40 Under 40
Southwest Florida's outstanding young achievers.
As Southwest Florida continues to thrive, maintaining the momentum of that growth will depend on future generations of talented professionals who can provide vision, meet challenges and solve problems as they arise.
Since 2003, Gulfshore Business has recognized young leaders who have distinguished themselves on the job and in their communities through our 40-under-40 stories and awards programs. Over the years, many of the individuals honored have made significant contributions to the region’s economic, charitable and civic wellbeing.
This year is no exception.
Chosen from a field of nearly 170 nominations, this diverse and inspiring group hails from a variety of fields, such as medical, finance, real estate and development, nonprofit, law, public service and the arts, and includes many entrepreneurs. Our panel of judges weighed professional achievements, volunteerism and other recognition, as noted by the candidates’ nominators. There were some tough decisions, but we arrived at our final 40.
In their day jobs, these rising stars stand out among their peers, whether it’s by serving their clientele with sincere devotion, boosting the bottom line or representing their organizations in dignified fashion. After hours, these honorees volunteer, sit on boards of charitable organizations yet still manage to devote time to their families and loved ones.
Please read on to find out how they are making a difference.
Jacob Ackerman (38)
Chief Technology Officer, SkyLink Data Centers
As chief technology officer of a successful data center, one must always stay on the cutting edge of digital development. Ackerman proved his suitability for the role bigtime in 2007, when he changed SkyLink’s product delivery from a disc to a cloud-based solution to make it easier on customers. Back then, the concept was so new, Ackerman had to develop the technology himself for it to work. “Essentially, we designed a cloud solution before the cloud was an industry,” he recalls. It paid off huge, with the company’s software licensing growing more than 500 percent initially. Nine years in, growth climbs 75 percent each year, Ackerman says. His own success comes from his desire to constantly learn. “Too many times I see people who are afraid to admit they don’t know something,” he says. “I’ve been in technology for 18 years and I’m still learning and asking questions.”
The longtime Naples resident enjoys gaming in his downtime and spending time with his wife, Maday, and son, Isaac.
Jennifer Adams (31)
Marketing and communications director, Naples Yacht Club; founder and editor, TheNewNaples.com
The University of Florida alum not only handles marketing and for the Naples Yacht Club, she continues her involvement in journalism. A former editor at Gulfshore Life magazine, Adams publishes an annual glossy magazine for the yacht club and is the founder and editor of TheNewNaples.com, an online lifestyle publication dedicated to Southwest Florida's young professionals. She was in Leadership Collier Foundation GAIN program class of 2016 (Growing Associates in Naples) and is currently a member of the Humane Society Naples' Pawfessionals group.
Adams, who is married to Gulfshore Business’s Jesse Adams, is a lifelong equestrian who competed on the University of Florida Equestrian Team and is a member of The Humane Society Naples' Pawfessionals group.
Brittany Balbo (28)
Associate, Zung Clough law firm
Balbo brings her passion for helping others to her job as a relatively new attorney. In 2009, she co- founded Stop The Hush, a nonprofit organization in Northwest Indiana committed to bringing understanding, awareness and support to fighting local problematic drug use. She also spent time volunteering in Chalco, Mexico, as part of a team that helped build a faith- based community center in 2008. The Ave Maria School of Law graduate says she maintains a professional and courteous relationship with her colleagues, which is especially important in family law because of the heightened emotional component.
She plays indoor and beach volleyball, and enjoys rollerblading, watercolor painting, crossword puzzles and spicy foods—she actually collects hot sauces. She and her husband, Anthony, have a rescue dog, Pickles, and a rescue cat, Bandit.
Lauren Baugh (33)
Property Manager, The Dean Building; Founder and President, Shoes, Socks, Shirts and Smiles Inc.
Baugh began volunteering with her mother at the age of 5, which instilled in her a passion to help others. Years later she went on to develop Shoes, Socks, Shirts and Smiles, a Lee County-based nonprofit which collects, donates, and distributes clothing items to the homeless and people in need. In 2015, she led a team of 2015 volunteers to donate 300 bags of clothing to three nonprofit organizations in the area, and she maintains donation collection sites throughout Fort Myers and Cape Coral today. She’s also the full-time property manager of downtown Fort Myers’s historic Dean Building, and volunteers with the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools as a mentor, and with daughter’s preschool, Cape Christian.
Baugh likes to cook, organize, volunteer in the community and BeDazzle items for her 5-year-old daughter, Eden.
Amanda Beights (35)
Vice President of Leadership Collier Foundation, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce
Beights, a former teacher of 10 years, quickly found that her new role as vice president of the Leadership Collier Foundation could allow her to continue to help others and make a direct difference in Southwest Florida. “I now have the ability to educate our local professionals on the needs of our community and help them understand the more we know, the more we are compelled to get involved and stay involved,” she says. In her four years with Leadership Collier, Beights has seen an increased number of applications for participation in programs she runs, volunteer engagements, events and overall profit. One event she’s particularly proud of creating is the Volunteer Expo, which helps community members and alumni of the foundation better connect with volunteer opportunities. Beights is also involved with Naples Junior Woman’s Club, Hope for Haiti, Grace Lutheran Church and Preschool, and the Blue Zones Project.
Beights likes to attend church and community events, take yoga classes on the beach and try new local restaurants. She and her husband travel annually to Chicago, where they once lived.
Eric E. Berglund (39)
President and CEO, Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance
Berglund refers to himself as an agent of change. Berglund was tasked with either shutting down or turning around a 25-year-old company due to a shifting marketplace. He chose to refocus its mission and reinforce its value to region it served. In addition to serving as president and CEO of Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance, Berglund, who has lived in Southwest Florida for just over one year, has become a recognized speaker in the area and serves on the Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers board and the Florida SouthWestern State College School of Business and Technology advisory committee, and is a Southwest Florida Community Foundation FutureMaker, among other things. For Berglund, it’s not time that governs one’s impact on a place. “Your attitude will determine your destiny,” he says.
Berglund spends his free time volunteering, attending sporting events, and exploring the outdoors. He has two rescue dogs and one cat.
Angela Bell (30)
Associate Partner, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and Public Relations
Over the years, the Fort Myers native has been immersed in the community. Bell, who this year was named associate partner at the firm, is a graduate of Fort Myers High School and Florida Gulf Coast University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. As an FGCU student, she served as public relations director for Student Government, and since then has maintained involvement in and support for the university. Since 2010, Angela has served on the board of directors for Florida Gulf Coast University’s Alumni Association. In addition, she serves as secretary of the executive committee, which oversees the entire board. She is actively involved in Summit Church, where she regularly volunteers in the nursery and is a leader on the praise and worship team for Sunday service.
Bell and her husband, Wes, have a 3-year-old daughter, Cassandra, and recently welcomed another daughter, Savannah Marie. Bell enjoys boating, fishing and cooking.Bell and her husband, Wes, have a 3-year-old daughter, Cassandra, and recently welcomed another daughter, Savannah Marie. Bell enjoys boating, fishing and cooking.
Andres Boral (28)
Principal Engineer and President, Boral Engineering & Design Inc.
At just 28, Boral can already cross running a business off his list. He opened Boral Engineering in 2015 after noticing an unmet need for response service in the engineering and design consulting business in Southwest Florida. In the first half of 2016, Boral says the company has “already surpassed many established engineering and design firms in Southwest Florida in the amount of projects we’ve secured.” Projects span through the region and include single-family and multifamily subdivisions, in addition to commercial developments, including nonprofits. He’s preparing to launch a new venture, Boral Development and Investments Inc., and is planning a small residential community in South Fort Myers. He is also working with other business leaders to create a separate nonprofit to expand donation services. “When we seek to live a life with purpose, we want to help others succeed,” he says.
Boral enjoys volunteering in the community, practicing his faith and exploring his passion for engineering and design.
Karina L. Borgia-Lacroix (39)
Co-owner and Executive Director, Borgia Law & American Real Title
Borgia-Lacroix cofounded Borgia Law & American Real Title in 2009 in the midst of the economic downturn to help struggling real estate agents. The firm took on cases without upfront fees, agreeing to be paid only if they successfully closed a filing. Today, Borgia-Lacroix offers support to real estate agents during closings without having to take out a loan to pay for their services. “Working with us allows our clients to be expertly represented without having to pay additional legal fees,” she says. Borgia-Lacroix received the Women’s Council of Realtors Fort Myers Chapter President’s Award in 2015, and has served on boards for Voices for Kids of Southwest Florida, American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. She also supports PACE Center for Girls, The Boys & Girls Club, and other education-, health- and art-based organizations in the area.
When not working, Borgia-Lacroix entertains disadvantaged children as a clown at birthday parties and daycare centers. She also does arts and crafts with her son, Levi.
Chris Cheney (38)
Broker/CEO Southern Premier Homes/Realty, Old Southern Title
Like others in the local real estate industry, Cheney hit hard times when the economy tanked. By the third quarter of 2007, The Cheney Group (now, Southern Premier Homes) had hit rock bottom and he had only $2,000 left in the bank. But he followed a strategy that would pay off by creating and executing a plan to educate buyers and sellers on how to adjust to the fast-changing real estate market. By March 2008, he was realizing record sales, and now, Southern Premier Homes, Southern Premier Realty and Old Southern Title employs 25 real estate agents and nine staffer, and in 2015 sold homes with a value of $14.4 million. He’s also involved with the nonprofit Community Awareness in Recognizing and Educating in Suicide—CARES. It is a cause that’s important to Cheney because his brother, Rob, committed suicide sometime after serving his country as an Army infantryman with duties that included wars in the Middle East.
In addition to attending to charitable causes, he enjoys outdoor adventures, from sailing and wakeboarding, to hiking, mountain climbing and winter camping.
Merry Coffman (37)
Director of Outside Sales and Educational Programming, Pure Florida Naples - Fort Myers
Coffman makes a living by marketing paradise. As the outside sales and educational programming director of Pure Florida, a fishing and cruise business, Coffman has attracted guests of all ages from around the globe and helped the company reach a four-star rating (out of five) on TripAdvisor. She’s helped Pure Florida launch and coordinate a marine science education program, and within her first year on the job, the company’s Fort Myers location saw its visitors increase an average of 30 percent. Coffman is also a founding member of the Chrysalis Awards and the STEM Tour, the secretary and marketing committee leader of the Southwest Florida Attractions Association, and a River District Alliance of downtown Fort Myers board member. Her tips to getting ahead? “Be prepared to work hard. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there with an idea. Don’t count the time you get shot down, count the times you made a contribution—stay positive, stay focused.”
Coffman and her husband, Drew, have two children: a son, Jackson, and daughter, Ava. She volunteers frequently in the community.
Peter B. Cuderman (25)
Owner, Pegasus Painting; Chief Strategy Officer, Tri-Town Construction, Adjunct Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University; United States Marine Corps
A few of Cuderman’s titles include owner of Pegasus Painting, chief strategy officer at Tri-Town Construction and adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. And he recently earned a new one: second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp. For 10 weeks this summer, Peter was deployed with the Marines at Quantico to attend Officers Candidates School, where he went through some brutal training. Peter, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida Gulf Coast University is enrolled at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. He expects to complete his law degree in two years, go through officer training and then serve as a judge advocate.
He enjoys playing sports, staying active and spending time with his family.
Tye Davis (32)
Director of Business Development, International Design Source
Davis’s passion is “teaching people how to become more successful and knowledgeable at their craft.” And by helping interior designers fine-tune their operations with the company’s business practice, she says she’s able to live out her passion every day. Davis’s commitment to design doesn’t solely exist at work. She’s also been involved with the Interior Design Society Naples Chapter, Collier Building Industry Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, and the American Society of Interior Designers Florida South Chapter. In 2015, she earned second place for the Interior Design Society National’s Impact Chapter Award.
Davis enjoys spending time with her family, including husband, Adam, and pup, Tanner. On weekends she frequents the antique shops in Matlacha.
Sylvia Dorisme (31)
Founder and President of Southwestern Vocational Training
At age 14, Dorisme was sent to the Unites States from St. Maartin by her mother to get an education. At the time, Dorisme spoke broken English and slept in spare rooms offered by family and friends as she endured a lengthy immigration process to obtain her citizenship. After earning a business degree from Hodges University, Dorisme, who is Haitian American, went to work at a local career school, but was laid off when the recession hit in 2008. So, she decided to open Southwestern Vocational Training in Cape Coral, which has helped more than 2,500 students, many of them Spanish-speaking. Dorisme is involved with the Kiwanis Club, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida and Pace Girls Center for Girls. In March, She was honoree with a 2016 Face Award, which is cofounded by D’Latinos and Gulfshore Business magazine to celebrate diversity in Southwest Florida.
She enjoys reading, jogging, volunteering, mentoring young people and raising her son, Sky.
Elizabeth Dosoretz (36)
CEO and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Elite DNA Comprehensive Therapies
Dosoretz launched Elite DNA Comprehensive Therapies in 2013 as a multi-disciplinary clinic for families, offering mental and occupational health, speech and language therapy, applied behavior analysis and more. Staffed with 105 people, including a psychiatrist, and occupational and behavioral therapists, new patient calls number between 400 and 600 per month. The facility also provides satellite services for patients in need. Dosoretz’s greatest lesson since starting the practice has been the essentialness of listening. “All people we meet have a story to tell, and it is our job to … bear witness to them. We must forget about who we are and what we know, and be prepared to walk in their shoes and meet them where they are,” she says. “This has been very important for my staff and our clinic as a whole.”
The mother of three boys enjoys travel, writing and family. She co-owns a Fort Myers-based fitness center and speaks fluent Spanish.
Frank E. Fernandez (35)
Managing Partner, Fernandez the Bull Cuban Cafe & Bar; Owner, Coastal Insurance Services LLC
What trait does Fernandez bring to both his occupation as a managing partner of his family’s restaurant and owner of an insurance agency? Exceptional customer service. It’s what’s carried Coastal Insurance Services through the recession and what keeps the family eatery buzzing with regulars long after season’s end. “I believe that when you are someone who strives to do good continually people will be able to see it and feel it. They will know that you are honest and trustworthy and will respect you,” Fernandez says. “I firmly believe that respect is not given but earned and through your actions, whether seen or unseen, you will earn that respect."
Fernandez is married to Shamee and enjoys fishing in his spare time. He’s also involved with Boy Scouts of America.
Jenny Gezella (33)
President of the Naples Princess.
Gezella believes in mixing business and community. Naples Princess Cruises supports and works with several charities and Jenny volunteers with several boards and committees, including the American Cancer Society board, the Southwest Florida Concierges Association and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. She says that serving the community that she lives in is an important part of her life and has cultivated great relationships in Collier County which is an asset to both Naples Princess and any organization that she aligns herself with.
Recently married, she volunteers on several boards such as for the American Cancer Society
Mark Hindley (34)
Chief Operating Officer, Hope for Haiti
Hindley’s approach to life centers revolves around hard work, devotion to family and community, and faith. As Hope for Haiti’s COO, he says he longs to serve the people of the country, which has suffered through economic turmoil and a devastating earthquake, to provide opportunities for men, women and children to rise up and take full advantage of their God-given potential. Locally, the U.S. Air Force veteran is involves in the Junior Achievement and the Boys and Girls Club, as well as the ministry at Summit Church.
He and his wife, Jill, adopted daughter Liliana, born in Bogota, Colombia, at age 16 and are also parents to son Gideon who was born in 2015
Brandon Johnson (38)
Vice President, Commercial Banking Relationship Manager
Fifth Third Bank
“The banking industry now is much different than when I started my career several years ago,” Johnson says. “I learned to be adaptable and flexible because over time the economy changes, technology changes, regulations change, and industries change.” Johnson overcame particularly challenging circumstances as a banker during the real estate crash and economic downturn. But by surrounding himself with successful, motivating people, and continuing to be a trusted advisor to clients, he came out on top. “I build my personal network by establishing significant long-term relationships with the people I interact with professionally and personally,” he says. Johnson has been recognized for his efforts within the company, including being named as a Fifth Third Bank Presidents Circle winner five times. He also serves on the United Way Allocations Committee.
His wife, Kristin, and three children, Jordan, Mia and Drew, spend a lot of time traveling throughout the state to attend the children’s sporting events.
JoAnn Lawrence (39)
Director of Fundraising Events, Humane Society Naples
Lawrence moved to Southwest Florida 16 years ago with the goal to start a nonprofit from scratch. Though she was just 23, “Instinctually I knew the ability to lead others and inspire them to climb mountains comes from spreading your own passion,” she says. She founded the Samudrabadra Buddhist Center, and today fulfills her desire to lead and motivate others as the director of fundraising events for the Humane Society Naples. While Lawrence’s nature of work is considered “high stress,” she says, putting effort and passion behind her routine “has always helped me to be calm under pressure and fearless about new challenges.”
When she is not working, Lawrence teaches meditation at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs as a volunteer. She is also pursuing her MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University.
Brent Lessing (38)
Vice President of IT Transformation and Customer Systems, Hertz Global Holdings
Lessing relocated two-plus years ago with the company from Park Ridge, New Jersey, to its new headquarters in Estero. He knew immediately he wanted to be involved in the community, not only to help make Hertz’s presence known, but to assist others who moved, as well. He became involved in Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, serving on the board of directors. Through JA, he has taught classes, helped with fundraising efforts, volunteered in various capacities and helped to recruit other Hertz employees to join the organization and give back. Lessing extended his involvement with JA to Oklahoma City, where Hertz has a large service center.
Married with two children, ages 2 and 5, he and his family enjoy traveling and going to Disney, Legoland and, of course, the beaches of Southwest Florida.
Mathew R. Marshall (35)
Lieutenant, Cape Coral Fire Department
Marshall first pursued a career in firefighting by volunteering when he was just 14. Today, in addition to serving as lieutenant with the Cape Coral Fire Department, Marshall also has a business training first responders in life-saving skills. He launched the company following his father’s chemical explosion accident, which burned more than 90 percent of his body and caused him to lose both legs. Marshall now teaches professionals how to effectively administer first-aid in situations involving hazardous materials. The business had a slow start, Marshall admits, but in the five years it’s been open, it’s now trained 5,000 responders in 20 states.
Marshall is married with three children and in his spare time enjoys CrossFit, playing baseball, and dressing up as a superhero for his young daughter.
John M. Miller, III (35)
Attorney, Stockholder at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt law firm
A colleague remembers Miller when he was a young summer associate at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt law firm in 2007. When the colleague asked what motivated John to become a lawyer, he answered that a lawyer is a problem solver. That lawyers are educated and trained to take other people's problems, and walk them through the process of getting that problem solved in the most efficient and stress-free way possible. As a lawyer, John has achieved many accolades from his peers and industry. And he was only 34 when he was admitted to practice in front of the United States Supreme Court.
John chaired the Strides for Education 5k Run and Walk this year and finished a 50-mile run.
Maria Ellis Nave (36)
Owner and Director, Dance Arts by Maria
Dancing is largely about intuition, and in Ellis Nave’s case, such is also true for owning a business. “In my career I have learned that it is more important to go with my gut … over what others may think or what may be considered the norm,” she says. The seasoned company dancer holds classes ranging from “mommy and me” to competition-level coaching for youth, and often donates her time and talent to local organizations, including the Immokalee Foundation. She encourages her students to do the same. “The studio does a ton of philanthropy work, mostly because I think it’s good for the kids to give back to the community,” Ellis Nave says. Dance Arts by Maria has been the Naples Daily News Choice Champion from 2010 to 2015, and was a finalist in 2009.
Ellis Nave enjoys free time in the company of her husband and two children, Ariana and Jaxson.
Yemisi Oloruntola-Coates (38)
Systems Manager of Diversity and Language Services, Lee Memorial Health System
“Cultural expert.” That’s what Oloruntola-Coates is deemed at Lee Memorial Health System. And why not? Oloruntola-Coates, who is of Nigerian descent, has traveled extensively around the globe, including to India, parts of Europe, the Caribbean, Japan and Latin America, and considers herself “a hodgepodge of the world” because of it. She’s made bridging cultural gaps between others her life’s work, which she does by providing help to non-native English speakers who are seeking medical care, writing diversity-related pieces for Nursing Matters magazine, or volunteering with Quality Life Center, Pennies for Community Progress and more. Oloruntola-Coates believes in serving her purpose over passion. “when you have purpose and it is not just a ‘job,’ you will move with a different type of energy that will awaken your spirit. And when the time gets rough—and it will—that purpose will be your fuel.”
The mother of three likes to read, write poetry, cook, travel and spend time with her children.
Stefan Muehlbauer (38)
CEO, Arma Communications Inc.; Managing Partner, Eagle Run Capital LLC
At 29, Muehlbauer had to learn how to restructure a large, multinational operation after a business deal went south. It was tough to be one of the youngest in his division, but Muehlbauer did not let fear overcome him and faced the issue head-on. That’s a tactic he’s stayed true to ever since. “Fear is lethal. Too many people let fear ruin their chances of success,” he says. “I have found that in my professional career it has been the things I have been scared to do, but did anyway, that ended up being my biggest successes.” Today he leads Arma Communications Inc., a Naples-based digital marketing agency, and Eagle Run Capital, a venture-capital fund and business consultancy serving European companies looking to expand their operations to the U.S.
Muehlbauer enjoys running marathons, cooking, exploring the outdoors and spending time with his wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Mackenzie.
Kristi Pickard (39)
Executive Assistant to CEO, PBS Contractors
Pickard never does a job without a smile on her face. It’s just part of her demeanor. “Be the person you’d like to work with,” she says. “Your attitude can make or break not only you, but the company as a whole.” In addition to serving as the executive assistant to Russell Budd, the CEO of PBS Contractors, Pickard plans staff events to boost morale for other employees as well. Such gatherings have included holiday parties, summer gatherings, fundraiser events, and more. When she’s not planning work-related endeavors, she’s helping determine the course of action for nonprofits she volunteers with. Pickard is on the March of Dimes executive leadership team, was chair of the March for Babies linguistics team, and was involved with a Collier County Honor Flight mission. She’s received honors for her efforts, including one for outstanding support of executive leadership by the March of Dimes.
Off the clock, the fourth-generation Naples native is involved in a bowling league and a number of nonprofits. Pickard is married with two children and three stepchildren.
Noemi Y. Perez (35)
Program Services Director, The Immokalee Foundation
Perez has spent the last seven years helping The Immokalee Foundation students stay on the right path. She’s been met with a caseload of 144 students at a time, and sat down with each child individually to develop trust. Growing up in Immokalee herself, Perez is sensitive to the issues many of the students she works with face, and takes pleasure in witnessing their breakthrough moments. “I enjoy helping others in any way I can,” she says. “I believe that even if we help one person and help them succeed you have helped the world a little more. Helping others reach their goal is very rewarding for me.”
When she’s not working, Perez can be found outdoors on a nature trail, at the beach or hosting barbecues for family and friends. She also enjoys reading and actively staying healthy.
Ann Rasmussen (36)
Doctor of Audiology, Doctors Hearing LLC
When Rasmussen was providing care just in an office setting, she began to notice a consistent problem that was not being addressed. “I would often receive calls from patients who were dismayed because they could not hear and could not visit the office due to mobility problems,” she recalls. So she created Doctors Healing—a mobile and in-office audiology service to treat patients who could not get to her otherwise. The facility also serves as the only nonprofit hearing aid donation center in Naples. Rasmussen’s sister, who was born with significant hearing loss, inspired her to become an audiologist, and Rasmussen’s daughter, who also lives with hearing loss, made the decision to open a mobile office easy. “If my daughter needed help to hear better, I would go to her,” Rasmussen says. “Pioneering a mobile audiology and hearing aid practice was simple. Patients needed help to hear better, so now I go to them.”
Rasmussen often soaks up the sun by the pool or beach with her family, including her daughter, who lives with hearing loss.
Joey Rock (37)
President, Five Star Valet
Rock started his career in hospitality in 1999 as a valet parker for The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. Since then, he’s worked his way to owner and president of Five Star Valet, which employs more than 180 people. Rock admits to the usual growing pains of a startup business, but determination, a positive attitude, and attention to detail (“I have a fine-tooth comb in my back pocket”) led him to success. “The most important lessons I have learned in my career are to never react based on someone else’s negative actions, and patience with persistence is the key to success in professional relationships,” he says. Five Star Valet offers free valet parking services for a variety of organizations and charitable events, including Home Base, Immokalee Foundation, Naples Winter Wine Festival and St. Matthew’s House.
The Alaska native has three children with his wife of seven years and likes to read, mentor and invest in real estate.
Rachel Roberts Schad (36)
Funeral Director/Embalmer, Harvey Engelhardt Funeral and Cremation Service
Roberts Schad deals with highly emotional situations in her daily work. “When something as traumatic as a death occurs, there is no way of knowing how each individual will be affected,” she says. So she must provide compassion and conflict resolution to the families she serves. “My job is not to judge or decide the right course of action for a family. My job is to listen and do my best to empathize with their perspective, devising productive suggestions to resolve or at least improve the negative situation at hand.” Which is why Roberts Schad has spent so much time developing her interpersonal communication skills through education and experience. “People may not remember exactly what I said or did, but they will always remember how I made them feel,” she says.
Roberts Schad is an accomplished vocalist and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.
Jamie B. Schwinghamer (35)
Partner, Litigation Practice Group, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP
As a female attorney, Schwinghamer says she’s had to overcome a fair amount of gender bias. “Each time I am confronted with this issue I laugh it off, hold my head up high and remember that I am a smart and successful woman who has every right to be where I am,” she says. The University of Miami School of Law graduate has a nearly five-star peer-review rating on Martindale-Hubbell, and has been named a Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star attorney for seven years. She’s also published a serious of works related to her practice areas. Early on, Schwinghamer learned from her mentor that it was possible to “be an attorney, philanthropist and a terrific mother all at the same time,” and encourages any person new to the workforce to find a mentor who is relatable and respectable on both a personal and professional level.
The Miami Hurricanes fan loves to cook and spend time with her husband, Jeremy, and 5-year-old son, Jacob.
Troy Shell (36)
Breast Surgeon, Physicians Regional Medical Group
Shell’s professional reality is commonly having to tell patients they have breast cancer. While it’s never an easy conversation, she makes sure to not only go through a thorough explanation and treatment plan, but to let patients know she’ll be in their court throughout the process. “I give many of my patients hugs. I listen. I make sure each and every one of them know my staff and I care and they are not fighting their cancer alone,” she says. Because of that, she says patients are able to describe her as a doctor who is a great listener, compassionate, and a strong advocate. Shell has won multiple awards for her efforts, and is active in organizations such as Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida, Young Professionals of Naples, and the Collier County Medical Society.
The ardent foodie enjoys Norman Love chocolates and reviewing restaurants in her spare time. She also likes shelling, scuba diving, traveling and spoiling her French bulldog, Jolie.
Rachel Stewart (29)
Founder of Thrive Therapy; Author of Zack and Zoie Safe Zones: A Guide to Help Keep Children Safe
When Stewart co-founded her practice with Elizabeth Alegre 2012. They had one client. Since then the she and her team operate with a full client load, and have developed a relationship with FGCU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and their Masters level interns. Stewart specializes in the treatment of childhood mental health and behavioral concerns through the use of play therapy interventions. This has helped make her and Thrive Therapy the leading practice for play therapy in Lee County and the surrounding area.
The Fort Myers native loves decorating and all things do-it-yourself and spends time with her husband, John “Casey,” and her 11-month-old son.
Brandon Stoneburner (31)
First Vice President, CRE Consultants
At age 31, Stoneburner is an accomplished veteran in an industry that’s typically led by individuals who tend to be several years older than he is. That’s because he started in the business as a teenager. Although he admits that early on it was easy with professional awards to be discouraged, he eventually learned that disappointments are inevitable, misery is optional, success is a choice. Stoneburner has been recognized with several awards, such as the market’s top brokers by CoStar Group based on transaction volume. He’s also involved in leadership programs such as Take Stock in Children.
Brandon’s main hobby is that of DJ, mixing and playing music for nightclubs in the Miami area. He also likes to fish and boat.
Karson Turner (39)
Vice President, Quality Electric Contracting Inc.; County Commissioner, Hendry County BOCC
As Hendry County Commissioner, Turner strives to make the area an ideal place for families to live, work and enjoy life. He furthers these efforts by acting as chairman of the Small County Coalition of Florida, Hendry County Public Safety Coordinating Council, Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Lake Okeechobee water coalition board and more. Turner also provides entertainment for people with special needs through Exceptional Equestrians, a sensory-free horseback riding program, and he founded Raising Cane Rodeo, a nonprofit which holds annual events including the Sugar Festival Radio. Turner has been recognized in the past for his leadership abilities, including with the Florida Association of Counties Presidential Advocacy Award, which he’s won three times (he’s the association’s second vice president). In addition, he serves as vice president of Quality Electric Contracting, a family-owned business operating since 1972.
Turner is an avid horseback rider and fisherman. He enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures, and developing his equestrian-based not-for-profit programs.
Kate E. Walter (31)
Engagement Lead at Blue Zones Project- Southwest Florida
When Walter worked at PKE Marketing & PR Solutions, her boss and nominator, Phyllis Ershowsky, watched as Kate rapidly became an outstanding professional who consistently reached for the next level. She sought education in all aspects of the PR profession, attending workshops, online courses and more for continuous improvement. Kate now combines her marketing expertise and pursuit of a healthy lifestyle at Blue Zones Project, a community-based wellness initiative.
She travels, practices yoga, runs and spends time with family and friends.
Angela Wilson (39)
Owner, Lux Boutique Owner
As owner of Lux Boutique, Wilson uses her eye for business and really connects with her clientele. She cares about getting to know her clientele on a professional and personal level. She has a talent for connecting people whether professionally or to create lasting friendships. She distinguishes herself and her business by getting involved on a community level with organizations such as PACE Center for Girls, the Humane Society, Makeovers for Matthew and Golisano Children's Hospital.
She always finds time for friends and family. Some hobbies include pool, working out and home decor.
Brice Zimmerman (33)
Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations, Fort Myers Miracle Baseball Club
When Zimmerman first started his sports broadcasting career, he quickly learned the importance of creating value in himself as an employee. “The business world is constantly changing and the sports industry is no exception,” he says. “I’ve learned that to continue to be an asset for my employers, I need to carve out added chunks of value that may not have necessarily been in my job description when I was hired.” He’s gone from strictly broadcasting and editing videos in his earlier days to now dabbling in graphic design, media relations, social media management and sales. As a younger person in the industry, Zimmerman says he tries to approach tasks with an emphasis on improvement. “If I’m not trying to get better, then my broadcasts will become stagnant and stale.”
The avid fisherman enjoys videography and plays club ultimate—a tournament-style sport—with the Southwest Florida-based Snow Bird team.
Jenn Zella (38)
Principal and Director of Design at CID Design Group
Under Zella’s leadership, CID Design Group has flourished, growing revenue by 1,200 percent over the last three years with clients in 21 states and 55 cities—plus Canada. She cultivates a culture at CID by emphasizing integrity, passion, kindness and teamwork. She has received several national and international design awards for her work, dating back to 2006. She’s also a sponsor for the Entrepreneur Society of America—Hatchlings Program, which provides mentoring and scholarship for young and budding entrepreneurs and inventors in the regions elementary, middle and high schools.
A former professional jazz dancer, she married to Matt Mendenhall, CEO of August Contracting Services, and mother to Lillian, 5, and Clare, 4.