Key Players

Meet the people who are shaping the future of the communities they live in while inspiring everyone they meet along the way. Though their stories are all different and their backgrounds, histories, hopes and dreams vary, the one thing each has in common is a passion for what they do and their ability to see past themselves for the benefit of others. In the following pages, you’ll meet this issue’s Key Players and get a brief glimpse into their lives. If you happen to run into one of them during your daily routine, take a moment to salute them. They’ve earned it.

Tax Wiz

“Assisting clients with the tax code and providing advice to their individual situation is extremely satisfying.”

“Growing up, my parents always reinforced hard work and honesty,” says CPA Jennifer Wanner, a Sr. Tax Associate at Lancaster & Reed, a boutique firm located in Key Biscayne. “These qualities have become the foundation on my professional and personal life.” Today, Wanner focuses on the U.S. taxation of international transactions including foreign trusts, partnerships and corporate interests abroad, and assists local tax-exempt organizations with their annual filings. It took a little while to find her calling, though; shortly after becoming the regional manager for a medical weight-loss company years ago, the owner asked Wanner to take a few accounting classes at the local community college so she could help out with the company’s books. “I knew after my first Principles Of Accounting course that my future was in public accounting,” she smiles, “…and the rest is history!”

Quick Facts
Country proud: “When I was 17, I raised a hog and auctioned it at fair.”

Days in the sun: “I enjoy planning a vacation just as much as the actual vacation.”

What’s in her fridge: “Cheese! Lots of it!”

Text by Cristina Zuazua; Photo: Chantal Lawrie

Jennifer L. Wanner is a CPA at Lancaster & Reed; 50 West Mashta Dr., Ste. 6, Key Biscayne; 305.361.1014;

Life Prep

“We make high-quality online courses affordable so strong gains are available to as many children as possible.”

As a developer and promoter of several learning systems throughout his career, Michael Penney knows teaching and technology go hand-in-hand. As the Chief Technology Officer of PREPWORKS, a state-of-the art online adaptive learning platform built to enable students to achieve dramatic score improvements on standardized tests, he knows that a great deal of importance is placed on his students’ academic performance. He helps them aim high, and then tailors teaching methods to each student. “The system we’ve created,” the former Moodle developer explains, “enables children from all walks of life to change their lives by getting into better schools and earning scholarships, while improving their understanding of core subjects.” His vision is not simply to increase the efficacy of teaching, but also to leverage the online element to make classes more affordable across the board.

Quick Facts
In an alternate universe, he would be… “Fishing and writing thrillers!”

He’s a model citizen. “I like to build model ships, planes and cars!”

Words to live by: “Go not gentle into that good night.”

Text by Cristina Zuazua; Photo: PREPWORKS

Michael Penney is Chief Technology Officer of PREPWORKS; 604 Crandon Blvd., Ste. 201, Key Biscayne; 305.361.2400;

Task Solver

“Our focus is to combine technology with the best personalized service to keep the community satisfied.”

Ernesto Bethencourt wasn’t always saving the day for his neighbors. In the course of working as a property manager, he recalls arriving home from work one evening in a hurry to meet with some friends and realizing he still had some chores and shopping to do. That night, he held a Skype meeting with his partners Michel and Marcos and together they founded PersonalGofer, a service that handles people’s day-to-day tasks and errands. Since its creation, they have retrieved last-minute passports to save clients from missing flights, driven customers with broken-down cars to graduations, and performed a host of other neighborhood-superhero tasks. “We did some brainstorming on how we could build this crazy idea,” he recalls proudly. “The next day, we spoke again and finally decided to ‘gofer it!’”

Quick Facts
Creative builder: “I’m a fan of Legos!”

He plays like a pro: “I love tennis and am known for my excellent forehand smash.”

Fun fact you wouldn’t guess: “A yoga teacher once told me I’m weirdly flexible.”

Text by Cristina Zuazua; Photo: Chantal Lawrie

Ernesto Bethencourt is the Founder of PersonalGofer; 1121 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne; 305.349.3416;