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Justin Sayfie’s Florida Leaders Summit convenes today in Orlando

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The Sayfie Review’s annual Florida Leaders Summit convenes today in Orlando for two days of big ideas and wonky policy discussions.

Keynoters Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics and New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin had already been announced for the exclusive invite-only event, as had noted political consultants Kristin Soltis Andersen and Margie Omero.

CFO and former Senate President Jeff Atwater tops the program’s collection of experts who will helm panels on more than half a dozen topics, along with Associated Industries president Tom Feeney, Department of Economic Opportunity head Jesse Panuccio, and Pinellas state Sen. Jeff Brandes.

The program, modeled after World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, will be the third Summit hosted by Sayfie Review. It runs today and Tuesday.

The event brings together leaders in government, business, academia, nonprofits and the news media to discuss mega-trends and solutions to pressing political and economic problems in the nation’s 3rd-largest state.

Summit organizers have also coordinated with a group of “Thought Leadership Partners” to help broaden and deepen the discussions, including the Leroy Collins Institute at Florida State University, Florida TaxWatch, and libertarian think tank The James Madison Institute.

The full roster of speakers is as follows, broken down by area of policy expertise.


  • Tom C. Feeney, former U.S. Congressman and President & Chief Executive Officer, Associated Industries of Florida
  • Sen. Dorothy L. Hukill, chair of the Senate Finance & Tax Committee
  • Dale Ketcham, Chief of Strategic Alliances, Space Florida, and
  • Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.


  • Dr. W. Kent Fuchs, President, University of Florida
  • Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent, Orange County Public Schools
  • Dr. William D. Law, Jr., President, St. Petersburg College, and
  • Kathleen Shanahan, former Chair/Member, Florida Board of Education; Chair and Chief Executive Officer, URETEK Holdings.

Health care

  • Jason Altmire, former 3-term U.S. Congressman; Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Community Engagement, Florida Blue
  • Alan Levine, former Secretary, Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration; President & Chief Executive Officer, Mountain States Health Alliance, and
  • Dr. Antonia Novello, former U.S. Surgeon General.

Water Policy

  • Eric Eikenberg, Chief Executive Officer, Everglades Foundation
  • Dan Tonsmeire, Riverkeeper, Apalachicola Riverkeeper
  • Steve Seibert, former Secretary, Department of Community Affairs; The Seibert Law Firm, and
  • Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr., former DEP Secretary; Of Counsel, Foley & Lardners


  • Jose Abreu, Former FDOT Secretary, Senior Vice President, Gannett Fleming
  • Joseph Lopano, Chief Executive Officer, Tampa International Airport
  • Bob O’Malley, Resident Vice President of State Government Affairs, CSX Transportation, and
  • Doug Wheeler, President & CEO, Florida Ports Council.


  • Will Seccombe, President & CEO, VISIT Florida
  • Maryann Ferenc, Founder, President & CEO, Mise en Place, Inc.
  • Erik Hansen, Senior Director, Domestic Policy, U.S. Travel Association, and
  • William D. Talbert III, President & CEO, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.


  • Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer
  • Sen. Jeff Brandes, Florida Senate
  • Barry Gilway, President & CEO, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, and
  • Jay Neal, President & CEO, Florida Association of Insurance Reform.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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