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2015 Political Leadership School

"Insightful" and "Enthusiastic"

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) welcomed its 2015 class last Thursday afternoon for its 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 21 members of the 2015 class were BusinessForce Chair Craig Swygert, President - Orlando Division, Clear Channel Outdoor, and BusinessForce President Mike Ketchum.

Participants hit the ground running, learning about fundraising strategies and earned media during the opening session. That evening the 2015 class was officially welcomed at the traditional Opening Reception and Dinner attended by Central Florida Partnership leaders and several BusinessForce Board members.  Chair Craig Swygert offered special welcoming messages to the 2015 class. Also attending the event were PLI sponsor Melanie Becker representing Universal Orlando Resorts; BusinessForce board member Alan C. Sheppard, Jr., of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., and executive committee member Sharon C. Smoley with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

BusinessForce Chair  Craig Swygert, Clear Channel Outdoor; Nancy Bocskor, The Nancy Bocskor Company; and PLI Class Member Codeye J. Woody, Orange County Public Schools.

Throughout the day on Friday, several important topics critical to waging a successful political campaign - direct mail, targeting, advertising and messaging as well as campaign ethics  - were extensively explored by a faculty of nationally recognized experts assembled by Institute Director Christina Johnson.

During the final day on Saturday, PLI attendees continued with sessions exposing them to opposition research, social 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 2015 Central Florida Political Leadership Institute concluded with a graduation ceremony for the 21 members of its 2015 class. At the graduation ceremony BusinessForce President Mike Ketchum praised the caliber of the 2015 program presented by Institute Director Christina Johnson and called the 2015 class "exceptional." He noted how "insightful and enthusiastic" the 2015 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."

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

Members of the 2015 PLI Graduating Class:
Steven Alexander
    Board Member, Orlando Inc.
    Graduate, Leadership Orlando Class 85
Roberto Baptiste
Robert Clements
Peggy Choudhry
Michelle Ertel
David Gevorgyan
James Gleason
    Graduate, Leadership Orlando Class 42
Susan Hammerling
Jerry Hanbery
Shay Harold
Wendy Hatton
Ava Henderson
Charles T. Keen, III
    Graduate, Leadership Orlando Class 89
Brent Kimball
Jared Maltbie
Rob Panepinto
    Incoming Chair, Orlando Inc.
Bruno Portigliatti
Latif Qadri
Michael Reale
John Williams
Codeye Woody


Powerful Connections

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute features a two-and-a-half-day political leadership school at the prestigious Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business in Winter Park, ongoing leadership activities throughout the year and important networking opportunities. It features local and national speakers who share their invaluable expertise on campaigning for public office and leading once elected.

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.

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 their 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.

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

Since its inception in 2008, 14 graduates from the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute have served in public office in our region. Other graduates are actively considering their candidacies for further elections. Successful graduates include:

State Representative Ben Albritton
Osceola County Commissioner Brandon Arrington
Polk County Commissioner Melony Bell
Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley
Former Orange County Clerk of the Court Eddie Fernandez
Winter Springs Mayor Charles Lacey
Winter Garden City Commissioner Bobby Olszewski
Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks
Orange County School Board Member Nancy Robbinson
Former Daytona Beach City Councilwoman Edith Shelley
Winter Park City Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel
Orange County Court Judge Elizabeth J. Starr
Former Seminole County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Scott Sturgill
Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson


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."

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