Meet some of the women in Cape Coral who contribute to our community through business and philanthropy.
Featured in this article are nine outstanding women of the Cape who have shared with us life events and influences which contributed to their success. These women love what they do. Some realized what they wanted in life early on and set about creating a path to meet their goals. Fate landed others in positions where they discovered skills and talents of which they had been previously unaware. For sure, they have many personal traits in common, but two commonalities stand out in their stories: determination and empathy. In the following pages, we offer you a glimpse into the inspiring lives of our featured women: their exemplary character and professional accomplishment.
Raised by a strong, single mom who always told her, “You can be anything you want to be,” ToniRae Hurley, Vice President and Branch Manager for IBERIA BANK, first wanted to be a teacher; then an attorney. “But,” she mused, “life happened.”
Before moving to Southwest Florida, Hurley worked as small business relations manager at 1st Source Bank in Indiana. “That position allowed me to help other people fulfill their dreams.” She identified with her clients. Her husband had owned a small business. “I knew what kept them up at night,” she said.
When Hurley moved to Cape Coral, in 2004, she opened a branch of Orion Bank (later purchased by IBERIA BANK). She participated in the Chamber’s Leadership Program, an experience she described as “life changing.”
Passionate about community service, Hurley volunteers for many local government and philanthropic organizations including the “cause driven” Giving Alliance of Women.
Diane VanArsdale, Marketing Director for Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group, had been with the company for two years when the real estate market collapsed in 2007. “It was a huge challenge.” She resolved to “step up and show my worth.”
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, VanArsdale was inspired early in life by Dale Carnegie. “I came across one of his books in my brother’s room: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ It changed my life.” Another strong influence has been her mother, who emphasized the importance of being independent. “One of the most gratifying aspects of my job is mentoring the young women who have joined my staff. It’s my way of giving back.”
VanArsdale volunteers on behalf of Ronald McDonald House Charities and Cape Coral Animal Shelter. She enjoys writing and has written a book about “pet friendly” establishments in Southwest Florida.
Tracy VanLandschoot, Branch Manager of Mortgage 1, Inc., is referred to by her team as a “Walking Donation Society.” VanLandschoot explained, “I always give. I have been so blessed.” Her grandmother was her inspiration. “She would give you the shirt off her back.”
VanLandschoot serves on the marketing committee for Ronald McDonald House Charities and as assistant treasurer for Cape Coral Caring Center. She is events co-chair for Royal Palm Coast Realtors Association and is an affiliate member of the Women’s Council of Realtors.
She once wanted to be a teacher. “I interned in a kindergarten class and thought to myself…NO WAY!” Later, she worked at American Express and CNS Bank before joining Mortgage 1.
VanLandschoot and her staff, whom she describes as her “phenomenal team,” helps clients with financing when other attempts have been unsuccessful. “If we can’t do it, no one can!” .
Tiffany Packard, Residential Sales and Commercial Consultant for Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group, had plans when she was in high school, “I wanted to play college softball. That didn’t happen!” In 2004 she graduated from George Mason University’s School of Business Management.
Before changing her career to real estate, Packard worked for Option 1 Mortgage. During the financial crisis, “the job went away overnight.”
Packard says of her employers, Jeff Miloff and Gary Aubuchon, “It’s a breath of fresh air to be aligned with people who do the right thing and who truly care about the community.”
She’s affiliated with the Women’s Council of Realtors and with Women in Business. Philanthropically, she’s passionate about addiction recovery programs. “People suffering from addiction need to know there is a way out.”
Packard’s inspiration throughout life has been her mother who, despite many adversities, “excelled by sheer desire and determination.”
Dianne Young, owner of Diamonds by Dianne, recalls an experience with a customer who came into the store with a family heirloom ring. The woman had four granddaughters and wanted to know if the ring could be for each one.
Dianne suggested, “Why don’t you take each Granddaughter, on separate occasions, to lunch. Afterwards bring her into the Diamonds By Dianne and together, we can teach them about fine jewelry and design options. This way you and your Granddaughter will have a memory and a beautiful sharing experience.
As it turned out, the woman did exactly as Dianne suggested. Each Granddaughter selected a different style for their ring choice and treasured the experience. Grandma with each Granddaughter cried happily at the conclusion of the design experience.
Dianne recently hosted a delightful event at Diamonds by Dianne, which was attended by all of our featured, “Women of the Cape.” She provided the gorgeous jewelry our ladies are seen wearing in the photos. Stop by and meet Dianne and her helpful staff anytime.
Trish Lassiter, Key Account Executive for Lee County Electric Cooperative, moved from upstate New York to Southwest Florida in 1998. “You couldn’t ask for a better place to live! I wanted to soak in the sunshine, admire beautiful palm trees and enjoy the beach,” she said.
Lassiter developed and led the first Key Accounts program for LCEC and cultivated strong partnerships with its top 50 largest commercial customers. She’s been with the company for over 18 years.
Actively involved the community, she is a graduate of Lee County’s and Cape Coral’s leadership programs, and is chair of Cape Coral’s Chamber of Commerce. Her charitable activities include The American Cancer Association, United Way, Habitat for Humanity and The American Heart Association.
Lassiter’s advice to young women making their way in the world, “Follow your passion. Get involved in the community. It makes you feel great!”
Attorney Jennifer Neilson practiced law in Illinois for ten years before moving to Cape Coral and establishing her firm on Del Prado. She concentrates in estate planning, probate, estate administration and real estate.
After six years of growing her practice, she has more time to devote to charitable causes; Cape Coral Caring Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Cape Coral Animal Shelter.
Neilson loves her job. “It involves helping others. When people experience the death of a loved one, are grieving and don’t want to think about practical matters, all they have to do is come in, dump everything on my conference table and leave. I’ll take care of everything.”
Neilson added, “One of my pet peeves is greed.” Coming from a tight knit family with strong work ethics, she strives to protect her clients, when they’re most vulnerable, from attempts to take advantage of them.