Vistra Communications

Vistra Communications LLC, (Vistra) is an SBA 8(a) and service-disabled veteran-owned small business providing integrated strategic communications, marketing and consulting services to corporate, government and nonprofit clients, with offices in Tampa, FL and Northern Virginia.  Vistra, founded in 2007, is an award-winning company comprised of a team of nearly 100 diverse professionals with varied experiences, backgrounds and training, producing exceptional results for clients in a variety of industries.




Maureen Butler

As Vistra’s Executive Vice President, Maureen is involved in all aspects of Vistra’s strategy, administration, operations and financial management. She served as CFO from the company’s founding in 2007 until 2016. Maureen was a key player in establishing Vistra’s administrative and financial operations including accounting, HR and contracting.

Maureen’s experiences as a U.S. Army Finance Officer, staff accountant with a property management company and small CPA firm, and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits have enabled her to contribute to the growth and development of Vistra. Maureen spent 4 years as an Accounting Professor at the University of South Florida and 9 years at The University of Tampa where she earned tenure prior to leaving academia to join Vistra full time in 2019. She is an Adjunct Professor of Accounting at The University of Tampa teaching Financial Management in their Nonprofit Management Program. She has published research in the areas of nonprofit management, defense contracting and outsourcing in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, the Journal of Business Research and the Journal of Accountancy.

A Certified Public Accountant licensed in Florida and Virginia, Maureen holds a B.S. in Accounting from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville. She is a member of the Hillsborough Education Foundation Program Oversight Committee and a current instructor, former board member and former board treasurer of the Nonprofit Leadership Center.

Maureen Butler
Executive Vice President

BDG Architects

BDG Architects, formed in 1994, is a 130+ person full service Architectural, Space Planning, Interior Design and Program Management practice providing creativity in design and production of architectural and interiors projects. Their headquarters is located in downtown Tampa, Florida in Rivergate Tower, with offices in Birmingham, Alabama, Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida and remote staff in Miami and Memphis.

Licensed in 31 states, BDG Architects has built a practice based on producing creative architecture and interior design for a variety of clients and project types. In 2013, BDG Architects merged with Urban Studio Architects, a Tampa based firm formed in 1989 and PKA Associates in Birmingham Alabama enhancing BDG’s experience in interior architecture/space planning, corporate interiors,  multi-family residential and hospitality.

In 2020 BDG formed a strategic partnership with FleischmanGarciaMaslowski (FGM), founded in Tampa in 1972. The firms were brought together to utilize the strengths, experience and expertise that each has to offer to create a unique new firm structure capable of design and production for an expanded variety of project types and sizes. And most recently, in 2022 BDG forged a partnership with Sarasota firm Parker Walter Group (PWG) to enhance its ability to continue to serve the multifamily market and beyond.




Chris Kirschner, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Chris Kirschner is President of BDG Architects with over 30 years of experience in providing professional architecture services on a variety of project types including sport and entertainment venues, retail, commercial office, hospitality, multi-family, and mixed-use. He is well versed in development considerations including long range planning, finance strategies and incentives, LEED and WELL design certification, and facilities planning.

He obtained his Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame, where he spent a year in Rome, Italy studying urban planning, historic construction technology, and classical architectural theory. After founding BDG Architects in 2000, he has grown the company, including its subsidiary firms, to over 150 people and ten offices across the southeast.

Mr. Kirschner is actively involved in numerous civic and industry organizations including USGBC, AIA, ICSC, NFPA, CSI and serves as a board member and chair of the property committee for the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA.

Chris is currently licensed to practice architecture in multiple states, NCARB certified, a LEED Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and the principal partner of BDG Architects. He currently lives with his wife and two children in Tampa, Florida.

Chris Kirschner, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
President

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Bradley is a national law firm with a reputation for skilled legal work, exceptional client service, and impeccable integrity. We provide business clients around the world with a full suite of legal services in dozens of industries and practice areas.

With 10 offices located in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and the District of Columbia, we have an extensive geographic base to represent clients on a regional, national, and international basis. We frequently serve as national coordinating counsel, regional counsel, and statewide counsel for clients in various industries.

Although Bradley is a large law firm with almost 600 lawyers, our clients still enjoy the personal attention, responsiveness, and deep relationships they would expect from a boutique firm. Our attorneys combine legal experience and knowledge with a sophisticated understanding of industries to find practical, strategic solutions specifically tailored to our clients’ business operations. Bradley lawyers use their talents, judgment, work ethic, and experience to go above and beyond expectations to help clients meet their goals.

Bradley’s Economic Development Experience

Bradley handles projects throughout the U.S., representing companies with a creative, proactive approach that is fundamentally multidisciplinary. The 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America includes nine Bradley attorneys listed for Economic Development and the firm is listed nationally for Economic Development Law.

We empower our clients by lending our experience to a project from any stage of the development. From the outset, we lead a process that leads to identifying the location that is most profitable for the company. We routinely assist the client’s site selection team, not only in connection with identifying and implementing the economic development incentives, but also in the many aspects of the new project or expansion, including real estate, tax, governmental, planning and zoning, environmental, permitting, financing, labor and employment, and construction.

We are also experienced and staffed to assist companies in connection with expansions and new projects that may be relatively small in terms of capital investment and job creation, but significant for the company.

Bradley has handled economic development deals in thirty-one states.  Our services include the following.

  • Our multidisciplinary efforts integrate experience in real estate and construction, utilities and environmental work, corporate and employment law, and tax incentives.
  • We routinely handle related tax matters at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • We provide experienced interaction with government developers at the state, county, and city levels, including economic and community development groups, chambers of commerce, industrial development boards, power companies, and utility providers.
  • We advocate for clients before governmental agencies in negotiating approvals for various incentives.
  • We have experience in large land assemblies for industrial parks; megasite programs; and all aspects of permitting, entitlements, land use, industrial development revenue, and municipal financing.
  • We help clients facing ongoing disputes in states with viable project sites resolve issues and maximize the number of options available during the decision-making process.

To learn more, visit www.bradley.com/economicdevelopment.




Ben Dachepalli

Ben Dachepalli has extensive experience negotiating and drafting construction-related agreements, and litigating complex construction claims regarding contract disputes, construction defects, design errors, surety bonds and construction liens. He is dedicated to understanding each client’s business to provide comprehensive strategies that go beyond legal issues, disputes or contracts.

Ben is board certified by the Florida Bar in Construction Law. He was selected as national coordinating counsel for a large, publicly traded REIT with projects all across the United States. In this role, Ben advised and counseled this client on matters that affect their multi-family apartment projects across their entire portfolio and addresses legal issues that are critical to executing the company’s strategic business goals.

As a former board member of the Construction Industry Licensing Board for the State of Florida, Ben is also experienced in licensing matters and disputes for contractors and subcontractors.

Ben Dachepalli
Partner

USF Health

The University of South Florida has transformed a community medical school, established by the Florida Legislature in 1965, into a major academic medical center known statewide and nationally for its innovative curriculum with an emphasis on improving health through interprofessional education, research and patient care. 

USF’s medical school, which enrolled its charter class in 1971, was named the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine in 2011, signifying its leading role in changing how medical schools teach physicians of the future. Fully accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, the college awards doctorates in Medicine (MD), and through its School of Biomedical Sciences, PhD and MS degrees in Medical Sciences. The college’s SELECT MD program, in partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network, focuses on emotional intelligence and leadership development. The School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, established in 1998, offers Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and transitional DPT degrees. Additionally, the college’s Athletic Training Education Program offers two tracks for MS degrees. Specially designed programs are available, including combined MD/MPH program and an Honors Research program. To meet the growing demand for a workforce skilled in science and technology, the college proves a wide range of master’s degrees and graduate certificates in emerging fields, such as biotechnology, bioinformatics, and metabolic and nutritional medicine. 




Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM

As executive vice president of USF Health, Dr. Lockwood leads the Morsani College of Medicine (MCOM), the Taneja College of Pharmacy, and the Colleges of Nursing and Public Health, as well as the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences and Graduate Biomedical Sciences. He also oversees the USF Health faculty group practice, which with more than 1,000 providers is one of the largest multispecialty practices in Florida. Dr. Lockwood also serves as the MCOM dean and as a professor in its Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He holds a secondary appointment as a professor in the USF Health College of Public Health. Lockwood assumed all these leadership roles when he joined USF Health in May 2014 and has served as an EVP at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) since 2015.

Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM
Executive Vice President of USF Health, Dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

Ellison Companies

Ellison Companies comprises three separate though complimentary firms – Ellison Construction, Ellison Development, and Ellison Advisors. Ellison Construction is a leader in the high-quality construction of commercial, adaptive reuse, and placemaking projects in the Tampa Bay region. Ellison Development is an innovative real estate development firm dedicated to acquiring, developing, and constructing architecturally significant mixed-use projects. Embracing the essence of the local community, they create projects that stand the test of time, harmonizing with and elevating their communities. Ellison Advisors is an owner’s representation firm providing oversight and advisement throughout the design and construction process. Acting as a trusted partner with their owners, the firm uses its wealth of knowledge and experience to facilitate a smoother, more efficient project with high-quality outcomes.




Casey Ellison

Casey Ellison has over 20 years of experience in the construction and development industries. He is the CEO of Ellison Companies, a family of firms in the construction and development industry. Casey has extensive experience building and developing across all sectors with an emphasis on place-making hospitality projects. Casey has been a part of many of Tampa’s most impactful projects, including Oxford Exchange, Stovall House, Armature Works, Hotel Haya, and is a preferred partner for the Hillsborough County School Board, University of Tampa, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Casey holds leadership roles in Ellison Construction, one of Tampa Bay area’s leading construction management firms, and Ellison Development, an innovative real estate development company. Casey is civic-minded, serving as incoming Chair on the University of Tampa’s Board of Fellows as well as a sitting member of the Glazer Children’s Museum’s facilities committee. Casey is passionate about the future of business in the Tampa/St. Petersburg region and is currently developing a mixed-use project in St. Petersburg’s EDGE District.

Casey Ellison
CEO

East + Main

East+Main Company is a real estate owner and developer focused on transforming and maintaining urban neighborhood-oriented properties that contribute to the fabric of the communities in which they exist. Founded in 2021, East+Main Company’s first asset is a historic downtown mixed-use building in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.




James Nozar

James Nozar lives in Tampa, FL and is the founder and chief executive officer of East+Main Company, a real estate owner and developer focused on transforming and maintaining urban neighborhood-oriented properties that contribute to the fabric of the communities in which they exist. Founded in 2021, East+Main Company’s first asset is a historic downtown mixed-use building in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where James is also restoring and renovating a waterfront mid-century home.   Through East+Main Company, James has also been engaged as an advisor and consultant to other landowners and developers seeking expertise in the planning and development of urban, mixed-use properties.

Before founding East+Main Company, James was the CEO of Strategic Property Partners, LLC (“SPP”), a full-service commercial real estate developer, owner and operator based in Tampa, Florida.  James joined SPP in March of 2016 as the company’s first Chief Executive Officer and was tasked with building a full-service development company while concurrently leading and overseeing the design and construction of the Water Street Tampa project.  As one of the largest active urban redevelopment projects in the United States, Water Street Tampa spans across 74 acres in downtown Tampa that formerly consisted of mostly blighted surface parking lots and features an entirely new urban street network that creates new connections to existing surrounding neighborhoods and the central business district.

Prior to joining SPP, James was a Senior Vice President with The JBG Companies (now JBG Smith) in Washington D.C. where he focused on the firm’s overall acquisition and development strategy, and was responsible for acquisition underwriting assumptions, the overall vision and conceptual program, entitlements, and community outreach efforts, as well as the design process on dozens of real estate investments within the Washington, DC metropolitan area. James also worked as a real estate consultant for Ernst & Young and RCLCo after receiving a B.S. in Building Construction and Certificate in City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was also a 4-year Letter winner on the men’s swimming team, a 2-year captain and All-American athlete.

James is a past chair of the Board of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council and a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Tech Alexander-Tharpe Fund.

James Nozar
Founder and CEO

CPL

Since 1975, CPL has grown into a multi-disciplined firm, cultivating inspiring designs with clients in the community, healthcare, higher education, K-12 education and transportation sectors. We maintain 21 offices across seven states, including Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

Everything we do is engineered to strengthen the bonds between us and our dedicated partners. Working side-by-side with clients to bring ambitious projects to life is what truly energizes us. That’s why what we create together lasts.




Ryan Daniels

With over two decades of visionary leadership in architecture and design across various markets, Ryan is creating health and wellbeing facilities that have a direct, positive impact on improving lives.

He believes design, innovation and technology are the driving forces to create built environments where people interact, live, work, play, shop, discover, heal and educate. His passion lies in delivering impressionable experiences through quality design, and he infuses every project with strategic direction and a fresh perspective.

Blending healthcare expertise and ingenuity, Ryan fosters a collaborative “think tank” culture that unites diverse perspectives to achieve data-driven outcomes. Moreover, he becomes deeply embedded in the communities he lives and works with, actively volunteering in local organizations, serving on boards of directors and participating in committees to enhance the welfare of all. He remains focused on cultivating robust client partnerships, recruiting top talent and identifying high-value opportunities that align with CPL’s vision for growth throughout the state of Florida and beyond.

Ryan Daniels
VP, Florida Healthcare Practice Leader

Casa Ybor

Casa Ybor is proud to be one of the driving forces behind the exciting revitalization of the Ybor City National Historic Landmark District of Tampa, Florida.

For decades, Ybor City has enjoyed a reputation as a nationally renowned entertainment district. Casa Ybor is focused on contributing to “The Renaissance of Ybor City” as a diverse, vibrant and sustainable business and residential community.

Our properties include a former cigar factory, 7th Avenue storefronts, new mixed-use properties, historic office and retail spaces, warehouse spaces, and contemporary apartment homes for rent and lease in ideal, walkable locations throughout the District.




Darryl Shaw

Darryl Shaw is a developer and investor who is the driving force behind Ybor City’s Gas Worx development – a mixed-use project that will link downtown Tampa, the Channel District and the Latin Quarter.

Named to the Florida 500, as well as the Tampa Bay Power 100 by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Shaw was the Co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners.  Shaw led the company starting in 1996 when he and his brother Neil, a board-certified veterinary internist, opened their first specialty animal care hospital in Tampa.  Eventually the pair took BluePearl national, with more than 50 locations, before they sold the business in 2015.  In 2022, Shaw stepped down as CEO to focus solely on Ybor.  Darryl and Neil are recipients of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the State of Florida.

Born in South Africa, Shaw is a graduate of Brown University with a degree in international commerce.  He also has an MBA in finance and marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. 

Darryl Shaw
Chief Executive Officer

Ybor City Chamber of Commerce

Ybor City is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida and The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, celebrating its 92nd  anniversary this year, is focused both on preserving and developing the historic district. Founded in 1886 by Vicente Martinez-Ybor when he moved his cigar factory from Key West to Tampa, Ybor City holds a unique place in Florida’s social and economic history as our state’s “first industrial town.” Primarily a regional entertainment center during the past decade, Ybor City’s central location, great transportation and critical mass of “creative industries” is making it the ‘Greenwich Village’ of Tampa. Historic buildings have been turned into stylish offices, in-town residences and boutique hotels without sacrificing their historic character. In addition to being a top tourist destination, Ybor City is a great place to meet, learn, greet and do business.




Lee Bell

Lee Bell joined the Ybor Chamber as President and CEO in 2019.  Lee has worked as a leading executive in the not-for-profit world for over seven years in local and statewide organizations.  Prior to his not-for-profit roles, Lee founded and operated a multi-million-dollar staffing, recruiting, and human resource business until he sold it. For over twenty years Lee held various leadership posts within Ashland Chemical, a $2.7 billion division of Ashland, Inc..  Lee is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree majoring in accounting.

Lee Bell
President and CEO

Charter Communications

Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) is a leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator serving more than 32 million customers in 41 states through its Spectrum brand. Over an advanced communications network, the company offers a full range of state-of-the-art residential and business services including Spectrum Internet®, TV, Mobile and Voice.

For small and medium-sized companies, Spectrum Business® delivers the same suite of broadband products and services coupled with special features and applications to enhance productivity, while for larger businesses and government entities, Spectrum Enterprise provides highly customized, fiber-based solutions. Spectrum Reach® delivers tailored advertising and production for the modern media landscape. The company also distributes award-winning news coverage and sports programming to its customers through Spectrum Networks.




David Garcia

David Garcia is Charter’s Director of State Government Affairs for the West Central portion of the company’s Florida footprint. He’s a veteran in local and federal affairs within the region. His background includes local policy expertise as a Legislative Aide with the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, coupled with a strong foundation in outreach, community engagement, and network building. As the former District Director of a congressional office, David has demonstrated leadership and dedication to public service.

David Garcia
Director, State Government Affairs (Florida)

Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida)

Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) is a family-owned, independent Coca-Cola bottler. Coke Florida’s exclusive territory covers over 18 million consumers across 47 Florida counties, and includes the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa. Coke Florida sells, manufactures and distributes over 600 products of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies. Coke Florida is the third largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler and the sixth largest independent bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States. Coke Florida was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.




Troy D. Taylor

Troy D. Taylor is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida), a family-owned independent Coca-Cola bottler.

Coke Florida is the third largest privately held and sixth largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. The company markets, sells, produces and distributes a diverse portfolio of leading non-alcoholic beverage brands of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies. Coke Florida’s exclusive sales and distribution territory covers most of the state of Florida, including the Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville metropolitan areas. The company is Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certified and is the fourth largest black-owned business in America. Coke Florida was founded in May 2015 and is headquartered in Tampa.

Mr. Taylor has extensive experience as an operating executive, investor, banker and strategic advisor. He previously founded and was the Managing Partner of Spinel Investment Company, a Houston-based private investment and advisory firm. He was also an advisor to The Coca-Cola Company and previously held senior-level positions at J.P. Morgan, Accenture and BBVA.

Mr. Taylor serves on the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Jacksonville Branch, Florida Chamber of Commerce, American Beverage Association, and Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association. He is a Trustee of the Boys & Girls Club of America Southeast Region and is a member of the Coca-Cola Hispanic Advisory Council and Florida Council of 100. He was previously a member of the Tampa Bay Partnership Council of Governors and the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees.

Mr. Taylor has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance and Business Law from Marshall University. He was the recipient of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2018 award in Florida for the Consumer Products category.

Troy D. Taylor
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Verizon

With over 150 locations, Verizon is a global leader delivering innovative communications and technology solutions that improve the way our customers live, work, learn and play.

Founded in 2000, the company operates America’s most reliable wireless network and the nation’s premier all-fiber network, and delivers integrated solutions to businesses worldwide. With brands like Yahoo, TechCrunch and HuffPost, the company’s media group helps consumers stay informed and entertained, communicate and transact, while creating new ways for advertisers and partners to connect.

 




Johnson & Johnson

At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly-based health care company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. We are blending our heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.




Barbara Dondarski

Barbara is currently the VP, GS Transition Management which is part of the GS Service Excellence and Experience team.  She is responsible globally for initiatives driving Continuous Improvement, Service Recovery and Quality, Integrated Service Management, Data Strategy and Governance and Reporting & Analytics across the GS functions.  In July of 2016, Barbara joined Johnson & Johnson as the Senior Director in charge of Procurement Service Delivery for the North America Region.  In this role, she was responsible for the delivery of the end-to-end Source-to-Settle process from requisition to invoice payment with teams in the US, Manila and in India supporting the regional activity.

Prior to her role at J&J, Barbara was the Director of EMEA Enterprise Supply Chain (ESC) Operations at Citibank, where she was responsible for day-to-day management of Account Payable, T&E and Procurement Operations.  She led a team of 140 Operations staff, with matrix responsibility for all ESC functions at the site.   Barbara has held a variety of Procurement roles in her career, including Strategic Sourcing, Project Management, Systems and Service Delivery.  For her different roles, she has lived in several places in the US, including CT, FL and NJ, and then moved to Budapest, Hungary for 3 years, before returning to Tampa to take her current position at J&J.

She earned her MBA at the University of Florida, and holds an undergraduate degree in Business and Psychology from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

Barbara Dondarski
VP, GS Transition Management

Harper Limbach

Limbach Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: LMB), with 2023 revenue of $516.4 million, is a building systems solution firm that partners with building owners and facilities managers who have mission critical mechanical (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electrical and plumbing infrastructure. We strive to be an indispensable partner to our customers by providing services that are essential to the operation of their businesses. We work with building owners primarily in six vertical markets: healthcare, industrial and manufacturing, data centers, life science, higher education, and cultural and entertainment.

We have more than 1,400 team members in 19 offices across the eastern United States. Our team members uniquely combine engineering expertise with field installation skills to provide custom solutions that leverage our full life-cycle capabilities, which allows us to address both the operational and capital projects needs of our customers.

 




Nick Angerosa

Nick currently serves as the President of Harper Limbach. Nick joined Harper in 2012 and oversaw the growth of the Tampa Branch before being promoted to President in 2020.

Nick is responsible for the entire Florida business, including mechanical construction, mechanical prime, special projects, and service departments. These departments work collaboratively to deliver high-level products to their customers and ensure above-average industry-standard profits for their stakeholders while maintaining an excellent safety record.

Nick’s vision for Harper is to play a part in leading the company as a best-in-class provider of value-driven building solutions and services that Harper offers to its diverse client base.

Before joining Harper, Nick worked as a Project Manager and Division Manager with The Poole & Kent Company of Florida from 1997 to 2012. His valuable experience there in delivering a variety of special projects and major construction projects prepared him for his current role at Harper.

Nick Angerosa
Harper President

Hancock Whitney

Since the late 1800s, Hancock Whitney has embodied core values of Honor & Integrity, Strength & Stability, Commitment to Service, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility. Hancock Whitney offices and financial centers in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas offer comprehensive financial products and services, including traditional and online banking; commercial and small business banking; private banking; trust and investment services; healthcare banking; certain insurance services; and mortgage services. The company also operates a loan production office in Nashville, Tennessee. BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent bank rating and analysis firm, consistently recommends Hancock Whitney as one of America’s most financially sound banks. More information is available at www.hancockwhitney.com.

 




Jingyi Blank

Hancock Whitney welcomes Jingyi Blank as Vice President & Middle Market Banker. She is responsible for growing new business relationships for companies with annual revenues of more than $20 million. With over 16 years of corporate finance & consulting experience, she held leadership positions in New York & Hong Kong before returning to Florida with her family in 2022. Most recently, she served as a Financial Services Consultant with Spencer Stuart. She earned a BA & Masters from Rice University.

Jingyi Blank
Vice President - Middle Market Banking

The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship of the natural environment.




Roger Germann

Roger Germann is the President & Chief Executive Officer of The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL. He brings a strong history of leadership experience with 25+ years of experience in the private and public sector; Roger is widely recognized as one of the zoological community’s top leaders and strategists. Since joining The Florida Aquarium in June 2017, he is actively elevating the organization with several high-profile recognitions.

Under his leadership, some of the most recent successes and accolades include being recognized from USA Today as one of North America’s Top 2 Aquariums, growing attendance and operations by opening several world-class exhibits, including Moon Bay, only the fourth of its kind in North America, a unique moon jellies interactive touch experience and in 2018, the Aquarium’s second-largest exhibit, Heart of the Sea. Besides, these important successes have been the Aquarium’s huge step forward with its conservation initiatives which has focused on increasing the Aquarium’s commitment to saving wildlife, including the opening of a $4M sea turtle rehabilitation center and becoming the first organization to successfully reproduce Atlantic pillar coral in human care, and increasing revenue and philanthropic support of the Aquarium’s critical conservation, education and community initiatives.

Prior to The Florida Aquarium, Roger earned his strong business and conservation leadership reputation serving as Executive Vice President for more than 16 years at the world-renowned John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. He began his career in television and worked in the public sector for the State of Illinois.

Roger is active in leadership roles on several local and national committees and non-profit boards. In 2019, Roger was appointed by Governor DeSantis to the Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and serves on the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, Visit Tampa Bay, and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. He has served in several national leadership positions, including a White House appointed member of the Great Lakes Advisory Council.

Beyond his work at The Florida Aquarium, Roger is heavily involved in the community. He dedicates his time in support of Mitchell Elementary School, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Bayshore Little League, along with mentoring students from underserved areas.

Roger and his family reside in South Tampa.

Roger Germann
President & Chief Executive Officer

The Southern Group

When The Southern Group was founded twenty years ago, our firm pioneered the lobbying industry in Florida and beyond. We were the first to offer a unique type of advocacy that was driven by aligning the best and brightest candidates from business, government, and politics, and establishing a network of offices that offer our clients unparalleled access to local and state government.

Over the last two decades we have cultivated and retained a strong team of experts who help our clients build winning strategies, navigate the pathways to power, and connect with decision makers—whether in government or business. We know how to navigate the halls of government because most of us already served in them.

Today, the sharp lines between government, business, and constituencies have blurred. Applying calculated influence demands dynamic strategies that keep pace with societal trends and economic outlooks. Survival of the smartest, fastest, and most connected is the new norm. While lobbying will always be our foundation, tomorrow has reshaped who we are and how we access, advocate, and influence.




Seth McKeel

Seth McKeel joined The Southern Group’s Tampa office as Managing Partner in 2014 after a long and distinguished career in public service. Seth has developed expertise in numerous areas, including economic and business development, energy, health care, land use and development, marine science, policy, public and private partnerships, telecommunications, transportation, and water.

Seth’s political career began in 1999 with his election to the Lakeland City Commission at age 24, its youngest member. This experience in municipal government allowed Seth to hone his expertise in achieving local consensus. Seth was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2006 and re-elected until the conclusion of his eight-year term limit in November of 2014. As a legislator, Seth tackled tough issues, including agriculture, energy, higher education reform, and natural resources policy. He chaired the Polk County and Hillsborough County Legislative Delegations for two consecutive years, as well as the larger nine-county Bay Area Legislative Delegation.

A strong commitment to fiscal responsibility earned Seth the trust of House Speaker Will Weatherford, who in 2012 tapped Seth to chair the Appropriations Committee, where he led the Florida House’s efforts to balance the $77 billion budget of the third largest state in the Union. Under Seth’s leadership, Florida maintained AAA bond rating and set aside more than $3 billion in healthy reserves.

Seth proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. Seth is also the founding director of The Schools of McKeel Academy Charter School. Seth was recognized with the YMCA’s Servant Leadership Award and is a graduate of Leadership Florida, Leadership Lakeland, and a member of Florida Blue Key.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Seth was awarded the Presidential Medallion, one of the university’s highest awards, for his service to UF and higher education. Seth is among the fifth generation in his family to call Florida home. Seth and his wife, Kim, live in Lakeland with their two children

Seth McKeel
Managing Partner - Tampa Bay office

Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to achieve a postsecondary education. The Foundation’s work is driven by four fundamental beliefs in Community, Investment, Equity, and Partnership. Helios invests in programs and initiatives across the full education continuum – from early grade success through postsecondary education. In Arizona, where Latino students comprise the largest percentage of the K-12 public school population, the Foundation is implementing its Arizona Latino Student Success initiative focused on preparing all students – especially students in high poverty, underserved Latino communities – for success. Through Helios’ Florida Regional Student Success Initiative, the Foundation is helping underserved, minority, first-generation students from the state’s large population centers in of Tampa, Orlando, and Miami achieve a postsecondary education. Since 2006, the Foundation has invested more than $233 million in education programs and initiatives in both states.




Stacy Baier

Stacy has more than 25 years of experience in educational philanthropy. In her past role as CEO of the nationally recognized Pinellas Education Foundation, she led all development, program and administrative activities at the Foundation while cultivating a strong working relationship between the philanthropic, business and school communities. She has also served as president and CEO of the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN) and as vice president and program director of College and Career Readiness for Helios. She has also served as executive director of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.

Stacy received her doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Florida and holds a Master of Education from Harvard University. Most recently, Stacy was recognized for the third time in Florida Trend 500 Most Influential Leaders in the category of nonprofits/philanthropy.

Stacy Baier
Senior Vice President, Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships

Florida Polytechnic University

Florida Poly is the nation’s leading institution of change, engineered from the ground up to push the boundaries of education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Florida Poly has about 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students and offers more than 31 programs of study. The University is the only state university in Florida dedicated exclusively to STEM education.




Randy K. Avent

Dr. Randy K. Avent is the founding president of Florida Polytechnic University, the newest of the state’s 12 public universities and the only polytechnic university in the State University System of Florida.

As Florida Polytechnic University’s inaugural president, Avent is responsible for the development and operation of the university and is committed to strategically developing Florida Poly as a research and jobs university, an agent for growth and a beacon for the economy.

His career exemplifies the qualities of innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship the university seeks to instill in students. An accomplished academician, senior administrator and research scientist, Avent has an extensive background teaching and directing research at higher-education institutions dedicated to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

At Florida Polytechnic, Avent focused on the core STEM disciplines of engineering, mathematical and physical sciences, which are considered key to economic growth and prosperity for Florida and the nation as a whole. He created a strategic plan that addressed the four largest pressures on higher education in Florida – degree alignment, student success, economic development and affordability – and helped open the university in under two years by creatively building the campus using combinations of state funding, private investments and Public-Private Partnerships (P3s). He formed over 200 partnerships with industry and is working with a local developer to create a 4,500 acre “live-work-play” research park that brings together industry, government and academia. Under Avent’s leadership, the university received both SACSCOC and ABET accreditation in under five years and have built relationships with Fulbright, Killam and other international partners in India and Brazil.

Randy K. Avent
President

BMO Bank

BMO is a leading bank driven by a single purpose: to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life. Everywhere we do business, we’re focused on building, investing, and transforming how we work to drive performance and continue growing the good. BMO’s expansion into Tampa was driven by the diversity of industries in the region and the surge of companies relocating here. The commercial banking team is focused on a variety of industries, including manufacturing, wholesale, distribution, engineering and construction, food and business services – providing customers with access to BMO’s full array of financial services and industry expertise. commercial.bmo.com. BMO Bank N.A. Member FDIC.




John Astrab

John Astrab
West Florida Managing Director of Corporate and Middle Market Banking

Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell is a different kind of law firm built on long-term partnerships and a culture of selfless service. We help clients achieve business success by providing leading legal strategies, creative solutions that blend technology and teamwork, and more than 900 attorneys who deliver unmatched personal service in uncommon ways.

Unlike other national firms, Husch Blackwell is structured top to bottom around client industries so teams with diverse experience across practice areas can readily tap collective knowledge and resources to help our clients solve the world’s most complex challenges. Everything we do is designed to make it easy for clients to do business with our firm.

  • We are the only law firm to be recognized by both the CLOC LIO Project and ACC Value Champion award series for our ability to deliver legal solutions that cut spending, improve predictability and achieve better outcomes.
  • We are among only 7% of all law firms using artificial intelligence tools that also staff an in-house Data Science team to elevate the design of new solutions.
  • In 2022, our firm achieved a world-class Net Promoter Score® (85), far exceeding the industry average (32).
  • The Link – the Am Law 200’s first and widely renowned all-virtual office recognized by The Wall Street Journal – is changing the way we work for the better. The office has rapidly grown to include 200+ attorneys and 600+ total members located across 35+ states.
  • Inclusion is an important value of how we do business and an integral part of our outreach efforts, operations and strategic plans, and we are proud to have been recognized for our efforts with Mansfield Certification Plus for four consecutive years and a perfect score on Corporate Equality Index for seven consecutive years.




Jamie Lawless

Over the course of a 25-year career in the professional services industry, Jamie has developed a keen awareness that client service and satisfaction are the foundation of any firm’s success. She has routinely been tasked with envisioning, building, and implementing service delivery models that challenge existing approaches and that drive institutional excellence.As Husch Blackwell’s Chief Executive-elect—she will assume the Chief Executive role on February 1, 2024—Jamie works side by side with the firm’s current chief executive and others in firm leadership to guide the firm’s strategic direction and operations. As Chief Executive, Jamie will direct and oversee the overall performance, profitability, and finances of the firm, leading nearly 2,000 partners, attorneys, and business professionals. She will implement and execute the firm’s existing three-year strategic plan and play a principal role in the next strategic planning cycle. Jamie will lead all the firm’s management and administrative departments and oversee the initiatives and strategies implemented at the business-unit level by the firm’s six business units.Before joining Husch Blackwell, Jamie spent a decade at Baker McKenzie, where she built from the ground up a business and alternative legal services center that served each of that firm’s 74 offices across 45 countries. During her tenure there, Jamie held many leadership roles, including Chief Operating Officer for offices in Washington and New York, two of the country’s leading legal markets, while leading global modernization projects and earning the trust of lawyers, which enabled her to serve on the firm’s Global Leadership Team, Global Risk Committee, and North America Inclusion, Equity & Diversity Committee.

Jamie Lawless
Chief Executive Elect

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy. We solve complex legal problems across borders and practice areas. Our unique culture, developed over 65 years, enables our 13,000 people to understand local markets and navigate multiple jurisdictions, working together as trusted colleagues and friends to instill confidence in our clients. Baker McKenzie chose Tampa for the site of its new Global Services Center, the first of its kind in North America, following the success of similar sites in the Philippines and Northern
Ireland.




Renee Agler

Renee Agler is currently the Executive Director for Baker McKenzie’s global service center in Tampa and a member of the Firm’s global leadership team. Renee played a key role in building the center from the ground floor and is responsible for providing overall strategic direction to the Center, enabling employees to deliver high-quality business services for the Firm’s stakeholders.

Prior to the Executive Director role, Renee was a seasoned HR leader with a demonstrated history of successfully deploying change management initiatives, executive coaching, and building and implementing HR strategies. Renee is a passionate business leader and strategic influencer who brings an innovative mindset to business issues. Renee believes in creating inclusive workplaces where employees have a sense of belonging and promotes an environment that accepts diverse backgrounds as a way to generate creative and innovative ideas.

Before joining Baker McKenzie, Renee held various HR roles at Raymond James, Charles Schwab, EverBank (now TIAA), and Bank of America.

Renee is passionate about giving back to the community and creating career pathways for future leaders, as evidenced by her roles on the Board of Directors of FL Gulf Coast of Alzheimer’s and the HR Advisory Board for Florida State University. Additionally, Renee contributes to the economic prosperity of Tampa Bay by serving as a member of the Competitiveness Committee with the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council.

Renee has an MBA and is Greenbelt certified.

Renee Agler
Executive Director, Tampa Center

Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer, and Earth’s safest place to work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon.




Sam Blatt

Sam Blatt is Amazon’s Economic Development Manager for the Southeast United States and is charged with advocating for the approval and development of Amazon’s fulfillment network in partnership with policymakers and community stakeholders. His work involves reducing time, cost, and uncertainty associated with projects, and ensuring Amazon is positioned to be a successful long-term community partner.

Sam Blatt
Manager, Economic Development

AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a modern media company whose mission is to inspire human progress through the power of communication and entertainment.

We bring together premium video content, a large base of direct-to-consumer relationships, high-speed networks optimized for video and advertising technology to lead the next revolution in technology, media and telecommunications.

AT&T has recorded 35 consecutive years of quarterly dividend growth and is a Fortune 10 company.




Edwin Narain

Former Representative Edwin “Ed” Narain has served the Tampa Bay Community for almost twenty-five years. He has dedicated his life to helping children and the working poor. He has served on the Hillsborough County Community Action Board, the Headstart Policy council and is a member of the Pinellas PACE Center for Girls Board of Directors, and the Saint Leo University Board of Directors.

Professionally, Ed is Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs with AT&T and has earned three Florida Top Performance Manager of the Year awards and two AT&T Summit Awards.

Ed holds a BA degree in Psychology and a Masters in Business Administration from Saint Leo University. In 2013, he completed a Leadership Certificate and earned a Jurist Doctorate from Stetson University College of Law.

As a state legislator, Ed was elected Chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus in 2015, received the 2015 Florida Association of Counties County Champion Award, the 2016 Legislative Appreciation Award from the Florida League of Cities, and earned two Distinguished Advocate Awards.

He and his wife Monica are co-founders of the USF Black Leadership Network that provides scholarships to African American college students.

Edwin Narain
Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs

Suncoast Credit Union

Suncoast Credit Union is the largest credit union in the state of Florida, the ninth largest in the United States based on membership, and the 10th largest in the United States based on its $17.1 billion in assets. Chartered in 1934 as Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union currently operates 78 full-service branches and serves more than one million members in 41 Florida counties. Since its founding in 1990, the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation has raised and donated more than $32 million to organizations and initiatives that support the health, education and emotional well-being of children in the communities that the credit union serves.




Jennifer Wade Bolivar

With more than 17 years of professional experience in the financial services industry, Jennifer Wade Bolivar is the Senior Vice President of Business Transformation & Retail Branching for Suncoast Credit Union. Bolivar began her career at Suncoast in 2011, transitioning from working with credit unions across the country to becoming an essential part of the credit union movement.

As Senior Vice President of Business Transformation & Retail Branching, Bolivar’s areas of responsibility include accelerating business outcomes across the enterprise and overseeing the agile framework that supports internal application development, portfolio management, and the enterprise project management program. Bolivar also supports propelling the member experience through our retail network, the human brand of Suncoast Credit Union. She oversees 78 retail locations, operations support, education and development along with market optimization and strategy. Bolivar is an experienced, results-driven, leader, motivator, and problem solver. She finds passion in enabling others to see past limiting beliefs and reimaging possibilities.

Jennifer Wade Bolivar
SVP, Business Transformation & Retail Branching

CareerSource Tampa Bay

 

 

CareerSource Tampa Bay (CSTB) serves as the workforce development board under the Workforce Investment Act and is a driving force in delivering workforce solutions that support economic development in Hillsborough County. CSTB has centers located in Tampa, Brandon, Plant City and a satellite office in Ruskin, offering a full range of career planning services for professional and entry-level candidates. CSTB also strengthens the competitive edge of local businesses in measurable ways that lead to the economic vitality of the region. A team of business consultants works as a partner with local businesses to provide a wide range of professional services, including employee referral and recruitment, training and retraining, workshops and business seminars on a variety of human resource and workforce topics, labor market statistics, targeted career fairs, downsizing and retention support strategies, tax credit information and other customized support for a well-trained workforce.




John Flanagan

John Flanagan is the President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CareerSource Tampa Bay. As CEO of the local workforce board, he works closely with businesses, government, and educational entities to find workforce solutions for the more than 1.4 million Hillsborough County residents and businesses.

John proudly graduated from Leadership Tampa Bay in July 2021.  “I am so thrilled to say I was part of Leadership Tampa Bay and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this program,” said CareerSource Tampa Bay CEO John Flanagan.  “It would have taken me years to have met the leaders, businesses, and officials that I did in one year participating in Tampa Bay’s regional leadership program.  I have learned so much about this wonderful community, this gave me a tremendous appreciation for the entire Tampa Bay community.”

During the Covid -19 Pandemic, John worked with the CSTB Board of Directors and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to create the R– Rapid Response and Recovery Program. The program provided citizens and businesses with badly needed assistance, including:

  • $14.5 million in training and direct placement opportunities
  • 168 Hillsborough County employers
  • 1,788 job seekers who were adversely impacted by Covid -19
  • More than 800 job seekers received occupational skills training
  • 690 job seekers enrolled in work-based training
  • 1,131 people accessed financial assistance while in the program

John serves Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s Workforce Advisory Committee as part of the T3 initiative and serves as a trustee on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council. John also sits on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council and is a member of the Community Impact Committee of United Way Suncoast.

John is an active member of the National Association of Workforce Boards.

Mr. Flanagan is happily married for more than 12 years to his wife, Emily. They have a young son, Jack. The family are avid outdoor enthusiasts.

John Flanagan
CEO

City of Tampa

 

 

The City of Tampa is the largest city in Hillsborough County, is the county seat and is the third most populous city in Florida. It is located on the west coast of Florida, approximately 200 miles northwest of Miami, 180 southwest of Jacksonville, and 20 miles northeast of St. Petersburg. The population of the city represents approximately one-third of the total population of Hillsborough County. Tampa’s economy is founded on a diverse base that includes tourism, agriculture, construction, finance, health care, government, technology, and the port of Tampa. Contributing to the success of our community is the way businesses, City government, and citizens work together to make Tampa a better place to live.




The Honorable Jane Castor

Jane Castor is the 59th Mayor of the City of Tampa. She was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, graduated from Chamberlain High and attended the University of Tampa on an athletic scholarship.

Mayor Castor is a 31-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department serving in nearly every capacity of the department and every area of the city. In October 2009, Mayor Castor became the first woman to be named Police Chief in the City of Tampa, serving for six years in that role. During her time as a senior staff member, Mayor Castor worked to reduce major crimes 70% citywide.

Mayor Castor continues to be very active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors for several organizations including Gracepoint Mental Health and Wellness; Starting Right, Now; RISE Tampa Police Foundation; Bike Walk Tampa Bay; and The Athena Society. She also serves on the GTE Financial Supervisory Committee and is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and a Police Foundation Fellow.

On a national and local level, Mayor Castor has been recognized for her leadership in both law enforcement and community involvement. She is the proud recipient of numerous awards including the 2015 University of South Florida President’s Distinguished Citizen Award, 2015 Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014 Tampa Chamber of Commerce Woman of Influence, Leadership Tampa Alumni Parke Wright III Leadership Award, 2014 Florida Holocaust Museum Lobenberg Humanitarian Award, 2013 Crisis Center of Tampa Bay Community Advocate Award, 2011 Tampa Connection Betty Tribble Citizen of the Year Award, 2010 University of Tampa Alumni Achievement Award, 2009 National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executive’s Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award, 2007 Josephine Howard Stafford Memorial Award for Community Engagement, and a 2006 University of Tampa Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.

The Honorable Jane Castor
Mayor

Fifth Third Bank

 

 

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Established in 1858, the company has $130 billion in assets and operates 17 affiliates with 1,311 full-service banking centers and 2,605 ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending and Investment Advisors. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest, and as of December 31, 2013, they had $302 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $27 billion for individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations. The Tampa Bay affiliate operates 48 banking centers throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties.




Cary Putrino

Cary Putrino
Regional President, North Florida Region

Florida Blue

 

 

Florida Blue is a leader in Florida’s health industry. Since 1944, their members have counted on them to continuously develop better solutions that promote more affordable health care across the state. Florida Blue’s mission to help people and communities achieve better health is central to all that they do. Helping people in their pursuit of health reflects Florida Blue’s commitment to ensuring affordable plans, providing personal support for health and wellness, and building strong communities that enable health and wellness for all. Florida Blue has approximately 4 million health care members and serves 15.5 million people in 16 states through its affiliated companies. Florida Blue is a nonprofit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.




David Pizzo

David Pizzo is Florida Blue’s Market President, West Florida Region, overseeing operations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota, Manatee, Lee and other western counties south to Collier. Prior to this role, Pizzo served as Florida Blue’s Vice President of advertising, brand management and market communications since 1997. Prior to joining Florida Blue, Pizzo served as Senior Vice President for Commonhealth, the world’s largest health care marketing communications firm. In addition to being involved with the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and serving as Chairman in 2013, he currently works with the following organizations in various capacities: Tampa Bay Partnership Council of Governors, MacDill AFB Honorary Commander, The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, CEO Council of Tampa Bay, Museum of Science and Industry, United Way Suncoast, American Cancer Society and the Eckerd College President’s Associates. Pizzo holds a bachelor’s in pharmacy from Rutgers University and a master’s in marketing and international business from NYU’s Stern Business School.

David Pizzo
Market President, West Florida Region

GTE Financial

 

 

GTE Financial is a leading not-for-profit financial cooperative with more than $1.6 billion in assets and 21 Community Financial Centers located throughout West Central Florida. GTE Financial offers every needed financial product and service for individuals in the community, such as checking and savings accounts, business services, personal, home and auto loans, credit cards, insurance and investments, but typically at better rates and with fewer fees than traditional banks. Chartered in 1935, GTE Financial remains locally owned and operated in the Tampa Bay area and currently serves more than 212,000 individuals and businesses.




Brian Best

As President and CEO of GTE Financial, Brian Best’s approach to leadership is all about serving others and ensuring that people always come first. With the support and guidance of a seasoned Board of Directors and an invaluable Executive Management Team, he is focused on maximizing return and value to the GTE membership and local community. Through elevating the employee experience, members gain a caring financial advocate that ensures they earn more, save more and live better. Additionally, GTE is focused on providing innovation through a service lens, ensuring the credit union stays relevant within an ever-changing industry permeated by new technology and sophisticated services.

 

Prior to joining GTE, Best worked at Grow Financial Federal Credit Union where he served as the Chief Lending and Operations Officer. He has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years, holding senior management positions at some of the nation’s most preeminent banks and credit unions. He brings a diverse background in commercial and consumer banking, collections, operations, retail strategy, process improvement, investment and risk portfolio management, organizational branding and troubled business restructuring.

 

Best holds a bachelor’s in marketing from Wright State University, as well as a master’s from Saint Leo University. He has also graduated from the RMA School of Commercial Underwriting and Portfolio Management, and has received his accreditation with Six Sigma as a master black belt.

Brian Best
President and CEO

Hillsborough Community College

 

 

Hillsborough Community College is a comprehensive community college located in Tampa. Founded in 1968, HCC serves over 46,000 students annually at five campuses, three centers and through online offerings. The college offers more than 160 academic programs including the associate in arts and associate in science degrees, college credit certificates and postsecondary adult vocational certificates. Hillsborough Community College employs more than 2,500 and has an annual budget of $212 million. Approximately 85 percent of all HCC graduates remain in the area, and through their contributions in increased business productivity combined with college operations contribute to an annual economic impact of over $1.1 billion in Hillsborough County. HCC is the fifth largest community college in Florida and is the nation’s fifth leading producer of associate degrees among two-year community colleges. HCC is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.




Dr. Ken Atwater

Dr. Ken Atwater became the seventh president of Hillsborough Community College (HCC) on July 1, 2010. He is the past chairman of the board of directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), serves on the Museum of Science & Industry’s National Board, and became the chairman on October 1, 2016 of the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

Dr. Atwater earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

Dr. Ken Atwater
President

Hillsborough County

 

 

Located midway on the west coast of Florida along beautiful Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County is a thriving, diverse community. Fully grounded in a rich history yet embracing all the opportunities of the technical age, the County’s boundaries embrace a modern skyline, major tourist destinations, world-class entertainment venues, a nationally-recognized airport, one of the largest shipping ports in the country, major educational institutions, a bustling agricultural industry, professional sports teams and more. A wide range of lifestyles offers residents the ability to live in high-energy urban environments, suburban planned communities or rural landscapes. Huge national and international events, including four Super Bowls, NCAA competitions, the Republican National Convention and the International Indian Film Academy’s 2014 Awards, bring global attention and many visitors to Hillsborough’s doorstep. People of all ages from all walks of life and companies representing a vast array of industries choose to make Hillsborough County their home.




Ken Hagan

County Commissioner Ken Hagan is a native and lifelong resident of Hillsborough County. He is the ranking member of the Commission, first elected in 2002. Always an effective and well-liked public servant with a strong record of accomplishments, he was returned to his home district in 2018. As a fiscal conservative and reasonable, common-sense voice on the Commission, he has been chosen by his peers to serve in leadership positions on multiple occasions including as Chaplain, Vice Chairman, and an unprecedented six times as its Board Chairman. Throughout his career, he has been a well-respected advocate for District 2 and Hillsborough County at large.

Commissioner Hagan also serves as the Board of County Commissioners’ representative on key economic development boards including Visit Tampa Bay, Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority, and the Tampa Sports Authority, as well as the Florida Association of Counties and the Hospital Authority. In addition, Commissioner Hagan has been Hillsborough County’s leading voice for a Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Ybor City.

Ken Hagan
Chair, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners

Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 50 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 6,500 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.5 billion.




Merritt Martin

Merritt Martin has worked for Moffitt Cancer Center since 2008 and currently serves as the Chief of Staff for their CEO, Dr. Patrick Hwu. In the last decade at Moffitt, she has been the Director of Public Affairs in the Government Relations Department. Her responsibilities include advocating for Moffitt and cancer patients before the Legislature, Cabinet, and local government offices. She also works diligently to increase Moffitt’s awareness in the community and state.

Prior to her role at Moffitt, Ms. Martin worked for the Florida House of Representatives as a legislative aide for State Representative Bill Heller. She also managed his successful re-election campaign in 2008.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master’s of Public Administration degree from the University of South Florida where she serves on the Foundation Board and is the immediate past Chair of their Alumni Board of Directors. Ms. Martin has been named the Young Professional of the Year by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, “40 under 40” by the Business Observer, a Tampa Bay “Up and Comer” and “Business Women on the Year” in 2018. She is a graduate of Leadership Tampa, Leadership Florida, and Moffitt’s Leadership Academy.

Merritt Martin
Chief of Staff, External Affairs

Port Tampa Bay

Port Tampa Bay’s longstanding supremacy among Florida ports is based largely on its leadership in handling of bulk and break‐bulk cargos, including phosphate, steel and petroleum, as well as in the shipbuilding industry. Over the past decade, Port Tampa Bay has impressively advanced its container-handling capabilities and seen a rapid growth in regional distribution facilities. Port Tampa Bay handles more than 34 million tons of cargo a year, nearly 40 percent of all cargo moving in and out of the state of Florida. This embraces virtually every imaginable commodity, including vehicles and oversized project cargos, from all corners of the world. Top trade partners include India, Mexico, Brazil, Trinidad, Canada, Russia, Australia, Japan, Argentina and Turkey. At the same time, the Port of Tampa has emerged among the top eight U.S. cruise ports, smoothly handling nearly 1 million passenger moves a year.




Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson is a Former Federal Maritime Commissioner and joined Port Tampa Bay as Chief Executive Officer in December 2012 after holding a series of high-profile leadership positions in the public and private sectors. Nominated to the Federal Maritime Commission by President George W. Bush in 2003, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2004, Anderson served a five-year term ending in 2008. In addition, the president designated Anderson as the Commission’s Chairman and re-nominated him for a second five-year term. A highlight of Anderson’s service included his appointment to the Committee on Marine Transportation, a cabinet-level strategy group responsible for the nation’s seaports and reporting directly to the president.

 

He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Jacksonville Port Authority and spent 10 years as an executive with JM Family Enterprises, a diversified automobile business headquartered in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Anderson also served as a senior director of Seabulk Marine, Inc., an international marine transportation company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 

Anderson has served as an advisor on intermodal issues to multiple governors including former Florida governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. He worked closely with U.S. Senator Rick Scott during his time as Florida’s governor and maintains a close relationship with the state’s current Governor, Ron DeSantis.

 

Anderson holds several leadership positions in national and state-wide trade organizations and foundations. He recently completed a second term as the Chairman of the Florida Ports Council, having been reelected by his fellow Florida port directors. Anderson also serves on the board of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC). Anderson has lived in Florida for over 35 years, except during the period of his public service in Washington, D.C. Anderson is a 1982 graduate of the University of Florida and completed the Senior Managers in Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Paul Anderson
President and CEO

Strategic Property Partners

 

 

Strategic Property Partners, LLC (“SPP”) is a full-service commercial real estate developer, owner and operator based in Tampa, Florida. With a thoughtful long-term approach to real estate, the firm is focused on creating enduring, sustainable and high-quality experiential places. SPP’s first project, Water Street Tampa, is being developed on 74 acres of land in downtown Tampa. The phased Water Street Tampa development project commenced vertical construction in 2018 and is revitalizing a currently underutilized tract of land into an urban, mixed-use waterfront district consisting of approximately 9 million square feet of new office, retail, residential, hospitality, cultural, entertainment, and educational uses, totaling over $3.5 billion in private investment from SPP. Integrating principles of walkability, sustainability, connectivity, design quality, and wellness, SPP intends to own and operate this new world-class neighborhood in Tampa for the long-term, while also working to elevate the city’s national prominence. The company is owned and capitalized through a partnership between Cascade Investment LLC, and Jeff Vinik. For more information on Water Street Tampa, visit www.waterstreettampa.com.




David Bevirt

David Bevirt serves as Executive Vice President of Corporate Leasing & Strategy for Strategic Property Partners and the lead for all office leasing efforts. Encompassing up to 9M square feet of office, residential, hotel, retail, educational space and public realm, Water Street Tampa is backed by Cascade Investment and is one of the largest mixed-use developments in the country. Mr. Bevirt is a 38-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry. Prior to joining SPP in 2018, Mr. Bevirt was Senior Vice President with Brookfield Properties where he was responsible for all leasing and marketing efforts for the portfolio’s 25 core and opportunity fund assets in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, totaling 8 million square feet.

 

David Bevirt
Executive Vice President – Corporate Leasing & Strategy

Truist

 

 

Are you ready for a better banking experience? BB&T and SunTrust have combined to bring you even greater access to your finances while maintaining the personal support and advice you’ve come to know. Truist is dedicated to transforming tomorrow for the people we’re so proud to serve. We want to build a better future for our clients, employees and communities. Here’s what we’re doing to make sure we deliver on those promises.

 




Lindsay August

Lindsay August is a long-time commercial banker who has worked with countless Tampa Bay businesses over the past 17 years. She takes a collaborative, pragmatic approach with her clients, finding creative solutions to meet their goals and objectives. Lindsay works with businesses and not-for-profits to provide strategic credit, cash management, capital markets, retirement services, risk management solutions, and much more. BB&T now Truist’s community banking model, coupled with its “big bank” capabilities, allows Lindsay to provide comprehensive solutions and exceptional service.

Lindsay August
Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties Market President

Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas

 

 

Tampa Electric has been the leading provider of electricity in West Central Florida for more than 120 years. It currently delivers 99.98 percent service reliability to more than 830,000 customers, including 90,000 businesses. Tampa Electric offers more energy-saving programs and generates more solar energy per customer than any other utility in Florida. The company engages with economic development partners and invests in reliability to support business growth.

Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distributor, delivers safe, clean, affordable and reliable natural gas to nearly 470,000 customers. Through investments in people, technology, infrastructure and environmentally focused innovations, the company fuels Florida’s clean energy future responsibly and sustainably. Peoples Gas cultivates a diverse, inclusive, respectful workplace and supports its communities through stewardship and economic development.




Archie Collins

Archie Collins is president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric.

Collins has more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry. He began his career at Nova Scotia Power in 1990, and he has held increasingly senior roles since then. Prior to joining Tampa Electric,
Collins served in leadership roles at Nova Scotia Power and Emera Energy, as president and chief executive officer of Grand Bahama Power Co., and as president and chief operating officer of Emera
Caribbean. Most recently, he served as chief operating officer of Tampa Electric.

Collins is a professional chemical engineer, and he holds a Bachelor of Engineering from St. Francis Xavier University and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Dalhousie University.

Collins is the 2023 chair of the Tampa Bay Heart Walk for the American Heart Association. He serves onthe boards of the Florida State Fair Authority, Florida Council of 100, Florida Chamber of Commerce and
Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. He also serves on the boards of The Association of Edison Illuminating Companies and Tampa Theatre.

Archie Collins
President and Chief Executive Officer

Tampa General Hospital

Tampa General Hospital, a 1010-bed not-for-profit academic medical center, delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. It is one of the nation’s busiest adult solid organ transplant centers and is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Advancing medicine through innovation, Tampa General houses a nationally accredited comprehensive stroke center, an 82-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and a state-certified spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation center. For more information, go to www.tgh.org.

 

 




Robin DeLaVergne

Robin DeLaVergne is Senior Vice President External Affairs at Tampa General Hospital. She previously served as Executive Director of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation and Senior Vice President Development Tampa General Hospital.

Ms. DeLaVergne serves on the Tampa Bay Chamber Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee and Board of Directors and Marketing and Communications Committee for the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. She serves on the Leadership Council for the Tampa Bay Partnership. Gov. Rick Scott appointed DeLaVergne as a Board Member for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, where she also serves as Vice Chair and a member of the Executive Committee.

She is a member of Leadership Florida’s Cornerstone Class 38. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Chamber Foundation, Starting Right Now and the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative. DeLaVergne serves on the Live Tampa Bay Leadership Coalition and Tampa Mayor Castor’s Workforce Council.

Robin DeLaVergne
Senior Vice President, External Affairs

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority

 

 

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is a user-financed public agency led by a Board of local citizens. The dynamic transportation agency owns, manages, and operates the Selmon Expressway, Meridian Avenue, Brandon Parkway, and the Selmon Greenway. With over 200,000 daily expressway commuters and thousands of pedestrians utilizing THEA‘s urban trail networks, the agency is focused on serving and investing in the community to transform and excel with transportation options that enhance the quality of life. Using toll revenues and bonds, all tolls collected by THEA are reinvested back into projects in Hillsborough County.




Greg Slater

Greg Slater is the Executive Director/CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) – a dynamic transportation agency that owns, manages and operates the Selmon Expressway, Meridian Avenue, Brandon Parkway, and the Selmon Greenway. With over 200,000 daily expressway commuters and thousands of pedestrians utilizing the agency’s network of urban trails, Slater oversees an agency focused on adding value to the community and offering transportation options that enhance the quality of life.

Slater is a transportation leader committed to serving people with passion, integrity, and trust. He has over two decades of public service experience in various transportation modes, most recently serving as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). He oversaw 17,000 lane miles of highways, 2,500 bridge structures, and tolled facilities, including two tollways, two tunnels, and four major bridge structures: a local and commuter bus network, a light rail metro system, commuter rail, and paratransit services.

At THEA, he continues to serve the community and organization with the values that have guided him over the last 25 years of his professional career. Greg is committed to building a transportation system foundation for the next generation, a roadway of the future, and creating partnerships that make transportation in Tampa Bay safer and more efficient.

Greg Slater
Executive Director & CEO

Tampa International Airport

 

 

Tampa International Airport is the Tampa Bay region’s gateway to the West Coast of Florida, serving nearly 17 million passengers each year with nonstop service to more than 70 domestic destinations as well as locations in Europe and Latin America. The airport is widely regarded as one of the best in the world for its focus on customer service and convenience. The main terminal, built in 1971, features a groundbreaking hub-and-spoke design with the world’s first airport people mover. The airport is a significant economic engine for the region. The airport and its tenants employ more than 7,500 people and have an economic impact of more than $7.1 billion each year.




Joe Lopano

Joe Lopano arrived in Tampa on January 1, 2011, as Tampa International Airport’s new CEO. He has worked 37 years in the aviation industry. Prior to accepting the CEO position in Tampa, he worked at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for 14 years as its Executive Vice President for Marketing and Terminal Management. His experience also encompasses 19 years in the airline industry, including serving in leadership positions at Continental Airlines.

Joe serves on the boards of the Tampa Bay Chamber, Visit Tampa Bay, the Westshore Alliance, the Tampa Bay Partnership, the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance, the U.S. Travel Association’s Gateway Airports Council and the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization. He is a member of the executive committees for the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, the Airports Council International–North America U.S. Policy Board and the Tony Jannus Society. He is an Honorary Commander at MacDill Air Force Base, and was selected to participate in Leadership Florida.

Joe was named Visit Tampa Bay’s 2015 Ambassador of the Year and received the 2015  Aviation Professional of the Year Award from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Joe received a bachelor’s in finance and accounting from Pace University in New York. He and his wife, Janet, live in South Tampa and have three grown children.

Joe Lopano
CEO

University of South Florida

 

 

The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university, among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.




Rhea Law

Rhea Law is a proud fifth-generation Floridian who is passionate about the success of the state. Actively involved in corporate, public policy, civic and charitable work, Law holds top leadership positions with many Florida-based organizations. She received gubernatorial appointments to serve on the inaugural Board of Trustees for the University of South Florida, as well as the Board of the Florida Council of 100, the public policy liaison with Florida’s governor, cabinet, legislative leadership and Supreme Court. Rhea served as Chair of the Board for both organizations. Further, she served on the Presidential Search Committee for the University of South Florida in 1999 and 2019. In addition, she was a two-time Chair of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and the Tampa Bay Partnership during times of reorganization and expansion. She also served as Chair of the University of South Florida Health Professions Conferencing Corporation which operates the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and Chair of the Stetson University College of Law Board of Overseers, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees of Stetson University.

Currently, Law serves on the Board of Directors of Tampa Electric Company, which supplies electricity to the Tampa area, and Peoples Gas, which provides gas throughout Florida. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, the Tampa Bay Chamber, and on the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center Board of Directors and National Board of Advisors. As a member of the USF President’s Council Society, she is among honored donors who have made a lifetime commitment of $100,000 or more or a legacy gift to USF.

Law is the former CEO and Chair of the Board of Fowler White Boggs, a Florida law firm. She led the merger of Fowler with a national firm, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in 2014 where she continued to serve as Chair, Florida Offices until 2021. The consolidation of the firms created a powerhouse firm with law offices throughout the country and hundreds of lawyers who specialize in a broad spectrum of business areas such as Energy, Finance, Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Her areas of practice included higher education, economic development, government, environment and land use. Over the course of her 35-year-plus career, Law has worked with clients on land use and strategic planning to meet the needs of a growing Florida.

Recent recognitions include:

  • Florida Trend magazine: Named to Florida 500 – Florida’s Most Influential Business Leaders – since 2018; Living Legend in 2021.
  • Tampa Bay Business Journal: Named #6 in the Power 100 – Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Business Leaders with greatest impact and influence on the local business community.
  • Tampa Bay Times: Named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Business Players in Tampa Bay.
  • The Best Lawyers in America® and Florida Super Lawyers since 2006; “Lawyer of the Year,” Best Lawyers list and in the Top 50 Female Lawyers.

 

 

Rhea Law
President

University of Tampa

 

 

The University of Tampa is a world-class institution of higher education, offering dynamic opportunities for all learners. Celebrated scholars from around the globe and 7,500 students from all 50 states and 136 countries join in the daily rigors and rewards of an innovative curriculum focused on students’ success. A medium-sized, private university in the heart of downtown, UT offers 150 areas of undergraduate study, 12 graduate programs and ample opportunities for continuing education. The University’s 105-acre residential campus in downtown Tampa provides a historical and cultural setting for learning both on and off campus. With its emphasis on academic excellence, personal attention and real-world experience, UT is ranked as one of the best environments in the country to live and learn.




Ronald L. Vaughn, Ph.D.

Ronald L. Vaughn has served as President of The University of Tampa since January 1995. During his tenure, University of Tampa’s enrollments has nearly tripled, new enrollment records have been set in each of the last 17 years, and academic programs have been expanded to more than 150 areas of study, including 12 graduate programs with nine concentrations in the fields of business, nursing, education, writing and exercise science. Vaughn came to The University of Tampa in 1984 as the coordinator of the marketing department and holder of the Max H. Hollingsworth Endowed Chair of American Enterprise. He also served as director of the MBA program, dean of the College of Business and Graduate Studies and co-chief academic officer. Vaughn has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s of business administration from Indiana State University, as well as a doctorate in marketing from the University of Georgia.

Ronald L. Vaughn, Ph.D.
President

Workscapes

 

 

Workscapes is a woman-owned business with over 16 years of experience in Florida. They are a full-service office dealership offering furniture, architectural products, and space planning. As a Herman Miller certified network dealer, DIRTT partner and representing over 250 manufacturers of high quality office furniture, they provide a broad range of products and services to plan, furnish and equip interior environments for commercial customers as well as the higher education, healthcare and government markets.

 

Beyond the great brands that Workscapes represents is a team of well trained professionals serving clients from locations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando. They  share a deep commitment to learning and as such have developed a high level of knowledge and expertise in all aspects of the environments served by sharing a commitment to innovation, uncompromising quality, participative management, and environmental stewardship.

 




Elizabeth Dvorak

Elizabeth Dvorak is the Owner and CEO of Workscapes, Inc. Elizabeth founded the company in Orlando in 1998 with her husband Richard. Over the past 25 years, Workscapes has grown from six employees to over 100 with four locations throughout Florida including Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Ft. Myers. Tampa is the company Headquarters and where the Dvorak’s now call home. Recently, Workscapes expanded and opened a new 32K square foot state-of-the-art corporate headquarters near historic Ybor. Elizabeth and the Workscapes team are proud to be one of the largest woman-owned businesses in Florida.

Elizabeth Dvorak’s dedication extends beyond the corporate realm. Her passion for community involvement is reflected in her role as a new Board member of Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa. She currently serves on Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation board in Orlando. She was named a previous Orlando Business Journal Business Owner of the Year and Businesswoman of the Year, as well as the 2023 honors from Tampa Bay Business Journal and TBBW.

Elizabeth Dvorak
CEO

VoltAir Consulting Engineers

 

 

VoltAir Consulting Engineers is a minority-owned engineering firm that affords mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection engineering design with offices located in Texas and Florida. Julius D. Davis, P.E., LEED®AP, President and CEO, of VoltAir has provided quality professional engineering and related services for over 19 years. VoltAir is highly skilled in developing appropriate engineering solutions to meet the requirements of owners, architects and contractors on public and private projects involving renovations, additions, continuing services and new construction. VoltAir provides engineering design services for a variety of building types including airports, hotels, hospitals, prisons, schools, museums, retail, theatres, recreational facilities and office buildings. They are consistently seeking new and challenging opportunities in the A/E industry to help the business meet its full potential. VoltAir’s mission is to practice quality engineering as well as providing personal, cost efficient, dependable and professional services.

 




Julius Davis

Julius Davis, a native of Tampa, is President and CEO of VoltAir Consulting Engineers. Davis has over 18 years of experience in all phases of electrical engineering services, such as building interior and exterior lighting, power distribution and generation and specialty systems such as voice/data and security for a variety of building types including airports, hospitals and office buildings. Davis is currently pursuing his master’s in business administration through the Executive MBA Program at the University of South Florida, where he also completed his undergraduate. In addition to the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, he serves on the board for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough Community College, City of Tampa Planning Arts Committee and 100 Black Men. In 2013, Davis was appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott to the Board of Directors for Enterprise Florida, Inc. and Space Florida Board of Directors.

Julius Davis
President and CEO

Elevate, Inc.

 

 

Elevate, Inc. (“Elevate”) is a Florida-based strategic business development consulting firm providing a multitude of services. Founded by community leader Aakash M. Patel in 2011, Elevate is in the business of helping our clients Learn, Connect and Grow.  Whether you are looking to expand your public relations efforts, community relations activities, or general marketing endeavors, the Elevate, Inc. team has the talent, experience, and resources to meet and exceed your organization’s goals. More than a traditional business development consulting company, Elevate, Inc. uses public relations efforts, community relations activities and general marketing endeavors to help clients achieve their goals. Through our unique relationship based approach, we set ourselves apart from our competitors.




Aakash Patel

As the founder of Elevate, Inc., Aakash Patel helps business owners learn, connect and grow in the community. Patel is a graduate of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Tampa, FBI Citizen’s Academy, Tampa Police Citizen’s Academy, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s Mayor’s Neighborhood University, Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, Leadership Tampa Bay (Executive Committee since 2014), Tampa Connection, and College Leadership Florida. He is a current class member in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership St. Pete program. Prior to Elevate, Inc.’s launch, Patel served as an Editorial Assistant at the Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau, the Public Relations Coordinator for the Westin Tampa Bay hotel and Aqua restaurant, and was the founding Business Development Director for Chamber.com.

Aakash Patel
President & Founder

Blind Tiger Cafe LLC

 

 

Blind Tiger Cafe is a 1920’s speakeasy style coffee shop. All pastries have been inspired by the ethnicities that make up Ybor City. Cuban, Italian, German and Spanish inspired vegan cookies, breads and cakes are the perfect pairings with their drink offerings.

Black & Denim
Made and sourced with 100% American Raw Materials, Black & Denim is a Lifestyle brand with a spirit as resilient as the American Dream. It conserves the essence of the History of American craftsmanship where it was born. Its authenticity is expressed through its collections made of casual articles of clothes & accessories for men & women that are inspired by Americana, Music, & the American lifestyle.




Roberto Torres

Roberto is the co-Founder and Managing Partner of Black & Denim Apparel Company, The Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters & Cass Street New York Style Deli. He is an entrepreneur specializing in the areas of accounting, audit, operations, logistics and financial services segments. He brings his expertise in retail and operations, both as a consultant and an executive, to assist start-ups and early companies with strategic, operational and expansion plans.

Black & Denim is a Lifestyle brand rooted in the Americana, Music & Lifestyle. Over the last eleven years, he has helped and advised numerous companies in the realm of retail, apparel, merchandising and technology. Roberto is a proud Seminole having earned a BS in Accounting and a BS in Finance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

The Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters is a speakeasy inspired coffee house in the heart of the Historic Ybor City District. Founded in November of 2014, the Café has a Coffee, Tea & full service breakfast & lunch offerings. It houses the flagship store for Black & Denim. It has over 8 locations in the Tampa Bay area.

Cass Street New York Style Deli is a New York style delicatessen serving the best Pastrami, Corned Beef, Latkes, Matzo Ball soup and the staples of a traditional New York Deli.

In the community, Roberto is the Marketing Committee Chair for the Ybor City Development Corporation. The YCDC is the Community Redevelopment Area designated by the City of Tampa. He has been a member for 6 years. Roberto is also a board member for the Tampa Bay Economic Development Corporation. He is also a Board Member for Feeding Tampa Bay (Tampa affiliate for Feeding America).

www.blackanddenim.com

www.blindtigercafe.com

www.cassstreetdeli.com

Roberto Torres
President

SGP Advisors

Shea Guercio Partners (formally known as SGP Advisors) is an independently owned and operated insurance brokerage with roots tracing back to 1995, when founder Vern Barclay, left a successful career in law firm administration to start the firm. In the early years of SGP Advisors our focus was strictly on lawyer’s professional liability insurance in Florida.

Over the years through strong organic growth and strategic acquisitions, the firm has grown to meet the needs of its clients in the following areas: Professional Liability, Employment Practices Liability, Cyber/Network Security Liability, Property/Casualty Insurance, Group Employee Benefits, Key Man Life Insurance, Individual Disability Insurance and Representation and Warranties Coverage. Additionally, our value-added proposition includes a vast offering of services to include, in-house capacity to conduct risk management audits, claims counseling and advice, policy analysis and a wide range of additional resources that address the everyday issues that arise in your business.

Presently, SGP Advisors proudly serves a wide array of professional service organizations beyond its original law firm niche. Some of these concentrations include Architects & Engineers, Accountants, Physicians, Allied Health Professionals, Real Estate and Title Agents, and many more.
Today, SGP Advisors is a multi-office specialist with a national clientele across all 50 states. Our firm principals have over 60+ years of industry experience. Its unique expertise has placed SGP Advisors in the top tier of insurance brokerages across the United States who dedicate themselves to the professional service industry.




Michael P. Shea

Mike P. Shea is a native of Tampa and a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. After a brief career in the banking industry, Mike accepted an advisor position at SGP Advisors.  At that time, SGP Advisors consisted of two partners and no employees operating only in Florida.  Mike became responsible for the firm’s geographic expansion and quickly grew the client base nationally.  Today, Mike is President/CEO of SGP Advisors, which maintains two offices, 20+ employees and clients in 42 states.  Mike is an advisory board member of the Downtown Tampa YMCA, services on the executive council of the Florida State University Risk Management and Insurance Council.  Mike resides in Tampa with his wife Leila Pallardy Shea and their two young boys, Reilly and Braden.

Michael P. Shea
President

Hancock Askew

Hancock Askew is full-service tax, accounting, audit and advisory firm. The firm provides professional services that include tax planning and compliance, financial statement audits, outsourced accounting, employee benefit plan audits, state and local tax consulting, tax credits and business incentives advisory, risk assurance and internal audit, SOC examinations, transaction advisory, business valuations and other critical business consulting services. Hancock Askew has a staff of over 275 professionals across offices in Florida (Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando) and Georgia (Savannah, Atlanta, Augusta). The firm works with an array of clients ranging from emerging businesses to large corporations, nonprofit organizations to publicly traded companies and high net worth individuals. Hancock Askew is an independent member of the BDO Alliance USA. For more information about Hancock Askew, visit www.hancockaskew.com.




C.J. Evans, Jr.

C.J. Evans is a Director with the State and Local Tax (SALT) team at Hancock Askew. With more than 25 years of SALT experience, he combines his accounting experience and legal expertise to ensure his clients minimize state and local tax and maximize business incentives offered by federal, state, and local jurisdictions.

C.J. specializes in providing economic development/site selection consulting services to companies opening new facilities or expanding existing operations. He secures business incentives for job creation and capital investment, including cash grants, property tax reductions, sales tax reductions, infrastructure grants, and utility rate reductions. Guiding companies through every step of the economic development/site selection process, C.J. provides site location financial analysis and serves as a liaison with state and local economic development and governmental representatives. He also manages the compliance process.

Additionally, C.J. works with other Hancock Askew SALT professionals to assist companies with federal and state tax credits, state income tax, sales and use tax, and real or personal property tax consulting.

C.J. joined Hancock Askew at the firm’s Tampa office in August 2022. Previously, he was a Managing Director at Savills, a leading global commercial real estate services company. He also has held leadership positions at Merit Advisors, Ryan, and Ernst & Young.

C.J. is a member of the International Professionals in Taxation. He also serves as Treasurer of the Alpha Eta House Corporation of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of Florida.

C.J. Evans, Jr.
Director

The Health Benefit Alliance

After years of experience in the health benefits industry, either within the walls of major carriers or on the street advising employers and plan sponsors, Matt Esposito and Don Trudeau sought to build a better solution. In 2018, Matt and Don began positioning top quality service partners to create The Health Benefit Alliance™. With the program components in place and the backing of two leading third-party administrator (TPA) partners, The Health Benefit Alliance™ began sales activity in June 2019.

The immediate growth of The Health Benefit Alliance™ confirmed the market demand that Matt and Don anticipated. Within 18 months, membership climbed – even with a disciplined and tightly managed early distribution strategy. As membership continued to grow in 2021 and into 2022, so did the demand for administrative capacity, prompting the onboarding of additional best-in-class TPA partners.




Procom Services

 

 

Procom is a North American leader in IT and Professional staffing and contingent workforce management. As a market-leading source of high-performing services and solutions, Procom helps organizations solve contingent workforce and extended workforce management challenges.




Chris Beckage

Chris is a senior business executive with a record of success leading strategy, growth, and operations for a multi-faceted talent and workforce solutions provider. He comes with over 25 years of experience in providing talent acquisition services to companies across North America.

As an active participant and board member in numerous economic development groups in North America and associations including SIA, and Forbes, he is passionate about service excellence and has a strong drive for open communication, work ethics and collaboration.

Chris Beckage
Vice President, Business Development