November 30, 2023

Here’s Your 2023 Power Couples

9.2 min read| Published On: November 30th, 2023|

By Akers Editorial

Here’s Your 2023 Power Couples

9.2 min read| Published On: November 30th, 2023|

Awesome twosomes. Dynamic duos. Call them whatever you want. When it comes to community service, these married couples deliver a powerful one-two punch. 

Rescued pups transform into red carpet royalty as Chewy models.

Mocha and Royal are a pair of rescue dogs who went from being strays to stealing the spotlight as dog models. Their true journey from rags to riches has led them to stardom as models for Chewy and for America’s Next Top Dog Model. 

In 2014, Royal was rescued from a shelter by his owner Sharon Dodsworth. Sharon’s passion for creating specialized outfits tailored just for Royal was the driving force behind her venture into making handmade dog clothes for her Etsy shop, Royal was a natural when it came to modeling and has won numerous competitions, including the #chasethe98 Nutri Chomps Contest, where his photo was featured on the No.98 Ford Mustang race car driven by Chase Briscoe at the Talladega Speedway in 2019. He was also a finalist in America’s Next Top Dog Model. 

Mocha’s story began three years ago when she was found wandering near the Ocala National Forest by a woman who took her to Sharon’s home, and who provided shelter until the owner could be located.

Mocha’s owner informed Sharon that this wasn’t the first time the dog ran away and that she had been missing for two weeks this time. Sharon told the family she would be happy to re-home her if needed. The family decided that was in Mocha’s best interest. 

Mocha and Royal formed a strong bond, prompting Sharon to explore Mocha’s potential as a dog model alongside Royal.

“She took to it naturally,” Sharon says.

The modeling journey took off for Mocha and Royal. Both made adorable appearances in various local contests and events. Mocha was recognized as a finalist in America’s Next Top Dog Model and recently appeared in Paw Prints Magazine. 

Their journey reached new heights last year when they were selected as models after nailing test shots at the studio of popular online pet supply company Chewy. Both were invited to join the Chewy team as gigs became available. To date, Mocha has been featured in two commercials. 

As the duo continues their trot of fame, Sharon hopes to raise awareness about and inspire people to continue rescuing pets from shelters.

Impacting the community that embraced them.

When David and Andrea Colby moved to Florida seven years ago, they weren’t sorry to leave behind New England winters.

Both natives of Massachusetts, David graduated from Bridgewater State College in 1991 with a management degree, while Andrea earned her bachelor’s in business communications in 1992 from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

Having met in the Berkshires in 1997 on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend, the couple married in 2001. They are the parents of Max, 18, and Madison, 20.

David and Andrea are thrilled to call Florida home.

“When we moved from the Northeast, we found very quickly that the community embraced us,” recalls Andrea. “We’re really happy to be embedded in this community and to watch the growth happen.”

They moved to Clermont in May 2016 after David accepted the job as president and CEO of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce. 

David serves on various boards, including Clermont Main Street and the Clermont Planning and Zoning Board. He also interacts with many non-profit organizations, such as New Beginnings and even participated in their Dancing Under the Stars Gala.

While serving as the communications director for Montverde Academy, Andrea was recruited by Kroger Delivery to help introduce the service to Floridians. She was promoted to customer communications manager for Kroger and works from the Groveland facility managing marketing activity for all eight fulfillment centers nationwide.

Hands-on involvement is important to both David and Andrea, who are committed to impacting their community in positive ways.

“We show up and lend a hand at volunteer efforts like Share Day, which brings together local food pantries,” says David, noting that they recently participated in the Pig on the Pond scholarship fundraiser.

Andrea is very active in the food distribution effort of Kroger’s Zero Hunger/Zero Waste action plan.

When they aren’t working or volunteering, David and Andrea enjoy jet skiing on the Clermont chain of lakes, walking and biking the South Lake Trail and traveling around Florida.

Family time is a priority and the couple is always on the lookout for live music opportunities.

Oxford couple exemplifies power of faith, community and love.

Quentin and Leigh Ann Berry are a match made in heaven. 

The high school sweethearts turned power couple have built their lives on a foundation of love, dedication and mutual support. 

Their journey revolves around an enduring bond based on shared values, genuine admiration and unwavering support for each other’s individual pursuits.

“I know it’s mushy, but I can’t imagine being with anyone else,” Leigh Ann says after revealing that they’ve been married for 24 years.

Quentin says he’s enjoyed growing together and navigating through many chapters, including raising their children Colton and McKenzie. 

“We enjoy our family time, but we’ve always made time for each other, taking vacations and having our date nights. We’re meant to be together,” he adds.

Quentin and Leigh Ann’s compatibility extends beyond their personal lives. They are both business owners who enjoy serving others.

Quentin owns Alpha Environmental Septic Services, which serves Lake, Sumter, Marion, Volusia and surrounding counties by catering to all things related to septic systems, including repairs, lift stations and more.

Leigh Ann owns and operates Prominent Fox Boutique, a charming shop at Preston Place in Oxford that sells stylish women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, western wear, gifts, home décor, ladies jewelry/accessories and Christian-based products.

Leigh Ann says her purpose goes above anything material. She strives to lift people up, especially other women. 

“Sometimes, people are their own worst critics, so I like to remind them that God doesn’t make mistakes, that they are beautiful,” Leigh Ann says.

Quentin and Leigh Ann often extend help and words of hope in times of need.

Their devotion to their businesses is matched only by their commitment to God and community. 

Leigh Ann and Quentin work hard to be good examples to their children. She says they’re confident McKenzie and Colton will be using the same playbook when it comes time for them to take over the family businesses. 

For now, however, they plan to continue to touch lives and use their story as a testament to the power of faith, mutual support, shared values and enduring love. Their hope is that their journey will serve as an inspiration to all those looking to build a life filled with love and success. 

Reveling in the power of communication and connection.

Communication is both a skill and a career for Marc Robertz-Schwartz and Nanci Schwartz.

“We value being ‘connectors.’ Sometimes the power you have is to empower the people around you to want to make a difference,” says Marc.

“We thrive on networking and use our ability to build relationships and to connect people through the relationships we have,” adds Nanci.

Marc hails from New Jersey, while Nanci was born and raised in Miami. Both attended the University of Florida (UF) and earned degrees in telecommunications, but their paths didn’t cross until 1991 when they were working at a Jacksonville TV station.

Their relationship started with a car “break-in.” Nanci had locked her keys in her car at work. Marc assured her he could retrieve them, which he did.

“We started off as great friends and it blossomed from there,” smiles Nanci.

The couple married in 1999. Their daughter Acadia (Cadi), 22, is currently a senior at UF.

Marc is president and founder of Red Apples Media in Leesburg, a video production and marketing company.

Nanci is communications lead at JLL, a global Real Estate firm. Prior to this, she had her own PR agency for 15 years.

Marc is an active member of the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Education Foundation of Lake County. He was recently appointed to the Leesburg Electric Advisory Board and has served on the LifeStream Foundation board. 

Marc is also the PA voice of the Leesburg High School baseball team and is known for emceeing community events, including the Leesburg Area Back-To-School Teachers Appreciation Event and Stepping Out for Education.

Nanci is advisory council chair for Take Stock in Children, as well as a Take Stock student mentor for the past 10 years.

She is also treasurer of the Florida Public Relations Association of Lake County chapter and has served in various leadership roles locally as well as in the statewide organization.

She is a member of Altrusa International of Lake County and has served in various leadership roles in the Lake County club, as well as at the district and international level of this international service organization.

Travel is a passion for the couple who visited Switzerland and Germany this summer. Closer to home, they enjoy checking out Lake County breweries.

Power couple’s relationship worthy of headlines.

In the world of communications, Darryl and Sherri Owens are a true power couple, known not only for successful careers but for their enduring love story that began in journalism class at Howard University.

Sherri recalls her first impression of Darryl as an older student, impeccably dressed in a sweater vest and carrying a briefcase, while most of their peers sported jeans and backpacks. She admits, “I thought he was obnoxious!” 

Fate, however, thought differently. The pair found themselves working at the Washington Afro-American weekly newspaper, where they solidified their connection.

Sherri embarked on her career as a copy editor and page designer at the St. Petersburg Times, now known as the Tampa Bay Times, before moving to the Orlando Sentinel as a reporter. 

Her journey in journalism ultimately led her to corporate communications, where she excelled as an employee communications specialist for Darden Restaurants and subsequently Red Lobster. In 2015, she assumed the role of communications officer for Lake County Schools and was promoted to administrative coordinator for communications in 2021.

Darryl made a name for himself as a reporter and award-winning columnist for The Orlando Sentinel during an impressive 25-year career. In 2016, he transitioned to the role of director of communications at Beacon College, later promoted to associate vice president of communications and engagement. Darryl’s accomplishments include launching the Beacon Salon Speaker Series and the award-winning PBS TV show “A World of Difference: Embracing Neurodiversity.” 

Working in the same industry has allowed Darryl and Sherri to serve as each other’s sounding boards, build connections in the community and empathize with the demands of their roles. Their mutual support system strengthens their individual and collective successes.

Darryl and Sherri’s secret to a happy and healthy marriage is twofold: keeping their faith at the center; and never ceasing to date each other. Darryl, in particular, is known for keeping the romance alive with creative and thoughtful date nights. Their shared love for theater, Postmodern Jukebox and board games add extra flavor to their relationship.

The Owenses have two children, Kelli and Brian, and a recent addition, their granddaughter Marli Jade, born in September. With family at the heart of their lives, Darryl and Sherri continue to inspire those around them, both personally and professionally.

Eustis couple rewriting script on health and wellness.

Scott and Marisol Starr, the epitome of a power couple, have seamlessly blended their passions for health and wellness to create a fitness haven for their community. 

Their journey began more than 20 years ago when they crossed paths while working for the same company. They married, became parents to daughter Camila Mojica and maintained their corporate jobs, while longing to do something to enhance the lives of others.

In pondering ideas, they discovered their mutual fascination with the world of fitness. Scott, a former collegiate soccer player, dreamed of opening a gym, while Marisol aimed to guide individuals, particularly the younger generation, toward healthier lives. 

“We combined our two passions and created CrossFit CIC. That was 13 years ago. Then, about five years in, we changed our branding to Starr.Fit because we realized that it was not just exercise that was important, but also nutrition, understanding the importance of sleep, managing stress and incorporating more of the health and wellness aspect into it,” Scott says. 

Marisol explains that their goal was to create a fun, friendly and safe space where people could focus on total health, including mind, body and spirit.

“That’s how this thing became bigger than us. It became a second home to our community made up of our members,” Marisol says. 

Today, Starr.Fit, located in downtown Eustis, offers coach-led group fitness classes tailored to individual capabilities that go beyond traditional workout routines, addressing injuries and posture issues, hormone wellness and functional fitness.

Marisol leads the Inbody program, which emphasizes the importance of personalized health and nutrition. 

“It’s not just about what you eat, but how you eat, shifting the focus from weight to overall health,” she says.

Their comprehensive approach to health covers physical fitness, nutrition, sleep and stress management. They emphasize the “why” behind fitness routines, aiming to make health a lifelong journey that includes fun and a strong support system. 

“We want to help people extend their lives, using fitness as a catalyst for achieving optimal health,” Scott adds.

Additionally, Marisol’s passion for educating the next generation extends to providing tools for financial success, emphasizing the connection between health, work and financial stability.

“Witnessing people become healthier and happier” is the Starrs’ ultimate reward. They continue to champion well-being, one wellness class at a time, leaving an inspirational impact on the community.

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