Leadership NEXT, a monthly program for advancing business professionals, will host a networking program from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at Kava Culture Kava Bar, located at 2400 First St., Suite 104, in downtown Fort Myers.

Kava Culture is a plant-based ethnobotanical company that serves organic, all-natural kava, botanicals, CBD, kombucha and mocktails. Kava, which is made from the root of a plant grown in the South Pacific, has risen in popularity for its calming properties. Attendees of Leadership NEXT will hear from guest speakers Jacqueline Rusher, Christine Costello and Shelby Schram with Kava Culture, leading the discussion on what kava is, the benefits it provides and the growing kava bar industry.

Rusher has been the chief executive officer of Kava Culture since 2017 when the first kava bar debuted in Bonita Springs. Before founding the company, Rusher was the vice president of licensed premier banking services for SunTrust Bank & Investment Services. Her experience in financial management helped lead the formation and development of six corporate Kava Culture locations. Today, Rusher leads a team of more than 85 employees and manages the daily tasks of team development, operational excellence and brand growth and awareness.

Responsible for managing franchise sales, operations and training, Costello leads the Kava Culture operations team through connected teamwork, intuitive training design and a laser focus on building strong, successful teams. With a decade of experience in design, hospitality and project management, Costello’s experience and education in communication and information design has brought a unique skillset to the leadership team at Kava Culture.

Before becoming the store manager of Kava Culture in downtown Fort Myers, Schram began her career with the company in fall 2020. She started as a bartender at Botanical Brewing Company and quickly advanced to a supervisor position, overseeing the taproom staff and daily operations of the kava bar business. Excelling in her duties, Schram was soon promoted to management over the downtown Fort Myers location.

Attendees of Leadership NEXT represent a variety of businesses and industries throughout Southwest Florida. Sessions take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month and offer opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills, establish working relationships with colleagues and engage in valuable programs and discussions to further enhance their careers. Leadership NEXT’s annual sponsor is the Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni Association.

This event’s nonprofit spotlight is The Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry & Glades County, a nonprofit combatting homelessness, hunger, and drug and alcohol addiction since 1951. The nonprofit serves more than 71,000 individuals annually through a variety of outreach services, including financial assistance with utility bills and rent payments, food distribution, health care services, substance abuse programs, shelters for the homeless, disaster relief, and a counseling and life skills programs for those emerging from the corrections system.

Admission is $10 for Chamber members and $20 for future members and includes samples of what’s on tap as well as light bites from Seed & Bean Market. Attendees can register at FortMyers.org or call 239-332-2930.

About the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce:
Serving Lee County and surrounding areas since 1989, the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Inc. is a business organization of professionals who support and promote a progressive, sustainable community. The Chamber represents over 750 businesses, professionals, and individuals throughout Lee County, providing opportunities for members to participate in a variety of meaningful networking, educational and community- and business-focused programs and events. The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is located at 2310 Edwards Drive in downtown Fort Myers. For additional information regarding membership opportunities or events please call 239-332-2930 or visit www.fortmyers.org. For the latest news and updates, follow the Chamber on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gfmcc or Twitter at @FtMyersChamber.