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State President

2021-2022 FSEA President: Susan "Suzi" Simonelli

Susan (Suzi) comes from an extended Elks family. Her mother, Betty Tewksbury, PDD, has been an Elk for 23 years and sponsored her when she joined the Stuart-Jensen Elks Lodge. Her stepfather, Harold Tewksbury, PER, was the charter Exalted Ruler of Skowhegan-Madison Lodge #2531 in Maine, and he was an Elk for 45 years until he passed in January of 2016.

Suzi was initiated into the Elks on May 20, 2002. She has served her Lodge as Secretary, and Leading Knight. She is a 3-time Past Exalter Ruler and has served as a Lodge Trustee. She was named the Lodge Citizen of the Year for 2004-05, Officer of the Year for 2007-08, and Elk of the year for 2012-13. Her lodge also bestowed upon her an Honorary Life Membership in January of 2012. Suzi has served on numerous Lodge committees including the House Committee as its chairman, and in 2012 she was presented with a U.S. Presidential Call to Service Award.

On the District and State level she served as the District Drug Trailer Manager and the District Chair of the Drug Awareness & Education Committee both for 5 years. She served as the Vice Chair of the Officer Attendance Committee in 2011-12. She was elected District Vice President for the Southeast Central District for 2012-13, and she served as the District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler in 2013-14.

Suzi chaired and coordinated two state president’s demonstration/celebration parades and she served as the State Chair for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund Committee in 2014-15 where she helped the state surpass the State President’s fundraising goal of $750k by raising $777,495.

Suzi served as the State Membership Chairman for three years and participated in the 2016 & 2017 FSEA Officer Training Seminars speaking on Membership. She served six years on the Florida Elks Youth Camp Board of Directors, two of those as its President. She was appointed State Chaplain for the year 2016-17 and she and Joey served on “Team Harris” State President John Harris’ Hospitality Team.

She was named the Florida State Elks Association’s Elk of the Year at the 2015 State Convention in Orlando. She was Elected State Vice President at Large (VPAL) for 2020-21 and at the 2020 Mid-Year Convention in Tampa Suzi was Endorsed by the PSP Advisory Committee to serve as State President for the 2021-22 Elks Year.

Suzi was born in Waterville Maine on September 23, 1966. She was educated in Maine schools and graduated from Thomas College in 1986 with a degree in retail management. After college Suzi held management positions with K-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, and All East Enterprises before moving to Florida in 1993. Suzi then dedicated the next twelve years to raising her son Tony. During that time, she served as PTA President and received a Martin County Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with the Public-School System. For 25 years she participated at many levels in the Boy Scouts of America serving from Den Mother to Susan “Suzi” Simonelli Florida State Elks President’s Program 2021-2022 5 Assistant Scout Master and Chartered Organizational Representative. She earned many top Scouting awards and in July of 2005 she traveled to the Grand Lodge Convention in Reno, NV where she was awarded The Marvin M. Lewis Award for her dedication to both the Boy Scouts of America and the Order of Elks.

She and Joey have been married for 12 years. Joey is a 24-year Elk and is a Past Exalted Ruler of Stuart-Jensen Lodge. He currently serves his Lodge as a Trustee. Suzi & Joey belong to the Stuart Congregational Church and they enjoy cruising, golf, bowling, and camping in their RV. Suzi’s son’s name is Tony Gordon. Tony graduated from the University of South Florida with 2 degrees Criminology and Marketing. He is an Eagle Scout, he has been an Elk for 6 years and he lives in Lutz, FL.

Motto:  "Teamwork Makes Elkdom Shine”

Definition of Teamwork:

The process of working collaboratively with a group of people to achieve a goal! If we work together as a TEAM, we can make Florida Elkdom Shine!

Major Emphasis: Membership!

Membership...Membership...Membership! It is vital to have a strong Membership TEAM in your Lodge to help us to continue to GROW! The Elks have been around for 153 years giving back to our communities, helping our youth, and honoring our Veterans and First Responders!Here in Florida, we have 55K+ Elks on our TEAM. As Past State President Carl Gerace once said, “That’s an Army of doing good”. However, we need to continue to GROW our teams because everyone plays such a vital part! If you have well planned activities, solid programs and active committees in your Lodge, your Membership will GROW!

Did you know at one time back in the late 80’s early 90’s we had over 90,000 members! I say let us get a true Membership gain in Florida and hit 100K members once again! I am challenging everyone to just sponsor ONE new Member or work to reinstate just ONE Member! Who is with me?

The Grand Exalted Ruler’s Membership Pin is earned after bringing in 3 new or reinstated Elks! The Lodge Secretary is responsible for verifying the information and sending to Grand Lodge. If we all work as a TEAM to sponsor just ONE new member, or invite someone back to be reinstated, our Membership will GROW.

You need to ASK new members to get involved. People join our Order for something to do. Mentor them, encourage them to bring in their friends to see what we do as Elks!

Here are a few things that will help your Membership GROW in your Lodge:

1 – If you strengthen your youth programs – Your Membership will GROW!
2 – If your active in your community – Your Membership will GROW!
3 – If you have well planned Lodge activities – Your Membership will GROW!
4 – If you have a solid Veteran’s program in your Lodge – Your Membership will GROW!
5 – If you have an active Lapsation committee making calls – Your Membership will GROW!
6 – If you publicize your charitable works – Your Membership will GROW!
7 – If you have an ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP committee in your Lodge – Your Membership will GROW!

If you have a TEAM minded attitude and everyone is working together, you will achieve your goals and GROW your Membership! Above are just a few things that will help your TEAM! I often think of PSP Dan Tabor, and how he became an Elk. His kids were in the Hoop Shoot program, was invited back to the lodge for the youth banquet, spoke to a member who informed him about the ENF scholarships, and he got very interested and JOINED our great order, and now he’s a Past State President of our great State Association! So, you never know where a Member may be waiting and what they can accomplish.

A little history about our Membership, a few years back then State Membership Chairman Don Moon started a great membership foundation trying to figure out why we were losing so many members. He with a few others, traveled around the state, talking to Members as they visited Lodges! They found that most leaving our Order were members 3 years or less, as no one contacted them, and they felt unwelcomed or were not asked to get involved. Visit the FSEA website for our “Membership Development Guide”, that was compiled by our Membership Liaison team to help us keep the members we have while welcoming new ones! www.floridaelks.org (Under Reference Materials; choose “Membership Development Guide”)

We need to strive as a TEAM to work a little harder to retain our Members. I feel the key is to get them involved right away with a little something to do, along with a good solid orientation program! Our State Chairman of Membership, Rick Wright, PER, from the Warrington Lodge #2108, will be communicating with his State Membership committee on helping us to work on retaining our Members, while attracting new ones! The Grand Lodge Membership Tool Kit on the Grand Lodge webpage is also full of information to help us recruit and retain our Members! www.elks.org (Under Members Only, drop down to Membership Toolkit”).

If we have a strong Membership TEAM in our Lodges, we can continue to grow our great Order so we can be here for generations to come to continue to help our youth, strengthen our communities and especially help and support our Veterans and First Responders! With active Members, everything else will fall into place and our Lodges will flourish and grow! Last year, PSP Rudy Masi, Sr.’s motto was “Florida Elks – Warm, Friendly and Active”. If we build from there with a TEAM minded attitude, we will GROW!

An active Membership TEAM will make Florida Elkdom Shine!