The 22 graduates represent diverse communities and professions. Meanwhile, 11 past participants were successfully elected on November 3, 2020.

Orlando, Fla. – A diverse group of professionals from the Orlando region are now prepared to run for public office after completing the Orlando Economic Partnership’s (the Partnership) Central Florida Political Leadership Institute. The 22 graduates represent diverse communities and professions. Meanwhile, 11 past participants were successfully elected last week, on November 3, 2020.  

PLI is a unique and nonpartisan regional program developed to prepare and strengthen the next generation of elected leaders before they formally choose to run for a specific public office or commit to serving on a local government board. The program is free but requires an application and approval of admission.

“The fact that we’ve had 11 past PLI participants recently elected is proof that our program works and gives potential candidates the knowledge and tools they need to run a winning campaign and become strong leaders for our communities.”

Tim Giuliani, Partnership president and CEO

“Elected leaders on the local, state, and federal level who are ready and able to respond to the needs of our citizens and be accountable to their constituents is more important than ever,” said Tim Giuliani, Partnership president and CEO. “PLI teaches effective governing skills and educates participants on the critical public policy issues that are affecting our region.”

PLI Class of 2020 graduates include:

  • Antoinette Giles, eXp Realty
  • Pamela Tuscany, Universal Studios Orlando
  • Trey Gordon, Hope for North Brevard, Inc.
  • Sean Osmond, Contec America
  • Danielle Levien, Embrace Families
  • Leonard Spencer, Walt Disney Company
  • Christine Wydra, Lennar Industries
  • Renee Weeden, Orlando Skin Solutions
  • Sandi Vidal, Central Florida Foundation
  • Ebo Entsuah, Montverde Academy
  • Thomas Moses, Emerson International, Inc.
  • Arnaldo Oliveras Fernandez, 180 Commercial Real Estate Solutions
  • Karen Climer, Demetree School of Real Estate
  • Mandie Jones, AdventHealth
  • Trinity Kutschinski, The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando
  • Lawrence Lyman, Tactical Electronics Corporation and Gaboton Group
  • Kathryn Miller, Florida Polytechnic University
  • Maegen Pierce, Breakthrough Behavior
  • Carlos Torres, Orange County Sheriff’s Office
  • Woody Walker, CCG
  • Stefanie Steele, Project Lead the Way, Inc.
  • James Cooper, U.S. Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation

“It’s clear the hard work and dedication all our graduates put into the process has prepared them as potential candidates poised to run a successful campaign and be an effective public servant,” said Sharon Smoley, Partnership vice president of advocacy and public policy.

“This election cycle has highlighted the need for candidates who truly understand what it takes to lead in today’s environment.”

Sharon Smoley, Partnership vice president of advocacy and public policy

Since its inception in 2008, PLI has had 29 graduates elected or appointed to serve in public office. Among the 11 elected to office in the 2020 cycle include: State Representatives David Smith, Colleen Burton, Melony Bell and Kristen Arrington, Seminole County Commissioner Andria Herr, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson, Orange County School Board Members Melissa Byrd and Pam Gould, Osceola County Commissioners Peggy Choudhry and Brandon Arrington, Osceola School Board Member Jon Arguello and candidate for Apopka City Council Yesenia “Jesi” Baron, who faces a run-off in December. PLI class of 2020 Ebo Entsuah ran as a candidate for Clermont City Council and faces a run-off in January.

PLI students explore topics relating to campaigning, appointments, public issues and leadership strategies as they learn from local, state and national speakers who share their invaluable expertise on how to lead once elected. The 2020 graduation ceremony featured presentations from The Honorable Sarah Sprinkel, former Winter Park City commissioner and PLI graduate, Steve Schale, Florida-based political, communications and government relations strategist and Andrew Wiggins, senior director of political affairs and coalitions advocacy of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Partnership is currently seeking potential participants for the 2021 Political Leadership Institute. Anyone interested can find more information here. There is no cost to apply or attend. 

PLI is made possible by the support of its sponsors including AdventHealth, Charter Communications, CNL, Florida Blue, Full Sail University, Lockheed Martin, Massey Services, Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, OUC – The Reliable One, Tavistock Group, Truist Financial Corp., Universal Orlando Resort, University of Central Florida, Walt Disney World Resort and Wyndham Destinations.

For more information on any of these announcements or Partnership programs, please contact or at 407-242-3982.