Constitution Revision Commission Named, Set to Begin Work
The governor, presiding officers of the Legislature and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court have named the 37-members of the state’s Constitution Revision Commission. Attorney General Pam Bondi is automatically a member of the Commission. This group is created every 20 years to review the Florida Constitution and make proposals directly to voters in November 2018.
Jeff Woodburn will serve as the Executive Director of the Commission. He previously served as Director of Policy to Gov. Scott.
Carlos Beruff, Chairman
The son of Cuban immigrants, Carlos Beruff is a native Floridian whose business sense and hard work have allowed him to build an incredibly successful career in both his private business and the public sector. At age 22, Beruff started his first business and over time, Medallion Home became one of the most respected companies in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. During his more than 35-year career as a business owner, Beruff has built more than 2,000 homes and developed, owned and managed dozens of other properties, employing thousands of people in the process.
Dr. Jose “Pepe” Armas
Dr. Jose “Pepe” Armas is a distinguished physician and healthcare executive whose focus on patient-centered care has defined his career. Dr. Armas currently serves as the Chairman of MCCI Group, which he founded in 1998, a leading physician healthcare group in the Southeastern United States. In 2011, Governor Rick Scott appointed Dr. Armas to the Florida International University Board of Trustees, a position the Governor reappointed him to in 2016.
Lisa Carlton is an eighth-generation Floridian and the co-owner and manager of the Mabry Carlton Ranch, Inc. in Sarasota County. She spent much of her life in public service to the people of Florida including most recently as a Florida State Senator. After graduating from law school, Senator Carlton practiced law in Sarasota County for several years before entering the realm of public service. In 1994 Senator Carlton was elected to represent the 70th District of the Florida House of Representatives. After two terms in the Florida House, then Representative Carlton became Senator Carlton when she was elected to represent the 23rd District of the Florida Senate in 1998. In 2002, Senator Carlton was elected in the 24th District of the Florida Senate where she served until 2008. Senator Carlton received a Juris Doctor from Mercer University School of Law.
Timothy Cerio is an accomplished attorney practicing at his own law firm in Tallahassee. Along with being a former shareholder with the GrayRobinson law firm, Cerio has previously served as General Counsel to Governor Rick Scott from 2015 to 2016 and Chief of Staff and General Counsel at the Florida Department of Health from 2005 to 2007. In 2013, Cerio was appointed by Governor Scott to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the First District Court of Appeal.
Emery Gainey has devoted his career to law enforcement in Florida. Gainey is a member of the Attorney General’s senior executive management team and currently serves as the Director of Law Enforcement, Victim Services & Criminal Justice Programs and is the liaison between federal, state and local law enforcement administrators and the Attorney General. Gainey plays a key role in the development, implementation and execution of the Attorney General’s criminal justice related initiatives.
Brecht Heuchan is the Founder and CEO of ContributionLink, LLC, a leading political intelligence, data analytics and fundraising company which serves many of America’s most sophisticated corporations, trade associations and campaigns. Heuchan also owns The Labrador Company, a Florida based political and government affairs firm that since its start in 2001, has represented a wide array of clients from small non-profits to some of the largest and most respected industry leaders in the world. Throughout his career, Heuchan has gained extensive legislative, governmental and policy experience and used that knowledge in service to Governor Rick Scott and nearly a dozen Florida Senate Presidents and Speakers of the Florida House in a variety of staff and consulting capacities. In 1997, Heuchan was tasked by Speaker Daniel Webster to coordinate the Speaker’s Constitution Revision Commission appointees. He also monitored the work of the 97-98 CRC on the Speaker’s behalf, giving him a deep understanding and familiarity of the CRC process.
Marva Johnson is an accomplished member of Florida’s business community and leader in Florida education. Johnson, the Regional Vice President of State Government Affairs for Charter Communications currently serves as the chair of the Florida State Board of Education. Previously, Johnson served as a member of the Florida Virtual School Board and Advisory Board for Rollins College’s Crummer Center for Leadership Development. In 2014, Johnson received the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council’s Champion for Digital Equality Award in recognition of her leadership and advocacy in helping bridge the digital divide in education for low-income families.
Darlene Jordan is the Executive Director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports education, health and youth services, and the arts. In April 2016, Governor Scott appointed Jordan to the Board of Governors of the State University System. Jordan is a former Assistant Attorney General for the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, where she served in the Insurance Fraud Division from 1996 to 1999. Previously, she was an Assistant District Attorney in the Norfolk District Attorney’s office, from 1991 through 1996.
A nationally recognized authority on national insurance regulatory and compliance issues, Fred Karlinsky is Co-Chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group. Karlinsky is experienced in transactional law, executive and legislative governmental affairs, administrative law and corporate representation. Recognized as one of the top insurance lawyers by Chambers and Partners, Karlinsky represents insurers, reinsurers, producers and other insurance interests throughout the U.S. and internationally in a wide variety of business, operational, regulatory, transactional and governmental matters. In addition to his role with Greenberg Traurig, Karlinsky has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Florida State University College of Law since 2008, where he teaches a course on Insurance Law and Risk Management. He is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator.
Belinda Keiser has devoted her career to advancing Florida’s economic and workforce development, global competitiveness, education and healthcare. In addition to serving on various governmental boards, Keiser has been the vice chancellor of Keiser University for more than 20 years and is an advocate for students’ accessibility to higher education and workforce talent development. Keiser has served as an an Ex-Officio member of the Florida Council of 100, member of the Board of Florida’s Chamber of Commerce and on the Florida Government Efficiency Task Force. In 2016, Keiser was presented with the Congressional Record in Recognition of Women’s History Month by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Speaker Paul Ryan for her work in the areas of education, public service and philanthropy. Keiser received a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, a certificate in paralegal studies from Keiser University and a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.
Frank Kruppenbacher is an accomplished attorney who has spent much of the past 10 years serving his community and the state through positions on various boards and commissions. Over the past three decades, Kruppenbacher has gained invaluable experience in the public sector serving on the Florida Commission on Ethics, Florida Commission on Sales Tax Reform, Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce, Orange County Ethics & Campaign Finance Reform Taskforce, Orange County Oversight Committee, Orange County Charter Commission, Central Florida Zoological Board, Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Orange County Sheriff Department Oversight Board.
Dr. Gary Lester
Dr. Gary Lester is the Vice President of The Villages for Community Relations and has spent 34 years as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. In his service to the Church, Dr. Lester pastored congregations in Texas, Arkansas and Ohio before moving to Florida in 1991. Dr. Lester has served on numerous boards and advisory groups including the United States Military Academy Nominations Board and the Judicial Nominating Commission – Middle District of Florida. Dr. Lester received a Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana Tech University and attended seminary at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas.
A lifelong Floridian, Jimmy Patronis has dedicated his career to public service and his family business in Panama City. Patronis is currently a commissioner on the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), a position he was appointed to by Governor Rick Scott for a four-year term beginning January 2015. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Patronis represented District 6 (Bay County) in the Florida House of Representatives. Commissioner Patronis was appointed by Governors Jeb Bush and Lawton Chiles to the Florida Elections Commission and is also a past Chairman and Board Member of the Bay County-Panama City International Airport and Industrial District. Commissioner Patronis is a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Bay County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Programs.
Florida Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Pam Stewart has dedicated her life to ensuring Florida’s students have access to a high-quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and achieve their academic and career goals. Commissioner Stewart has served 37 years in education, beginning her career as a school teacher. She spent the first 20 years of her career as a guidance counselor, testing and research specialist, assistant principal and principal at both the elementary and high school levels.
Nicole Washington is a leader in higher education with more than 10 years of experience teaching, performing educational research and advocating for educational policy. As the State Policy Consultant for the Lumina Foundation she has worked to expand access and success for students in higher education and collaborated with organizations such as the Institute on Higher Education Policy, Education Commission on the States and Jobs for the Future. In Florida, Washington has served as the Associate Director of Governmental Relations for the State University System Board of Governors, as well as the Budget Director for Education in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget (OPB). Washington is a board member of Florida A&M University, the LeRoy Collins Institute and the Veterans Trust Board.
Tom Kuntz, Chairman of the Board of Governors for the State University System of Florida
Don Eslinger, former Sheriff of Seminole County
Judge John Stargel, Circuit Judge in the Tenth Judicial Circuit
For more than 30 years, former Senate President Don Gaetz dedicated his life to expanding Floridians’ access to quality health care services as a hospital administrator and co-founder of a successful hospice care business. After tremendous success in the private sector, he devoted his talents and time to public service. As a school board member and later as superintendent, he led Okaloosa County to become the highest performing public school system in Florida, winning numerous national awards for academic excellence.
Anna Marie Hernandez Gamez
Anna Marie Hernandez Gamez focuses her Miami-based law practice on complex real estate and commercial litigation. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Hernandez Gamez is the past president of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA). Her work at CABA has focused on its core missions of increasing diversity in the judiciary and legal community, fostering respect for the law, and providing equal access to and adequate representation of all minorities before the courts. In addition to her legal practice, Hernandez Gamez has been an active supporter of several charitable organizations in the Miami area and served as a Take Stock in Children mentor. Hernandez Gamez earned her juris doctor with honors from University of Miami School of Law.
As chief executive officer of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) and executive director of the Foundation for Florida's Future, Patricia Levesque has worked with federal and state leaders, teachers, parents, and students to advance education systems that maximize every student’s potential for learning. Levesque served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Jeb Bush. In that capacity, she oversaw state agencies responsible for education, general government services, business and professional regulation, elder affairs, veterans affairs, workforce, lottery, and juvenile justice. She also served as staff in the Florida Legislature for six years, working in the Office of the Speaker and as staff director over education policy. Levesque was a member of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission in 2007-08.
Sherry Plymale has served as chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, as chief of staff to Commissioner Frank Brogan in the Florida of the Department of Education, as a trustee of Florida Atlantic University and St. Leo University, and as a board member of the Martin County School Readiness Coalition. She has also served as the chair of the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees. Plymale has dedicated much of her time to work with the YMCA, the Children’s Home Society of Florida, and the Healthy Kids Corporation.
William “Bill” Schifino, Jr.
William Schifino currently serves as president of The Florida Bar for the 2016-2017 term, and previously served as president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. In addition, Schifino recently concluded eight years of service as a member of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, serving as its chair. Both Governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist appointed him to this critical position. He earned his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law, where he serves on the Board of Trustees of the UF Law Center Association. Schifino is board certified in the area of business litigation.
Former Senator Chris Smith has been an active member of the Ft. Lauderdale community throughout his legal career. He served as president of the Fort Lauderdale Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council and was later appointed to the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Planning and Zoning Board, where he served as the youngest member. Senator Smith went on to serve nearly two decades in the Florida Legislature while maintaining a private law practice in South Florida. Senator Smith earned his undergraduate degree from Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his law degree from Florida State University College of Law.
After a successful private sector career in citrus, real estate, and financial planning, Commissioner Bob Solari turned to serve his community of more than 35 years. As a former City of Vero Beach Council member and now Indian River County Commissioner, he has been a strong advocate for Indian River County taxpayers and a zealous defender of individual rights.
A former teacher with years of classroom experience instructing middle and high school students, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch most recently served as a city commissioner and as mayor for the town of Sewall’s Point. Her time on the Commission included appointments to various state and local boards that focused on environmental issues facing her area. Thurlow-Lippisch has dedicated considerable time to informing the residents of Florida about environmental damage to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. Her service on several local boards and her support of organizations like River Kidz has helped promote efforts to find solutions to the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
Clerk Carolyn Timmann is the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller of Martin County. She has served the State of Florida in each branch of government. Clerk Timmann served in the Legislative Branch as a legislative assistant to State Representative Tom Warner and later in the Executive Branch as executive deputy chief of staff to the Governor, overseeing military and veterans’ affairs, gubernatorial councils and commissions, and statewide consumer and technology projects. She served as a division director in the Executive Office of the Governor, managing public records and projects to provide statewide electronic information. Clerk Timmann also served in the Judicial Branch as a judicial assistant in the Nineteenth Circuit and Special Assistant to Florida’s Solicitor General.
Representative Jose Felix Diaz
Representative Jose Felix Diaz is an attorney and currently represents House District 116 in Miami-Dade County. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Columbia University where he studied State Constitutions. While at Columbia University, he was active as Student Senate Parliamentarian, sat on the American Bar Association Governance Commission, and was Senior Editor of the American Review of International Arbitration. He has been Chair of the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee (2012-2014) and the Regulatory Affairs Committee (2014-2016). He currently serves as the Chairman of the Commerce Committee, overseeing a wide variety of issues including insurance, gaming, tourism, professional regulation, and energy. He has also had the distinction of serving as the Chairman of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation (2015-present) and as Vice-Chairman of the Miami River Commission. In addition to holding prominent positions within the Legislature, Jose has had the privilege of being appointed to serve on several boards and councils, most notably as the Florida Representative to the Southern States Energy Board (2013-present) and as Chairman of the Public Service Commission Nominating Council (2013 & 2015).
Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez
Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez is a small business owner from Miami-Dade County where she currently represents House District 119. She has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2010. Speaker Nuñez was recognized as a Hispanic Woman of Distinction in 2007. She currently sits on the Board at Kristi House, a children’s advocacy center responsible for sexual abuse cases in Miami-Dade County, and is affiliated with the Women’s Healthcare Executive Network. In 2016, she was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by the United States Department of Education. Speaker pro tempore Nuñez began her career in government as a Legislative Aide to then-Senator Diaz de la Portilla (1995-2004). She has served as the Deputy Whip of the House (2011-2012), Chair of the Higher Education & Workforce Subcommittee, and Chair of the Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee. She was named Speaker pro tempore of the House of Representatives in 2016.
Representative Chris Sprowls
Representative Chris Sprowls is an attorney currently representing House District 65 in Pinellas County.
Representative Sprowles was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2014 and has consistently fought to improve health care and education in Florida. He currently serves as the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Representative Sprowles has a long history of community and public service. As a high school senior, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a form of cancer. Due to his experience with cancer at an early age, he has been very active assisting others who have been diagnosed with cancer. He has served as a coordinator for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and served as the Advocacy Chair for the 2014 Dunedin Relay for Life. He has also volunteered with the North Pinellas YMCA and serves on the YMCA of the Suncoast Healthy Living Committee. Representative Sprowles earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2009. Upon his graduation, he became an Assistant State Attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, serving Pasco and Pinellas counties. During his time with the State Attorney’s Office, Representative Sprowles prosecuted a number of criminals—including murderers, kidnappers, and child abusers—to help keep his community safe for families.
Senator Tom Lee
Senator Tom Lee currently serves Senate District 20, consisting of parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties. For over 30 years, he has been a licensed real estate agent and an owner of Sabal Homes of Florida where he currently holds the positions of Vice President and Director. Senator Lee was first elected to the Florida Senate in 1996 and, during his 15 years in the Senate, he has held a variety of leadership positions. In 2004 he was chosen by his colleagues to lead their chamber as President of the Senate (2004-2006). Senator Lee has also served the Senate as Chair of the Rules Committee from (2000-2004), Chair of the Appropriations Committee (2014-2016) and chaired a Senate Select Committee to implement constitutional amendments passed by the voters in 2002. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served as a member of the Hillsborough County City/County Planning Commission and the Hillsborough County Zoning Board of Adjustment. During his term as Senate President, Senator Lee was a strong advocate for ethics reform and fiscal responsibility. In 2005, he championed the passage of Florida's gift ban, designed to promote more ethical conduct by elected officials and those who lobby state government. He also authored a constitutional amendment adopted by the voters in 2006, requiring the legislature to produce a long range financial outlook to guide the legislative budgeting process. That same amendment created the Florida Government Efficiency Task Force to develop recommendations for reducing cost and improving the operations of state government. During his tenure in the Florida Senate, he has received over 50 awards for his leadership and dedication to public service from community and business groups.
Senator Darryl Rouson
Senator Darryl Rouson first moved to Florida in 1959. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida Law School in 1980. While in law school, he was also the President of the Black Law Students Association. He currently practices law with the Dolman Law Group. Senator Rouson has earned a reputation as a trailblazer in business and the community. In 1981, he became the first African American prosecutor in Pinellas County where he was also awarded the Florida Prosecutor Association Award. In 2003, he was appointed the first chairman of the newly formed Substance Abuse and Addictions Task Force for The National Bar Association. He also has had the distinction of serving as President of the St. Petersburg NAACP from 2000-2005, Chairman of the St. Petersburg Black Chamber, and as a member on the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission in 2007. Senator Rouson began his successful public career in 2008 when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He successfully won a seat in the Florida Senate in 2016—serving parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. He has a reputation for being an excellent orator and debater, and as an elected official capable of reaching across the aisle to work with his counterparts.
Sheriff Chris Nocco
Sheriff Chris Nocco has served the people of Pasco County since 2009. He lives in Pasco County with his wife and their three children. Sheriff Nocco has extensive law enforcement experience, having served with the Philadelphia Public School Police, the Fairfax County Virginia Police Department, and as a deputy with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He was a first responder on 9/11 and during the Washington Sniper Incident. Sheriff Nocco was a Staff Director to Representative Marco Rubio in the Policy and Procedures Office responsible for domestic security, criminal justice, economic development, and transportation issues. He also served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Florida House of Representatives and as Chief of Staff at the Florida Highway Patrol.
Erika Donalds lives in Naples and is married with three sons. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Global Management Accountant. Donalds is the Chief Financial Officer / Chief Compliance Officer and Partner at Dalton, Greiner, Hartman, Maher & Co., LLC—a New York-based investment management firm—where she has worked for over 12 years. She has great experience managing financial reporting, budgeting, audit & tax, and compliance with the Global Investment Performance Standards. She has a history of public service, most notably for being an active participant seeking to improve Florida’s education system. She has experience being an elected official as she has served on the Collier County School Board for 4 years. She was also a founding member and past President of Parents Rights Of Choice for Kids (R.O.C.K), a non-profit organization focused on representing parent and student interests at the state and local level
Rich Newsome is the senior partner of the Newsome Melton law firm and represents individuals and families in complex civil litigation. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida College of Law in 1989. After law school, Newsome worked as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern and Middle Districts of Florida. He left the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1993 and went to work for a large product liability defense firm in Orlando, where he represented manufacturers. In 2001, Governor Jeb Bush appointed Newsome to the Fifth District Court of Appeals Judicial Nominating Commission and he served as the JNC’s Chairman during his term. He is a Past-President of the Orlando Federal Bar Association, Past-President of the Florida Justice Association, Past-Member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice, and Past-President of the Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association. Additionally, Newsome owns a staffing company, 4 Corner Resources, that specializes in recruiting and placing employees in the IT and technical sector.
John Stemberger is an AV Rated Orlando civil trial lawyer who has litigated and argued high-profile First Amendment and constitutional issues. In 2001, he was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Ninth Judicial Circuit where he served eight years.Stemberger has a long history of serving children and youth organizations, including volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem for 13 years with the Orange County Bar’s Legal Aid Society; serving as Chairman of the Board for WIN Family Services, a large foster care and child welfare agency in the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland; and in 2013, helping found Trail Life USA, a Christian scouting movement for boys which has grown to almost 700 troops in 48 states. Stemberger has been a conservative policy advocate for over 30 years, and since 2005, has served as President of Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC).
Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville attorney who specializes in federal and state criminal matters, has served as president of The Florida Bar. He has also served on the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which is the constitutionally created board that receives and investigates allegations of judicial misconduct. He served on the Florida Supreme Court Innocence Commission and the Judicial Nominating Commissions for the Fourth Judicial Circuit as well as the First District Court of Appeals.
Former Senator Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa attorney, represented her community in the Legislature for 16 years, first in the Florida House and then in the Florida Senate. She was a student participant in the first civil rights demonstration in Tampa, part of the effort to desegregate department store lunch counters. A few years later, as a student at Florida A&M University, she was part of the demonstrations seeking to desegregate the city’s movie theaters and churches.
Roberto Martinez, a Coral Gables attorney, has served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida, first as an assistant U.S. attorney and then, later, as the U.S. Attorney. He has a record of active service in education, both in his home county of Miami-Dade and also on a state level, serving as a member of the state Board of Education for several years. He served as a member of the Florida Taxation and Budget Commission in 2007-08 and chaired the commission’s Government Services subcommittee.