Category Archives: Chamber News


Leadership Lakeland Alumni, Friends Welcome Class XXXVI


Lakeland, FL – With more than 130 alumni and friends in attendance at Thursday’s Opening Reception at the RP Funding Center, Class XXXVI Chair, Michelle B. Ledford (Class XXIX, MADE), introduced the 30 members of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXVI. Chuck McDanal (Class XXXI, Kindelan McDanal & Associates) will be serving as Chair-Elect.

Congratulations to the following members:

  • Steven G. Achinger, MD, FASN, Managing Partner/Chairman of the Board, Watson Clinic LLP 
  • Randolph Barber, V.P. Industrial Maintenance and Purchasing, Publix Super Markets, Inc. 
  • Leon Battle, Executive Director of Child Hunger and Family Support Services, One More Child / Florida Baptist Children’s Homes
  • Sarah Bhagat, COO LRHMC and VP Organizational Effectiveness LRH, Lakeland Regional Health
  • William B. Bracken, Jr., Attorney, Bracken & Bergwall, P.A.
  • Amanda Frankel Brice, Clinical Manager/Marketing Director, Agnini Family Dental
  • Michael Paul Carey, Manager, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
  • Tom Collins, Sr. Director, Marketing, Saddle Creek Logistics Services
  • Erin Ferguson, Marketing Specialist II, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union 
  • Ana Vargas Gillespie, Owner, Lakeland Escape Room
  • Taher Hisham Hamid, Marketing Manager, Alltek Services
  • Kaitlin Irmscher, Administration Manager, Chastain-Skillman
  • Ellen J. Katzman, Executive Director, PACE Center for Girls
  • Rebecca Knowles, Director of Communications and Community Partnerships, All Saints Academy
  • Thomas C. Lloyd, VP/Private Banking Officer, Bank of Central Florida
  • John S. Lowman, IV, Credit Manager, Avon Leasing, Inc.
  • Sara Roberts McCarley, Founder/Chairman, Randy Roberts Foundation
  • Douglas W. McPherson, VP, Private Banker, Citizens Bank & Trust 
  • Ashley Metts Miller, Community Engagement Director, VISTE
  • Holly Parrish, Owner, PH Solutions, LLC
  • Teddra Joy Porteous, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, Polk County Public Schools
  • Eric Powell, Financial Advisor, RightPlan Financial
  • Brenda Patricia Ramirez, Attorney, Kaylor Law Group
  • Brenda C. Reddout, Executive Director, Talbot House Ministries
  • Douglas Edward Riley, Fire Chief, Lakeland Fire Department
  • Parminder Sahota, VP of Sales, Boring Business Systems
  • Bethany Tricia Thomas, Vice President for Student Development, Southeastern University
  • Amanda Walls, Senior Attorney, Peterson & Myers, P.A.
  • Jason Williams, Loan Officer, Farm Credit of Central Florida
  • Lori A. Winstead, Director of County Court, Assistant State Attorney, State Attorney’s Office 

Together, these class members will complete a rigorous schedule of monthly day sessions from October through May. Each session features hands-on experiences that engage class members in all aspects of Lakeland and Polk County.

Leadership Lakeland is an annual program designed to identify leadership and enhance existing leadership in our community. The program unites leaders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to improve their ability to lead effectively, offering its members a broad range of experiences and insights about the community, its people, its needs, and its services.


Since 1921, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce has served as an advocate for business. The Chamber is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper. The Lakeland Chamber is the largest Chamber of Commerce in Polk County with more than 1,400 investor businesses. The Lakeland Chamber continues to be an integral component of the Lakeland community by offering a wide variety of programs and initiatives that positively impact the economic vitality and quality of life in our region. Our investors capitalize on the contacts, resources, and support provided by the Chamber.


Political Hob Nob 2018 Straw Poll Results


Results below from the straw poll taken at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Political Hob Nob 2018 on Tuesday August 14th. Voting administered by Polk County Supervisor of Elections.

U.S. Senate

  • Rick Scott, R, 222
  • Bill Nelson, D, 115
  • Rocky Roque de la Fuente, R, 7

U.S. House, District 9

  • Wayne Liebnitzky, R, 162
  • Darren Soto, D, 111
  • Alan Grayson, D 26

U.S. House, District 15

  • Neil Combee, R, 92
  • Ross Spano, R, 62
  • Andrew Learned, D, 61
  • Sean Harper, R, 40
  • Danny Kushmer, R, 34
  • Kristen Carlson, D, 19
  • Ray Pena, D, 17
  • Ed Shoemaker, R, 12

U.S. House, District 17

  • Greg Stuebe, R, 85
  • Julio Gonzalez, R, 84
  • April Freeman, D, 54
  • Bill Akins, R, 39
  • Bill Pollard, D, 22

Florida Governor

  • Adam Putnam, R, 234
  • Gwen Graham, D, 37
  • Andrew Gillum, D, 29
  • Ron DeSantis, R, 23
  • Philip Levine, D, 22
  • Jeff Greene, D, 6
  • Chris King, D, 1
  • Bob White, D, 1

Florida Attorney General

  • Ashley Moody, R, 184
  • Sean Shaw, D, 59
  • Frank White, R, 48
  • Ryan Torrens, D, 26
  • Jeffrey Marc Siskind, NPA, 3

Florida Chief Financial Officer

  • Jimmy Patronis, R, 203
  • Jeremy Ring, D, 91

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Denise Grimsley, R, 129
  • Baxter Troutman, R, 59
  • Matt Caldwell, R, 57
  • Roy David Walker, D, 43
  • Nikki Fried, D, 23
  • Jeffrey Duane Porter, D, 11
  • Mike McCalister, R, 10

Florida Senate, District 20

  • Tom Lee, R, 170
  • Joy Gibson, D, 51
  • John Manners Houman, R, 39
  • Kathy Lewis, D, 39

Florida Senate, District 22

  • Kelli Stargel, R, 218
  • Bob Doyel, D, 114
  • Ricardo Rangel, D, 6

Florida Senate, District 26

  • Ben Albritton, R, 216
  • Catherine Price, R, 90

Florida House, District 39

  • Josie Tomkow, R, 198
  • Ricky Shirah, D, 114

Florida House, District 40

  • Colleen Burton, R, 238
  • Shandale Terrell, D, 95

Florida House, District 42

  • Mike La Rosa, R, 204
  • Barbara Cady, D, 90

Florida House, District 56

  • Melony Bell, R, 231
  • Jeff Mann, R, 63

County Commission, District 2

  • Rick Wilson, R, 223
  • Katherine “Kat” Gates-Skipper, R, 69

County Commission, District 4

  • Martha Santiago, R, 143
  • Jim Guth, R, 116
  • Karen Cooper Welzel, D, 70

Circuit Judge, Group 10

  • Melissa Gravitt, 138
  • Keith Merritt, 128
  • Lee Cohen, 52

Circuit Judge, Group 11

  • Dana Y. Moore, 168
  • Steve Pinckett, 130

School Board, District 3

  • Scott Jones, 127
  • Sarah Fortney, 77
  • Kala Tedder, 53
  • LaTrice Moore, 51

School Board, District 5

  • Kay Fields, 119
  • Terry L. Clark, 98
  • Jennifer Sabin, 90

School Board, District 7

  • Lisa Miller, 209
  • David Byrd, 95

Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, Group 2

  • Greg Williams, 133
  • Joe Garrison, 118

Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, Group 3

  • Kyle Carlton, 175
  • OnDrew Hartigan, 70

Local and Regional Candidates to Participate in 2018 Hob Nob

LAKELAND, FL (July 12, 2018) – The 2018 Political Hob Nob being hosted at the Rocking H Ranch on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, provides an occasion to meet with local and state candidates and learn more about them.

In an effort to increase awareness of and participation in the elections process, the Lakeland Chamber provides this opportunity for the local community to speak with candidates and local clubs at their respective booths.  Attendees will vote in a Straw Poll administered by the Polk County Supervisor of Elections from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM with the results announced that evening at 7:45 PM.  Candidates will take the stage to introduce themselves.

The Rocking H Ranch provides the perfect “Old Florida” backdrop for the event.  Originally, an old Cattle Ranch, it now is one of the leading Agritourism spots in Florida.  Attendees will also enjoy great BBQ, beverages, valet parking and good company.

The event is made possible by underwriting from community-focused companies and organizations – Red Sponsors are Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A., Ledger Media Group, Rocking H Ranch, Spectrum Business; Gubernatorial Sponsors include A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc., Reed Mawhinney & Link, PLLC, and Watson Clinic LLP. Other sponsors and supporters are Bernie Little Distributors, BTB Catering, Lakeland Valet, Polk County Supervisor of Elections, WONN/WPCV/WLKF/WWRZ Radio, and (Linking Community Now Inc.).

Candidates may register for a Table until Tuesday, August 7, 2018 using this link or by visiting and clicking on the Events Calendar tab.

Tickets to the event are $25 with advance purchase and $30 if purchased at the door.  Corporate 10-Packs are available for $200.  Sponsorships are available.  Tickets can be purchased by using this link or by visiting and clicking on the Events Calendar tab.

Candidates and clubs that are currently registered to attend are listed below.  Candidates will be added to our event page as they register – please visit and click the Events Calendar tab to view.

Representative in Congress, District 15:

Neil Combee

Sean Harper

Danny Kushmer

Ed Shoemaker

Ross Spano

Kristen Carlson

Andrew P. Learned

Representative in Congress, District 17:

Greg Steube


Philip Levine

Attorney General:

Ashley Moody

State Senator, District 22:

Kelli Stargel

State Senator, District 26:

Catherine Price

State Representative, District 39:

Josie Tomkow

State Representative, District 40:

Colleen Burton

Shandale Terrell

State Representative, District 56:

Melony Bell

Jeff Mann

County Commissioner, District 2:

Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper

Rick Wilson

County Commissioner, District 4:

Jim Guth

Martha Santiago

Circuit Judge, 10th Judicial Circuit, Group 10:

Lee Cohen

Melissa Gravitt

Circuit Judge, 10th Judicial Circuit, Group 11:

Dana Y. Moore

Stephen Paul Pinket

School Board, District 3:

Sarah Fortney

Scott Jones

LaTrice Moore

Kala Tedder

School Board, District 5:

Terry L. Clark

Kay Fields

Jennifer Sabin

School Board, District 7:

David Byrd

Lisa Miller

Clubs and Organizations:

The Republican Club of Lakeland

The Democratic Women’s Club of Lakeland

The Republican Women’s Club of Lakeland, Federated
Event Sponsors:

Red Sponsors

Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.

Rocking H Ranch

Ledger Media Group

Spectrum Business

Gubernatorial Sponsors

A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure

Reed Mawhinney & Link, PLLC

Watson Clinic LLP

Media Partners

Big 4 Radio – WONN/WPCV/WLKF/WWRZ Radio (Linking Community Now Inc.)

Exclusive Beer Sponsor

Bernie Little Distributor

Event Sponsors

BTB Catering

Lakeland Valet

Event Partner

Polk County Supervisor of Elections

Location:  Rocking H Ranch, 2200 Ewell Rd, Lakeland, FL  33811

Date/Time Information:  Tuesday, August 14, 2018, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Contact Information:  Rebecca Fortier,


The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce represents 1,400-member businesses in the Lakeland area and provides opportunities for networking, professional development and advocacy for companies of all sizes. Five-star accredited by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber upholds the following vision and mission statements: Vision Statement – The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce will be the premier catalyst for the advancement of Lakeland’s economic growth and enhancement of quality of life– creating Florida’s community of choice. Mission Statement – The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is the leading organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper.


Lakeland Chamber President Cory Skeates Nominated as Treasurer of FACP

facpThe Nominating Committee, chaired by Dawn Adams of the Jax Chamber, has completed its work and presents the following slate of nominees:

New Board Members: (3 years)

Tamara Fleischhaker, Ocala/Marion County

Janet Kersey, Daytona

Sarah Pearson, Boca

Ray Villegas, Seminole County


Board Members for Re-Appointment:

Skip Alford, Palm Harbor (3 years)

Hope Allen, North Tampa (1 year)

Cindy Brief, Coral Springs (1 year)

Ted Everett, Washington County (3 years)

Kelly Flannery, South Tampa (3 years)

John Newstreet, Kissimmee-Osceola County (3 years)

Tracy Wilson, Tampa (3 years)

Chair Appointment: (1 year)

Kristopher McLane, Panama City Beach



Elizabeth Spies, Destin



Cory Skeates, Lakeland


Regional Chairs:  (*new)

*Central: Ray Villegas, Seminole County

East Central: Debbie Connors, Port Orange-S. Daytona

Northeast: Tresa Calfee, Clay County

Northwest: Ted Everett, Washington County

*Southeast: Cindy Brief, Coral Springs

Southwest: Donna Germain, Cape Coral

West Central: Kelly Flannery, South Tampa

Please join us in congratulating the nominees and thanking them for their willingness to serve!


Lakeland Chamber President Cory Skeates Graduates from IOM

Cory Skeates Graduates from Institute for Organization Management
A Leadership Training Program Produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is pleased to announce that Corydon Skeates IOM, President, of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, has graduated from the program and has received the recognition of IOM. Awarded to all graduates of the Institute program, the IOM Graduate Recognition signifies the individual’s completion of 96 hours of course instruction in nonprofit management. In addition, participants can earn credit hours toward the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) or Certified Association Executive (CAE) certifications. Nearly 1,000 individuals attend Institute annually.

“Institute graduates are recognized across the country as leaders in their industries and organizations,” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s vice president of Institute for Organization Management. “These individuals have the knowledge, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve professional and organizational success in the dynamic association and chamber industries.”

Since its commencement in 1921, the Institute program has been educating tens of thousands of association, chamber, and other nonprofit leaders on how to build stronger organizations, better serve their members and become strong business advocates. Institute’s curriculum consists of four weeklong sessions at five different university locations throughout the country. Through a combination of required courses and electives in areas such as leadership, advocacy, marketing, finance, and membership, Institute participants are able to enhance their own organizational management skills and add new fuel to their organizations, making them run more efficiently and effectively.

Institute for Organization Management is the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It is the premier nonprofit professional development program for association and chamber professionals, fostering individual growth through interactive learning and networking opportunities.



The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.