Personnel note: Cynthia Lorenzo named CEO of new Dept. of Economic Opportunity

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Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia Lorenzo will be chief operating officer at the new Department of Economic Opportunity, the new agency’s executive director Doug Darling announced Monday via The News Service of Florida.

Lorenzo has been in charge at AWI, which will be part of the new DEO as the Division of Workforce Services, since 2009.

The agency announced Monday that it will have four divisions.

The Division of Strategic Business Development will be led by Michelle Denard, who moves to the agency from the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, where she has been deputy director since 2010.

Tom Beck will head up the Division of Community Development. Beck is currently director of the Division of Community Planning at the Department of Community Affairs where he previously worked for more than two decades.

The department’s Division of Workforce Services will be led by Tom Clendening, who is currently AWI’s assistant director. He previously worked for AWI’s predecessor agency, the Department of Labor and Employment Security.

DEO’s chief financial officer will be Kevin Thompson, a certified public accountant who has spent the last nine years as AWI’s Director of Agency Support Services, where he oversees accounting, financial monitoring, budget, human resources and general services. Thompson holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting.

The agency also announced that Michael Ayers will serve as Darling’s chief of staff. He’s been chief of staff at AWI and previously was its legislative director. Debby Kearney will be the department’s general counsel. She comes to DEO from the Department of Community Affairs and also has been general counsel at the Department of Education.

Other leadership positions announced Monday included:

-James Matthews, inspector general. He has had that position at AWI since 2000.
-Darrick D. McGhee, legislative and Cabinet affairs director. He comes from the Department of Education and has worked at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Elder Affairs.
-Dean Izzo, chief information officer, coming from DCA.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.