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Gracie Simendinger

Leadership Jacksonville is pleased to announce that Gracie Simendinger has been named Chief Executive Officer for the organization. Gracie is currently the Director of Development at the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM). She will take over the CEO position in August, succeeding Jill Langford Dame who announced her retirement in March.

We are excited to have Gracie join the LJ team. Her local development experience and enthusiasm will be critical in helping us continue to execute our mission.

Gracie shared, “I am deeply invested in the future success of our city. I believe fully in our ability to capitalize on the positive momentum by continuing to develop Leadership Jacksonville as a venue for strengthening our community leadership. Leadership Jacksonville is an incredible catalyst for developing the inclusive, vibrant Jacksonville that we can see on the horizon. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to that vision.”

Gracie’s experience includes team management, fundraising, public affairs and marketing, organizational effectiveness, program and partnership development and change management. She is the President of the JAX Chamber Downtown Council, at-large member of the Women’s Giving Alliance steering committee and has served in various leadership roles with local organizations. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Florida State University with minors in Spanish and Hispanic Marketing Communications and a Master of Education from Jacksonville University.

We hope that you will join us in welcoming Gracie into our Leadership Jacksonville family and know that you will enjoy getting to know and work with her.

For the full press release, click here.


Jill Langford Dame

Leadership Jacksonville announced on March 23, 2022, that Jill Langford Dame, Chief Executive Officer, will retire from the organization at the end of August, 2022. Dame has served in the role since 2013.

Leadership Jacksonville Board President, Kathy Miller, shared, “Jill’s dedication and commitment to this organization has been immense and is greatly appreciated. For over nine years she has strengthened the foundation, mission and vision of Leadership Jacksonville, especially in challenging times during the Covid pandemic. Jacksonville’s growth has only increased the need for diverse, ethical and community-focused leadership and I know that Jill will be missed!”

“Working at Leadership Jacksonville has been a wonderful opportunity, meeting amazing new program participants each year, working with the best board members and befriending alumni who are in leadership roles throughout our community, while sharing this experience with a dedicated staff that works tirelessly to fulfill our mission. While I look forward to enjoying my retirement, I will miss being part of this team. The good news is that Leadership Jacksonville is in a strong position to continue to do quality programming,” said Jill.

Dame currently sits on the board of the Jacksonville Public Library. She is an alumna of Leadership Jacksonville (Class of 1987) and a member of the Jacksonville Women’s Network, The Meninak Club of Jacksonville and the Florida Bar. Dame is a graduate of Queens University of Charlotte (B.A. cum laude); the University of Florida, College of Law (J.D. with honors) and Jacksonville University (Master of Arts in Teaching). She has been actively involved in the Jacksonville community serving as president of the Junior League of Jacksonville, PACE Center for Girls Jacksonville, the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, Girls on the Run of Northeast Florida and Willing Hands. She was chosen as a 2013 Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts of Gateway Council and as a 2014 Woman of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal. She is a past recipient of the Junior League of Jacksonville’s Tillie Fowler Community Leadership Award; Leadership Jacksonville’s Distinguished Leadership Award and was named Folio Weekly’s Person of the Year in 2001.