The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI), an innovative, groundbreaking program designed to strengthen and equip the region’s future leaders with training prior to their decision to run for public office, will begin its 2017 class in September. Since its inception in 2008, 17 graduates have served public office in the Central Florida region. Twenty-one finalists were chosen and represent Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties.

A selection committee made up of BusinessForce members and investors reviewed the strength of applications, conducted interviews and selected the participants, ensuring representation from a wide range of business, civic and community organizations.

 Participants include:

  • Denise Beamer, Florida Office of the Attorney General
  • Zane Beard, Florida Department of Financial Services
  • Melissa Byrd, Orange County Public Schools
  • Rob Campbell, CNL Financial Group
  • Lyndon Carter, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A; Chair, Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC)
  • Harry Ellis, Next Horizon
  • Wilfredo (Will) Fonesca, La Rosa Realty
  • Mike Gorritz, Avant Healthcare Professionals
  • Eric Gray, United Against Poverty Orlando; Graduate, Leadership Orlando, Class 66
  • Lori Hagey, Feeding Children Everywhere
  • Brock Hankins, Allen, Dyer, Doppelt + Gilchrist P.A
  • Amer Hatoum, ACR Solutions, LLC
  • Susan Makowski, Orange County Government
  • Natalie Martinez Varela, Align Public Strategies
  • Khalid Muneer, Jupiter Properties, Inc.; Board Member, Orlando Economic Partnership
  • Amy Pennock, Pennock Consulting Group
  • Gonzalo Senior, IRM-Investments, Real Estate & Management
  • Raleigh (Lee) Steinhauer, Greater Orlando Builders Association
  • Heather Trick, Jordan Law FL P.A.
  • Matt Weber, ROAR! Internet Marketing
  • Kari Whaley, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce

“The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute trains those considering a future bid for public office on how to campaign, teaches leadership skills for effective governing and educates participants on the critical public policy issues that are affecting our community,” said Craig Swygert, chair of BusinessForce. “We are thrilled with the incredible diversity of the selected applicants and look forward to their thoughtful determination if elected office is part of their future,” continued Swygert, of Clear Channel Outdoor Orlando and a corporate sponsor of PLI.

The 2017 PLI sessions will be held Thursday, September 21 through Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Lake Nona. During the course of the bipartisan three-day session, PLI participants will hear from prominent local, state and national experts discussing a broad range of topics including – government, media, campaigning, fundraising, grassroots efforts, ethics and key public policy issues. Following the campaign school, participants will undergo numerous leadership activities throughout the year and important networking opportunities.

There is no cost to apply or attend. PLI is made possible by the support of its sponsors including AT&T, BusinessForce, Clear Channel Outdoor, Orlando Economic Partnership, and Universal Orlando Resort.