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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 14, 201312:00 PM EST

Newsmakers for 2013


Today, the Daily Record presents the top 10 newsmakers for the year, defined as people who are in a position – by choice or by circumstance – to significantly influence economic development in 2013 in Duval County.

The Daily Record staff nominated, reviewed, voted and debated a list of people who are in pivotal positions to tackle significant issues of citywide importance this year.

As in the past two years, those chosen are in a specific place of relevance to the direction of the city. There were many people who qualified and it was difficult to narrow the list to 10.

If you wonder why someone didn't make the list and should have, recognize the person probably will make the list in coming years. He or she might be facing more critical issues after 2013.

It should be noted that the list was determined before Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan fired General Manager Gene Smith and hired Dave Caldwell, who immediately fired head coach Mike Mularkey. Caldwell will continue to make news, especially when the season starts. Jaguars President Mark Lamping did make the list.

You won't see the names of elected officials. We excluded them because they are elected to influence events. It's their job.

You also won't see the names of people on the 2013 list who've been newsmakers in 2011 and 2012. The lists of those newsmakers are included in this report and you'll see most made news and continue to do so.

There also are some names that we don't know yet.

Several positions of importance are open and expected to be filled this year, including the president of the JAX Chamber; the president of Florida State College at Jacksonville; the CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority; the inaugural CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority; and the executive director of the Jacksonville Civic Council, to name a few. Search committees are trying to fill those positions.

Here is the Daily Record Newsmakers list for 2013.

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Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools

On Nov. 12, former Miami educator Nikolai Vitti took on one of the most critical jobs in Jacksonville — superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, the sixth largest school district in the state and the 22nd largest district in the country.

Vitti, 36, is responsible for more than 125,000 students attending 183 schools. In his role, he is expected to work along with the Duval County School Board to improve school grades and graduation rates; lower dropout rates; improve student performance; prepare students for jobs or college; reduce conduct violations and suspensions; keep students safe; manage staff resources; keep schools up to date with energy and technology; and work as closely as possible with parents and caregivers for the students as well as work with the City and economic development officials to recruit jobs.

That about sums it up.

Vitti is the 11th superintendent since 1953, not counting two interim leaders in 1985 and 2009. That means superintendents average about five years in the role, although the longest tenure was Herb Sang, from 1976-1989.

Vitti holds master's degrees in education from Wake Forest University and Harvard Graduate School of Education and a doctorate of education from Harvard. He has served with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 2007.

Vitti says he will focus on expanding early childhood education; increasing the graduation rate; developing instructional leaders; improving teacher quality and morale; streamlining the efficiency of business and operations; and strengthening parent and community involvement.

Mark Lamping, President, Jacksonville Jaguars

When Shad Khan bought the Jacksonville Jaguars a year ago, he hired Mark Lamping as president of the National Football League franchise.

Lamping and Gene Smith were Khan's two direct reports, with Lamping running the business side and Smith the football side.

Khan fired Smith on Dec. 31 after the team's 2-14 season, its worst season in franchise history. Khan hired new General Manager Dave Caldwell last week, and Caldwell immediately fired one-year head coach Mike Mularkey.

That makes Lamping the senior member of Khan's direct reports.

Lamping, 54, was the first president of the Jaguars in 15 years. Khan named him president Feb. 13 and he started work Feb. 27.

Lamping's professional career includes experience as CEO of New Meadowlands Stadium Co., where he ran MetLife Stadium. Lamping, a St. Louis native, also served as president of Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals.

He is one of the few sports executives to have received both a Super Bowl ring and World Series Championship ring.

Lamping has said since his arrival that the organization is focused on developing and serving the fan base.

He also broadened the visibility of the franchise throughout the region and he has taken on community roles, including as a board member of the JAX Chamber and working with other area team leaders to boost the role and financial support of sports in the area.

In March, the Daily Record asked Lamping what he considered his most important task.

"To make sure that as an organization, we're focused on providing our fans everything we possibly can to continue to earn their support," he said.

In a presentation Oct. 31 to the Forward group of Jacksonville Community Council Inc., Lamping emphasized the team's focus on serving the fan base and earning its support rather than expecting the fans to support the team as an obligation.

"It's not the community's obligation to support the local football team," he said. "Rather, the team must earn it," he said.

Nina Waters, President, The Community Foundation in Jacksonville

Nina Waters is the president of The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, a high-profile organization that gained even more visibility at the end of 2012.

In November and December, the Chartrand Foundation and the Weaver Family Foundation moved their funds to the Community Foundation.

Also, Delores Barr Weaver, a former owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, made a gift of $50 million to establish the Delores Barr Weaver Fund at the foundation. It is the largest single fund at the foundation and ranks among the largest private foundations in Northeast Florida.

The Community Foundation in Jacksonville traces its roots to May 1964, when four men — J.J. Daniel, Robert Feagin, Laurence Lee Jr. and Thomas McGehee — formally created The Greater Jacksonville Area Community Foundation, the 77th community foundation in the United States and the first in the state of Florida.

About 40 years later, Waters was promoted to president in January 2005 after serving as executive vice president for three years.

Waters, 54, now presides over a foundation with assets of more than $254 million. The foundation is designed to help donors invest their philanthropic gifts and help nonprofits serve the region. It manages 444 charitable funds and awarded 1,257 grants valued at more than $30 million in 2012.

Waters' primary responsibilities include the leadership and management of donor services, grant making and administrative services functions of the foundation.

Waters' influence can be expected to attract more investment in the community as well as visibility throughout the Southeast. She is the 2013 chairman of the Southeastern Council of Foundations.

Gwen Yates, Chair, Florida State College at Jacksonville Board of Trustees

Lifelong Jacksonville resident Gwendolyn "Gwen" Yates chairs the Florida State College at Jacksonville board of trustees as it sets the organization on track to correct widely reported problems and hire a new president after the resignation of President Steve Wallace, which was announced in October and took effect this month.

Yates, 72, was appointed to the board in 2007 by then Gov. Charlie Crist and is no stranger to politics.

After 26 years of employment with the City, she retired from her position as administrative program manager with the Community Development Division in February 1999 to run for City Council.

She served two terms on the Council from 1999-2007, representing District 8. She chaired committees, including Public Health and Safety and Education, and was vice chair of both the Rules and the Recreation Community Development and Education committees.

While with the City, she spent a decade as chief of the Adult Services Division, appointed by mayors Jake Godbold, Tommy Hazouri and Ed Austin.

Her bio shows that among other roles she also was the founder and the first director of what is now the Youth Crisis Center. She is a graduate of Edward Waters College.

Yates leads the FSCJ board as it sets the direction of the school, which began offering classes in 1966. She will work with interim President Willis Holcombe, a former Broward College president and chancellor of Florida's State College System.

Ted Carter, CEO, Jacksonville Office of Economic Opportunity

Theodore Carter, most recently with the Washington, D.C., office of the CBRE global real estate services company, is up for City Council appointment as the inaugural CEO of the new Jacksonville Office of Economic Opportunity.

Carter, known as Ted, previously was executive managing director for CBRE in D.C., where he led sales, marketing and business development for the Public Institutions and Education Solutions Group. Before that, he was CBRE's South Florida market leader. And before that, he was president and CEO of the quasi-public National Capital Revitalization Corp. in D.C., which focused on development and redevelopment of several signature projects.

Along with other roles, he was deputy campaign manager and chief operating officer in 1996 for President Bill Clinton's re-election campaign. Mayor Alvin Brown, who appointed Carter, is a former senior adviser to Clinton, who has visited Jacksonville and voiced strong support for Brown.

As CEO of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Carter, 47, will be expected to work intently on county development, jobs and projects outside of Downtown, which is under the direction of the Downtown Investment Authority.

Business, government and community leaders along with residents will be depending on Carter to lead job growth and development throughout the area while working closely with – and not in opposition to — the JAX Chamber, the Downtown Investment Authority and the six other counties in the region.

Tim Cost, President, Jacksonville University

Tim Cost, 53, becomes the 12th president of Jacksonville University on Feb. 1 and already has unveiled the $85 million ASPIRE fundraising campaign he had been quietly leading as a university trustee.

A graduate of JU, which will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year, Cost wants to enhance funds for scholarships and research, health sciences facilities, improved athletics venues, an endowment and more.

The campaign, which is explained at, began its quiet phase in 2009.

JU is a liberal arts institution established in 1934 and is based at 2800 University Blvd. N. in Arlington. More than 3,700 students are enrolled. JU offers majors in more than 70 areas. It emphasizes that U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly recognized it as one of "America's Best Colleges."

Cost was selected Oct. 26. He and his wife, Stephanie, have two grown children and are relocating to Jacksonville. He most recently was a consultant with PepsiCo in Purchase, N.Y., and is a 1981 JU graduate.

His focus is on alumni engagement; a larger investment in technology; attracting investment to support a larger enrollment; and continuing to recruit students in Florida and Georgia while also inviting students from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Cost, as a leader of one of the county's four major institutions of higher learning, wants to vault JU into a broader spotlight.

"We are a compelling option," he said.

Dr. Bill Rupp, CEO, Mayo Clinic Florida

Dr. William Rupp is CEO of Mayo Clinic Florida, which continues to expand its Jacksonville-based presence, immersing him in one of the area's targeted industries – life sciences.

Rupp, 66, has led the clinic since 2008 and also has become active in economic development efforts at the JAX Chamber.

His chamber service includes two years as chair of business development for the JAXUSA Partnership economic development division.

This year, he's chair-elect of the chamber, in line to succeed 2013 Chair Greg Smith. That puts Rupp in charge of the chamber in 2014.

Mayo Clinic is a world-recognized organization for patient care, education and research. Its Jacksonville campus opened 27 years ago in Southside and employment has grown to at least 4,900 people.

The Jacksonville clinic was Mayo's first facility opened outside of its home base in Rochester, Minn. The campus on San Pablo Road on Jacksonville's Southside is built on about 400 acres of land donated by the Davis family, founders of the Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. supermarket chain.

Mayo Clinic has announced more than $100 million in expansion plans since May that are expected to add about 400 jobs at the clinic and at least 250 construction jobs.

The clinic celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 2011. It said that since it opened in 1986 with 35 doctors and a support staff of 145, Mayo Clinic Florida had grown to more than 4,500 employees with an annual impact of $1.6 billion on the Jacksonville economy.

At the 25th anniversary, the Jacksonville clinic was treating more than 80,000 people a year and had seen more than a half-million patients coming from all 50 states and 143 countries.

With its reputation for state-of-the-art medical care and research, Mayo has attracted thousands of visitors who may not otherwise have visited Jacksonville and also helped attract new corporations to locate in the area.

"It's been quite a journey over 25 years," Rupp said.

"I only see us continuing to grow."

John Delaney, President, University of North Florida

John Delaney, president of the University of North Florida since 2003, takes on yet another role this year. He chairs the JAXUSA Partnership economic development division of the JAX Chamber.

In that role, Delaney works directly with JAX Chamber Interim President Jerry Mallot, who remains president of the JAXUSA Partnership as a search committee seeks a new chamber president to succeed the retiring Wally Lee.

Delaney, 56, also will work with economic development prospects and government leaders throughout the JAXUSA Partnership region of Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties to bring jobs and capital investment to the area.

Delaney doesn't shy from making news. He led a call for expansion of the City's Human Rights Ordinance to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. While City Council did not approve the legislation, Delaney and other supporters say it's only a matter of time before such protection is granted.

Delaney's bio is extensive, including serving two terms as Jacksonville mayor from 1995-2003. He has served as chief assistant state attorney, City general counsel and mayor's office chief of staff for Ed Austin, who served as state attorney and then one term as mayor from 1991-95.

During Delaney's second term as mayor, voters approved a half-cent sales tax to support the $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan of capital improvements. He was the first Republican elected as mayor since the 1870s.

Delaney's name surfaces frequently for political leaderships positions, including as mayor again for Jacksonville, speculation he refers to now as "just talk."

Nathaniel Ford, CEO, Jacksonville Transportation Authority

Nathaniel Ford took the helm Dec. 3 as the CEO at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

The JTA board unanimously chose Ford on Oct. 10. The JTA is an independent authority that provides transit services and roadway infrastructure.

Ford, 51, succeeds Michael Blaylock, who retired Dec. 21 after 10 years leading the organization. Blaylock's decision to leave came after a Florida Times-Union investigation into criminal and driving violations by JTA bus drivers.

Ford ran two of the country's busiest transit agencies, in Atlanta and San Francisco. Commuter trains operated in those cities, but have only been talked about in Jacksonville.

The authority, like many others, faces financial challenges. Ford must navigate those as well as work with the board on an agenda to improve the city's public transportation system.

One challenge is the 2016 expiration of the 6-cent local gas tax that helps to fund the agency. Also, some City Council members have suggested the JTA should focus on transit and not on building roads.

Ford also will work with regional transportation leaders.

He has specifically noted Downtown revitalization efforts and the work of the Regional Transportation Study Commission to develop the framework for a regional transportation plan.

He will present his first executive report to the JTA board Jan. 31 and has said it could include a management reorganization.

"I think the Jacksonville area is poised for a major revamping. I think it's right on the cusp of that and things are lining up," he said.

Steve Halverson, Chairman, Jacksonville Civic Council

Steve Halverson, 58, president and chief executive officer of one of Jacksonville's best-known companies, The Haskell Co., takes on the additional high-profile role as chairman of the Jacksonville Civic Council.

The council comprises more than 50 high-profile members of the Jacksonville business and civic ranks. The mission is "to create a clear vision for the City of Jacksonville along with concrete strategies and tactics for achieving this vision."

The council, formed in 2010 and chaired by businessman Peter Rummell until now, replaced the former Jacksonville Non-Group.

It played a major role in the 2011 election of Mayor Alvin Brown, the first Democratic mayor in a generation.

According to the website, the group has identified six criteria that define its vision: A safe city; great schools, K-12 and beyond; a growing economic and a varied base of growth industries; a standard of operational excellence at all levels of government; a fun and energetic Downtown; and a strong arts, cultural and sports environment.

In a February 2012 interview, Halverson said the civic council's focus included Downtown revitalization, pension reform and race relations.

Halverson, a native of Enid, Okla., joined Haskell in July 1999 and quickly rose in the ranks of civic and business leadership – in the JAX Chamber, in the Florida Chamber, the Florida Council of 100 and the civic council.

"Nothing good happens without leadership," he said in the February interview.

"Nothing happens with leadership alone, either, but it's impossible to point to any organization that's successful without competent leadership."

2012 Newsmakers

• Shad Khan, Owner, Jacksonville Jaguars

• Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, former owners, Jacksonville Jaguars

• Jerry Mallot, President, JAXUSA Partnership

• Paul Anderson, CEO, Jacksonville Port Authority

• Lenny Curry, Chairman, Republican Party of Florida, Duval County Republican Party

• Chris Hand, Chief of Staff, Mayor Alvin Brown

• Cindy Laquidara, General Counsel, City of Jacksonville

• Karen Bowling, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor Alvin Brown

• Lucy Talley, Publisher, The Florida Times-Union

• Ron Townsend, Chairman, JEA, Co-Chair, EWC Foundation for Edward Waters College

2011 Newsmakers

• Rob Clements, Chairman and CEO, EverBank Financial Corp.

• Nat Glover, Interim President (now President), Edward Waters College

• Hugh Greene, President and CEO, Baptist Health; 2011 Chair, JAX Chamber

• Dave Kulik, Chairman, Jacksonville Port Authority board of directors

• Carla Miller, Ethics Officer, City of Jacksonville

• Ava Parker, Chair, State University System board of governors; Chair, Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Study Commission

• Peter Rummell, Chairman, Jacksonville Civic Council

• Toney Sleiman, Owner, The Jacksonville Landing

• Billie Tucker, Executive Director, First Coast Tea Party

• Herschel Vinyard, (now secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection), Business operations director, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, and treasurer, JPA board of directors

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