Spotlight on Neighbors: Kevin & Ann Shortelle
Meeting Challenges with Courage and Commitment
People who are committed to one another are as strong as the challenges they can face and overcome together. By that criterion in their nearly thirty-year marriage, Kevin and Ann Shortelle have withstood the test of time. Both are professionals, parents, and cancer survivors who are contributing to their community in a number of meaningful ways.
Kevin was born in Connecticut and Ann in Michigan. They met in 1983 as graduate students at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana where Kevin was working on his Masters in Electrical Engineering, and Ann was well into her PhD program in Limnology/Water Resources. Married in July 1985, they worked for a few years in Boston before moving to Gainesville and buying a house in Haile Plantation in 1988. Kevin recalled, “We’ve been here so long, we feel like natives. Especially since Haile was just in its infancy in the late 1980s. It’s been great to see how it’s grown into the stellar community it is today.”
The opportunity that brought the Shortelles to north central Florida was a job for Kevin at Systems Dynamics, an aviation/aerospace company specializing in the design of navigation systems for aircraft, including drone development. Kevin is manager of the Integrated Systems Group with the Alabama-headquartered firm. Clients include the Department of Defense and Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach. He noted, “I’ve been fortunate to work with a small group of talented, dedicated engineers here, one of whom has been my co-worker for over thirty years. That’s quite unusual in today’s business world.”
Ann’s career in environmental sciences, specializing in fresh water systems, took the path of consulting for a local environmental engineering firm in Gainesville for a number of years. More recently, she transitioned into the public sector, working as director of the Office of Water Policy for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection between 2011 and 2012. She is now the executive director at Suwannee River Water Management District. Among its main functions is to issue environmental and water use permits to utilities, agricultural concerns, and various industries, protect and restore water resources, and provide flood control.
Ann commented, “Our district spans fifteen counties in northern Florida. The Suwannee is one of the least impacted, most pristine river systems in the U.S. I do some bean counting in my position, but the part I enjoy most is interfacing with people out on the river in a canoe, looking after our water resources—what we’re protecting. We’re responsible to our taxpayers, stakeholders, and preserving for the people of Florida this amazing resource.”
The Shortelles are also the proud parents of two daughters, Janet, 25, and Jennifer, 23, both of whom are in graduate programs. Janet, an RN, is at Duke University working on her nurse practitioner’s degree, while Jennifer is at Drexel University in Philadelphia working on a master’s in marriage and family therapy. As Kevin noted, “Our daughters are very independent young women who’ve spread their wings. Having grown up in Florida, they love the beach, but we’re not counting on them returning here after their education. We think they’ll go where their careers and lives lead them.”
For Kevin, life took an unexpected turn in 1993 when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatment, Kevin gradually regained his health and resumed his high-energy lifestyle of regular gym workouts, professional achievements and giving back to the community as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society (ACS).
A 2005 graduate of the ACS Volunteer Leadership Institute, Kevin has been active on the state and local ACS board of directors, helped produce annual Relay for Life fundraisers, and is now heavily involved in advocacy work. He noted, “Some colleagues and I will soon be making a trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of some healthcare legislation. Ann and I are also working on the ‘Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’ three-mile fundraising walk on October 25 here in Gainesville. It starts at the Hippodrome and winds its way through the Duck Pond area to conclude back at the theater.” Ann is on the planning committee for this event and has stepped up her own volunteer activities for the ACS, having survived her own bout with breast cancer last year.
Another passion Ann and Kevin share is Notre Dame football. Kevin said, “Every fall we make the trip up to South Bend to root for our team. This year we’re going to see the University of Louisville game in late November.” Ann added, “To see how far we’ve gone with this, two years ago we traveled all the way to Dublin, Ireland to see the Notre Dame/US Naval Academy teams play – and the Fighting Irish won!”
The Shortelles are also faithful members of Queen of Peace Church where Kevin is a lay reader and serves as Grand Knight of the parish’s Knights of Columbus council. Ann conducts religious instruction education classes and is a Eucharistic minister. She said, “It’s a very welcoming and generous congregation, and we’re so fortunate to be part of it.”
When they aren’t visiting their daughters at their respective universities, Kevin and Ann like to spend vacation time exploring national parks. Kevin elaborated, “We especially like to visit the ones out West like Glacier, Yellowstone and the Olympic range, but we’ve also been to Acadia in Maine. One of our dream retirement activities is perhaps to work as summer volunteers in one of the national parks. It would provide a change of venue from the summer heat and give us opportunities to meet interesting people.” Since like attracts like, that shouldn’t be a problem for Kevin and Ann Shortelle.