As a philanthropic advisor to Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s most generous donors, CJ Bannister is committed to supporting her clients, her community, and non-profits around the world, through philanthropy, planned giving, endowments, fundraising and more.
After graduating from high school, she joined the United States Air Force, where she worked as a Crew Chief for four years and subsequently cross-trained to be a Paralegal and worked with the JAG for the remainder of her service. Bannister earned the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) as well as many awards and medals, including: Basic Military Training Honor Graduate, The John Levitow Award at Airman Leadership School, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education Award, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
Bannister served from 1993 until 2001, when she ended her military career as a non-commissioned officer. After leaving the Air Force, she attended Hodges University in Naples, FL toward a BS in Management, and also worked full time as a Paralegal. Bannister began her as a financial advisor in 2007, helping individuals with investment and financial needs. However, upon working on a project with the Community Foundation of Sarasota, serving as a board member for SOLVE Homes, and serving as a board member for Goodwill Manasota, she quickly found her calling in the non-profit world. She ultimately accepted a full time position with Goodwill and helped launch their Veterans Services Program as their Director of Veterans Services, assisting veterans and their families in facets of life and service.
Bannister is dedicated to helping others and passionate about giving back and making a difference. She has also worked on other projects near to her heart, such as the Women’s Veterans Network, Sarasota County Veterans Commission, Manatee County Veterans Council, and Pathway to Prosperity (a program designed to help single moms in generational poverty). She has over 21 years of experience in the community giving back, growing businesses, launching programs, and establishing and maintaining meaningful partnerships.