Board of Directors List


Chairwoman - Maria Hidalgo-Diaz

Community Relations Representative, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care

First Vice Chair – Bob Kovacevich, MA

Bob Kovacevich, DirectorBob Kovacevich graduated from the Boston College School of Business Administration and has worked internationally in the nonprofit sector in the areas of  research, planning and fund raising since 1968.  He is a founding  Visit for more information. member and officer of The Association of Philanthropic Counsel and Principal of AVATAR Company, an international consultancy that provides market research, strategic planning and fund raising services to all types of nonprofit organizations.
Education and Training

• Boston College – Graduate of the School of Business, Marketing
• Antioch College – Strategic Planning and Resource Development for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)
• New York Theatre Communication Group Inc. – Audience Development and Marketing
• American Council for the Arts Conferences (80 hours) – Resource Development
• Public Broadcasting Service Conferences (450 hours) – Resource Development, Strategic Planning, Market Research, Membership, Deferred Giving, Capital and Endowment Campaign Administration
• National Public Radio Conferences (320 hours) – Resource Development
• Conrad Teitell and John Brown Seminars (52 hours) – Planned Giving
• American Association of Museums Conferences (80 hours) – Resource Development
• International NSFRE Conferences (240 hours) – Resource Development
• Statistical Research Institute Seminars (20 hours) – Market Research and Analysis
Experience and Skills
Years of Experience

25 Developed volunteer structures for major fund raising programs
25 Designed and conducted annual gift programs
18 Designed and conducted deferred programs
25 Designed and managed major donor programs
18 Designed and conducted capital/endowment campaign programs
20 Prepared proposals and grants for corporate/foundation prospects
29 Designed and managed special events
23 Designed campaign case statements and other fund raising materials
10 Conducted government relations programs
15 Designed fund raising information management software
29 Conducted market research, feasibility studies and management audits
20 Conducted strategic planning initiatives
20 Managed publicity and promotion programs
18 Developed and managed membership programs
Other Related Experiences include:
• Association of Philanthropic Counsel, Founding Board Member
• National Society of Fund Raising Executives, Central FL Chapter, Past President
• National Society of Fund Raising Executives, Former National Board Member
• American Assn of Museums, National Development Committee Former Member
• C.A.R.E., Former State of Florida Advisory Board Member
• Holocaust Memorial and Educational Resource Center, Former Board Member
Awards and Distinctions
• Founding member of The Association of Philanthropic Counsel, a national organization supporting ethical and distinguished service to the nonprofit sector
• Recently invited to become a member of AAFRC American Association of Fundraising Consultants
• AVATAR Company has been evaluated and has received the endorsement of Consultants OnTap an online referral service funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation
• Listed in Contributions magazine’s Who’s Who of National Fund Rasing Firms/Consultants
• Provided commentary on National Public Radio, WMFE-FM, regarding nonprofit organization management, research, planning and fund raising
• Published in Contributions magazines fund raising book, “100 Mistakes”
• Published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and other national and regional publications
• Recognized for United Arts Fund Advancement: American Council for the Arts
• Recognized for government relations work with the Florida State Legislature
• Counseled clients in awarded Institute of Museum Services Grants
• Prepared awarded facility expansion grants for capital campaigns through the State of Florida Department of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council
• Received national awards for general resource development programs from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (NPR)
• Received national awards for deferred giving program development from NPR
• Received national awards for special events program development from NPR
• Received national awards for program underwriting initiatives from NPR
Projects funded and/or provides counsel to Institute of Museum Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Cultural Affairs State of Florida, West Virginia Department of Cultural and History, Sheila Ryan Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, Farago Foundation, ISTEA Funding-Department of Transportation, Kresge Foundation and others

Second Vice Chair - Naomi Wright

Naomi Wright is Principal of The Lady Speaks a firm specializing in management assistance, networking and personal development.  She was the Public Relations Director for Pro Player Stadium and also served over 15th years with Jefferson-Pilot Communications Company. Mrs. Wright-Warren also served as the director of public affairs for radio stations 101.5 LITE FM, Magic 102.7 FM and WAXY AM-790. Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Naomi brings the principles of that brotherly love to her efforts here in South Florida. She serves on several boards, committees and youth projects. Among those are: Miami Dade Citizens Transportation Task Force Nominating Committee, Citizens Crime Watch, Youth Crime Watch, North Dade Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vision to Victory Human Services, Rotary Club of North Dade, and Victim Services Center. Naomi coordinated the KAPOW program – Kids and the Power of Work. She has been a mentor, and was the spokesperson for a television series with the Dade County Alliance Against Domestic Violence. She was an active member of the National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs. Naomi recently served three years as president of the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Inc. and now serves as vice chairman.

Secretary - Alyce Zahniser

Alyce Zahniser started her career 25 years ago as the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity director for the Miami-Dade County Transit Administration.

“That was the beginning of my construction and civil rights and procurement – and working with minorities and women,” she said. The county was looking for someone to write an Affirmative Action plan for the project.
“I didn’t know anything about civil rights as a profession,” she said. “I had 10 months to have a plan accepted by the federal government, or they threatened to shut down this billion-dollar metro rail.

“I got very immersed into civil rights because it was not only external with the contracts but internal for employees,” Zahniser continued. “That’s how it got started.”

Meeting quotas set for women in construction wasn’t easy then, she said. “There was a very large disparity with women. I looked all over Florida to increase women engineers on the project, and I had to go to Texas to find a woman engineer to work on the project with us.
“It was a tremendous amount of pressure for me, too,” Zahniser said. “I didn’t have a legal background or a civil rights background, at the time. I had a paratransit, more technical/financial background. But I learned real quick.”
Zahniser’s work to help women and minorities in the industry didn’t stop there.
After work on Miami and Atlanta’s transportation systems, she moved on to the Tri-County Rail Authority of Pompano Beach and the city of Fort Lauderdale as minority business coordinator/EEO officer. Since 2002, she has been director of diversity development at James A. Cummings Inc. There, she has overseen compliance on more than $300 million in projects and coordinated diversity outreach.
For Zahniser, seeing the success and growth of women and minorities in the industry is important.
“I love being a facilitator or trainer conducting workshops helping people grow into their success,” she said. Part of facilitating that success involves breaking down stereotypes about work in the construction business.

“In construction, people think it’s just hard hats and steel-toed shoes,” she said. But there’s more – there’s real estate, supplies and services, to name a few.

“It’s multifaceted. Many people, especially women, don’t see it as an opportunity for them to be in construction,” Zahniser said. “So, I love being able to change their view and help them or help the industry bring more women into the profession.”
Now, Zahniser is starting to look beyond the region.

“I see myself doing more work on a global level,” she said. “Reaching out to more companies through organizations or through board memberships.”
Zahniser said she plans to work with more organizations to reach more people – and to continue informing people on how they can form a business plan, properly run a business and, ultimately, find success. She’s already doing some of this work through the Kellogg Foundation as a certified business facilitator.
“Florida is one of the leading states in failure of small business,” she explained. “So, it’s very important when someone is in business to know how to be successful.”
She also plans to increase her involvement in mentor/protege programs – not surprising for a woman who has helped more than 100 others earn Women in Business Enterprise certification.

And Zahniser – a former chapter president of the National Association of Women in Construction, chair of the Broward Alliance minority/women committee and founding member of Womens Council of Commerce – said this sort of support is what is most needed.

“I’d say that the support system for women, by and with other women, is not always there. I think that women are sometimes their own worst enemies, instead of helping or lending a hand to other women in their careers,” she said.

“I think that’s really a shame and sad that even to this day, women are not able to see that we need to help each other.”

Immediate Past Chairman - Dr. Barry N. Burak, Affiliated Healthcare Centers in Florida

Barry Burak is a Chiropractor and Principal of Affiliated Healthcare Centers in Florida.  The Medical Practice specialized in Chiropractic care, Acupuncture, Massage, TMJ Dentistry, and Oriental Medicine.  He is a well know philanthropist and a community activist.  He is active with many nonprofits in the South Florida Area and has generously raised funds for very important causes.  In 2003 he hosted a progressive dinner at his residence as part of the annual nonprofit conference.  Dr. Burak has served on the FANO board since 2002.

General Counsel - MICHAEL KOSNITZKY, Boies, Schiller and Flexner, LLP

Treasurer - MICHAEL J. ROBBINS, Robbins and Landino, PA

Mike Robbins is a partner of the Fort Lauderdale accounting firm, Robbins and Landino, P.A.; He specializes in accounting procedures, audits, budgets, grant reporting and special projects for nonprofit organizations. Clients include: Baxter Group Homes, Miami City Ballet and the Museum of Science and Discovery. Mr. Robbins is a Past Chairman of the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations (FANO) he also served as Treasurer.


Marina Pavlov is the President CEO of the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Inc. (FANO), a statewide resource center for Florida’s 45,000 nonprofit organizations. She helped with the organizing efforts in 1990 and 1991. Under her direction FANO publishes a FANO newsletter now in electronic form called “WZ New” for over fifteen years, conducts the Florida Certificate in Nonprofit Management in association with Nova Southeastern University and CEU credits from Broward Community College (since 1995), convenes an annual Florida Nonprofit Conferences throughout the State (16th annual was held May 9-11, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale) and helps influence legislation that benefits all nonprofits in Florida. FANO’s financial training was originally funded by the John S. and James L Knight Foundation and became a national model. Ms. Pavlov received her BFA degree in sculpture from Florida Atlantic University and a MS degree in Education from Florida International University.  She also attended Rutgers University, University of Miami and University of Virginia for both graduate and undergraduate studies. Prior to FANO, Marina was Executive Director of a 1000 member artist organization, with programs including gallery, art school and art festivals. Marina specializes in organizational development.  Under her leadership she has successfully advocated for an overall change in Florida nonprofit sales tax exemption.  Federally she coordinated activities on the Charitable Giving Tax Exemption, the CARE Act, and the Istook Amendment. Over the years, Marina has done extensive fundraising, including capital campaign, direct mail, membership drives, auctions and many special events.  She can be contacted at the FANO office 305.557.1764, for more on FANO go to

Advisory Committee

Past Chairwoman - Rep. John Cosgrove, Esq. (deceased)

Bob Gilbertson, YMCA


Ted Granger, United Way of Florida

Vince Lopez, AT&T


Dennis Pastrana, Goodwill Industries

Michael Sittig, Florida League of Cities

Judge Edward P. Swan, Barry University


Michael Robbins, Robbins and Landino, PA

Founder - Russ H. Marchner, FANO Secretary and Chair Emeritus (deceased)

Russ Marchner is retired and the principal of Local Government, Inc., is a public relations firm, which specializes in organization administration and lobbying.

In addition to regular consulting services and publicity operation, LGI represents clients in various capacities on local, state and national levels. Its principles are registered lobbyists with the Florida Senate, House and Cabinet in Tallahassee, and has represented clients on a regular basis before various state officials and agencies. Mr. Marchner as been a lobbyist registered with Metropolitan Dade County, City of Miami and City of Hialeah.

Mr. Marchner is Executive Director Emeritus of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities, Inc. In addition to cities, the League includes representatives from the Miami-Dade County School Board and Metropolitan Dade County in its membership. He is also associated with the Florida League of Cities, Inc and is the founder of the Gold Coast League of Cities, which includes Leagues of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

He is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations which enhances the operations and administration of Florida’s more than 42,000 nonprofit organizations.

Prior to establishing his own Public Relations Firm he served as a general assignment and suburban reporter for the Miami Herald. He also worked for the Wall Street Journal, Plainfield Courier News, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Russ Marchner received a Masters Degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, New York, and a Bachelors Degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He served in the 902 detachment of the Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Army.

He is Past Chairman of both Keep Dade Beautiful, and the YMCA. He is active in various committees of the Florida League of Cities & National League of Cities, civic groups, church and youth activities.

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the death of our Founder Russ Marchner


October 10, 2011                                                     Contact: Marina Pavlov 954.540.6118

Re: Born in the Great Depression on 3/8/30 Russ Marchner Executive Director Emeritus of the Miami Dade County League of Cities dies in the Great Recession on 9/25/11.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Fort Lauderdale: Russell Hugh John Marchner, M.A. award winning statesman, Miami Herald investigative reporter, executive director emeritus Miami-Dade County League of Cities, and founder of Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations, died at the age of 81 on September 25, 2011 with his wife, Marina Pavlov, at his side.

Born with a Gift:  In the middle of the Great Depression, Russell Hugh John Marchner (Russ) was born, Saturday, March 8, 1930, to George John and Lucy Juliana Memmel Marchner in Irondequoit, NY, a suburb of Rochester.  Always precocious, Russ learned the value of music, sports and school at an early age.  As a musician he was appointed as Marching Band Major, First trumpet in the High School Band, Lead in the regional traveling minstrel show trio and a member of the University Band.  As a baseball player and avid fan, Major League scores were a daily staple for 70 plus years starting at age 4 when his Uncle Rudy taught him to play.  Even on the last days of his life he enjoyed watching the Marlins and the Cardinals on a big screen TV. Russ led his high school and was elected class vice president and edited the school newspaper.  He was educated by the Jesuits at John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio, where he also managed football ticket sales; at the same time student Don Shula, future NFL Hall of Fame coach, was a defensive back.  In 1955 Russ earned a masters degree from New York’s Columbia University School of Journalism, preparing him for his dream career as a sports reporter; instead however, he played “tackle football” with local politicians.  His newspaper stories integrated the beaches of Florida, jailed a crooked sheriff and “suspect” State Attorney and shook up accounting procedures at City Hall.  In Russ’s own words, “I must have done a good job because I was sued twice for libel and beat both of them.”

War and Justice: The Korean War set the stage for Russ’s journalism career.   After basic training, he served in the Army’s prestigious CIC (Counter Intelligence Corps processor of the CIA) in a top security post performing special duties and espionage-type assignments.  That training served him well as a reporter Russ managed to be “in the middle of all the action” at the: Wall Street Journal, Plainfield (NJ) Courier News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Palm Beach County bureau and later city desk of the Miami Herald  While in the 2 person bureau of Palm Beach County, also dubbed by many as “the Wild West of the South”, Russ was “center stage” in the courtroom of Florida Judge Curtis Chillingworth, on the day the judge failed to show up. As a rooky reporter Russ was on the scene covering this nationally publicized manhunt starting from the Judge’s Manalapan home, where it was first discovered that Judge and his wife Marjorie were dragged into the sea. The bodies were never found but four-years later three culprits including Judge Peal were sent to prison.

Then at a time when segregation was still the norm at most beaches, Russ wrote a story and quoted a County Commissioner announcing the Palm Beach beaches were “NOT segregated”. Russ was center stage again for the “black versus white standoff” on the beach the next day.  It was during this time that Russ began a lifelong friendship with fellow activist and young civil rights attorney Claude Pepper, who later became Senator and US Representative.

Finally, while covering the city beat in North Miami Beach, Russ wrote a series of investigative reports which resulted in jail time for the local solicitor and earned Russ a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize nomination; supported city editor Al Neuharth founder USA Today and managing editor George H. Beebe who hired Russ when he knocked on his private Waldorf Astoria Hotel room and brazenly applied for a job.

Power of the Pen: Russ’s articles often hit the AP wire.  After one of those incidences on “fixing tickets”, the city of Hialeah realized it was better to be on Marchner’s team than the alternative.  Russ agreed and accepted the newly-created position of Public Relations Director of Hialeah under the Leadership of Mayor Henry Millender which lasted 21 years.  Russ was a master at creating publicity, giving Hialeah national and international prominence which helped make Hialeah one of the fastest growing communities in the Nation. To that end, he helped position the city’s interest in Hialeah Race Track and appeared in Guinness Book of World Records for organizing the largest Hula Hoop contest in 1973.

For the next 50 plus years Russ specialized in public relations.  He founded Russ Marchner & Associates, and became a registered state and local lobbyist, testifying regularly before the Senate, House and Cabinet in Tallahassee, Metropolitan Dade County and Broward County.  Clients were: Miami Springs, Opa-Locka, Key Biscayne, Miami, Port of Miami, Municipal Code Corporation, International Longshoremen’s Association, Avis Car Rental, Industrial Association of Dade County (IADC – Executive Secretary); National Association of Industrial Office Parks (NAIOP – Government Relations Director), and Real Estate Action Committee of Dade (REACD – Founder).

His main client was the Miami-Dade County League of Cities.  During his tenure of 41 years as Executive Director of the League, Russ stopped the County from incorporating all existing cities into a single metropolitan government.  He became the voice to retain the rights of cities and fought off challenges year after year by the County and the State protecting the citizens living in municipalities. Under his direction he raised $1 million in startup funds for both Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers and the Homeless Trust through the League membership. In 2005, he was honored by resolution with the perpetual status of “Executive Director Emeritus” of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities allowing his legacy to continue serving the “greater good”.

Legacy of the Heart: Underlying all of Russ’s success was his generosity, good will and sense of community.  As a young humanitarian Russ worked with his like-minded father in the apple-drying business to feed the hungry in Germany during the European depression.

He organized and founded: Gold Coast League of Cities, Municipal Tourism Crime Task Force, Local Government Hurricane Andrew Emergency Response, Earthquake Relieve in Managua, and the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations (FANO now serves 54,000 nonprofits in Florida).  Under his leadership and grassroots lobbying a joint resolution of the 1991 Nonprofit Bill of Rights and 2001’s restructured qualification of Nonprofit Sales Tax Exemption was achieved.  He also serve as Chairman of both Keep Dade Beautiful and the Hialeah YMCA

To honor his public service contributions he was awarded: National League of Cities Don Stutz Municipal Government Employee of the Year Award, Art Guild Volunteer of the Year Award, Bill Held Tribute for Government Service, Florida League of Cities Resolution Recognition of Service, 911 Starter Award for founding the widely used emergency system, DOT Appreciation for I-95 Completion, Census 2010 Appreciation, North Miami appreciation for legislation mandating equitable treatment of Haitian immigrants, and Generous Contributions to Summit of the Americas from President Bill Clinton.  Russ was also presented with the key to the Cities of North Miami, North Bay Village and Hialeah.

In 2004, The Russ Marchner Outstanding Municipal Official Service Award was created. Subsequently, the Russ Marchner Award has been presented to seven honorees whose work carries on his legacy. Russ had a personal relationship with 8 Florida Governors and thousands of local government officials which established his reputation as the father of local government in Miami-Dade County.

Memorial: In keeping with his love of life and his ever-present sense of humor, a New Orleans-style memorial service to celebrate the life of Russ Marchner will be held ar 2pm on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, 33134.  Please call 954.522.0477 for more information. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Russ Marchner Education Foundation.


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