2015 Future of Florida Forum: Speakers

Nebeyou Abebe

Senior Director of Health and Well-being, Sodexo North America

Nebeyou is responsible for developing Sodexo’s enterprise-wide health & well-being strategy, creating and empowering an organized community of practice for wellness within the organization, and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with private, public and non-profit entities. Nebeyou earned his Masters in Social and Public Policy from Georgetown University and Bachelors in Economics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. From 2008-12, he served as a federal advisory board member for the Office of Minority Health. In 2012, Nebeyou was honored with the prestigious “40under40” award by the Envest Foundation for his work and contributions in public health. His work has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) and Diabetes Spectrum.


Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater

Jeff Atwater was first elected Florida’s Chief Financial Officer in 2010, and was reelected to a second term in 2014. His commitment to public service began in 1993, when his hometown of North Palm Beach elected him Vice Mayor. Mr. Atwater was subsequently elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and the Florida Senate in 2002 and was unanimously selected by his fellow senators to serve as Senate President in 2008. CFO Atwater’s priorities since assuming office have been to aggressively eliminate the fraud that increases the cost of living for Floridians, reduce regulations that inhibit job growth and economic expansion, expand his earlier efforts at fiscal transparency and governmental accountability, and protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens from financial harm and abuse. His private sector experiences, which included 25 years of community banking, provide him a unique and valuable perspective on the sacrifices and challenges facing the business men and women of Florida, as well as the impact of government on the individuals and families of this state.

Ashley Bacot

President, ProvInsure

Ashley Bacot has held positions in all realms of the insurance industry including, but not limited to, underwriting, marketing, sales and risk management consultation. One of the unique things about Ashley is that he has walked in the clients’ shoes. He has been employed as a risk manager for a local municipality, hotel chain, furniture manufacturer and computer programming company. Working on both sides of the fence has provided Ashley with a different perspective and has aided him in managing risks and developing creative solutions for the clients’ needs. Ashley has played an integral role in helping Rosen Hotels & Resorts develop a cutting edge self insured healthcare model to include an on-site primary care facility. This program has reduced the company’s healthcare costs to a mere fraction of its competitor’s while at the same time providing benefits that are far superior. As such, Ashley has become a sought after speaker at conferences on the topic of healthcare reform and maximizing ROI of on-site employee healthcare clinics.

Secretary Jim Boxold

Florida Department of Transportation

Jim Boxold was named Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) by Governor Rick Scott effective January 3, 2015. He oversees the historic investment of over $10 billion this year to meet the transportation needs of Florida’s families, visitors and businesses.

Jim Boxold joined FDOT as Chief of Staff in July, 2013. Jim brings almost 20 years of government policy and management experience to the agency. He started his career in Washington, D.C. working for U.S. Representative Porter Goss, ultimately serving as the Congressman’s Legislative Director. In 2001, he came to Tallahassee to join the Governor’s staff and subsequently worked for the Commissioner of Agriculture before joining FDOT.

A Florida native, Jim holds a B.A. in Political Science from The George Washington University.

Dana Brazil

Dr. Phillips Center

Dana Brazil is the Director of Education at the newly opened Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, FL. Formerly, she was the Associate Director of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts & Creativity at Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Ms. Brazil received The Broadway League’s 2015 Outstanding Achievement in Education and Engagement Award. She is also a member of the Audience Engagement Committee at The Broadway League.

In addition to Dana’s role as an arts education leader, she is also an award winning actor, choreographer, director and teaching artist.  She is a graduate of Michigan State University – M.F.A. Acting, B.A Communications, B.A Theatre, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York, NY.  Ms. Brazil is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Charles Caulkins

Managing Partner, Fisher & Phillips LLP

Charles Caulkins is the managing partner of the Fort Lauderdale office of Fisher & Phillips LLP and a member of the Firm’s three-member National Management Committee. Since 1977, he has represented employers nationally in labor and employment law matters. This includes advising employers on the development and implementation of preventive labor relations programs to avoid charges and lawsuits, protect trade secrets, and resolve disputes. Charles also handles employment related litigation and arbitrations before state and federal courts and administrative agencies involving claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, OSHA and other statutory claims. Charles is a founding member and past President of the Academy of Florida Management Attorneys, and was the 2006 Chairman of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. He is listed in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Business Lawyers and in The Best Lawyers in America.

David Childs

Attorney, Hopping Green & Sams

David represents and counsels business and local government clients on environmental permitting, enforcement, rulemaking, and legislative issues, with a focus on water regulation and marine industry issues. David serves as primary legal counsel for the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) Utility Council, which is a statewide association of domestic wastewater treatment utilities. David’s work includes executive and legislative branch representation concerning the reuse of reclaimed water, land application of biosolids, numeric nutrient criteria development and water quality credit trading. David also represents the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) before the Florida Legislature and state regulatory agencies.David has been involved in several regulatory and legislative developments impacting the marine industry over the past ten years. Governor Charlie Crist appointed David to the Florida Boating Advisory Council.

Stan Connally

President and CEO, Gulf Power Company

Stan Connally is President and CEO of Gulf Power Company, a subsidiary of Southern Company –one of the largest producers of electricity in the United States. Gulf Power Company is headquartered in Pensacola and provides electricity and energy services to communities in Northwest Florida.Stan began his career with Southern Company in 1989 as a co-op student at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates and has held positions in various functional areas, including Customer Operations, Sales and Marketing, and Power Generation. Most recently, Stan was Senior Vice President and Senior Production Officer for Georgia Power Company, where he was responsible for coal, gas, and hydro-electric generation. Stan serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Florida.He graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Anthony Connelly

Senior Vice President, Disney Cruise Line

Anthony Connelly currently serves as Senior Vice President for Disney Cruise Line and is based in Celebration, Florida. In his role, Anthony is responsible for all operations fleet-wide, including onboard entertainment, youth activities, marine and technical operations, purchasing, logistics and shoreside travel operations. He also oversees Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. In 1989, Anthony joined Disney and has advanced through various key leadership positions throughout the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts organization. From 2006 to 2013, Anthony was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the U.S. Parks. He recently served as chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and he continues as a member of the board. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Anthony received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1987. He went on to earn his Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in 2000. Anthony is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida. Anthony, his wife Carol, and their three sons live in Orlando, Florida.


Richard Crespin

CEO, Crespin Enterprises

Richard Crespin is the CEO of Crespin Enterprises, a boutique consulting firm advising businesses and non-profits on how to work together to solve big problems. Every nonprofit is a business and every business has a social mission. They just don’t always know it or act like it so Richard works with firms to find their unique social mission where they can make significant impact and with non-profits to build programs that attract companies as partners and donors. On behalf of his clients, Richard makes strategic introductions, translates the needs of businesses to NGOs and vice-versa, and structures outcome-oriented partnerships that amplify impact and get results faster at lower cost. In addition, Richard is a Senior Fellow of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and a Senior Advisor to IO Consulting and the Institute for Public Private Solutions (IPPS). He also advises the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) on its outreach to the business community on international development issues and serves on the Executive Committee of the Board for the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association. From 2008 – 2013, Richard served as the Executive Director of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association and as President of SharedXpertise Media, the publishers of Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Richard is an alumnus of both the George Washington University and the Harvard Business School.


Chancellor Marshall Criser III

State University System of Florida

Marshall Criser III is chancellor of the State University System of Florida. He is the former president of AT&T Florida and a longtime education leader in the state. He took office as chancellor in January of 2014, fully dedicating himself to his passion of higher education advocacy. The Board of Governors of the State University System selected him unanimously for the post. Criser is in his fourth year as the Florida House Speaker’s appointee to the Higher Education Coordinating Council, a role he began as a representative of the business community and continues as chancellor. He is a member of the Scripps Research Institute Board of Trustees in California and the Florida Council of 100, where he is a former chair.

His community service also includes terms as vice chair of the University of Florida’s Board of Trustees, chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and chair of Florida TaxWatch. A Florida native, Criser graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in business administration and completed an Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD in Fountainebleau, France. He and his wife, Kimberly, have four daughters.

Representative Eric Eisnaugle

Florida House of Representatives

Eric Eisnaugle is a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 44th District, which includes parts of Bay Lake, Lake Buena Vista, Oakland, Orlando, Windermere, and Winter Garden in western Orange County since a special election on April 8, 2014.  He previously represented the 40th District from 2008 to 2012.  Eisnaugle was born in Arcadia, Florida. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2000 from Florida Southern College and a Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2003. His wife, originally from Iowa, is attorney Carrie Eisnaugle, a former President of Florida Right to Life. They have three sons, Eric Jr., Ethan and Everette.

Jose Fajardo

Executive Vice President, Orlando, Inc.

José Fajardo currently serves as the Executive Vice President for Orlando, Inc., the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is responsible for the executive leadership of the Chamber. He recently served as the President and CEO for WMFE-TV/FM, the public broadcasting stations for Central Florida. During his 17 years with WMFE, José led the activation of WMFE Digital Channel 24, the activation of 90.7 WMFE-FM’s HD Radio transmitter, which provided two full-time radio streams of programming. In 2005, José was presented with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce & Hispanic Business Initiative Fund Don Quijote Professional of the Year Award. In 2009, Ahora Orlando magazine named Mr. Fajardo one of 25 most influential local Hispanic community leaders. Mr. Fajardo is a native of Puerto Rico. In May 2010 he received an MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College.

Devin Fidler

Director, Institute for the Future’s Workable Futures Initiative

Devin directs the Institute for the Future’s Workable Futures Initiative and enjoys regularly working with organizations to lay the foundations today to lead in tomorrow’s talent landscape. His interests center on applying foresight to strategy, with an emphasis on the impacts of emerging technologies and shifting approaches to organizational design. He sees organizations as systems designed to activate workforce know-how in the right places and at the right times. From this perspective, he argues that in a post-globalization world, all management is knowledge management. He holds a BA in history from the University of Colorado, and an MBA with a focus on innovation in emerging markets from Budapest University of Economics and Institut des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Commerciales in Paris. Devin also participated in the inaugural class of Singularity University, a NASA and Google–sponsored program focused on harnessing emerging technologies to meet humanity’s grand challenges.

Doug Henton

Doug Henton has more than 30 years of experience in economic and community development at the national, regional, state, and local levels. Doug is nationally recognized for his work in bringing industry, government, education, research, and community leaders together around specific collaborative projects to improve regional competitiveness. He was project manager for the start-up of the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, an innovative, results-oriented regional economic development alliance. He continues to serve as Joint Venture’s economist, and is the architect of Joint Venture’s annual Index of Silicon Valley. Doug is on the Management Team for the California Economic Summit, California’s first-ever Summit harnessing the power of regional collaboration to spur economic innovation and growth. He is a consultant to Next 10 for the development of the Green Innovation Index, and regional coordinator for Clean Economy Solutions, a national organization helping to advance America’s economy region by region. Doug founded Collaborative Economics in July 1993 after a decade as assistant director of SRI International’s Center for Economic Competitiveness. At SRI he led major state-level strategy development projects in Arizona, Florida, and California. Internationally, Doug directed major projects on the economic future of Hong Kong, the technopolis strategy in Japan, and regional development in China. With colleagues Kim Walesh and John Melville, Doug has written two books, “Grassroots Leaders for the New Economy: How Civic Entrepreneurs Are Building Prosperous Communities” and “Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in America’s Communities.”

Secretary Bill Johnson

Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO, Enterprise Florida

Bill Johnson became President and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. in March 2015 following a 35-year career with Miami-Dade County government. Governor Scott appointed Bill to lead the agency that is the state’s principal economic development organization serving as a public- private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders. The position also serves as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. During his tenure with Miami-Dade, Bill served in a number of executive positions including eight years as Director of Port Miami. At Port Miami, Bill launched one of the most ambitious capital development programs in the port’s history, including public-private partnerships such as the Port Miami tunnel and the deepening of the port’s channel to accommodate the super-sized cargo vessels that will begin passing through an expanded Panama Canal in 2016. On the cruise side of the business, Bill presided over the largest expansion ever of new cruise brands and new cruise vessels solidifying Port Miami as the “Cruise Capital of the World.” In 2014, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez asked Bill to take over leadership of the Water and Sewer Department, where he launched an ambitious capital program to upgrade and expand the Miami-Dade’s critical water and sewer system. A native of Akron, Ohio, Bill holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee.

Marian Johnson

Vice President of Political Strategy, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Marian Johnson is Vice President of Political Strategy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and also serves as the Executive Director of the Florida Chamber Political Institute, a unique research organization that provides vital detailed demographic and political analysis to its members. Johnson, perhaps Florida’s most seasoned political advisor, has been involved in an impressive number of presidential, state and local campaigns. Her budding career started in 1964 when as a high school senior, she volunteered for the “Barry Goldwater for President” campaign. Since then, she has gained experience in every facet of political operations, from campaigning to research and polling to administration. Johnson has been involved with every presidential campaign from 1964 through 1984. Most notably, she served on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns. She also served as Senior Vice President of Associated Industries of Florida Service Corporation where she developed and implemented a one-of-a-kind tracking mechanism consisting of a six-week polling program for statewide offices. Results were featured statewide and nationally on political broadcasts of CNN and C-Span. Marian is listed in Who’s Who in American Politics, Prominent People in Florida Government, and Outstanding Young Women of America.

Belinda Keiser

Vice Chancellor of Community Relations and Student Advancement, Keiser University

As Vice Chancellor of Community Relations and Student Advancement for Keiser University, Keiser Career College, Everglades University, and the Southeastern Institutes, Ms. Keiser is responsible for media and public relations, government affairs and charitable giving. These institutions are comprised of 25 campuses located throughout Florida and the southeastern United States with approximately 15,000 students and 2,400 employees. Previously Ms. Keiser was the Coordinator of Broward Lawyer’s Care (BLC), the pro bono program of the Broward County Bar Association and Legal Aid Service of Broward County. Prior to working for BLC, Ms. Keiser was the Director of Health Fairs for the Washington-based National Health Screening Council where she was responsible for the coordination and implementation of the nationally successful health education campaign for Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Ms. Keiser’s efforts contribute to the economic development of Florida, quality education and the legal community. She was a 2008-2009 member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation Board of Trustees and served on the Board of Trustees for Hospital Corporation of America’s Northwest Medical Center.   Also in 2009, Ms. Keiser received the honor of being named to Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s Gubernatorial Fellowship Selection Committee. The Gubernatorial Fellows Program provides leadership training to outstanding Florida graduate and undergraduate students interested in public service.

Steve Knopik

Chief Executive Officer, Beall’s & Chair, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Steve Knopik began his career as a CPA for KPMG, a global accounting and auditing firm.  He joined Beall’s, Inc. in 1984 as the Director of Finance and grew with the Company over the ensuing years and advanced through a number of leadership roles before being promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer in 2006. He is currently active in a number of statewide organizations including Leadership Florida and serves on the Board of Directors of both the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Council of 100.  On a more local level, Steve is a member of the Southwest Florida Advisory Board for SunTrust Bank, the Board of Directors of the Palmetto Youth Center and the Board of Trustees for Academy Prep Foundation, an organization that oversees the operation of middle schools for economically disadvantaged children in St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Brian E. Lapointe, Ph.D.

Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Lapointe’s research interests include algal physiology and biochemistry, seagrass and coral reef ecology, eutrophication, marine bioinvasions and marine conservation. He has extensive experience in water quality research in South Florida and the Caribbean region. As Chief Scientist on numerous Caribbean and western North Atlantic Ocean research expeditions, he has amassed valuable field experience in assessing relations between water quality and the health of tropical seagrasses and coral reefs. Dr. Lapointe’s long-term water quality monitoring at Looe Key reef in the Florida Keys represents the longest low-level nutrient record for a coral reef anywhere in the world. His work in the Keys led to a strong phosphate ban and new state regulations for Monroe County requiring greater nutrient removal from sewage effluents.

Dr. Lapointe’s work in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in the 1990s, which utilized stable nitrogen isotopes to “fingerprint” nitrogen sources, was the first to demonstrate the importance of agricultural nitrogen from mainland sources to development of algal blooms in the Keys. He developed the first “ridge-to-reef” water quality monitoring program for the European Union in Negril, Jamaica, a model that has been adopted by Marine Protected Areas around the Caribbean region. Dr. Lapointe has advised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State of Florida and the governments of Monroe County (Florida Keys), Palm Beach County, Lee County, Bahamas, Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Jamaica, Bonaire, Curacao, Martinique and St. Lucia on development of water quality monitoring programs for assessing the impacts of land-based pollution.

David Lawrence

President, The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation

David Lawrence Jr. retired in 1999 as publisher of The Miami Herald to work in the area of early childhood development and readiness. He is president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and “Education and Community Leadership Scholar” at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development. He leads The Children’s Movement of Florida, aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment and decision-making. He is a member of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet and twice chaired the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. In 2002 and 2008 he led successful campaigns for The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of early intervention and prevention funding for children in Miami-Dade. In 2002-2003 he chaired the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Protection, and in 2011 he chaired a similar panel for the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. In 2002, he was a key figure in passing a statewide constitutional amendment to provide pre-K for all 4 year olds. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and named “Outstanding Journalism Graduate” and subsequently from the Advanced Management program at the Harvard Business School.

Jeff Lundy

Director, Health & Wellness Program, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Corporate Citizenship Center

Jeff Lundy leads the Health & Wellness program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center. In this role, Jeff directs programming for business executives interested in addressing the most pressing wellness issues, especially around Community Health and Wellness. Additionally, Jeff oversees research at the Corporate Citizenship Center.  In this capacity, he directs the Center’s research team to create useful insights to help the private sector create greater social impact. Jeff Lundy joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in February 2012 to oversee and advance the Corporate Citizenship Center’s research agenda. In this role, Jeff managed the Center’s thematic maps (e.g. disaster aid, environmental innovation, etc.). Jeff also provided analysis and reported on a broad range of issues in corporate citizenship.Jeff previously served as a consultant for Empower Partners LLC, a social enterprise developing marketing models to help underserved inner-city businesses tailor their product lines to local consumers. Prior to that, he was an intern at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), where he selected several new technologies for a test run, in order to improve the Bureau’s capture of respondent data. Jeff earned his Ph.D. in Economic Sociology from the University of California, San Diego and completed a research assistantship at the University of Michigan. He also holds a B.A. in sociology from New College of Florida.

Chancellor Hershel Lyons

Florida Department of Education

Hershel Lyons was appointed as the K-12 Public Schools Chancellor by Commissioner Pam Stewart in January 2015. He brings nearly three decades of education experience, having most recently served as Alachua County’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools. Chancellor Lyons has dedicated his professional career to educating Alachua County students, having started as a teacher’s aide and coach at Gainesville High School before being promoted to a variety of leadership positions, including Assistant Principal of Santa Fe and Buchholz High Schools, Principal of Oak View Middle School, and Principal of Newberry High School. Over the last decade, he served in administrative roles at the district level, including Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Deputy Superintendent, and also Interim Superintendent during the 2013-14 school year.

Albert Manero

Founder, Limbitless Solutions

Albert Manero is the founder of Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit devoted to bringing 3D printed bionic arms and hands to children at no cost to their families. Leading a multidisciplinary group of volunteer students and alumni from the University of Central Florida (UCF), he has designed and donated battery-operated devices to young people across the United States. Mr. Manero is also a doctoral candidate in the College of Engineering and Computer Science  at UCF, and a Fulbright Academic Fellow. Albert’s research uses X-rays to test advanced aerospace materials for next-generation jet engines that will power hypersonic vehicles designed to accelerate the future of space exploration. For his volunteer achievements, Manero has been recognized by the Microsoft Collective Project, and has received the Order of Pegasus, UCF’s most prestigious student award.

Katrina McMurrian

Executive Director, Critical Consumer Issues Forum (CCIF)

Katrina McMurrian serves as the Executive Director of the Critical Consumer Issues Forum (CCIF), a unique forum in which state commissioners, consumer advocates, and utility service providers collectively address, via a series of interactive dialogues, real-world issues of importance to consumers and policymakers. A former Florida Public Service Commissioner, McMurrian draws upon extensive regulatory experience to organize and facilitate relevant policy forums and to advise an array of entities on key regulatory and public policy matters. As a public utility commissioner, McMurrian decided numerous multi-million dollar cases, appeared before Congress, worked with other state and federal agencies, and participated on a number of influential national policy boards. She served on several NARUC committees, including Electricity, Nuclear Issues (Vice Chair), Consumer Affairs, and Education & Research, as well as on collaboratives with FERC, including Demand Response (Co-Chair), Smart Grid, and Competitive Procurement. McMurrian received a Bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University in 1994 and an MBA from FSU in 1998.

Ed Moore

President, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida

Ed is the President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, a Tallahassee based association of 29 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Higher Education Facilities Finance Authority in Florida, a statutory body. Prior to serving in this position Ed served as Staff Director for the Florida House of Representatives Policy Committee and concurrently served as Staff Director of the Select Committee on Medical Liability Insurance, the Select Committee on Worker’s Compensation and the House Public Security Coordinating Committee. He has consulted for the International Republican Institute and the US Department of State on citizen engagement and NGO development. He has also consulted with the British Embassy both in the US and in London concerning American politics and governance issues. Ed has recently completed an extensive research project on the impact of term limits on policy development in Florida and how the organization’s learning capabilities are affected when organizational actors keep changing. Prior to his service on the Florida House staff he was President and CEO of The James Madison Institute. He is a fifth generation Floridian, from a native Florida family that originally settled in Florida in the early 1800s.

Greg Munson

Shareholder, Gunster, P.A.

Gregory Munson is a shareholder with Gunster P.A. who joined the firm in 2013. He twice held senior positions at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). He served as general counsel from 2004 to 2006, and most recently as the deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystem restoration.In his capacity as deputy secretary, Gregory supervised the Department’s activities related to Everglades restoration, the state’s water management districts, and the state’s coastal and aquatic areas. In between his work at FDEP, he worked as general counsel for WRScompass, a company providing environmental remediation, civil construction and consulting services to commercial, federal and state clients. Gregory now provides strategic advice and counsel on issues related to water policy, water rights and the Everglades.

Michael Myhre

Chief Executive Officer and Network State Director, Florida SBDC Network

Michael Myhre is the Chief Executive Officer and Network State Director for the Florida SBDC Network. In this role, Myhre leads the statewide network of more than 40 offices and nearly 250 employees, providing strategic vision and oversight in the continued success of Florida’s largest provider of hands-on business assistance for small and medium-sized businesses. Myhre holds more than 20 years of economic and business development experience, dedicating his career to ensuring success for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Prior to his tenure with the Florida SBDC Network, Myhre held the position of Executive Director for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development for the State of Minnesota. In this position, Myhre provided oversight of Minnesota’s leading office of entrepreneurial and small business policy development and support services, including direction of the Minnesota SBDC Network.

Jesse Panuccio

Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Jesse Panuccio joined the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) as Executive Director in 2013. DEO is the state agency charged with coordinating and managing statewide economic, labor force, and community development. As executive director, Panuccio oversees the department’s 1,600 employees and $1 billion budget. Under his guidance, DEO has implemented a variety of agency-wide initiatives to strengthen the ties between economic, community, and workforce programs, while also streamlining agency operations and increasing transparency. Prior to joining DEO, Panuccio served as the General Counsel to Governor Rick Scott. Before joining the Scott Administration, Panuccio practiced law with the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Cooper & Kirk PLLC. Panuccio received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Duke University.

Jerry Parrish, Ph.D.

Chief Economist and Director of Research, Florida Chamber Foundation

Dr. Jerry Parrish is the Chief Economist and the Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation.  In that role, he is responsible for conducting in-depth analyses on economic trends, Florida’s industry clusters and on solutions to help secure Florida’s future. Dr. Parrish previously was the Chief Economist and Director of the Center for Competitive Florida at Florida TaxWatch. Prior to that position, he served as the Associate Director of the Center for Economic Forecasting & Analysis (CEFA) at Florida State University, and has many years of experience in management roles at international manufacturing companies. Dr. Parrish is currently an Adjunct Instructor in the Masters in Applied Economics Program at Florida State University.  He earned a B.S. in Agricultural Business and Economics from Auburn University, an M.B.A. from Bellarmine University, an M.S. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Auburn University. He has published many research reports and articles on the Florida economy, Florida’s competitiveness, Florida’s property and casualty insurance system, and other economic topics of interest to Floridians.

Representative Kathleen Passidomo

Florida House of Representatives

Representative Kathleen Passidomo is a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing District 106, Naples, and a partner in the law firm Kelly, Passidomo & Alba LLP. Rep. Passidomo is a Past President of the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association and the founding Chairman of the Collier County Juvenile Justice Council. She also served as a Chairman of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women in 2006 and as Vice-Chairman of the Collier County Foreclosure Task Force. Rep. Passidomo is a graduate of Leadership Florida Class XII, Leadership Collier Class of 1991, and Leadership Marco Class of 2013. In 2010 she received the Attorney of the Year Award by the Legal Aid Service of Collier County and the Ad Miller Service Award by the Naples Area Board of Realtors. In 2000 she and her husband were co-recipients of the Naples Daily News Collier County Citizen of the Year award. Rep. Passidomo is the Chair of the Civil Justice Subcommittee, Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee and she also serves on the Insurance and Banking, Transportation & Ports, and Veteran & Military Affairs Subcommittees.

Lisa Portelli

Program Director, Winter Park Health Foundation

Ms. Portelli has been a Program Director at the Winter Park Health Foundation since 2002 where she oversees the Foundation’s Community Health funding focus area.  Ms. Portelli’s grant portfolio includes initiatives that promote policy change in many sectors including workplace wellness.  Lisa is also an adjunct instructor at the University of Central Florida in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning and Masters in Non Profit Management programs. Lisa Portelli has been involved in non-profit programs since 1986 and has a background that gives her a unique perspective on issues affecting the working poor. Ms. Portelli began her work in affordable housing and homelessness in central Florida as the executive director of the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless.

Cissy Proctor

Chief of Staff, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Cissy Proctor serves as Chief of Staff for the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), coordinating and advancing economic, community, and workforce development. Prior to that she served as the Director of the Division of Strategic Business Development where she provided support for attracting businesses to Florida, promoted the creation and expansion of Florida businesses, and facilitated Florida’s economic development partnerships. She originally joined DEO in January 2013 as the Deputy Legislative Affairs Director. Before joining DEO, Proctor practiced law with the Tallahassee-based firm Bryant Miller Olive, PA, where she had a successful legal and government-consulting practice. Proctor received her J.D. magna cum laude from Florida State University College of Law and her BS from Florida State University.

Chancellor Madeline Pumariega

Florida College System

Madeline Pumariega started as Chancellor of the Florida College System in August 2015. Since 2013, Ms.  Pumariega had been serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Take Stock in Children, a statewide non-profit organization that aims to help at-risk youth break the cycle of poverty by completing college.  Previously, Ms. Pumariega served as President of the Wolfson Campus at Miami Dade College.  She was with Miami Dade College for more than a decade, serving in a number of leadership roles.  Ms. Pumariega also serves on the board of City Year Miami and was a national Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation’s Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community Colleges program.

Commissioner Adam Putnam

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Adam Putnam serves as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and he oversees the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and serves as a member of Florida’s Cabinet. Commissioner Putnam’s priorities include fostering the growth and diversification of Florida agriculture; expanding access to Florida’s abundance of fresh produce, seafood and other products; securing a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy; protecting the quantity and quality of the state’s water supply; and safeguarding consumers from deceptive business practices. Previously, Commissioner Putnam served five terms as Congressman for Florida’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before he was elected to Congress, Commissioner Putnam served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1996 to 2000. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Food and Resource Economics. Commissioner Putnam is a fifth generation Floridian who grew up in the citrus and cattle industry. He and his wife, Melissa, have four children.

Katherine Ramsberger

President, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Kathy Ramsberger is president of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. She is responsible for leading the effort to create one of the nation’s newest performing arts centers of the 21st century, a $500 million project in the heart of downtown Orlando. She has been at the helm of this project since 2002. An integral part of the Dr. Phillips Center legacy, Ramsberger was tapped to conduct the original feasibility study for the project. She then developed the organizational structure and corporate strategic plan for the non-profit entity responsible for designing, constructing and operating the Center, successfully raising $1.8 million in start-up contributions; lobbying and negotiating over $250 million in public funding from the City of Orlando and Orange County governments; managing the national search for the project architect; managing the procurement process and final selection of a development partner; initiating the project’s grassroots community awareness campaign and later, executing a capital campaign which garnered more than $94 million in private gifts, notably, during one of our country’s most challenging economic times. Ramsberger’s career is marked by more than 20 years of successful economic development, government relations, entertainment, design and executive leadership experience. While serving as senior vice president and film commissioner of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, she recruited and managed major entertainment projects for HBO, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Brothers and other major film production companies, delivering an economic impact exceeding $200 million. She was also responsible for developing film and entertainment incentives and helped facilitate passage of tax exemption and incentive programs for major production companies at the local and state legislative level. Her career also includes producing and managing design projects for domestic and international theme parks and other themed environments for Itec Productions, Inc., where she was also responsible for international and domestic business development and strategic planning.

Pam Rauch

Vice President of Development and External Affairs, Florida Power & Light Company

Pamela Rauch is Vice President of Development and External Affairs for Florida Power & Light Company, one of the nation’s leading electric utilities. In this role Ms. Rauch is responsible for oversight of local government relations, community relations, economic development and new generation development for Florida Power & Light Company. Prior to her appointment, she served as an associate general counsel overseeing the real estate, land use and environmental group within the company’s General Counsel business unit. Ms. Rauch serves on The Board for the Florida Chamber Foundation, Palm Beach Zoo, and is a member of the Executive Committee for the Economic Council of Palm Beach County.  Ms. Rauch graduated from Florida State University College of Law, with honors, and earned undergraduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Rauch, her husband Ted and their two sons reside in Jupiter Inlet Colony.

J. Will Seccombe

President and Chief Executive Officer, VISIT FLORIDA

Will Seccombe is President and Chief Executive Officer for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s destination marketing organization. Mr. Seccombe joined VISIT FLORIDA in March 2008 as Chief Marketing Officer. Will has more than 25 years of professional marketing experience including 19 years in the Colorado tourism industry. His tourism marketing career began as regional sales manager with Vail Associates, Inc. in 1989. He went on to serve as director of marketing for Loveland Ski Areas with Clear Creek Skiing Corporation in 1992, vice president of marketing for the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1995 and vice president and chief operating officer with PRACO, LTD in 1999. In 2004, Mr. Seccombe founded Revolution Communications, LLC, a travel marketing firm based in Denver, Colorado. In 2011, Mr. Seccombe was named one of the “Top Twenty Five Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing” by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. Mr. Seccombe received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the Southern Methodist University Edwin L. Cox School of Business. He and his wife, Maryanna, have four children, Elizabeth, Bo, Katie and Caroline.

Dr. Thaddeous Seymour, Jr.

Vice President and General Manager of Health & Life Sciences, Lake Nona Property Holdings, LLC

Dr. Thaddeus Seymour, Jr., also known as Thad, serves as Vice President and General Manager of Health & Life Sciences at Lake Nona Property Holdings, LLC. Dr. Seymour leads strategic planning and business development for Lake Nona’s new “medical city.” His role includes the supervision of all health and life sciences planning, new business ventures and institutional recruitment. Prior to joining Lake Nona, he was a senior executive with biotech distributor CuraScript, Inc., a subsidiary of Express Scripts, Inc. He also has extensive experience in healthcare informatics, including co-founding and leading a venture-backed electronic medical records company. A founding board member of bioOrlando, he is active in promoting the life sciences in Central Florida. He served as a Board Member of the Florida Research Consortium, and BioFlorida, and has served on the boards of multiple healthcare technology businesses. He served as a Director of Florida’s Blood Centers, Inc. Dr. Seymour holds a BA from Dartmouth College, an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Thomas Stewart

Executive Director, National Center for the Middle Market

Thomas Stewart is the Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market, the leading source for knowledge, leadership and research on mid-sized companies, based at the Fisher College of Business and in collaboration with The Ohio State University and GE Capital. Stewart is an influential thought leader on global management issues and ideas, an internationally recognized editor and publisher, authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management, and a best-selling author. Before joining the National Center for the Middle Market, Stewart served as Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer for international consulting firm Booz & Company (now called Strategy&). He is the author of two books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization. Stewart is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College and holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cass Business School, City University London.

Will Weatherford

Former Speaker, Florida House of Representatives

Will Weatherford served as Speaker of the Florida House from 2012 to 2014. He is a small business owner and a father of four. A graduate of Jacksonville University, Will worked in the commercial real estate sector when then-Speaker of the House Allan Bense recruited him to serve in state government. Will’s inclusive leadership style earned him the confidence of his peers and they unanimously elected him Speaker of the House in 2012, making him the youngest Speaker in America. Will has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of the Washington Post’s “40 Under 40” of people in politics outside Washington, a “Top State Legislator to Watch” by Governing Magazine, a “Champion of Economic Freedom” by Americans for Prosperity and “Legislator of the Year” by the Florida Chamber and Florida Bankers Association. Will is married to Courtney Weatherford. They reside in Wesley Chapel with their four children – Ella Kate, Molly, Madelyn and William.

Andrew Wiggins

Senior Director, Campaigns and Elections, Florida Chamber of Commerce

As the Senior Director of Campaigns and Elections for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Andrew manages the Florida Chamber’s political campaign activity throughout the state of Florida. Prior to joining the Florida Chamber, Andrew served as the Deputy Director of Senate Campaigns at the Republican Party of Florida, where he previously spent three years working for House Campaigns. He has worked on grassroots campaigns all over the United States, as well as, working for both the executive and legislative branches of government. He has more than 13 years of experience helping elect candidates to the House and Senate across Florida.

Wiggins, a fifth generation Floridian, was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in History, as well as M.A. in Political Science with a certificate in Political Campaigning.

Mark Wilson

President and Chief Executive Officer, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Mark Wilson serves as president and chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he leads the substantial political, lobbying, grassroots, and economic research operations.. The Florida Chamber focuses on creating a business climate that generates prosperity and high-paying jobs, vibrant communities and global competitiveness in the state of Florida by focusing on job creation and the Six Pillars of Florida’s Future Economy. Through his focus on unifying the business community, Wilson created the Florida Business Agenda and the Florida Chamber Grassroots Network, which mobilizes the business community on issues ranging from taxes and talent, to insurance and constitutional amendment reform. In addition to his legislative successes, Wilson is also the architect of groundbreaking statewide political campaigns in 2004 and 2006 that passed significant constitutional amendment reforms, as well as numerous legislative and issue campaigns. In 2010, he served as treasurer and co-chair of the Vote No on 4 campaign, an anti-growth proposal, in one of the most successful political campaigns in Florida’s history. Prior to joining the Florida Chamber in 1998, Wilson served as vice president of the Chicagoland Chamber and previously served with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.