Tag Archives: board members

Suzanne McAlpine – From the Courtroom to the Ballroom

From the Courtroom to the Ballroom

by Carolyn Pitt

Suzanne McAlpine - Social Chair Wine Tasters of NaplesSuzanne McAlpine, Wine Tasters of Naples’ former social chair, has transformed a successful professional life in Connecticut into enjoying retirement in southwest Florida. Ballroom dancing has become a passion. She can also be found at exercise classes, especially water aerobics, playing golf, or watching football and baseball on TV.

Suzy originally hails from Gary, Indiana, and met her husband while in college. His successful career in sales caused the young family to relocate periodically. While living in California, Suzy was able to complete an M.S. degree in psychology at California State University Long Beach. Years later and recently divorced, she obtained a law degree from the Quinnipiac University School of Law, and entered private practice where she was active in criminal defense work for nine years. This led to her decision to join the Psychiatric Defense Unit within the Public Defender’s office. Located on the grounds of the state psychiatric facility, she represented people found not guilty of criminal behavior on terms of having mental disease. Her rationale for this career choice is clear: everyone is entitled to the best defense and it was her role to support the Constitution. She was also an adjunct instructor at Quinnipiac University where she taught Legal Research and Writing. Her involvement with the Board of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, for whom she organized large events, prepared her for her current responsibility as Social Chair for Wine Tasters of Naples.

Suzy has two sons of whom she is proud. Her older son earned a doctorate in physical chemistry and is now a research professor at the University of Minnesota. His research in nanotechnology has placed him on the cover of the New York Times Magazine and in Time magazine. Currently he is involved with 3D printing. Her younger son is a production manager in the animation department for The Simpsons, America’s longest running animated TV show.

What does Suzy anticipate for her future? More dancing. Traveling, with Ireland and Greece on top of her bucket list. Planning more social activities for Wine Tasters of Naples such as the recent dinner at the Bleu Provence and the dancing lesson at Dancing with Marcia, and other events which include the Holiday Trolley Tour and the Tenth Anniversary Celebration – a sunset cruise aboard the Naples Princess on February 23, 2018.


Sherri Weidman – Our President

Written by Rita Sullivan

Sherri Weidman
Sherri Weidman, President, Wine Tasters of Naples 2014 – present

Wine Tasters of Naples is primarily a social club with a focus to contribute to those less fortunate in the community.  It has grown over the years and continues to grow under the leadership of its current president, Sherri Weidman.   She has embraced the mission of the founding members focusing on encouraging its members to help those in need within the Naples community.

Growing up in the Midwest, Sherri’s earliest memories were those of camp.   Whether it was church camp, the 4-H or Girl Scouts, she loved them all.  Accepted at Purdue University, she majored in elementary education with a minor in recreation.  It was the minor as it turned that changed the course of her life.   Through a camp class, she was introduced to the American Camp Association (ACA).  After graduating, she realized her true passion was to continue in camping, which she did as a Day Camp Administrator and Field Director for a northwest Indiana Girl Scout council.  Her enthusiasm and drive elevated her up the ranks to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts in northern Indiana.

Sherri Weidman
Sherri Weidman, former Girl Scout Council CEO

As CEO, she was responsible for the oversight of 50 staff members, 2,000 volunteers, and over 10,000 girl members and nine properties – five of which were camps.  During her tenure as CEO, Sherri and her organization received national recognition as one of the highest performing councils for diverse membership representation and for fundraising success. Her vision and fund raising ability led to the construction of a custom headquarters for the Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana in Fort Wayne, (rendering below). Still devoted to camps for children, Sherri currently serves on the national board of directors of the American Camp Association.

Girl Scout Leadership and Learning Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana
One of Sherri’s former legacies: Girl Scout Leadership and Learning Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Recalling her time spent with the Girl Scouts, I asked Sherri if there was one thing in particular she felt affected her most. Without hesitation she recalled an ACA convention she attended in Albuquerque in 1992.   She was invited out to dinner with three Russian delegates who were representing the International Youth Federation. The group was here to set up exchanges between Russian and American teens.  The dinner was a success in more ways than one. In addition to participating in an exchange of Girl Scouts with their Russian counterparts, she wound up marrying the head of the Russian delegation. While the marriage did not last, the friendships and international memories certainly did.

Sherri first visited Naples in 2008.  It took her one fantastic weekend to decide that this is where she wanted to live – Indiana winters or Naples winters – not a difficult choice. In August 2010, she made it happen.  At first she did not know anyone, but she soon became immersed in the many activities around Naples and was invited to join Wine Tasters.  Shortly after meeting Dan Leaman, Sherri was invited to join the board where her marketing skills were instrumental in attracting new members. In 2014, she was asked to be President of Wine Tasters.

As President, she is committed to ensuring that the service component of the mission statement remains the focus of the club.  She encourages members to volunteer their time and efforts for the good of the community. Her marketing efforts continue to attract new members. Sherri has her sights set on a big club event in February 2018 which will be our 10 year anniversary. What better way to mark this milestone than for each of us to volunteer for at least one project. Her vision is for this celebration to be a capstone of a decade of fun and service of Wine Tasters of Naples — another event we will all fondly remember.



Al Beatrice – A Dream Fulfilled

Written by Rita Sullivan

Albert Beatrice Al BeatriceWhether you’re a regular or drop-in to Wine Tasters Friday night Happy Hours, more often than not you are greeted by the man who, since 2014, has not only arranged the event but assiduously works the room to ensure that everyone has a good time. That’s Al Beatrice, who as Vice President of Wine Tasters, scours Naples to identify restaurants that he feels Wine Tasters members would particularly enjoy, then negotiates with the owners to ensure the evening is memorable. He says he’s been forced to sip wine and taste hors d’oeuvres at literally hundreds of local restaurants.

Al grew up in Philadelphia, the oldest son of second generation Italian immigrants, and the first of his family to attend college. He was a normal kid, he says, except that unlike his friends, he didn’t want to play football for the Eagles. No, he had a burning desire to land an airplane on an aircraft carrier — he wanted to become a Navy pilot. And the best route to achieve his dream was to shoot for entry to the Naval Academy. No easy task, but he was an honor graduate of one of the largest parochial high schools in the country, Northeast Catholic High School, and active in student government. This along with laudatory recommendations from teachers led his Congressman to nominate him to Annapolis.

At the Academy Al excelled at math and science and upon graduation passed the entrance tests which allowed him the opportunity to study to become a Navy pilot. One day, after over a year of rigorous flight training, his instructor said, “the plane is all yours Al. Land it on a friendly carrier!” Al took the plane up to 20,000 feet, alone, and, looking down at the aircraft carrier, which seemed the size of a postage stamp, said to himself, “This is what I’ve dreamed all my life.” He pushed the plane’s throttle forward and dove for the bobbing, weaving carrier moving fast in an expansive ocean. And nailed it. In retrospect, he says, it was the scariest moment of his life, and the most satisfying.
Al spent eleven years in the Navy, four in Annapolis and seven as a pilot. Leaving the Navy, Al worked for 25 years in technical sales for Allen-Bradley, which designs and manufactures automated control systems. He settled in Naples in 2001, where today he’s a successful mortgage banker.

Al has always been community minded, even winning election as Class Treasurer at Annapolis. Locally he held positions as Co-chair of the Naples Board of Realty Charity Golf Outing and as Treasurer of Collier County Honor Flight, which raises money to fly veterans to Washington DC for the day to see their war memorials. He was also a past president of the charity board of the Military Officers Association of SW Florida. Not everyone can say they achieved their childhood goal. Al can. Next Happy Hour, see if you can say hello to him before he warmly welcomes you.