Political Leadership Institute

2013 Leadership School "Energetic" and "Astute"

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) welcomed its 2013 class last Thursday afternoon for its annual political leadership school at the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park. On hand to greet the 24 members of the 2013 class were Business Force President Mike Ketchum, 2015-16 BusinessForce Chair-elect Craig Swygert, President - Orlando Division, Clear Channel Outdoor and John L. McReynolds, Senior Vice President External Affairs of Universal Orlando Resort who was instrumental in the creation of the PLI in 2008.

Left to Right:  2013 PLI Class Members: Melissa Sarnelle, Prince Brown and Charles Roper (see complete listing below).

That evening the 2013 class was officially welcomed at the traditional Opening Reception and Dinner attended by Central Florida Partnership leaders and several BusinessForce Board members. Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley, a 2008 PLI graduate, and PLI sponsor Linda Landman Gonzalez, 2013-14 Business Force Chair and Vice President, Community Relations and Government Affairs for the Orlando Magic appeared to offer special welcoming messages to the 2013 class. Also attending the event were PLI sponsors Marva Johnson, Corporate Vice President, Government and Industry Affairs of Bright House Networks, Troy McNichols, Regional Director, External & Legislative Affairs for AT&T Services, Inc., and Jeffery Q. Jonasen, Shareholder, Gunster and and 2007-2008 BusinessForce Chair.

Left: to Right:  PLI Faculty included  The Honorable Michael C. Ertel, Supervisor of Elections, Seminole County, and Jon Anderson, Founder and Creative Director, Mad Dog Mail.

Throughout the day on Friday, several important topics critical to waging a successful political campaign - targeting voters, direct mail, advertising and messaging as well as opposition research were extensively explored by a faculty of nationally recognized experts assembled by Institute Director Christina Johnson. In addition, the 2013 class heard a timely and thoughtful luncheon address from Dean Craig McAllaster of the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business on "Power and Influence."

During the final day on Saturday, PLI attendees continued with sessions exposing them to fundraising strategies, earned media, putting together a campaign plan and a presentation by Central Florida Partnership President Jacob V. Stuart on "Critical Regional Issues and Resources for Political Leaders."

The 2013 Central Florida Political Leadership Institute concluded with a graduation ceremony and reception for the 24 members of its 2013 class. At the graduation ceremony BusinessForce President Mike Ketchum praised the caliber of the 2013 program presented by Institute Director Christina Johnson and called the 2013 class "outstanding." He noted how "energetic and astute" the 2013 class was throughout with the Institute faculty." He added, "The breadth and depth of information presented to Institute members over their two and one-half days with us I believe will allow this class to continue in their evaluation on whether they may one day wish to serve our region in public office."

2013 Class Members

Robert Agrusa
Director of Candidate Fundraising & Special Assistant to Senator Andy Gardiner
Republican Party of Florida 

Jordan Borger
Rollins College

Prince Brown
Faculty, Department of Biological Sciences/College of Arts & Sciences
Seminole State College of Florida

Patrick Chapin
Winter Park Chamber
of Commerce

Eric DuBois
DuBois Law Group

Brian Empric
Project Manager
Manhattan Construction

Robert Harvey
Aviation and Defense Consultant

Kyle Havill
Director of Consumer Insights
GSS/Guest Relations


Linda Howard
OUC - The Reliable One

Ross Johnston
Orange County Environmental

Penny Jones
Executive Director
of Community Relations

Florida Hospital

Erin Koski
Senior Audit Manager
Averett Warmus Durkee

John Leonard
General Manager
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort

Benjamin Newman
GrayRobinson, P.A.

Terry Olson
Orange County Arts
& Cultural Affairs

Jose Rivas
Sol Time

Charles Roper
Roper Growers

Melissa Sarnelle
Director of Programs
and Marketing

Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional
Chamber of Commerce

Mark Schirmer
Vice President
PNC Financial
Services Group

Chris Sileo
Voter Outreach Manager
Supervisor of Elections
Seminole County

Elizabeth Starr
Bureau Chief
Office of the Attorney General
State of Florida

Phil Stump
Team Leader
Personnel Records


David Taylor
Growth Strategist

Central Florida Political Leadership Institute Class of 2013.
Click here to view more photos.

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute would not have been possible without the continued and strong support of its sponsors, ARDA (American Resort Development Association), AT&T, Bright House Networks, Central Florida Partnership, Clear Channel Outdoor, Orlando Magic, Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, SeaWorld Adventure Parks, and Universal Orlando Resort.

PLI Sponsors Orlando Magic Rollins MBA Clear Channel Central Florida Partnership att SeaWorld Brighthouse ARDA Universal Orlando

For more information on the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute or BusinessForce, please contact Mike Ketchum, President, Business Force, at mike.ketchum@orlando.org.

An innovative, ground-breaking program in Central Florida - The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute - is receiving national attention for educating prospective local leaders on the basics of political campaigning, and developing leadership skills necessary for effective governing and addressing critical public policy issues.

"The Chamber's Political Leadership Institute is a model program that exposes prospective elected leaders to the political process, regardless of political affiliation."

US Chamber of Commerce - In accrediting the highest level of recognition: the "5 Star" ranking, to Orlando, Inc. (Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce), a Line of Business of the Central Florida Partnership.

Powerful Connections.

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute features an annual two and a half day political leadership school at the prestigious Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, ongoing leadership activities throughout the year, important networking opportunities, and unique mentoring workshops. It features local and national speakers who share their invaluable expertise on campaigning for public office, media, public policy issues, leadership and ethics.

Exclusive Participation.

A limited number of emerging leaders from throughout the Central Florida business community are given the opportunity to participate in this ground-breaking program. Participants are selected based on the strength of their applications and personal interviews with a Screening Committee. Current participants represent a diverse range of business experience, backgrounds and community involvement. There is no requirement that applicants be declared candidates in order to be selected for the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute.

Non-Partisan Unbiased Curriculum.

Typically, campaign schools are operated by political parties and are designed for declared candidates and current officeholders. The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute takes a truly innovative approach by offering a non-partisan program to better equip business and civic leaders who have expressed an interest in becoming political candidates and government leaders. It exposes prospective elected leaders to the political process, regardless of political affiliation.

Many new faces are entering the political arena without a track record or knowledge of how to run a successful campaign. They are coming to BusinessForce for support and an orientation on critical regional issues. The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute was designed to address these concerns, while identifying and encouraging new leaders who may emerge outside of the normal political party channels.

Click here to view the curriculum.

Your Political Career Starts Here.

If you're interested in learning what it takes to wage a winning campaign and become a successful elected official, begin building the foundation today. The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute can provide you with the comprehensive skills, resources and connections you need to launch your political career.

Learn Today. Lead Tomorrow.

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute is a program that was developed by BusinessForce, the "political action arm" of the Central Florida Partnership. This unique non-partisan, pro-business, regional initiative was designed to prepare and strengthen the next generation of elected leaders before they formally choose to run for a specific public office.

The Polls Have Spoken!

Already, 12 members from the Political Leadership Institute have been elected to public office in our region since its inception in 2008.  Other graduates are actively considering their candidacies for future elections. Are You Next?

Frequently Asked Questions.

Click here for frequently asked questions.

Contact Us.

Mike Ketchum
P.O. Box 1234
Orlando, Florida 32802-1234

Christina Johnson
Central Florida Political Leadership Institute
President, On 3 Public Relations
P.O. Box 1234
Orlando, Florida 32802-1234

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors.

PLI Sponsors

If you would like to become a sponsor, contact Mike Ketchum at 407.835.2464 or mike.ketchum@ideastoresults.org. Orlando Magic Rollins MBA Clear Channel Central Florida Partnership att SeaWorld Brighthouse ARDA Universal Orlando


Affecting positive change in the Central Florida Region requires strong "Regional Public Policy Advocacy" - an important line of business for the Central Florida Partnership.  BusinessForce, our "Political-Action-Arm," is making a positive difference by sharing important regional conversations, encouraging and supporting candidates for public office, and helping to guide civic, political and business leaders about the future.  Working together with Orlando, Inc. (Regional Entrepreneurship), Leadership Orlando (Regional Leadership), and myregion.org (Regional Research & Resolves), the Central Florida Partnership is moving "Ideas to Results."

Universal SeaWorld Rollins MBA CNL Clear Channel ARDA Central Florida Partnership