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CareerSource Florida narrows in on new president

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CareerSource Florida, the corporation that serves as the state’s workforce preparation and placement agency, interviewed three finalists Friday to replace Chris Hart as president, including the agency’s current vice president of policy, Michelle Dennard.

Dennard, Mikkel Dixon, the executive director of Florida Career College in Margate; and Kyla Gutierrez-Guyette, the project director of ResCare Workforce Services in Orlando; all were interviewed by a committee of the CareerSource Board of Directors Friday. The committee members will submit their scoresheets to the agency’s chairman Britt Sikes Monday, and he will recommend the selection to Gov. Rick Scott.

The trio aims to replace Hart, who left at the beginning of this month to become the new chief executive officer of Enterprise Florida, the state-chartered corporation that acts as the state’s commerce agency.

Hart had been at CareerSource for nine years and when he left he commanded a salary of $260,000. The next president and chief executive officer of the organization will not come close to that, at least not anytime soon. The job was advertised as paying between $100,000 and $120,000 a year.

Dennard is a lawyer trained at Florida State University, with a background of having worked for both the Republican Party of Florida and in the governor’s office under both Charlie Crist and Scott. Under the governors’ office, she was a senior attorney with the Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development. She’s since been director of strategic business opportunity for Scott’s Department of Economic Opportunity, general counsel for Thinkspot, and, since 2014, vice president of policy and senior policy director for CareerSource.

Dixon, who holds a master’s degree in business management from West Texas A&M University, has been with private, for-profit career schools since 2009. That included tenures as a school executive for Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale and GlobalHealth Education in West Palm Beach, before moving on to Florida Career College. With that company, owned by International Education Corp. he has served in executive roles at campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes and, since 2015, in Margate. Last year the company ranked him its #1 executive in Florida for the first quarter of 2016.

Gutierrez-Guyette, who studied law at the University of Mississippi and completed a master’s degree in history from the University of South Alabama, was director of the Gulfport, Mississippi, Chamber of Commerce in the early years of the last decade. She has since held management and executive positions in workforce development agencies and private and nonprofit workforce development and management companies in Hawaii, Tennessee, and Florida. She’s been with ResCare in Orlando since 2013.

CareerSource Florida is the statewide workforce policy and investment board charged with guiding workforce development for the state of Florida. CareerSource Florida provides oversight and policy direction for talent development programs administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards and their 100 career centers. Together, the CareerSource Florida network connects employers with qualified, skilled talent and Floridians with employment and career development opportunities to achieve economic prosperity.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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