By Kate Quesada

Successful women aligning together. For SWAT Networking group, which recently celebrated its one year anniversary in the Riverview area, the name says it all. The group meets monthly and connects local business women with the spirit of sisterhood and cooperation, rather than competition.

SWAT Founder Dr. Robyn Spirtas started the group six years ago with a group of friends around her dining room table and it has now grown to a membership of more than 300 in multiple chapters throughout Florida.

“What makes us different is that we are a sisterhood,” said Spritas. “We welcome everyone and do not believe in turning people away, even if we have the same business or service.”

Lisa Brakefield of Advanced Insurance Brokerage is the director of the Brandon/Riverview chapter and feels that the group is beneficial in many ways to women in all types of business.

“We have people who joined to just to meet people and others who come to promote their charities in addition to those who are there to get the word out about their business,” said Brakefield, who has an office on Oakfield Dr. in Brandon. “Business networking is foremost and it is an extremely loyal group.

We have all received so many fabulous referrals.”

The Brandon/Riverview group, which has more than 50 members now, recently celebrated its anniversary in the area with a ribbon cutting with the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce.

“It was such a joy to share this milestone with the wonderful women at the Greater Riverview Chamber,” said Deborah Gerard, SWAT executive director.
Guests are welcome at any SWAT meeting, which always takes place over lunch on the second Thursday of the month at the Italian Kitchen in Riverview.

During the meeting, all members have the chance to promote their business or talk about whatever they would like for a short time and can also sponsor a meeting and have the opportunity to speak for longer if they have something special in their business or group they would like to highlight.

Philanthropy is also a large focus for the group. Donations are collected weekly at each chapter meeting and pooled. At the annual meeting in August a large donation is made to one charity or organization. “In the past we have contributed to Meals on Wheels and we have also sponsored dogs with the South Eastern Guide Dogs,” said Brakefield, who also mentioned that the group takes an annual cruise together.

For more information visit or call Brakefield at 659-5751.

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.