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Personnel note: Maria Sachs to lead Innovation Florida

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Former state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs will be the next executive director of Innovation Florida, the new not-for-profit incubator for startup technology companies.

The organization announced the hire Wednesday in a press release.

“I am excited to be a part of a new initiative that will link venture capital and multinational corporations to research and development with our state universities, colleges, and entrepreneurs,” Sachs said in a statement.

“One of the keys to Florida’s success as the third most populous state is that every Florida graduate should have the key that will open a career in innovation.”

Sachs “will use her lifetime background as a former prosecutor, attorney, legislator and community activist for the benefit of the organization, its partners and the future of Florida,” the release added.

It also says that “through state appropriations, the Senator championed for expansion of research centers throughout the University systems especially at the South Florida based state universities and colleges.”

Sachs, however, falls under the state’s 2-year ban on former lawmakers lobbying the Legislature or executive agencies. The 68-year-old, elected to the Senate in 2010, declined to run for re-election this year.

Her former aide has sued The Florida Senate, saying she made him do personal chores and “exposed (him) to unwelcome sexual conduct” by frequently undressing in front of him.

Sachs has denied the allegations, saying Matthew Damsky quit when confronted with evidence he had charged nearly $50,000 in plane tickets, among other things, on Sachs’ credit card without her knowledge.

Innovation Florida was co-founded by the South Florida-based Greenspoon Marder law firm, the Fort Lauderdale-headquartered Citrix software company, and The South Florida Accelerator, another funder of startup businesses.

“Florida’s entrepreneurs have the potential to bring innovative change and technological developments to our state, as well as to the country as a whole,” said Gerald Greenspoon, co-managing director of Greenspoon Marder. “We are excited to play our part in providing valuable support and resources to help Florida thought leaders achieve success.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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