Chuck Licis has a passion for learning, all things French, and helping children. As program coordinator for Take Stock in Children, a college and career readiness program for deserving students who meet income and academic eligibility requirements, he oversees the program which helps students receive post-secondary education.
In addition to Take Stock and the Monroe County Education Foundation, which is the lead funding agency for Take Stock, he is a Leadership Monroe Class XXV graduate (the most extraordinary class) and serves on that board. He is vice president of the Key West Business Guild, president of the Sugarloaf Shores Property Owners Association, and has served on committees for the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys and the Key West Chamber of Commerce. “In many ways, nonprofits are the backbone of the Florida Keys, filling in the gaps and providing needed services to a diverse population,” he said.
In May, he received the Florida College Access Network Community Resilience Unsung Hero award as a result of the efforts of the Monroe County Education Foundation providing much-needed monetary assistance to school district employees and families affected by Hurricane Irma.
Licis was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. After high school, he began in accounting but found his passion learning and teaching French (he spent this past summer in France with students). Seven years ago, he and his partner Wayne Masson decided to make Sugarloaf Key their permanent home.
“It’s a rather long and complicated story, probably similar to many others, but the short version is it was time to leave the cold, grey winters of St. Louis and make a new home in the beautiful Florida Keys,” he said.
Nickname? Other than Chuck, I’ve also been called Captain Crabmore when driving my boat.
How did you get involved with Take Stock in Children? During an event for Keys Center Academy, I was introduced to a few Monroe County Education Foundation board members, and they invited me to a Take Stock event at FKCC. After meeting the students and mentors, I was eager to apply to be a part of the Take Stock team.
What’s the easiest way to recruit someone as a mentor? Many of our new mentors learn about the program from our current mentors, our strongest advocates. We also encourage people to attend our TSIC events and gatherings to meet and talk with our students, mentors, and college success coaches. We like to maintain a reserve of mentors and will need 50 or more new mentors for incoming students this fall!
What’s one of the greatest success stories from the program? Among the 675 TSIC graduates, we have many success stories. Three examples that come quickly to mind are Dr. Michael Brooks, a 2003 Key West High School graduate who earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree and now provides dental care to children and families in need at North Point Health and Wellness Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Dr. Christina Belotti, 2001 Marathon High School graduate and teacher who recently earned her PhD in Education; and Nency Quezada, Coral Shores 2013 graduate, who earned her AA from Miami Dade, her BS from FIU and is now opening her own business in Key Largo.
Being a Lower Keys resident, how is your Hurricane Irma aftermath coming along? We were very fortunate having suffered only minor damage to our home. We continue to support and help our Sugarloaf Shores community and those who were not as fortunate, which is an ongoing, long-term process.
What does success look like? Contentment, peace, and making the most of each day. Life is a gift.
Proudest achievement? Finally completing my master’s thesis in French, it took five years: a comparison of Victor Hugo’s depiction of marginalized societies in Notre Dame de Paris and Les Miserables.
What was your first job? Host at Red Lobster.
Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating… who walks in and sits next to you? Elton John, the man’s a legend and probably could tell a story or two.
Favorite Keysy thing to do? Relax in a beach chair at Marvin Key.
Which TV or movie character is your alter ego? Jack Sparrow.
What would your superpower be? Time travel.
Best piece of advice you ever received? Don’t dwell on yesterday, make the most of today.
What is your nerdiest passion? Watching Hallmark movies.
If you could take one item on a deserted island, what? why?
A Swiss Army Knife … and a platter of charcuterie, cheese, a baguette, and a bottle of 1989 Chateau Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, because I’m sure the view would be amazing … oh, only one item? A Swiss Army Knife.
What was your first thought this morning? “Is it Saturday?”
If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you do/buy? Start a foundation to help those in need in our communities.
What’s on your bucket list? Visiting New Zealand and Australia.
If you could change the world, what would you do? Create a world where difference and otherness are celebrated and respected.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A Hollywood movie star.
Finish these sentences…
Superintendent Mark Porter would describe me as … focused and dedicated to the students in our communities.
My autobiography would be titled … “Wait, I’m not finished!”
The Florida Keys are like … family, each island community is unique, wonderful, and dependent on each other, yet we are all connected to make a cohesive family of islands.
I live by the motto … don’t wait for tomorrow to do what you can today.
To become a mentor, visit monroecountyedfound.com or email chuck.li[email protected]. Take Stock students are assigned a volunteer mentor who meets with the student one hour each week. Upon successful completion of the program, the student receives access to a Florida Prepaid College Scholarship plan which covers tuition and fees at any Florida public college or university.