79 People Who Made Big Career Moves in 2019 (Pinellas County, Florida)

Above: Valerie Powell-Stafford was named CEO of Northside Hospital in St. Pete in July 2019

– By Gypsy Gallardo for the Power Broker Magazine

“Suited up and ready for 2020” is the spirit that shines through the dozens of professionals spotlighted below. When I put out a call for nominations of people who made “big career moves” in 2019, I gave myself a soft deadline of one week to meet the ambitious goal of finding 50 such people. Now, 11 days later, over 90 names have rolled in, and my tiny research team has been able to gather details on 79 nominees (thank you Briana Hankins and Toni Gallardo). It’s my pleasure to present these peer-nominated movers and shakers to Power Broker readers, with our best attempt to group them by industry or field. Congratulations all!


Valerie Powell-Stafford (above) was named President & CEO of Northside Hospital in St. Pete in July 2019. She transitioned to the role after three years as CEO of Englewood Community Hospital in Sarasota. Powell-Stafford is also a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

In 2019, Dr. Leila Clay (below left) was honored as 2019 Clinical Award Winner for Excellence in Service by Johns Hopkins – one of six honors bestowed annually among 12,000 clinicians by the Johns Hopkins Medical Clinical Awards for Physicians and Care Teams. Clay is Director of the Sickle Cell Program in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute, and Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

It was a big year for Dr. Traci Thompson Ferguson, Chief Medical Director of Medical Management and External Relationships at WellCare Health Plans in Pinellas. In 2019, she served as Chair of the National Quality Forum Membership Advisory Council and as a member of the National Quality Partner’s Social Determinants of Health Data Integration Action Team. Thompson Ferguson (below right) also recently established an endowed scholarship in memory of her brother, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

St. Pete native Michelle Rhodes, MHS, RN (below left) works with nurse entrepreneurs nationwide to help them grow their enterprises. She and her firm – Green Rhodes Nurse Consulting – came home with multiple wins in 2019, including a new five-year subcontract with the City of Tampa to develop wellness programming for city employees and the 2019 Florida Nurses Association ICON Award for Nurse Entrepreneurship.

Lottie Cuthbertson, MSN-ED, RN (below right), was named West Central Region Director for the Florida Nurses Association (FNA), covering 10 counties and serving on the FNA board for a two-year term. Also in 2019, Cuthbertson became a professional nurse mentor through the America National Association and was a lead textbook reviewer for the Lippincott Textbook for Nurse Assistants: A Humanistic Approach to Caregiving. The Gathering of Women honored her with its 2019 Women of Distinction Award for service.

Dr. Michael McPherson (below left) continued his growth in 2019. The 32-year old Chiropractor completed advanced training in disc disorders to open the St. Petersburg Disc Center this August (an affiliate of Disc Centers of America). McPherson also ranked among 2019’s Best Neuropathy Physicians in America by the International Neuropathy Association. In January 2020, he will host a 5th anniversary reception for his My Spine & Joint Center (4831 34th Street S. in St. Pete).

Dr. LaDonna Butler (below right) announced several milestones in 2019 at the Well for Life, where she is CEO. The Well is a collaborative of organizations working to create “a healing space for individuals, families and communities” through mental health counseling, wellness and self-care services. On November 12th, Butler unveiled a new partnership with Success for Kids & Families! Together to provide wraparound services for young people, ages 16 to 25, with funding through Central Florida Behavioral Health Network.

St. Pete native Dr. Adia Ross (below left), medical director for Duke Raleigh Hospital Medicine, was named Duke Regional Hospital’s chief medical officer this December. Ross, who currently manages a team of 45, will begin her new role on January 1. She is the daughter of former state legislator Rudy Bradley.

Bruce Moody, BSRT, RRT, RCP (below right), is the newly named Program Lead for the CPAP Clinic at the CW Bill Young VA Hospital. He is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Critical Care Program Leader for the VA Healthcare System. The FAMU graduate is also active with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Professional Services

Tahisia Scantling (below left) stepped out on faith in 2019 to devote her full-time attention to her business ventures – Crossroad Consulting and Tahisia Scantling, PA, which handles her work as a Certified Short Sale, Foreclosure & REO specialist. Scantling grew her real estate portfolio in 2019, while managing consulting engagements with clients such as The 2020 Plan and Pinellas County Urban League. In July and August, she convened five dozen firms interested in shared space leasing arrangements, including enterprises that will share space at the One Community Plan’s 1Pier stall, opening at the New Pier Marketplace next spring.

In addition to her media outlet – BlackinCentralFlorida.comKeisha Pickett (below right) landed a new contract to serve as Associate Director of Public Relations with H&L Partners handling PR for McDonald’s in Florida, Atlanta, San Francisco Metro and elsewhere.

Roy & Izabelle James cemented their family legacy, as second-generation insurance agency owners. The couple acquired their father’s firm – Roy James Insurance – which expanded their own three-year old firm (James Insurance Solutions), adding dozens of commercial and individual accounts. The James family also completed renovation of a 1,200 square foot headquarters this summer. They are doing business statewide and report to be on track for 25% growth in 2020.

Elizabeth Siplin (below left) achieved two major milestones for her new firm – Empact Solutions – in 2019. She secured a consulting contract through the Pinellas County Small Business Enterprise program to provide project management services and landed an advisory contract with the 2020 Plan to help lead year one of implementation of the One Community Plan.

In July 2019, Cherrye Baker (below right) became the first African American female-led agency in St. Pete to partner with HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, which is licensed as an insurance agency in 50 states. Baker ventured into insurance as an Independent Agent in 2015, after 19 years in advertising sales for the Tampa Bay Times.

Dontriel Lawson, VP of Business Development for JAPOSID Cleaning Services helped the firm expand with several new contracts. JAPOSID was awarded a multi-year agreement with Green Savoree Racing to be official janitorial service provider during Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete. The firm also won a five-year agreement to serve James A Haley Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa.

Government Leadership

Early this year, Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch announced his intent to run for Mayor of St. Petersburg in 2021. Welch also celebrated a victorious first year of the new Small Business Enterprise (SBE) policy he spearheaded: the new program multiplied county purchasing from SBEs, from roughly $230,000 in 2018 to $7.1 million in 2019, while tripling the number of minority-owned firms earning contracts. Leading that charge was Dr. Cynthia Johnson, who was promoted to Director of the newly created Pinellas County Office of Small Business & Supplier Diversity this year. Through her proactive outreach, Johnson has overseen the registration of 482 new small businesses to the county SBE program.  Over 2,000 business owners have participated in outreach and small business development workshops to sharpen their skills and learn about the process to engage in the county’s SBE program. Commissioner Welch and Dr. Johnson are pictured below (center) with Carolyn Murray, Jenee Skipper and other SBE program team members.

Florida State Representative Wengay Newton (District 70) was selected by his peers to serve as Chair of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation for the 2020 Legislative Session. State Senator Janet Cruz will serve as Vice Chair.

This November, Mara Brody (below left) was awarded a 2020 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship (a competitive national honor). The Rangel Fellowship is funded by the U.S. Department of State. It will support Mara through a master’s degree in International Relations. As part of the Rangel Program, Mara will intern with a Member of Congress in 2020, then intern overseas in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in 2021. Upon completion of the program, Mara will become a U.S. diplomat in 2022. The Bethune Cookman University senior was born in St. Pete and is a senior International Studies major.

St. Pete native and 27-year veteran of the U.S. Army Timothy Dudley was appointed in May 2019 as Hillsborough County Emergency Management Operations Director. Dudley (below right) retired from the Army as Sergeant Major at U.S. Special Operations Command. He previously supervised staffing and planning at Pinellas Emergency Management.

City of St. Petersburg employee Lucinda Grant was elected Chairperson of Leadership St. Pete in 2020. Grant is a 2000 graduate of the leadership program housed at the St. Petersburg Chamber. She also served on the Planning Committee for the Leadership St. Pete Class of 2019.

Dr. Philip Harris, formerly with the City of St. Pete, was appointed in May as Broward County Public Schools’ Program Manager for Recovery, a position created in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy. Harris (below left) has established a system of supports to mitigate mental health risks for student, staff and families of Broward schools. He is also spearheading a new system for communications and coordination during crises. In April, Harris, as South Florida Chapter President of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, co-hosted a contingent of 30 St. Pete entrepreneurs visiting Broward.

After 18 years with the St. Petersburg Police Department, Antonio Gilliam (below center) was selected to serve as Chief of Police for the Tallahassee Police Department. His most recent job in St. Pete was as assistant chief of investigative services. The 41-year old was born and raised in Tallahassee and will start as Chief there in January 2020, overseeing a staff of 535 employees and a budget of $60 million.

Award-winning communications pro Janelle McGregor (below right) moved into the position of Community Partnership Manager for the City of Tampa, exiting her role as spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department.

On the political scene, Deborah Figgs-Sanders was elected as the first African American ever to represent District 5 on the St. Petersburg City Council (article forthcoming on this historic milestone) and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman handily won re-election to serve her second term on the Council for District 7.

K-12 Education

This November, Dr. Tequila Lamar – 1999 Lakewood High graduate – was named Head of School for Centennial Academy, a K-8 charter school in downtown Atlanta where Lamar previously served as Interim Head of School. She has worked with the institution since 2014. Amber Robinson, a teacher at Douglas Jamerson Elementary, was named the 2019 Outstanding Elementary School Educator by the Florida Association of Science Teachers. Her contributions include developing STEM integrated curriculum that use engineering as the link among science, mathematics, and language arts components. Depicted below are Lamar (left) and Robinson (right).

Power Broker reader Jenee Skipper nominated Monica McIntosh to this feature. McIntosh was promoted to 8th Grade Assistant Principal at John Hopkins Middle School this year.

Philanthropy & Equity

Carl Lavender (below left) was appointed Senior Community Investment Director at the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. In addition to guiding community investments, he played a key role in the community engagement work leading to the 2019 opening of the Foundation’s Center for Health Equity, a 23,250 square-foot renovated space in South St. Petersburg. Lavender’s prior career roles include Managing Officer of Workforce Innovation & Community Strategy at Pinellas Technical College and 33 years with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where he raised millions of dollars and served thousands of youth in Columbus, Chicago and St. Petersburg.

After 35 years transforming businesses to drive growth for large corporations, Bridgette Heller returned home to St. Petersburg to serve as CEO of the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation (named in honor of mother). Heller’s most recent career roles were as Executive Vice President of the Early Life division and President of Specialized Nutrition at Danone, the global $30 billion consumer products company responsible for products such as Activia and Oikos yogurts. Heller (below right) says she is now committed to transforming the educational experience of children in her hometown of St. Petersburg. This will include expansion of an innovative Summer Program called M.A.S.T.R. Kids, co-created by Heller, which combines literacy and STEAM curricula and uses certified teachers to drive student learning gains.

After nearly two decades away, Dr. Keesha Benson (below left) returned home to St. Pete in 2018. She was appointed this September as Director of Thrive By Five Pinellas at the Early Learning Coalition. Thrive by Five is “a multidimensional approach for collective action to ensure an equitable, accessible, responsive, and accountable early childhood development system that increases the percentage of children on track for kindergarten and ready to succeed.” The Lakewood High alum was previously an Assistant Professor with the Temple University College of Public Health. She continues to lecture for Rutgers University.

In July 2019, Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative announced Dr. Sheron Brown (below right) as its new Executive Director. The organization is dedicated to advancing the health and wellness of the underserved through collaborations. Dr. Brown relocated to Tampa Bay from her private health and wellness practice in Maryland (Sweet Eden by Sheron) where she served as a wellness educator, consultant and coach to schools, school leaders, and women of color who struggle with chronic diseases.

Non-Profit Leadership

Karen Davis-Pritchett, M.Ed. (below left), was named Vice President of Access & Inclusion at Empath Health to helm the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. She previously served as Empath’s Director of Professional & Community Outreach where she helped create the Traditions/Tradiciones program to better meet the needs of the African American, Hispanic and Jewish communities.

Dr. Shameka Jones had several professional successes in 2019, including appointment to the board of the St. Petersburg Chamber and service on the Chamber board nomination committee. By day, Jones (below right) is a Regional Clinical Pharmacist at Florida Blue. In the community, she is also President of the St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

After 14 years as a manager of outreach and administration with the James B. Sanderlin Center, Ronnell Montgomery (below) transitioned to the St. Petersburg Area Chamber as an Executive Coordinator, working with the Chamber CEO. Montgomery has also served on the Chamber Board and Executive Committee as Chairperson of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Sonja Felton (below) was selected to the post of CSBG Program Director this November at Pinellas Opportunity Council, a member of the Community Action Agency nationwide network. Felton’s prior roles include Director of Graduate Support at Academy Prep Center of St. Pete (7 years) and Assistant Director of Admissions at Eckerd College (4 years). She fills the shoes of Mrs. Eleanor Brooks who retired this fall after 37 years with Pinellas Opportunity Council.

Rev. Meiko Seymour (below) was elevated to the role of Executive Pastor at Pinellas Community Church in June 2019 after four years as Community Life Pastor at the institution. His new purview includes overall leadership of church staff and functional areas of mission impact, including outreach, the arts, pastoral care, group life, student and children’s ministry, as well as strategic planning, finance, human resources, and operations. Pastor Seymour is also active in community leadership, as a member of the Grow Smarter Steering Committee and the St. Petersburg Public Arts Commission. He is a Contributing Writer for St. Pete Rising and Editor-in-Chief of The St. Petian.

Corporate Sector

LaQuitta Ghent (below left) was recently promoted to Vice President of Engineering for Duke Energy Florida. The Lakeland resident will work from Duke’s downtown St. Pete office, leading a team of 250 employees working across 35 counties and serving 1.8 million customers. Ghent started with Duke in 2006 as an engineering designer for large residential subdivisions and has since held progressively higher-ranking posts. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations Strategic Advisory Council.

Previously headquartered in the Tampa Bay market, Brian Lamb (below right) was named Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking for Fifth Third Bank’s national footprint in June 2019. He is responsible for strategy, growth, product development, branch and ATM distribution for the Retail Line of Business and the Brokerage and Securities business unit. The Retail Line generates $3 billion in revenue and encompasses 1,200 financial centers, 4 million consumer households and 10,000 employees.

Flora Jackson (below left) was promoted to VP of Business Solutions at Grow Financial in St. Pete where she has worked for nine of her 27 years in the financial industry. Flora’s most recent post was as a regional executive for Grow Financial’s retail delivery channel. She has also served on the board of Grow Financial Foundation. In the community, Flora was School Advisory Committee Chair at Lakewood High and currently serves on the BETA Advisory Committee at Gibbs High.

April Harley (below center) made two career moves in 2019. She accepted the post of Supplier Diversity Manager for Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate services firm that reports to be the largest company of its kind in the world (ranked 189th on the Fortune 500). April, along with Cory Outlaw, also launched a local boutique consultancy, HarleyOutlaw.

Coretha Rushing (below right) returned home to St. Pete in 2019, after three decades away, working in corporate roles that included Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Equifax (14 years); Senior VP, Global Human Resources for Coca-Cola Company (10 years); VP Human Resources for Pizza Hut (2 years); and Senior Director Human Resources at IBM (11 years). She launched Coretha Rushing Consulting in June 2019 with a focus on Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

Sharon Hall relocated from Atlanta to her hometown of St. Pete. She will continue to work for Spencer Stuart in three of the firm’s global practice specialties – Human Resources Practice, Consumer Practice and Diversity Practice, which she co-founded in 1999. Sharon managed Spencer Stuart’s Atlanta office for five years and has also served on the company’s global board. Over her career at Spencer Stuart, Hall has completed 300-plus searches for marketing chief and HR leaders across all industries, including consumer, retail, industrial, financial services, healthcare, and others.

Retail & Personal Services

Towanda Dixon (below right) was recruited by Annie Tyrell, owner of Annie’s Beauty Supply Store (below left), to lead an expansion strategy for the 6-year old retail outlet. The store opened in 2013 and operates in 750 square feet of space at 920 22nd Street S. in St. Pete. Tyrell recently launched an adjacent hair salon, bringing aboard Dixon as Chief Operating Officer & Master Stylist. Dixon’s prior work includes managing a Supercuts and styling at Fantastic Sams, Serenity 101 Salon, and Great Clips.

This August, 28-year old Chrishonna (Chrissy) Daniels opened her own full-service “nail bar”Custom Beauty Spa – offering manicures, pedicures, eyelash extensions, brow microblading and other services. The Spa is located at 3600 49th Street N. in St. Pete.

Boca Ciega graduate Rochelle Jennings achieved her dream this October when she grand-opened Rochelle Nail Spa at 6798 Crosswinds Drive N. in St. Pete. Operating under the banner of Nails by Mz Rochelle, Jennings says her goal is to offer a luxury experience at affordable prices.

Doris Hester launched a new venture in 2019. She is now Owner & Administrator at Anointed Elder Concierge Homemaker Companion Services. Her vision is to “stand in the gap for families in need of quality in-home care for elderly loved ones.” The firm also works with home-bound veterans and persons with disabilities. As of November, Hester says the start-up is fast expanding and hiring.

Carla Bristol, Helena Joseph and Catherine Weaver are three of the retailers who will occupy the One Community Plan 1Pier Stall at the New Pier Marketplace, which is sure to be one of the highest-traffic entertainment destinations in Tampa Bay. The Pier will be a second sales location for the three women. Bristol’s Gallerie909 operated a retail outlet on 22nd Street S. for a number of years and now vends at the Pavilion at 559 49th Street S. She also continues to consult to private, high-end clients. Weaver’s Uniquely Original Art Studio at 915 24th Street S. exhibits self-styled art and hosts painting and art classes. Joseph has operated her Island Flavors & Tings restaurant for over a decade at 1411 49th Street S. offering prepared foods, packaged foods and hand-crafted art from Joseph’s island home of Jamaica.


Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and nine-year NFL veteran Louis Murphy, Jr. was picked this November as the new Head Football Coach at Gibbs High. The national collegiate champion and former Florida Gator also had a banner year in business. He is currently developing a franchise operation and is an investor in commercial and housing development projects.

Lakewood High alumni Edwin “Chip” Lawrence is one of the few African Americans working nationally in Major League Baseball scouting. He is National Cross Checker for the San Diego Padres. This September, Chip hosted his 3rd Annual HBCU/All College  Baseball Showcase in Atlanta, which is designed to introduce black baseball players to coaches from the nation’s HBCUs. Chip also traveled to Pennsylvania to stand in for his dad, Edward Lawrence, who was inducted into the American Legion Sport Hall of Fame this October (his eighth Hall of Fame honor). The elder Lawrence played three years for the Milwaukee Braves (now Atlanta Braves). Chip is on the right in the photo below, along with young men involved with his Pro Youth Foundation.

Though they entered the NFL in 2017 and 2018, it wasn’t until this November that twin brothers Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin (both with the Seattle Seahawks) “played on the same field, at the same time, on the same [pro] team,” according to sports journalist Tyler Alsin who says the twins have “the potential to be the greatest story of the NFL this season” (see Alsin’s Nov 28th article at Field Gulls). Shaquill is having a pro-bowl caliber season, per Alsin, and Shaquem celebrated the unveiling of his new FlyEase Cleat by Nike last month.

Post-Secondary Education

This June, Stetson University appointed Michèle Alexandre (below left), a civil rights, gender and race scholar, as the first African American dean of its College of Law. Prior to that, Alexandre was associate dean for faculty development and intellectual life and the Leonard B. Melvin, Jr. Lecturer at the University of Mississippi School of Law. She is the author of The New Frontiers of Civil Rights Litigation and an organizer of a biennial national conference on sustainability and social justice for the poor in the rural South.

Kimberly Jackson, Esq. (right) was promoted to the post of Executive Director of St. Petersburg College’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions. She previously served as Department Chairperson for Social & Behavior Sciences and has taught American Government and State & Local Government at SPC. In the community, Jackson is a board member with several community organizations and is a member of the St. Petersburg Chapter of the Links and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

This December, Dr. Tashika Griffith (below) was elected as 2020 Chairperson of the citywide Grow Smarter initiative housed at the St. Petersburg Chamber and supported by 90+ organizations working for equitable economic growth in St. Pete. Griffith also expanded in her role as Provost of St. Petersburg College’s Downtown and Midtown campuses. She secured a new degree Business Administration Financial Services program at the Downtown campus and the Cyber Security program at the Midtown campus.

Dr. Charlie Colquitt was promoted earlier this year to Division Director and Professor for the Tampa/Orlando Instructional Site of Florida A&M University’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health. He will oversee the coordination of over 50 pharmacy learners earning hands-on experiences in Tampa Bay, Orlando and surrounding areas. Colquitt, pictured below with two of his students, is also a Clinical Pharmacist with Community Health Centers of Pinellas.

St. Pete’s Kyesha Robinson was promoted to Managing Officer of Workforce Innovation at Pinellas Technical College. In the community, Robinson serves on the board of Family and Youth Initiatives, and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Arts & Entertainment

St. Pete native Will Packer of Will Packer Productions has teamed with Focus Features to develop a female-driven thriller “When I Was You,” based on a novel by best-selling writer Amber Garza. Packer’s feature films, including “Girls Trip,” “Night School,” “What Men Want,” and “Think Like a Man,” have earned over $1 billion at the box office. Also in 2019, Packer served as Executive Producer of The Atlanta Child Murders, a docuseries that aired on Investigation Discovery in March 2019 about 29 black child murders perpetrated by a supposed serial killer, from 1979 to 1981.

The perennially prolific St. Pete native and superstar Angela Bassett stayed top-of-fold in the entertainment industry this year. Her latest milestones include top honors at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Award as a member of the cast of the smash hit movie Black Panther (Basset is 2nd from right below); the Icon Award at the 2019 Black Girls Rock Awards ceremony, which aired on BET; and a keynote speech at the October 12th Igniting the Dream Gala by PACE Center for Girls of Hillsborough.

St. Petersburg filmmakers Jabaar Edmond and Cranstan Cumberbatch (below, left and right) of DeamMakerz Productions made waves from coast to coast in 2019. Their feature-length secret agent espionage thriller, Agent X The Movie, played to sold-out audiences at AMC theaters in St. Pete, Tampa and Atlanta. This December 12th, Edmond and Cumberbatch host a red-carpet premiere of Agent X at AMC’s Citywalk at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles. In 2020, the all-local talent production will be screened at the Sunshine City Film Festival in January and the Black Art & Film Festival in February.

St. Pete native Khalea Lynee competed on the global stage on NBC’s The Voice after surviving 14 episodes and knockout rounds that eliminated 15 contestants. She was among the five soloists still standing in the Live Show competitions that began in November. Though she did not make it to the final heat, Lynee rallied millionns of fans nationwide. It was a dream come true for the 36-year old. It was also an epic resurgence of a music career that Lynee had put on hold for 12 years to raise her two daughters. She is pictured below (2nd from right) with finalists in the competition, with John Legend to her left.

Real Estate Development

Pinellas County Urban League announced two major promotions in December. Charlotte Anderson will now serve as Vice President of Housing & Economic Development, exiting her post as VP of Operations. Anderson (left in the photo below) will oversee housing construction projects currently underway. The Urban League also promoted Candice Massey to her first executive role, as Vice President of Operations (center below).

Within her first year of operations, Shawntavia Turner, CEO of Turnkey Property Management (right below), reports that her firm reached $8 million in gross receipts through contracts in three Florida counties – Pinellas, Hillsborough and Miami-Dade. Turner also opened a real estate school in 2019 – the Turnkey School of Real Estate. Her firm has seven realtors on board and Turner plans to launch Turnkey Title in 2020, to handle settlement and closing services.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas announced several career advances in 2019, including promotion of Candi Hagler (left below) to Executive Vice President of Programs. Hagler has 15 years of experience in the Habitat organization, including five years with the Pinellas affiliate. Habitat also promoted Brittney Keene (right below) to Volunteer Program Manager from her prior role as Volunteer Services Coordinator. Before being hired by the organization, Keene worked for Johns Hopkins All Children’s as a Pharmacy Tech and became a homeowner through Habitat.

This October, Knox LaSister was admitted as an Attorney and Counselor of the U.S. Supreme Court upon nomination of the Dean of the University of the District of Columbia School of Law. He was also appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman to the Board of Commissioners of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. LaSister was subsequently named as Chairman of Rise Development Corporation (a subsidiary of the Housing Authority).

Information Technology

Following a reorganization, Steve Moody (below) was promoted in his role as Technical Support Supervisor at St. Petersburg College, managing a team of 22 tech support specialists from north to south county. Moody has been employed with SPC since 2003.

Joe Hall (below), Owner of TriOrb Solutions, continued his company’s ascent as a leading service provider in IT, Cyber Security and Geo-Spatial services for public and private organizations. Established in 2012, TriOrb is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned company with offices in St. Petersburg (HQ) and Virginia. The firm had several honors this year, including the 2019 Minority Business Leader of the Year Award at the 27th annual Florida Minority Enterprise Development Corporation Conference and nomination for the MBE Supplier of the Year Award by the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council this September. TriOrb also secured HUBZone certification in 2019 and was selected to present its capabilities at the Kennedy Space Center Small Business Program HUBZone Showcase this year.

Special thanks to those who nominated peers for the spotlight – Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Jenee Skipper, Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Commissioner Ken Welch, Theresa Jones, Mike Sutton, Dr. Tonjua Williams, Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, Bridgette Heller, Attorney Lisa Brody, Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall, Loretta Calvin, Deborrah Ashley, Don Ware, Kimberly V. Jackson, April Harley, Matt Spence, Sean Kennedy, Cheri Wright-Jones, Annie Tyrell and Dr. Keesha Benson. To share news with the Power Broker magazine, email us at

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2 thoughts on “79 People Who Made Big Career Moves in 2019 (Pinellas County, Florida)”

  1. Barbara Scott says:

    Give Glory to God!

    I think this is amazing and phenomenal to see that there are a lot of Africa Americans Entrepreneurs in the city of St. Petersburg Florida.

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