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The Buzz: Insider

All Aboard the Airstream

ONE OF SOUTHWEST Florida’s oldest public relations firms will soon say goodbye to a partner. Laurel Smith of Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and PR has announced she will retire this month and hit the road—literally. She and her husband, Mike, both avid campers, plan to hook their refurbished 1978 Airstream trailer to their pickup trick and log some windshield time. Among their destinations are Asheville, North Carolina; Mackinaw Island, Michigan; the Dakotas; and Denver. And, of course, they will hit Jackson Center, Ohio, to check out the Airstream plant. Laurel, who was born in Chicago and raised in Orlando, started with the agency in 1984, nearly fresh out of the University of Florida. Founder Amy Gravina “took a chance on me,” says Laurel, who has a public relations degree. “I owe it all to Amy.” Laurel will become “of counsel,” as has Amy, who along with another partner, Sharon Arnold, has retired. The firm is now headed by Tina Matte and has brought in Angela Bell and Jennifer Hamilton as associate partners. “This has been the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Laurel says of her time with the agency. “And I’m feeling like I’m leaving the firm in good hands.”

40 Under 40: Where Are They Now?

DAVID PLAZAS SERVED as community conversation editor of The News-Press—in charge of the opinion pages and the editorial board—when he was honored in 2008. David’s 40-under-40 profile highlighted his accomplishments, such as being the founding president of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and sitting on parent company Gannett’s Leadership and Diversity Council and Innosight 2. In the fall of 2014, David, who eventually became the News-Press’s digital engagement editor, moved to the Nashville Tennessean, another Gannett paper, as its new opinion engagement editor, a post he still holds. The Chicago native and his husband, Darren, reside with their two Chihuahuas, Bandit and Zohie, near the downtown area, which they frequent to check out the live music and other entertainment. “It’s a great community,” David says. “The first adjustment [though] was the weather.” In April, he received first-place award for Best Editorials among publications across the state by the Tennessee Associated Press.

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