings. Programming Partner – GroveHouse Artists and Barbara Tejada for their part in creating today’s thriving Artist Village and the annual Affair En Plein Air, a two-day outdoor painting event. Educational Partner – Rev. Marta Weeks-Wulf for her advocacy of academics and her philanthropy supporting the development and implementation of Deering’s model NESTT program — Nurturing Environmental Stewards of Today and Tomorrow — pairing Nature- Center-to-School for hands-on science learning and educational enrichment. Now in its third year, NESTT program students at partnering Perrine Elementary Academy of the Arts have seen their test scores dramatically improve, while their love for learning and understanding of the natural world around them soars. Community Partner – Palmetto Bay Village Center for its dedication to advancing the arts and environmental education in South Miami-Dade and for being an outstanding neighbor and collaborating partner of the estate. Corporate Partner – Coconut Grove Bank for its appreciation for preserving South Florida’s history and for its advocacy and investment of time and resources to assist the foundation in meeting its goals. Champion Partner – Suzuyo Fox for her inspiring passion for and support of the Deering Estate, and for creating the 100 Ladies of Deering. Volunteer(s) of the Year – Daneri Gay, “Miss Gigi,” as a coach, mentor, friend and confidante for the students in the NESTT program, and John Pettit for his overwhelming dedication to the staff and special event committees as their “on-call troubleshooting expert and go-to guy” who always answers their call for practical hands-on solutions, repairs and even a good joke when needed. For more information on getting involved and becoming a Deering Estate Foundation member, call 305-235-1668, ext. 253.