Photographs by Rafael Tongol

When Winter Park Magazine ran its first “Most Influential People” feature in 2015, we thought it would be a one-off. We didn’t anticipate how positive the response would be to the concept of saluting people who — often quietly — make a difference through their professions, their volunteerism, their philanthropy, their talents or their community engagement.

We didn’t anticipate the level of interest, either. Each year, we’ve received hundreds of nominations — and this year was no different. Final selections were made by a panel consisting of previous Influentials.

As usual, not everyone who made the list is influential in a big-picture way. Some of the selectees are well known, while others operate under the radar. What they all have in common, however, is a love for Winter Park — and a desire to make it an even more special place in which to live, work and play.

Past Influential’s include (in alphabetical order):  Dan Bellows, Cindy Bowman LaFronz, Jeffrey Blydenburgh, Daniel Butts, Grant and Peg Cornwell, Julian Chambliss, Patrick Chapin, Carolyn Cooper, Mary Daniels, Jeff Eisenbarth, Sue Foreman, Shawn Garvey, Steve Goldman, Sarah Grafton, Jane Hames, Jill Hamilton Buss, Debra Hendrickson, Catherine Hinman, Phil Kean, Allan Keen, Linda Keen and Randy Knight.

Also: Debbie Komanski, Linda Kulmann, Steve Leary, Lambrine Macejewski, Anne Mooney, Ronnie Moore, Patty Maddox, David Odahowski, Betsy Rogers Owens, John Rife, Thad Seymour, Shawn Shaffer, Susan Skolfield, Sam Stark, Dori Stone, John and Gail Sinclair, Fr. Richard Walsh, Harold Ward, Bill Weir, Pete Weldon and Becky Wilson.

On behalf of the past Influentials — and the staff of Winter Park Magazine — congratulations and welcome to the Class of 2017. Let’s meet them on the following pages.

Jim Barnes at Seacoast Bank, which acquired BankFIRST in 2014.

Jim Barnes

The Quiet Helper

President, Jambarco Investment Group

Jim Barnes doesn’t run a bank anymore, but he still uses a banker’s methodical approach to getting things done for Winter Park. He’s active as a board member for Rollins College’s Crummer Graduate School of Business, the Mayflower Retirement Community and the city’s Lakes & Waterways Advisory Board, among others. (The water is much cleaner than it used to be, Barnes says, though there’s definitely more work to do.) “Being part of a bank, you have to take something from an idea to fruition,” says Barnes, who founded BankFIRST in 1989 and grew it into a major regional lender. “It always involves many steps — it’s not just one thing.” Barnes, the son of a mortgage banker, began his career in Michigan, starting an insurance agency in Detroit with a partner when he was just 18. He earned a degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s renowned Wharton School of Finance, then helped build his family’s financial businesses and started others of his own. But the second oil shock in 1978 nearly crippled the auto industry, and Barnes, then almost 40, knew the time had come for a move. “There were no excess funds around — consumers couldn’t buy houses,” he says of Detroit at that time. He discovered Winter Park through a friend and moved here in 1983, eventually starting BankFIRST, which grew to 12 offices in Central Florida. He retired as chairman when the bank was sold to Seacoast Banking Corp. in 2014. Along the way, Barnes also served as chairman of other major Winter Park institutions, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Winter Park Health Foundation. Now 76, he continues to run a real-estate asset firm called Jambarco Investment Group, and a foundation named for him and his wife, Diana, is taking shape. Having given so much to his adopted hometown during the second act of his life, Barnes hints that he still has more to give: “We’re considering a legacy that’s Winter Park-oriented.”

What he says:

“To me, it’s extremely important that we preserve the downtown/Central Park area. It’s a huge asset, and it needs to continue its character as time evolves.” 

What they say:

“Apart from his business accomplishments, Jim has quietly helped more people than anyone in this town will ever know … very unassuming ... just the epitome of a good citizen and a good friend.”

 

Rita Bornstein at the campus of Rollins College.

Rita Bornstein

Rollins’ Wonder Woman

Retired President, Rollins College

Since Rollins College and Winter Park are so intertwined, it’s no surprise that past presidents tend to remain within the community — and to continue their good works long after their tenures end. Rita Bornstein, who headed the college from 1990 to 2004, was not only the first female president, but was also key in placing the prestigious liberal arts institution on solid financial footing and presiding over unprecedented enhancements to academics and to the campus itself — which is today universally regarded as one of the most beautiful in the U.S. Bornstein, 81, came to Rollins as vice president for development at the University of Miami. At the time, she was considered something of an unconventional choice, both for her gender and her background as a fundraiser, not an academic. “But look at what we got,” said Allan Keen, chairman of the presidential search committee upon Bornstein’s retirement. “The risk turned out to be no risk at all.” On the development front, the college’s endowment grew from $39 million to more than $260 million under Bornstein, thanks in part to a $93.3 million bequest from alumnus trustees George D. Cornell and his wife, Harriett. Bornstein’s formidable fundraising goal of $100 million — more than double any previous fundraising goal set by Rollins — was exceeded by more than $60 million. Bornstein was credited with the largest building boom in decades at the college, and a program of buying property adjacent to the college for development and future expansion. The McKean Gateway — the first-ever official entrance to the campus at South Park Avenue — was erected, and the college’s already lofty academic rankings soared during the “Bornstein Era.” Today, Bornstein serves on the boards of the Winter Park Health Foundation, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and the Parkinson Association of Central Florida. She’s the recipient of numerous academic and community awards, including the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Decade in 2004 and the John Young History Maker Award in 2013.

What she says:

“My goals for Winter Park are to assure that we have a healthy and diverse community. That we balance fealty to tradition with initiatives that keep up with contemporary ways of shopping, dining, exercising, entertaining and educating our children and ourselves. It’s important to continue to nurture our preeminent cultural and educational offerings.”

What they say:

“Rita was a pioneer and a trailblazer … helped set the stage for modern-day Rollins … her advice and involvement are still sought out … the Wonder Woman of her day — heck, she still is Wonder Woman.”

 

Linda Costa at her office.

Linda Costa

The Image Builder

President, Linda Costa Communications Group

For more than 30 years, Linda Costa has been at the forefront of the public relations industry, building a successful full-service communications company with clients of all sizes, including some Fortune 500 powerhouses. Yet, Costa has always maintained a commitment to providing pro bono work for causes in which she believes. She founded Linda Costa Communications in 1985 as a writing company dubbed, appropriately, Wordwise. Since then, she has served on numerous nonprofit boards and has donated an array of services — including branding strategies, message development, collateral material and public relations guidance — to such organizations as the Adult Literacy League, Community Based Care of Central Florida, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, Heart of Florida United Way, Junior Achievement of Central Florida, the Parkinson Association of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and others. In fact, since its inception, Costa’s Winter Park-based company — which now employs more than 20 people — has donated nearly 15,000 hours, valued at more than $1 million. Costa, 67, has earned roughly 400 local, state and national accolades, including a 1991 nod as Outstanding Public Relations Professional from the Orlando Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association. That’s a pretty heady resumé for a woman who began her career as a high-school English teacher and later became a reporter at a small daily newspaper in western Pennsylvania, where she was born. Costa’s philosophy of paying it forward was recognized in 2006 with the Summit Award from the Women’s Resource Center of Central Florida, which salutes women for above-and-beyond civic leadership and community service. In 2008, Costa was named Alumna of the Year by the English Department of Pennsylvania State University, from which she graduated cum laude in 1970. “I’m proud to have founded and run a business for 30 years that has always been committed to making a difference in the community — not only by providing pro bono services to nonprofits, but also by creating a positive, flexible and encouraging environment for women in the workplace,” notes Costa.

What she says:

“If I’m influential, I suppose it’s because people know me to be honest, straightforward and fair. I say what I mean; I mean what I say; and I don’t deal in hyperbole. My job is to act in the best interest of my clients — not to self-promote — and to provide them with well-informed, well-crafted counsel.”

What they say:

“Linda is one of a handful of people in this town who still know how to do public relations … credibility is everything in Linda’s field, and she’s got it … the best thing that can happen to a nonprofit is to have Linda take an interest.”

 

Scot and Christine Madrid French at the midcentury-style Winter Park Post Office.

Scot French, Christine Madrid French

The Historian and the Preservationist

Director of Public History, Associate Professor, University of Central Florida; Architectural Historian, Advocate

In rapidly developing Central Florida — especially in desirable addresses such as Winter Park and Maitland — it’s sometimes tempting to pave over the past. Thanks to historians such as husband-and-wife team Scot and Christine Madrid French, we’re reminded of what made these places special in the first place and — sometimes — persuaded to act in defense of our heritage and culture in the process. Scot French, 58, director of public history and associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida, has recently been collaborating with a 2016 Influential, Rollins College History Department Chair Julian Chambliss, on an updated history of Winter Park for use by civic organizations. He’s also been writing a book on Lewis Lawrence, the New York philanthropist who played a critical role in founding Eatonville, and who collaborated with pioneering developer Loring Chase on plans for Winter Park and Hannibal Square on the traditionally African-American west side. A presentation of his research, titled Segregated Settlements & Model Towns: The Politics of Race and Class in the Founding of Maitland, Eatonville, and Winter Park, 1873-93, drew more than 200 people to the Winter Park Civic Center last September. French, who holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia, has won numerous awards for documenting black history in Virginia through articles, books and a documentary film. “I’d like to see Winter Park document, curate and celebrate the history of its working- and middle-class neighborhoods, from its founding era to the present,” French says. “Recovering this hidden history will help longtime residents and newcomers alike understand why people from such diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds chose to make Winter Park their home — and how their common dreams and aspirations have shaped the built environment and cultural landscape we see today.” Christine Madrid French, 51, who holds a master’s degree in architecture history from the University of Virginia, is best known locally for her advocacy of mid-century architecture, and for her pivotal role as project director for the much-heralded relocation and preservation of the circa-1880s Capen-Showalter House, which in 2013 was floated across Lake Osceola to the grounds of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. The project won historic preservation awards from the City of Winter Park, the American Institute of Architects Orlando and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. She briefly succeeded Betsy Rogers Owens as executive director for another saved-from-the-wrecking-ball house, Casa Feliz, before resigning earlier this year to concentrate on academic work. Madrid-French has also been curator of history for the Art & History Museums — Maitland. She was instrumental in preparing the documentation that landed the Mayan-themed Maitland Art Center, built in 1937, on the highly exclusive list of National Historic Landmarks. Other structures on the roster include the Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch, the White House and Hoover Dam. “Winter Park is unique in the country for its unparalleled collection of buildings,” she says. “As the city moves into the 21st century, it’s critical for the community to responsibly steward its historic structures while also welcoming new, innovative designs that enhance our daily experiences. My goal is to keep learning about and sharing the architectural stories of the city so more people — both tourists and locals — can enjoy the depth of experiences you can only find here in Winter Park.”

What he says:

“As a digital public historian specializing in multigenerational studies of civic leadership and community life, I feel it’s vitally important to recognize the knowledge, experience and expertise of those who call this place home. It also helps to think of myself as a resident scholar with a genuine stake in the health, welfare and future prosperity of my adoptive community.”

What she says:

“My personal style is a mix of friendly and fierce. I am a Latina whose ancestors fought in both the American Revolution and the Mexican Revolution. That heritage, and my Los Angeles upbringing, gives me the confidence to take on big, seemingly impossible, projects. My approach is to use storytelling to solve problems and to activate new ideas, working with teams of innovative, creative people.” 

What they say:

“Now more than ever, we need people like Scot and Chris … they’re effective because they’re interesting … their work is academically rigorous but fascinating to the rest of us.”

 

Betsy Gardner Eckbert in Greeneda Court.

Betsy Gardner Eckbert

The Change Agent

President, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce

When the indefatigable Betsy Gardner Eckbert decided that she wished to become president of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, her cover letter noted that she had “strong roots and 35 years of participation in the life” of the  800-member organization, which was founded in 1887 as the Winter Park Board of Trade. “I feel I have the right mix of readiness and expertise to bring to the new role of president,” she added. Members of the selection committee agreed — and why wouldn’t they? — choosing Gardner Eckbert over more than 220 other candidates. “I was hired to be a change agent,” says Gardner Eckbert. And don’t doubt for a moment that she intends to be exactly that. A Type-A overachiever, she was a campus leader at the University of Florida, a pharmaceutical-sales superstar, an executive at a U.K.-based consulting firm that mentors executive women and, more recently, cofounder of a company that markets UV-protective swimwear for kids worldwide. Now, back home in Winter Park, she intends to expand the chamber’s mission beyond its signature events and to improve its ROI for 21st-century businesspeople. (Gardner Eckbert continues a purely coincidental tradition at the chamber of employing the offspring of politically powerful women. Her mother was the late Lydia Gardner, a teacher who was elected to the Orange County School Board and later as Orange County Clerk of Courts. Her predecessor, Patrick Chapin, was the son of Linda Chapin, the first Orange County chairman, now called county mayor.) Gardner Eckbert says it’s important to get more CEO-level members participating in chamber programs. With key decision makers in the room, personal connections can yield more immediate payoffs. Among her new ideas is to promote entrepreneurship through a “maker faire,” perhaps in partnership with the Winter Park Public Library, which has a “makerspace” that includes a 3-D printer and video production equipment. She also envisions the chamber’s first floor becoming a co-working space — a sort of incubator for new ventures that will be made available on a competitive basis.

What she says: 

“I think when you’ve had the privilege of growing up in Winter Park, and the privilege of living in London, you don’t hide your light under a bushel when you come back home. You try to take what you’ve learned and bring world-class ideas to the place you love.”

What they say: 

“Betsy loves Winter Park and she’s driven to succeed in whatever she does … she’ll shake things up … brilliant and confident, but willing to listen … her mom taught her about the value of service.”

 

Hal George at the 53rd — and most recent — home built by Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland.

Hal George

The Habitat Hero

Managing Broker, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty; Owner, Parkland Homes;
President, Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland

Hal George would probably object to taking too much credit for Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland. At a recent gathering celebrating completion of the organization’s 53rd local home, George was quick to credit Rollins College President Emeritus Thaddeus Seymour, for whom the home was named, with getting a Habitat for Humanity affiliate underway back in 1993. “None of us would be here if Thad wasn’t leading the charge,” said George, who’s president of the nonprofit as well as owner of Parkland Homes and managing broker of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Winter Park. But from the very beginning, the low-key George, best known for building luxurious new homes, worked side-by-side with Seymour in making certain that hardworking locals would have access to affordable housing. In fact, the topic has been an interest of George’s for quite some time. The 40-year Winter Park resident also serves on the advisory board of the Winter Park Community Redevelopment Agency and is board chair of the Winter Park Housing Authority. “I’m very proud of our accomplishments with the local Habitat affiliate,” he says. “Not only have we been able to provide affordable homeownership opportunities for deserving families, but we’ve been able to tap into such a powerful and wonderful resource through our student volunteers. To see the dedication and commitment that we get from high school and college students gives hope and promise to the future of our city and our world.” George’s accolades for civic service are too numerous to mention. But perhaps most notable are an array of honors from his alma mater, Rollins College, including an Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion, a Founder’s Day Award, a Distinguished Alumni Service Award and a Community Partner Award. For his work with Habitat for Humanity and other good causes, George was the recipient of the 2007 Don Diebel Foundation Good Samaritan Award, which is presented annually to a Central Floridian who selflessly “performs a heroic act.” So perhaps the “hero” moniker isn’t really too far off the mark.

What he says: 

“My personal goal for Winter Park is to have our city residents work together as stewards to preserve and enrich the quality, character and love for this beautiful city. We’ve been blessed with such a wonderful community in which to live, work and raise our families.”

What they say: 

“Hal is just the kind of guy who does everything that needs doing … he never offers to move the bench when the whole piano needs moving … if a local organization he believes in needs something, he’s there.”

 

John Gill at Casa Feliz.

John Gill

The Consensus Builder

President and CEO, Quest Inc.

John Gill, president and CEO of Quest Inc., runs a highly regarded nonprofit which, among other things, provides developmentally disabled Central Floridians of all ages with long- and short-term housing as well as an array of programs through which they’re taught crucial work and life skills. Managing a 700-employee organization that offers such specialized services must surely require patience, passion and perseverance. Luckily for the citizens of Winter Park, Gill, 53, has plenty of all three qualities to spare. Perhaps that’s why he was elected by his peers to chair the Vision Steering Committee, a cohort of 21 opinionated locals appointed by city commissioners and charged with compiling a big-picture document that captured what residents valued most about their city — and how they’d like it all to look generations from now. Reaching consensus in Winter Park often seems a challenge. But in 2015, Gill — with the help of facilitators from the Arizona-based community planning firm Logan Simpson — managed to steer the committee through months of neighborhood meetings, community events, informational sessions and brainstorming exercises. What emerged was a set of directions, guidelines and priorities that seemed to pacify all factions. “I think the process broke down walls,” says Gill. “Some days, I was accused of using the gavel too much; other days, I was accused of not using it enough. But I wanted to make certain that everyone was heard.” Several committee members credit the relative harmony in which they worked to Gill, a skilled communicator and a self-described “giant nerd” who thrives on consensus building. Prior to joining Quest in 2012, Gill held management and executive positions at several major companies, including Darden Restaurants and the Walt Disney Company. He has been involved in a variety of civic and professional organizations, including the Winter Park Economic Development Advisory Board. He graduated from UCF — where he served as student body president — with a degree in finance before earning an MBA from the Crummer Graduate School at Rollins College. He’s currently enrolled in the public affairs Ph.D. program at UCF.

What he says:

“When you’re passionate, it’s hard to listen to the other side. You fail to realize that, when you come down to it, the other side has the same goals that you do. We showed that a diverse group with different points of view can come together and get things done.”

What they say:

“John needs to run for office, but he says he won’t … a natural leader … thoughtful, articulate and polished … set a tone of inclusion for the visioning process … Winter Park needs more John Gills.”

 

Ena Heller at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

Ena Heller

The Arts Innovator

Director, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College

As she approaches her fifth anniversary as director of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, Ena Heller has good news, bad news and then more good news. First, the good news: Attendance has more than doubled since she arrived in 2012, to more than 22,000 visitors last year. Exhibitions also have grown in number and significance. Now, the bad news: The museum has outgrown its building overlooking Lake Virginia. “We’re bursting at the seams,” says the Romanian-born Heller, who dreams of a space three times the size within walking distance of campus. But there’s more good news: A new building is in the college’s strategic plan, Heller says, and a capital campaign is under consideration. During her tenure, Rollins alumni Barbara and Ted Alfond donated their 300-piece collection of contemporary art to the Cornell. Some of it is on view at the nearby Alfond Inn, raising the museum’s off-campus visibility. “It’s fascinating how eager people are to interact with art when it’s not in a museum,” observes Heller, 53. These days, exhibitions at the Cornell get noticed: In January, for example, it will be one of only two U.S. venues for Towards Impressionism, a show of French 19th-century landscape paintings from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Reims, France. And because of sponsorship from an alumnus (Dale Montgomery, Class of 1960), museum admission is free. Yet even as she raises the Cornell’s profile, Heller emphasizes its unique role in Central Florida as a teaching museum. She’s a scholar with a doctorate in art history from New York University, and she was founding director of New York’s Museum of Biblical Art. (It closed in 2015.) For Heller, gallery lectures and outreach to schools are vital at the Cornell, which she sees as a place of vast, untapped potential:  The museum has 5,500 objects, including works by European masters, but less than 3 percent are on view.

What she says: 

"An important part of who I am comes from the fact that I have lived in three countries, and I was formed by very different experiences. Because of where I came from, I don’t take anything for granted except working as hard as I possibly can. Plus, I like to laugh at myself.”

What they say: 

“With her sophistication as an art scholar and museum leader, Ena is pushing the Cornell to the next level … She’s about to be a rock star in this town ... she’s really great at making art understandable and accessible.”

 

Herb Holm at the Edyth Bush Foundation.

Herb Holm

The Calm Counselor

Retired Businessman, Legacy Builder

Behind many of the cultural gems and good works of Winter Park are foundations bearing the names of Edyth Bush, Charles Hosmer Morse and Elizabeth Morse Genius. And helping to guide those philanthropic organizations for four decades has been Herb Holm, a steadfast investment guru known as “the trust officer of trust officers.” An Army veteran of World War II, Holm came to Winter Park from Detroit in 1965 to oversee the trust department of ComBank. A decade later he became vice president and treasurer of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, carrying out Mrs. Bush’s legacy of supporting arts and education and “helping people who could not help themselves,” as Holm puts it. The foundation’s assets were $90 million worth of 3M stock, so Holm says his No. 1 job was diversifying the portfolio. Later, he provided the same services for Hugh and Jeannette McKean, benefactors of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. His conservative investment outlook earned him the nickname “Mr. Doom and Gloom” during his regular financial talks at the University Club of Winter Park. But it also earned him the respect of those who relied on his advice. “People know me as cool, calm and collected — a rare quality in our world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity,” says Holm, now 89. He retired in 1993, but has remained on the boards of the Bush and Genius foundations. All three foundations have had a huge impact on Winter Park and surrounding communities. The Bush foundation has made more than $100 million in grants, and the Tiffany glass treasures at the Morse “have made Winter Park known throughout the world,” Holm observes. But his legacy isn’t limited to his guidance of the foundations: Long ago, he was instrumental in founding Camp Thunderbird for developmentally disabled kids by finding a site in Apopka and raising money for construction. Like Holm himself, Camp Thunderbird continues to make a difference.

What he says: 

“I’m a firm believer in the sage advice that is beautifully framed in the boardroom of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation: ‘There is no limit to what a man can do as long as he does not care who gets the credit —Anonymous.’ ”

What they say: 

“Herb is thoughtful and reserved, but when he speaks, people still listen … he’s the steward for a whole lot of money, and there’s nobody you could trust more … highly respected.” 

 

Jon and Betsy Hughes at their home.

Track Shack, which is synonymous statewide with runners and road races, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Owned by longtime Winter Parkers Jon and Betsy Hughes, the now-iconic retail shop on Mills Avenue has prospered as running — for fun, health and competition — has enjoyed a decades-long boom. During those years, the Hugheses combined their love of the sport with a successful family business providing runners with the proper gear, training and advice — and plenty of road races to get them moving. Jon, 59, and Betsy, 55, were both track stars at Winter Park High School. They aren’t the founders of Track Shack, but were there almost from the beginning. Three months after the store opened, Jon, also a competitive runner in college (Appalachian State), was hired and later became a partner. He, in turn, hired Betsy for a part-time job. After graduating from the University of Florida, Betsy returned to Central Florida — and to Jon — at Track Shack. The two married in 1983, and shortly thereafter bought out the other partners. The original Track Shack, also on Mills Avenue, was 1,000 square feet; today’s store is five times bigger. And there are now two companies — one for retail and one for race events. Along the way, the couple created local races that have gained national and international attention. In 1994, Jon founded and directed the Walt Disney World Marathon. Track Shack also spearheaded the OUC Orlando Half Marathon, the Lady Track Shack 5k, the Winter Park Road Race 10k and many others. In 1994, the Hugheses formed the Track Shack Youth Foundation, which has donated more than $2.5 million to local charities. In addition, each month the store gives about 500 pairs of gently used shoes to Sneaker Seekers, a group that cleans and donates them. In 2002, Jon was inducted into the Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame; in 2009 Jon and Betsy were inducted into The Running Event Hall of Fame and the Running USA Hall of Champions.

What they say:

“We started without much in 1977, but focused on our passion for running and promoting healthy lifestyles to people of all ages and abilities. To this day, we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who have an unwavering commitment to building healthy communities. Together with our team, vendors and advisors we’ve created two successful small companies that are dedicated to being socially responsible.”

What others say:

“Jon and Betsy are quality people and great givers … they’ve put Winter Park on the international map in the running world … their story is a great American success story.”

 

Andrea Massey-Farrell at the campus of Rollins College.

Andrea Massey-Farrell

The Torch Bearer

President/CEO, Harvey & Carol Massey Foundation;
Senior Vice President of Community Relations, Massey Services Inc.

If you believe the desire to do well by doing good is genetic, then you need look no further for proof than the example set by Andrea Farrell-Massey, 44, president and CEO of the Harvey & Carol Massey Family Foundation and senior vice president of community relations for Massey Services Inc. Harvey Massey, her father and owner of the fifth-largest pest-control company in the U.S., is one of the most recognizable — and generous — philanthropists in the region. And Massey-Farrell is making certain that her parents’ legacy of giving will continue into a new generation through leadership of the family foundation, which was established in 2014. Long before there was a foundation, however, the Masseys were bolstering good causes. For example, they donated $1 million to the nascent Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and got naming rights to the stage in the Walt Disney Theater. Last September, the foundation made a second donation of $1 million to name the Harvey and Carol Massey Family Concert Stage in the arts center’s under-construction Steinmetz Hall (which is itself named for another pair of Influentials, Chuck and Margery Pabst Steinmetz). But Massey-Farrell, a Rollins College grad, does more than write checks. She serves on the boards of the Orange County Central Receiving Center (a facility designed to help people with mental-health and substance-abuse conditions find proper care while diverting them from the criminal-justice system and hospital emergency rooms), the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, the Winter Park YMCA Family Center and the Nemours Foundation. She chairs the boards of both the Rollins Hamilton Holt School and the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, and was a 2011 winner of the Woman of Distinction award presented by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council. “I have a simple style that my friends often refer to as ‘sporty-chic,’” says Massey-Farrell. “I think my energy and motivation allow me to influence others. I also try to find ways to keep it fun — which I think encourages others to work with me and shoot for the same goals.”

What she says:

“My personal goal for Winter Park is to continue to keep it a great family friendly community. I want it to remain a place where our children and our children’s children will want to stay rooted and enjoy all our city has to offer.”

What they say:

“Andrea has tenacity, grit, loyalty and compassion … she’s tough but fair … very results-oriented … the foundation gives her an unlimited platform for doing good.”

 

Brandon McGlamery at Luma on Park.

Brandon McGlamery

The Culinary Visionary

Chef Partner, Park Lights Hospitality Group

Visit Luma on Park early in the Morning, before the dining room opens, and chances are you’ll find Brandon McGlamery already hard at work. He may be the top culinarian of three local restaurants — Prato and Luke’s Kitchen and Bar are also part of his portfolio — but the kitchen is this career-long chef’s place of peace. “Through food, I can remember why I fell in love with my job in the first place,” he says. Winter Park’s reputation as an adventurous dining destination is due in large part to the versatile McGlamery, 44, who took over Luma’s kitchen shortly after the upscale eatery debuted a decade ago. He promptly created a sensation with progressive American cuisine served in a dazzling, uber-hip setting unlike anything Winter Park — indeed, Central Florida — had ever seen before. The graduate of the California Culinary Academy has continued to elevate the city’s culinary scene with nontraditional Italian cuisine at Prato, which, like Luma, adorns Park Avenue. Luke’s, in Maitland, offers creative takes on American classics and is attracting an ardent following of its own. McGlamery’s influence can be seen — or, more accurately, tasted — throughout the region. He has trained a slew of acolytes, many of whom saw their careers grow within his company, Park Lights Hospitality Group. Others took their mentor’s from-scratch cooking approach to neighboring kitchens. “I try to give our cooks and chefs speed and pitch under their wings so they can lift off,” says McGlamery, whose first job as a busboy in a Southwest Florida restaurant led to stints at such internationally renowned restaurants as French Laundry in Napa Valley and Guy Savoy in Paris. The father of two has received national recognition, including two nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: South award. He’s also been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, USA Today and Garden & Gun, among other publications. McGlamery’s current project is rejuvenating the menu at Luma, which remains on just about every savvy diner’s Top 10 list. “We’re becoming more vegetable- and season-focused,” he explains. “The aim is artistic elegance and originality without stretching too far. Excellent ingredients should be prepared with no fluff — just the wow factor of good, honest food.”

What he says:

“I’m just a normal guy who wears a chef’s jacket six days a week. I have a passion for food, preparing tasteful dishes for people, and working alongside like-minded individuals.”

What they say:

“Brandon is our own celebrity chef … he and his team raised the bar for everyone … Luma started a dining renaissance in Winter Park.”

 

Micki Meyer at the campus of Rollins College.

Micki Meyer

The Educational Pathfinder

Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs – Community, Rollins College

Rollins College students who find rewarding opportunities to learn and serve beyond campus owe at least some of their good fortune to Micki Meyer, the Lord Family assistant vice president for student affairs — community (an endowed chair). Meyer creates and supports “pathways” for students, with destinations as nearby as the Winter Park Day Nursery and as far-flung as the Abaco Islands, where during spring break students help children with special needs. Meyer, who calls herself a “designer and architect of educational experiences,” says that when she arrived at Rollins in 2005 as director of community engagement, “there were good things happening, but more by default than by design.” Today, Rollins has scores of partner organizations that she regards as “co-educators.” And she says civic engagement is so tightly woven into the college that it’s hard for students to avoid getting involved. A native of Buffalo, New York, Meyer also oversees the college’s Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement and a program that prepares students to take an entrepreneurial approach to solving social problems. Meyer, whose passion for work is both intense and infectious, is rarely in her office, instead making personal connections on campus and off.  Equal parts manager, mentor and advocate, she says campus leaders often ask her advice on issues that go beyond her job description. “I make a point to get to know people and find out what brings them joy,” says Meyer, 39. “I believe that leadership is about seeing goodness in every single human being and understanding that we’re all connected by our desire to love, to be loved and to add value.” Every day, Meyer says, she passes a bust of Hamilton Holt, the longtime Rollins president (1925-1949) known for his social activism, and she hopes that he would admire the institution Rollins has become. “I think he’d be proud.”

What she says:

“My goal is to continue to encourage our most passionate and innovative Rollins graduates to remain in Winter Park, gain employment and make positive contributions to the civic life of our community.”

What they say:

“Micki’s commitment and creativity have helped make Rollins a recognized national leader in community
service … she’s a connector and a builder … she has changed the lives of many young people.”

 

Johnny Miller at Showalter Field in Larry Gergley Stadium.

Johnny Miller

The Exuberant Ambassador

Chief of Special Events, City of Winter Park Parks & Recreation Department

Johnny Miller describes himself as a “big kid.” Others describe him as an uber-dedicated city employee who combines effectiveness and efficiency with a kid-like zest for life and a passion for Winter Park. Miller, 60, the city’s chief of special events in the Parks & Recreation Department, is the go-to guy for cherished city-sponsored happenings such as the Annual Easter Egg Hunt and the Olde Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration. He also facilitates major events sponsored by other organizations using city property, such as Christmas in the Park, helmed by the Morse Museum of American Art, as well as Dinner on the Avenue, the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival and a plethora of road races, concerts and ceremonies. An event that Miller created, the Wildcat Roar, is an annual pep rally for Winter Park High School that draws thousands to Central Park. Miller, of course, bleeds orange and black. He’s a member of the WPHS Class of 1975, and played offensive center and defensive tackle for the Wildcats. Then, for the past 36 years, he’s been the school’s assistant football coach and girls’ softball coach — jobs he’s done on a volunteer basis since 1994, when he became a full-time city employee. His stint as a football coach encompasses the lengthy reign of legendary Head Coach Larry Gergley — for whom Miller played — who racked up 261 wins and took his teams to the state quarterfinals four times. Under Miller’s guidance, the girls’ softball team snared its first district championship in 2012. Miller also launched and still manages a charitable golf tournament, the Coaches and Friends Toy Drive Golf Challenge, which unites area high school coaches — Gergley, now retired, among them — and contributes toys to needy children for the holidays. On top of all that, the inexhaustible Miller chairs the Winter Park High School Sports Hall of Fame, in which he is an inductee. Among his many civic honors is the 2016 Chamber Hero Award, presented by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce for his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty in ensuring that the city’s multitude of signature events are successful.

What he says:

“Everything that we do in the city is to give our residents that ‘village’ feel, because we care about every family. Winter Park is truly one village, and one loving family — and I’m a very small part of it.”

What they say:

“What a great goodwill ambassador for the city … you can’t spend five minutes with Johnny without feeling better about the state of the world … he loves his job and his community — and it shows.”

 

Jana Ricci at the Mayflower Retirement Community.

Jana Ricci

The Civic Dynamo

Director of Marketing, the Mayflower Retirement Community

Jana Ricci’s day job is director of marketing at the Mayflower Retirement Community, where its more than 425 residents consider her to be a member of their families. But Ricci, 58, is also a self-described “Winter Park girl” whose civic activities are so numerous and multifaceted that in 2013 she was named Volunteer of the Year by Leadership Winter Park, the leadership-development program run by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. “I just love Winter Park,” says the ebullient Ricci. “We have so many qualities that make us special. Winter Park should always remain exceptional Winter Park.” However, she’s no fan of the divisiveness that seems to infiltrate debates about city issues — and says she prefers working to build consensus. “People were there to give me help when I needed it,” she adds. “As payback, I try to help those that need a connection. If I can do that and make those around me feel good, I’ve made a positive impact.” Ricci has been a chamber stalwart, serving on the board of directors — she’s the incoming board chair — and leading the governmental affairs committee. She’s also spearheading the chamber’s strategic planning initiative. In addition, Ricci sits on the advisory council for the Rollins College Center for Lifelong Learning, with which the Mayflower has a productive partnership, and is vice chair of the board of trustees at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, among many other activities. But she’s proudest of her 2007 initiative with the Winter Park Health Foundation to found “Brain Smart Health Wise” at Brookshire Elementary School. The program provides information for teachers regarding the latest brain and cognitive science research, and educates children on the importance of proper nutrition, hydration and exercise. It’s now offered in 180 schools throughout Orange County.

What she says:

I’d like to see changes being made in Winter Park run with civility and thoughtfulness, without the ‘that’s Winter Park for you’ attitude.  Change will happen — that’s the way we stay current and relevant. It’s how the change happens that’s important to me.

What they say:

Jana is very unassuming and hardworking … everyone respects her … she’s one of those people whose importance to the community has transcended her job — and her job is plenty important.” 

 

Randall B. Robertson at his home.

Randall B. Robertson

The Spiritual Illuminator

Founding Director, GladdeningLight

GladdeningLight, the Winter Park non-profit that explores the connection between art and spirituality, is illuminating more and more corners of the city, guided by its imaginative founding director, Randall B. Robertson. Last fall, in partnership with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, it presented Voices of Light, in which Carl Theodor Dreyer’s celebrated silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc was accompanied by a haunting Richard Einhorn oratorio, performed by members of the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra and conducted by its artistic director, John V. Sinclair. Both performances at Rollins College sold out. Then, in January, GladdeningLight hosted the biggest annual symposium since its 2011 launch. About 700 people came to All Saints Episcopal Church for a weekend of discussion, art, music and inspiration anchored by lecturer and author Father Richard Rohr. “GladdeningLight is a brand that people are now trusting,” says Robertson, a former sports-marketing entrepreneur. “We’re going to continue to strive to do things that nobody else is doing.” Expect more collaboration with other Winter Park institutions, Robertson says, starting with a move of the annual symposium to Rollins, which will provide space in exchange for free admission to those with a Rollins ID.  “All Saints was a lovely partner, but we’ve outgrown them,” he says. Robertson, 62, has a gift for bringing together artists and thinkers who create the kind of shared experiences that are transformative for individuals. Voices of Light audience members used words like “deeply moving” and “spellbinding” to describe their experience. Robertson, who just completed his 12th year of leading discussions about character and philosophy with inmates at Tomoka State Prison in Daytona Beach, says he wants GladdeningLight programs to help people reach their highest potential: “The power of this material goes to your heart and your mind.”

What he says:

“We’re members of a global community … I believe in the power of the human spirit to eclipse geography and politics.”

What they say:

“He’s a savvy visionary whose own spiritual quest helps him connect with other seekers ... so passionate and effective at what he does … a brilliant and kind person who’s using his resources toward the highest purpose imaginable.”

 

Peter Schreyer at the Crealdé School of Art.

Peter Schreyer

The Expansive Artist

Executive Director, Crealdé School of Art;
Founder and Executive Director, Hannibal Square Heritage Center 

When he founded it 42 years ago, homebuilder and artist Bill Jenkins wanted the Crealdé School of Art to be a place where artistic expression — in every genre — was accessible to everyone who wished to try his or her hand. For the past 22 years, Swiss-born documentary photographer Peter Schreyer has carried out and expanded upon Jenkins’ mission — and today the school’s impact reverberates throughout the community’s cultural and historical spheres. Crealdé’s main campus is located just off busy Aloma Avenue, an unassuming assemblage of studios, galleries and offices. A decade ago, under Schreyer’s leadership, the school, in collaboration with the city, opened the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which hosts exhibits and celebrates the history of Winter Park’s traditionally African-American west side. (There’s also a satellite campus in Winter Garden.) Crealdé remains all about outreach, partnering with Orange County schools, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, the Farmworkers Association of Florida and the Tajiri School of Performing Arts. “We need to go to them,” Schreyer stresses. “I’m proud of how Crealdé has evolved,” says Schreyer, 61, whose photography has been included in more than 100 exhibitions across the U.S. and in Switzerland. “The work of our teaching artists touches so many people every day, and our larger projects really do connect communities, break down stereotypes and bring understanding into our complex society.” Schreyer has produced numerous award-winning documentary projects related to Central Florida, including Winter Park: A Sense of Place (1992); The Last Harvest: A Tribute to the Life and Work of the Lake Apopka Farm Workers (1998); Winter Garden: Then and Now (2009); and The Sage Project: Hannibal Square Elders Tell Their Story (2012). He has received an array of public art commissions, research grants and awards. In 2016 he was tapped for a Diversity & Inclusion Award by the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs for his longstanding work on Winter Park’s west side.

What he says: 

“For a young photographer moving to Winter Park from Switzerland almost 40 years ago, this community has truly provided me with incredible opportunities to make my dreams come true and come up with new ones in the process.”

What they say: 

“Peter came up with a way to honor the heritage of the west side when it seemed to be disappearing … Crealdé really provides an egalitarian approach to art as something not just for the hoity toity, and Peter has helped make that happen.”

 

Polly Seymour at the New Leaf Bookstore.

Polly Seymour

The Literacy Leader

First Lady Emeritus, Rollins College

When Thad Seymour was tapped to lead Rollins College in 1978, he brought with him energy, enthusiasm, intellectual heft and a spouse who proved to be as much an asset to the college — and later to the community — as her high-profile husband. “I had never heard anything about Florida that I was impressed about,” said Polly Seymour, 87, during a heart-tugging tribute to the couple last year. But the canny Hugh McKean, a past college president, arranged for the visiting Seymours to take a boat ride on Lake Virginia and see the campus from the water, figuring that no one could resist such a breathtaking view. “I saw it and I said, ‘Well, we may have stumbled on to something,’” Polly added. The rest was history, as the college’s new first lady quietly went to work sprucing up the campus and making it a more welcoming place for visitors and students alike. She haunted used furniture stores to find chairs, couches and tables to adorn the neglected lounges in the residence halls. She also reorganized the food service in what was then called The Beanery, improving the ambiance, the food and the service. And when trustees or donors were entertained, it was Polly who usually did the cooking and serving at the couple’s modest home on Lakewood Drive. From ice cream socials for honor students to lavish dinners for VIPs, she impressed everyone with her sophisticated charm and her droll sense of humor. But it was following Thad’s retirement in 1990 that Polly’s behind-the-scenes style began to be truly appreciated. In 1993, the Seymours helped launch Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland, and during construction of the eight homes sponsored by Rollins, the former first lady provided lunch for workers every Saturday. She also increased her involvement with the Winter Park Public Library — she had previously served as president of its board of trustees and chair of its annual book sale — conceptualizing the New Leaf Bookstore, which opened its doors in 1995. Under her leadership, the store has raised more than $1.3 million to support the library. In 1997, she was named Citizen of the Year by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. More recently, she was honored by the Florida Library Association with its Outstanding Member award, which recognizes exemplary service by volunteers on library boards and foundations.

What she says:

“I’m proudest of my children and grandchildren. Their work and careers represent service ranging from the needs of people experiencing homelessness; immigrant rights; the challenges of mental health; education and teaching; and affirming our society’s legal rights and obligations.”

What they say:

“Polly is a great lady with a giving heart … Thad will be the first to tell you that she was involved in most everything he accomplished.”

 

Sarah Sprinkel next to Winter Park City Hall.

Sarah Sprinkel

The Electable Educator

Principal, Florida Virtual Elementary School;
City Commissioner, City of Winter Park

Winter Park City Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel is a kindergarten teacher at heart. But she’s also apparently Winter Park’s most popular — or at least its most formidable — citizen-politician. In a city where municipal elections are often highly contentious and closely contested, Sprinkel won her first two terms with more than 60 percent of the vote, and drew no opposition earlier this year in her bid for a third term. During her eventful tenure, there have been numerous major issues of the sort that rile up voters — including a debate about the procedure for forming historic districts, adoption of a revised comprehensive plan, and passage of a hotly debated bond issue to build a new Winter Park Public Library and Events Center in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. You can’t please everyone — especially in Winter Park — but Sprinkel, 69, has earned respect for doing her homework (she was a teacher, after all) and for her common-sense style. Sprinkel started out corralling kindergartners in Polk County before becoming an administrator specializing in governmental affairs and community outreach with the Orange County Public School System. She retired in 2003, but almost immediately joined the YMCA of Central Florida as a vice president. There she spearheaded a joint venture that resulted in the debut of two large child-development centers at Walt Disney World. In 2009, Sprinkel became an administrator at the Florida Virtual School. And in 2015, she launched Florida Virtual School Elementary, which serves youngsters statewide and is growing by leaps and bounds. Today, she’s principal of the online K-5 school, which recently won an “Innovate to Educate” award from Xirrus and eSchool Media. Sprinkel has chaired, or been a member of, dozens of boards and task forces related to education, and among her many accolades was being named 2017’s Florida Virtual School Principal of the Year. She also enjoys teaching Sunday School at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. “In 2020, I’ll celebrate 50 years of serving families and children,” she says “I was put on this Earth to serve, and that’s my mantra.”

What she says:

“I want to drive through town in 10 years and know that some of what I see and feel is a result of what we worked so hard to create, maintain and love about our valued city. Any effectiveness I have is in making life better for one person at a time — and that’s my lifelong goal.”

What they say:

“Sarah is about as apolitical as anybody who’s ever been elected to office … she’ll describe herself as just a schoolteacher who loves Winter Park, but she’s very savvy …  an incredibly accomplished woman who has really made life better for Florida’s children.”

 

Chuck and Margery Steinmetz at their home.

Chuck and Margery Pabst Steinmetz

The Gracious Givers

Philanthropists

In 2014, the City of Winter Park announced that it would donate $1 million over 10 years to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. In doing so, it became the only local municipality other than Orlando to make a financial contribution to the project, which had been discussed and debated for decades. Then, in 2015, Winter Park residents and prominent philanthropists Chuck and Margery Steinmetz announced that they would donate $12 million for a planned third theater on the arts center’s downtown Orlando campus. Steinmetz Hall, a 1,700-seat venue designed specifically to deliver pristine acoustics, will join the existing 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater and the 300-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater as home to the Orlando Ballet, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Orlando. It will also host a variety of other performances — many of them “unplugged” — when it opens in 2019. It was a grand gesture from the Steinmetzes, but not a surprising one to anyone who knows their individual philanthropic histories. Chuck, who was named Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 1992, was a pest-control magnate before selling his company in 2005. Today he supports an array of causes, including the Orlando Science Center and the University of Florida Foundation. Margery, who enjoyed a successful business career as a leadership coach, is passionate about caregiving. She’s a specialist on correlations between creativity and wellness, and presides over a content-rich website — mycaregivingcoach.com — that offers advice and inspiration for those who have loved ones battling dementia and related conditions. In addition, she has authored two books and countless articles on caregiving, and funds a variety of arts and educational initiatives through her Pabst Charitable Foundation for the Arts. In 2016, she served as president of the National Council for Creative Aging, and continues to sit on the advisory board of the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. In Winter Park, she currently chairs the board of directors of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

What he says:

“I’m pleased to have shared success with organizations that have changed our community. The opening of Dr. Phillips Center was my proudest moment.”

What she says:

“I hope to further advance the goal of Winter Park being a city of arts and culture. I believe that bringing the power of the arts and creativity to everyone will make that happen — whether it’s for a child with autism, a lonely grandmother or an empty nester who wants to reclaim his or her creative soul, our city can and should provide art spaces for everyone.”

What they say:

“Chuck and Margie share some overlapping causes and have others that they support individually, so between them they do enormous good … powerhouse philanthropists and great people … you couldn’t list all the organizations they help on one page.”

 

Jennifer Wandersleben at Winter Park Memorial Hospital.

Jennifer Wandersleben

The Medical Motivator

Administrator, Winter Park Memorial Hospital

Jennifer Wandersleben, at just 38, helms Winter Park’s largest private employer. That alone would make her an Influential, even if the organization she ran manufactured widgets. Wandersleben, however, is administrator of Winter Park Memorial Hospital, which is growing exponentially through renovations, expansions and an unprecedented collaboration with the Winter Park Health Foundation on creation of a leading-edge Center for Health & Wellbeing. Consequently, over the next several years Winter Park will become as well known for wellness as it has been for arts and culture. The city, during the recent updating of its comprehensive plan, endorsed this evolution by designating the hospital’s campus and contiguous properties as a Medical Arts District. Still, despite running a major institution that employs more than 1,400, Wandersleben remains a down-to-earth mom of four who’s genuinely committed to “making the community a healthier place.” An Adventist Health System lifer, her first job after graduating from college was as an accountant at the Florida Hospital Foundation in Orlando. (She has a degree in business administration from Central Missouri State, and later earned an MBA from Webster University.) Wandersleben worked her way up the organizational ladder, becoming finance coordinator of Florida Hospital Kissimmee in 2004, assistant administrator of Winter Park Memorial in 2009, and administrator of Florida Hospital Apopka in 2011. In April 2017 she returned to Winter Park Memorial — an acute-care, 320-bed facility — as its administrator. “What I love about this hospital is that it was originally built by the community,” says Wandersleben of her new workplace, which opened its doors in 1955 following a grass-roots effort by local residents. Busy as she is, Wandersleben still finds the time to “make rounds” and visit patients — just to say hello and to wish them well. She’s also immersing herself in civic life, joining the board of directors of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Winter Park Memorial administrators have historically become community leaders. Wandersleben’s predecessor, Ken Bradley, was mayor for two terms, from 2009 to 2015.

What she says:

“There are so many connections when you’ve served a community as long as this hospital has. For example, we have doctors who’ve delivered three generations of babies here. I love that.”

What they say:

“Jennifer is making a great impression around town … People have no idea how important health and wellness is going to become in Winter Park, and Jennifer will be right at the center of it all … She’s a compassionate person and a great ambassador for the hospital.”

 

Chip Weston at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens.

Chip Weston

The Renaissance Man

Owner, Chip Weston Studios

Chip Weston is the definition of a Renaissance Man. He’s an artist, teacher, musician, inventor, futurist, entrepreneur and civic activist who’s an influencer and an innovator in just about every aspect of Winter Park life. Weston, 69, graduated from Rollins College in 1970 with a degree in behavioral science. But he was also encouraged by then-President Hugh McKean to pursue painting, and would later pioneer the use of digital technology in art. He and a partner, encouraged by local makeup artist Doug Marvaldi, invented and patented an aerosol airbrush makeup applicator — the first of its kind — which was widely adopted for use in the movie and TV industries. The patent gave Weston the flexibility to immerse himself in good causes, many of which involved art and the promotion of Winter Park as a cultural hub. He has served on the boards of the Winter Park Public Library, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, the Park Avenue Area Association, the Enzian Theater and the Florida Film Festival Advisory Council. Then there was the BankFIRST Socially Responsible Banking Advisory Council, the Orlando Philharmonic Marketing Committee, the Winter Park Light Rail Task Force, the Winter Park Facilities and Real Estate Task Force and, more recently, the Winter Park Public Library Task Force. For a time, he was director of economic and cultural development for the City of Winter Park. Statewide, he was a member of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. Now, as a library trustee, Weston’s primary focus is the new Winter Park Public Library and Events Center. Working with library Executive Director Shawn Shaffer and the nonprofit Aspen Institute, he’s exploring ways in which exciting new technologies can be incorporated into the soon-to-be-built facility. Weston still turns out stunning digital art at McRae Art Studios, and plays guitar with the Gazebros, a popular local pop/rock/folk band. He also immerses himself in the world of futurists, studying and becoming an expert on such esoteric topics as artificial intelligence.

What he says:

“I love connecting people with civic initiatives in fun and friendly ways, especially through the arts. I thrive on considering what’s possible, and then figuring out ways to make things happen and, if they’re successful, figuring out ways to sustain them. I enjoy taking the bull by the horns.”

What they say:

“I don’t even know how to describe Chip because he’s so versatile … it ought to be illegal for one person to have so much talent … over the decades through today, if there’s been a civic activity that’s good for Winter Park, Chip either was or is involved in it.”