Mary Ellen Pfeifer is a Florida native who grew up in Orlando and vacationed on Sanibel every year beginning in 1969. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida where she obtained a Bachelors's degree in Biology in 1985. She later obtained a Masters Degree in Biochemistry in 1987 in conjunction with research she conducted for the United States Department of Agriculture. While at UCF, Mary Ellen became the first woman coxswain on the Men's prestigious Varsity Crew Team (the coxswain sits in the back of the long shell and steers the course while coaching the 8 oarsmen). For three years she participated in many regattas from the "Head of the Charles" in Boston to the "Dad Vail Regatta" in Philadelphia. Before leaving the university, Mary Ellen donated a large collection of shells to UCF's Biology Department for display. Mary Ellen's donated shell collection is still on display in the UCF's Biology Administration Office and Conference Rooms.
After obtaining her Master's degree, Mary Ellen worked several years for Bio-Rad Laboratories selling analysis equipment to Hospital Nuclear Medicine departments and Research Labs across Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. She was honored as the top Bio-Rad agent in the Country and broke numerous sales records. In 1990 she met and married Eric Pfeifer in Orlando. She and Eric moved to Baltimore in 1993 where he joined his brothers managing the family business Maryland Screen Printers. Mary Ellen worked on several projects at Maryland Screen Printers. She organized their first nationwide mail order catalog and also was the head of their racing program when they sponsored a Busch Series NASCAR.
Before moving to Sanibel in 2001, Mary Ellen accepted a position on the Board of the Children's Education Center of the Islands (CECI) a Sanibel Preschool as their fund-raising chair. She hit the island running and having to quickly meet island families and business owners to successfully launch their first annual event "Reach for the Stars". This event is still being held and is now called "The Beach Ball".
Over the past 15 years on Sanibel, Mary Ellen has enjoyed working with many Sanibel Island Non-Profit Organizations including the Sanibel Sea School (helping to create their signature event "Octifest", The Sanibel Community House, SCCF, and she even donated hours of time starring in "Sandbars to Sanibel - Pioneering an Island" to benefit Sanibel's Historical Village.
2011 was another busy year as the Pfeifer Family hosted a Meet and Greet open house to help SCCF raise funds to preserve the 28 acres of the Bailey Homestead. This SCCF fund-raising event was held shortly after husband Eric performed in "Dancing with the Island Stars" to raise money for the Sanibel Community House.
In 2013 Mary Ellen created Serving Sanibel the Charitable Arm of Pfeifer Realty Group.
In 2014, Mary Ellen was nominated to serve a 4-year term on the Board of Trustees for SCCF. Her biology background, love of nature as well as marketing savvy have helped benefit the conservation organization as she navigated the gap between scientific data, and marketing the message of SCCF's mission. During her tenure, SCCF built their new Marine Lab, acquired the Sanibel Sea School, and hired Ryan Orgera to replace retiring CEO Erick Lindblad. Mary Ellen was one of a few SCCF board members to serve a 5th year on her term to provide a smooth transition of leadership for the new CEO.
Mary Ellen also joined the Board of Trustees for The Charitable Foundation of the Islands in 2016 where with the help of Jason Welch created their website: MyCFI.org and Facebook Social Media outreach to help Sanibel and Captiva residents better understand the CFI Mission.
Mary Ellen worked on several film and art projects that benefited the Sanibel Community. Her 6-year collaboration with 7-time Emmy Award-Winning Film Maker David E. Carter produced 5 documentaries in the Pfeifer Documentary Series.
Click to Watch Each Sanibel Documentary:
- Growing Up on Sanibel 2014
- Seven Sanibel Artists 2015
- Sanibel Before the Causeway 2016
- Post Cards and Photos from Sanibel 2017
- Post Cards and Photos from Sanibel - The Sequel 2018
The need for old photographs to produce their documentaries prompted the Pfeifer Vintage Photo Collection, an ongoing program at the Sanibel Public Library where anyone can drop off photos to be digitized into a high-resolution scan and cataloged for public use. So far over 3,000 photos have been scanned and cataloged into the Pfeifer Vintage Photo Collection. By 2018 the 5 films in the Pfeifer Documentary Series generated more than $30,000 in non-profit support and continue to be used by local non-profits. David E. Carter and Mary Ellen have decided to allow local non-profits to use these films to help raise money for their organization. The first double feature of Postcards I and Postcards II will be shown during the Sanibel Historical Villages Twilight Talks in April 2018.
Currently, Mary Ellen works full time on the companies internet advertising and marketing for Pfeifer Realty Group, Inc. She maintains the content of our website www.mysanibelrealestate.com and also the marketing campaigns that ensure search engine exposure and placement for our listings to maximize marketer and leverage all aspects of internet advertising.