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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 24, 201112:00 PM EST

'Thankful for the freedoms we enjoy'


Today is Thanksgiving, the day that Americans traditionally reflect on their reasons for gratitude.

For the second year, the Daily Record asked more than two dozen civic leaders to share the current professional, economic or industry trend for which they are most thankful.

Area leaders gave thanks for a lot, including donations of time and counsel, allegiance with their co-workers, perseverance in the face of economic struggles and even fashion freedom.

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Capt. Robert Caldwell
Commanding Officer
Fleet Readiness Center Southeast
U.S. Navy

I am truly thankful to serve as commanding officer of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast and privileged to lead its dedicated workforce. Each day, these committed military and civilian professionals provide the war fighter with reliable, high-quality products and services for our country’s success in Overseas Contingency Operations.

I am also grateful for the relationships we have forged with our industry partners and with the people of Jacksonville who support our vital maintenance mission.

Finally, I am thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line each and every day to defend those freedoms.

Clanzenetta “Mickee” Brown
Principal Consultant
Special Project Partners

I have noticed in my work that organizations of various stripes are taking the time and investing resources in thinking more strategically about how they operate. This includes implementing a host of activities such as visioning, planning and restructuring. In many cases this leads to hiring staff and/or fully utilizing the skills of existing personnel. In the long run, these organizations will be stronger and more nimble no matter the economic climate.

Herschel Vinyard
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

I am thankful to be able to play a role in an administration that recognizes that environmental protection and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we know that you cannot have one without the other.

By focusing on customer service and regulatory consistency and efficiency, DEP is working to effectively protect Florida’s environment. Florida is home to many of the nation’s most beautiful natural resources, and our award-winning state parks system is the perfect showcase for our white beaches, crystal-clear springs and lush forests.

I look forward to continuing to work with Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature, along with Florida’s stakeholders, citizens and businesses, to cultivate a partnership between government and the private sector that protects our natural resources and makes Florida the best state in the country to live, work and play.

Pierre Allaire
Vice President, Institutional Advancement
University of North Florida

I am thankful for the professionals that I work with on a day-to-day basis in Institutional Advancement at UNF. They are committed to the ideals of education through their efforts to secure philanthropic support for our students. I am proud to call them friends and colleagues.

Leonard Curry
Managing Director, ICX Group
Chairman, Republican Party of Florida

During this season of thanks and reflection, I am most thankful that my wife and I have the opportunity to raise our children in Florida, the greatest state in our nation. I am thankful that in this nation, we have the freedom to debate ideas and express our opinions.

I am also thankful that, as the Republican Party of Florida’s chairman, I get to work with Gov. Scott and leaders across the state to ensure that we continue to advance our vision of keeping Florida great.

Paul Anderson
Jacksonville Port Authority

All of us at JaxPort are thankful to work each and every day contributing to the local economy and the quality of life for citizens throughout the region. We are grateful that our diverse cargo base, our excellent location and connections, our valued customers, both long-term and new, have allowed us to expand through one of the most difficult economic periods in the history of our nation. We thank the community at large for its steady and broad support for the continued growth and prosperity of the port and for understanding that with careful, strategic investment, JaxPort can continue to be a major generator of economic good for Northeast Florida for generations to come.

Carolyn Clark
District Council Coordinator
Urban Land Institute North Florida

I am thankful for the members and volunteers of ULI who recognize the importance of our mission to provide leadership in the responsible use of land. Their dedication and passion is making a significant and ongoing impact in this community.

E. Zimmermann Boulos
Office Environments & Services Inc.

I am thankful to Jerry Mallot and his team at the JAXUSA Partnership for the new jobs that they continue to bring to North Florida.

Richard Danford
Jacksonville Urban League

The trend that I am most thankful for is having an opportunity to see the plight of others internationally. It continues to serve as a source of awareness for me personally, and the Jacksonville Urban League professionally, that in these extraordinary times we must continue to implement extraordinary measures to address the extraordinary needs for people.

Heather Byrer Carbone
Boyd & Jenerette

I am thankful that The Jacksonville Bar Association has attorneys who are not only zealous advocates for their clients, but display a level of civility, respect and consideration to their counterparts not seen elsewhere in this state. We are fortunate for the good people who make up this legal community and it is truly a pleasure to be a lawyer in Jacksonville.

Jim Dickenson
Managing Director, CEO

I am thankful that at last we have seen coal and petroleum coke prices stabilize and begin to drop. If this holds, we hope to lower our fuel rate next fiscal year. This would be good for all of us.

Howard Dale
Director and Shareholder
Dale, Bald, Showalter, Mercier & Green

I am thankful that, generally speaking, among lawyers, civility is on the rise; boorishness and rudeness by lawyers in the attempted service of their clients is on the decline. While there are exceptions, lawyers are learning that it is in the best interests of their clients and of themselves to know how to disagree without being disagreeable.

From time to time, it appears that some clients pressure their lawyers to use offensive personal attacks on opposing lawyers. Sometimes such pressure by clients can induce less experienced lawyers to adopt unfair tactics which may skirt inside the letter of the rules, but violate the spirit of the rules. Sometimes these pressures have been self-induced by the lawyers.

Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate in my practice that lawyers are more and more able to resist such pressures and to convince their clients (or themselves) that such tactics are counterproductive to the achievement of the clients’ legitimate goals. Being responsible members of an honored profession in a civil and democratic society requires nothing less.

The judiciary deserves commendation for its leadership on this important element of the administration of justice.

John Finotti
Access Public Relations

As a Downtown business owner I am thankful that our new mayor, Alvin Brown, has made Downtown development one of his top priorities. And I am hopeful that this time next year we will see the tangible results of that focus.

Adrienne Conrad
Jackson Lewis LLP

During my career, I have encountered very few female partners at a firm with very young children; however, I have witnessed a shift in the legal profession toward having more family friendly policies in private practice. I am extremely thankful to work at a supportive firm that has allowed me to continue challenging and interesting work while at the same time doing what is best for my little 4-month-old daughter.

Michael Freed
The Jacksonville Bar Association

I am most thankful to be leading an organization of 2,000-plus local attorneys who go out their way on a regular basis to give of their time, talent and treasure to support our community and to provide for those in need.

Our lawyers provide thousands of hours of free legal counsel each year, deliver gifts and other provisions to needy seniors, children, schools and the homeless, organize and participate in events to raise money for charities and causes, and provide free civic education in schools and to the community.

Despite the prevalence of lawyer jokes, the truth is that lawyers as a group — particularly those in this community — provide a tremendous amount of largely unrecognized positive contribution.

Chris Peters
General Manager
Jacksonville Suns

I’m thankful that people continue to seek out good entertainment during a tough economic time.

George Gabel
Director of International Business, JAX Chamber
Partner, Holland & Knight

The trend for which I am most thankful is the increasing globalization of Jacksonville. That is an economic trend and also is a cultural trend. We as a community are being proactive in seeking international investment by offshore companies, our businesses here are learning there is a huge market for their products and services overseas, and our citizens are more interested in and connected to world events than I have ever seen in Jacksonville.

Nat Glover
Edward Waters College

I am thankful for the willingness and capability of the higher education institutions in Jacksonville to help anyone, from any walk of life, enhance their education to give them an edge for when the economy inevitably improves. Whether a certificate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree is needed to get you to the next level or land that dream job, Jacksonville has the collegiate resources to get you ready.

Peter Goplerud
Florida Coastal School of Law

I am thankful for the Coastal Law faculty and staff who, year after year, are passionate about the school and its mission. Because of these dedicated professionals, we are able to extend to our students a high quality legal education.

Mary O’Connor
Chair, Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Mayo Clinic Florida

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the current trend in medicine to embrace patient safety and transparency regarding quality metrics. While this has always been a hallmark of our culture at Mayo, the national emphasis which is now occurring on patient safety and transparency will make all medical care better.

Embracing a culture of openness facilitates and accelerates improvement. Such a culture understands the need to focus on processes and not just individuals in order to understand why a less than optimal outcome occurred. The change in climate from a punitive culture to one which recognizes the complexity of process interactions underscores the value of our teams, and the importance of every member of the team feeling that their voice is heard.

I am very proud of the great strides made in patient safety in the past few years. On any given day, any of us could be that patient requiring safe and expert care.

Christopher Hazelip
Shareholder, Civil Trial Lawyer
Rogers Towers

This has certainly been a tough economic time in the legal profession. Many lawyers have lost their jobs or found their specialty practice areas nearly dried up, and top law students are struggling to find work while saddled with enormous student debt.

Prominent, established firms have found even long-standing clients shut their doors or struggle to pay their legal bills. The Jacksonville legal community is not immune from these problems which affect the legal profession nationwide.

Here, however, I’ve noticed a renewed commitment of time, energy and resources by local leaders and senior members of the Bar and Bench to emphasize civility, professionalism and the need to mentor students and younger lawyers, bringing them along in the “right way” to serve their clients and community in our justice system.

This trend crosses lines between law firms and practice areas, and includes formalized efforts by the American Board of Trial Advocates, Inns of Court and The Jacksonville Bar Association, to name a few.

It’s been said that “hard cases make bad law.” While that may be debatable, it is clear that many in our legal community are committed to make sure that “hard times don’t make bad lawyers.” I am thankful for those renewed efforts.

Maggie Hightower
Director of Major Gifts
Florida State College Foundation

The current industry trend that I am most thankful for is that in the United States the majority of charitable giving comes from individuals. This has been a continuous trend for many years now. Specifically in 2010, individuals gave $211.77 billion (73 percent) representing a 2.7 percent increase over 2009.

Alberta Hipps
Hipps Group Inc.

I am most thankful for lessons learned from clients in this downturn economy: perseverance during a difficult time for all employees, visioning and strategic planning for a better future for their companies and our area, active participation to provide resources to nonprofit organizations for the safety-net needs for those less fortunate and an enthusiastic attitude about reaching our full potential for Northeast Florida as a great example in the state, national and global arena for our business acumen combined with our quality of life. Jacksonville continues to be the best in so many ways and is always good to come home to.

Gunnel Humphreys
Edge City

I think customers will buy very modestly this season. You can’t really stock up on anything and feel that you’ll have a huge sale after Christmas since every store will have a huge sale. In that case, a gift card would be the best gift.

Hopefully people know how important it is to shop locally. If at least 50 percent of Christmas buying would be local, it would be a very, very important step.

I think the business trend I am most thankful for is all the comfortable, one size, seamless bras in all the rainbow’s colors that can transform a low-cut dress or tee into a whole new color combination look.

There are small inexpensive ways you can be creative with what you already have in your closet.

Doug Lipscomb
Branch Manager
Blue Bell Creameries

The past few years have seen major changes in the food and dairy business. Dairy costs are at all-time highs due to a weak dollar, weather/drought, increased global demand, corn ethanol production and commodity speculation. This has caused many dairy and food companies to reduce package sizes, raise costs, use alternative ingredients and cut personnel.

During the same period Blue Bell has been very fortunate to experience good growth in this unstable environment. Although Blue Bell has raised costs we continue to offer a full half-gallon (64-ounce) container, which is typically a pint (16 ounces) more than our competition. In addition we have introduced many flavors such as our “Holiday Favorites” of Christmas Cookies, Banana Nut Bread, Spiced Pumpkin Pecan and Peppermint. Our customers are very loyal.

Hugh Harris
President and CEO
Lender Processing Services

I am most thankful for the dedication and professionalism that our employees demonstrate each and every day. Despite the challenging environment and competing priorities, our employees are dedicated to making sure they deliver the best products and support to our clients and are committed to giving back to our community through volunteering and financial support. I am thankful to be a part of a company committed to doing the right thing.

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