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Meet the Staff

Staff

Name

Duane Brown

Title

General Manager

Name

Elaine Frederick

Title

Senior Community Association Manager

Elaine is a Florida Licensed Community Association Manager (CAM) with an impressive 12 years of experience managing high-rise condominiums, large scale HOA communities, and co-ops. She has helped management companies maneuver through association turnovers from the developer to the homeowners with great success. Elaine’s love for her career is evident in her professional approach and will only serve to supplement the positive vision we all have for River Strand. Elaine works with and assists the Board in accomplishing goals for the association.

Name

Karen Gowen

Title

Community Association Manager

Name

Eric Hagar

Title

Facilities Director

Name

Jessica Ruekberg

Title

Food and Beverage Director

Name

Radames Febles

Title

Executive Chef

Born in Connecticut, Radames moved to Bradenton, Florida, at a very young age. He spent summers helping his grandparents on their farm in Puerto Rico, developing his love for cooking as he learned from his grandmother’s unique culinary creations. Radames took his love of cooking to New York in order to study at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Radames traveled widely, cooking at many acclaimed restaurants and with many esteemed chefs. He has worked with Norman Van Aken, described as "The Culinary Titan of Florida," alongside internationally renowned chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval, and was part of the creative team who opened Zengo, a new restaurant in Santa Monica, California. Chef Radames brings his passion for food to River Strand, always searching for the perfect local produce for his amazing creations at the Club.

Name

Aaron Merritt

Title

Director of Golf

Aaron has been the PGA Director of Golf at River Strand since 2017. Besides having been mentored by top golf professionals for over 20 years, Aaron is experienced in club management, private resorts and large corporations, holding tremendous insights into the business of golf, club governance and hospitality management. Aaron has worked with the PGA Tour as the host professional for the Annual Disney Classic. Additionally, he has worked with one of America’s top 50 instructors at one of the top 10 golf schools in the U.S., learning the core fundamentals of an efficient swing and how to successfully teach it. When he was invited to manage the golf experience at Amelia Island Plantation as the PGA Director of Golf, he designed and oversaw the Golf Channel Academy, and prides himself on growing the game initiatives—junior golf programs, beginner courses, and individualized sessions for all skill levels.

Name

Jay Blackwell

Title

Head Golf Professional

Jay has been with River Strand since 2015, serving as the Head Golf Professional since 2017. A Maine native, Jay has been working in the golf industry for 15 years. Since 1997, Jay has been working as a golf professional at various nearby (Sarasota) courses and has gathered a well-rounded base of experience in the local community to share with Members. Jay came to us from The Golf Club of New England (GCNE), one of the most prestigious Clubs in New Hampshire. Before GCNE, Jay served as the Head Golf Professional at Boothbay Country Club in Maine. Prior to Boothbay, he served on the professional staff at the eighth oldest club in the country, Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor—a perennial top 5 course in Maine. As a Class A PGA Professional, Jay has a wealth of instructional experience that he is eager to share with men, women and youth of all ages and skill levels.

Name

Renze Berg

Title

Golf Course Superintendent

Renze is a Class A member of The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), born and raised in Bradenton. After graduating with an AS Degree in Golf Course Management in 1996, he began his career at University Park Country Club, later moving on to be the Assistant Golf Professional at The Links at Greenfield Plantation. Later, as an Assistant Golf Course Superintendent, Renze helped complete a successful renovation at Bradenton Country Club in 1998, after which he was promoted to Superintendent, a position he held from 2003 - 2015. While maintaining the historic private Club, he hosted the Florida State Amateur Championship in 2013 and the Women's U.S. Open Qualifier in May 2015. Renze is focused on maintaining a first class golf course for River Strand.

Name

Abdul Idi

Title

Director of Racquet Sports

Abdul began teaching tennis at River Strand in June 2011. Prior to River Strand, Abdul was a successful Tennis Professional and Head Tennis Professional for about 15 years at prominent tennis centers throughout Minnesota. As a former Junior Champion at the '85 National Sports Festival in Nigeria, Abdul has competed in and won countless tennis awards in the 1980’s; and he competed at the 2010 USTA 5.0 Nationals. With his rich tennis experience, he also holds a master’s degree in Community Health from Minnesota State University. Abdul certainly has an abundance to offer River Strand tennis players!

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