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Pauline Wamsler, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Presented by Gulf Coast Community Foundation September 2, 2020

Pauline Wamsler’s roots run deep in Sarasota County. She honors that legacy by making her own mark here in the same spirit of leadership and philanthropy as her forebears.

Wamsler is the great-great-granddaughter of Bertha Honoré Palmer, the visionary “Grande Dame” of Chicago who became a real estate and agricultural pioneer here, forever transforming the Sarasota area. Land that Palmer once owned includes Myakka River State Park, Historic Spanish Point, and much more.

With her own acumen in real estate and appreciation for heritage and environmental conservation, Wamsler co-founded Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, the go-to partner for preserving natural lands in our region. She also chairs the Board of Trustees of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, a local treasure as well as a world leader in the study of orchids and bromeliads. The Gardens’ recent acquisition of Historic Spanish Point—Bertha Palmer’s onetime home—under Wamsler’s Board leadership is the stuff of history in its own right.

At Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Wamsler serves as the longest-tenured member of the Board and co-chairs its Finance Committee. She is also a director of Gulf Coast Strategic Investments, which stewards gifts of real estate and other assets to support the foundation’s mission.

The proud parent of a blended family of six children, Wamsler respects her lineage of strong, adventurous women, and believes she has big shoes to fill. From the marriage of Selby Gardens and Spanish Point to the conservation wins of the Conservation Foundation to the regional leadership of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, it seems she already has. Most importantly, her family agrees.


  • Co-founded Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, which has protected 18,000 acres across 45 properties in Southwest Florida
  • Seven-year Board member of Gulf Coast Community Foundation
  • Board Chair of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens during adoption of Historic Spanish Point
  • Co-chair of The Campaign for Selby Gardens
  • Devoted parent to six children and stepchildren
  • Completed more than 20 half marathons

Gulf Coast Community Foundation
(941) 486-4600