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Cheryl Collins, Executive Director of Orlando Ballet, has been named Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Central Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and will be celebrated at the chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Celebration on Friday, November 19, 2021.

After four years as Director of Philanthropy at Orlando Ballet, she was named Executive Director shortly after the world was impacted by the pandemic. Her leadership throughout the past year has been integral to Orlando Ballet’s survival and success. Despite unprecedented challenges and unexpected events, Orlando Ballet is believed to be the only professional dance company that was able to perform a full season, in an enclosed theater with live audiences.

“We needed a strong leader on all fronts,” said Board President Jonathan Ledden. “Cheryl has demonstrated an ability to build and secure long-term strategic relationships that strengthen this organization and fortify Orlando Ballet’s exciting future. We who know and work with her are pleased to see her being recognized by her peers.”

Several other Orlando Ballet team members and donors were named Honorees for their work and support over the past three years. They include Charmaine Hunter who was recognized for Community Impact. Hunter leads Orlando Ballet’s Community Enrichment programs and has grown Orlando Ballet’s Scholarship Training for the Enrichment of Primary Students (STEPS) program from 113 students in seven locations to 827 students in 57 sites. Under Hunter’s direction, the Ballet’s community enrichment programs brought in $272,000 in direct support for the 2020-2021 season.

The Orlando Health Volunteer Medical Team, which provides in-kind healthcare services to Orlando Ballet Company dancers, has been recognized as a volunteerism honoree. Orlando Health’s special team of 25 physicians, physical therapists, dentists/orthodontists, and massage therapists have provided over $2 million in treatment, injury prevention, and education to the dancers since their inception.

PNC Financial Services Group has also been recognized for setting an example in Corporate Philanthropy for its Grow Up Great program and its overall support of the arts to enrich lives and build stronger communities. PNC provides more than $2.8 million to help communities thrive. PNC has been a key business and philanthropy partner for Orlando Ballet, investing over $100,000 over the past five years. Between 2020 and 2021 PNC also assisted Orlando Ballet in securing funds from the Payroll Protection Program, which were critical to the organization’s survival and growth during the pandemic.

In her time with Orlando Ballet, Collins is recognized for the overall design and execution of development strategies which grew annual contributed income from $1.4 million to over $2 million in three years. She is also credited for leading the cultivation and expansion of individual, corporate and foundation relationships, securing major gifts and partnerships with Orlando Health, PNC Bank, Orlando Magic, Walt Disney World, Sonny’s BBQ, Dr. Phillips Charities, Martin Andersen – Gracia Andersen Foundation, and Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation. Orlando Ballet’s recurring contributed income increased over 200 percent under her leadership. She is also credited with leadership oversight of raising more than $13.5 million to support construction, equipment, furniture and technological advancements related to Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre, the organization’s new home on Lake Formosa. Of particular significance is Collins’ leadership in establishing Orlando Ballet’s annual signature fundraising event The Ballet Ball, which has become a popular annual must-go-to event.

Collins is known for balanced leadership, innovation, team focus, and attention to protecting the ballet’s momentum on all fronts.

“From day one, I have loved the opportunity presented to me by Orlando Ballet. We have worked hard to raise our profile and value, which clearly has been validated by the growing support Orlando Ballet continues to receive from donors, partners, and our audiences. To be recognized for something I love to do so very much is remarkable and appreciated.”

Collins, who spent 15 years at the Orlando Health Foundation before coming to Orlando Ballet, is a highly respected executive in Central Florida who successfully led Orlando Ballet through its most challenging years during the outbreak of the COVID-19 global health crisis. She is cited for her vision and willingness to adjust and adapt during difficult circumstances.

Collins, Hunter, the Orlando Health Volunteer Medical Team, and PNC Financial Services Group will be recognized at AFP Central Florida’s National Philanthropy Day Celebration on Friday, November 19, 2021 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. For more information about the event, please visit AFP Central Florida’s website.

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