Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday August 21st 2019


Winners & Losers 5/23/19

Ruthie Speight
The Pensacola Young Professionals has hired Speight as its executive director. Speight graduated from the University of West Florida with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2014 and her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology in 2016. She has worked for the Studer Group and Studer Education to build best-place-to-work cultures in healthcare and education organizations. She has volunteered for the Trauma Intervention Program and ReadingPals. She is an Impact 100 member and has participated in the Habitat for Humanity Women Build program. She has been a PYP member since 2015, and she served on its board for this past year.

Robert F. Smith
The billionaire investor, who founded Vista Equity Partners and became the richest black man in America, had a surprise for the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College when he gave the commencement address last weekend. Smith announced that he and his family would pay off the entire graduating class’s student debt. He said that his gift was meant to set an example of paying forward. Smith said, “Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all of the opportunities of the American dream, and we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.”

Dennis Baxley
During the 2019 session, State Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) filed legislation to kick Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings off the board of directors of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, even though the city of Orlando owns the airport and state law requires both mayors serve on the board. Baxley later withdrew it when the media called him out.

Jim C. Beck
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim C. Beck has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The 38-count indictment alleges that Beck stole more than $2 million from his former employer, the Georgia Underwriting Association, during the five years just prior to Beck’s election to statewide office last year. Beck, a Republican, narrowly won the insurance commissioner race with 51 percent of the vote.

Florida Department of Health
More than four months after DeSantis took office, the Florida Department of Health does not have a secretary. DeSantis’ nominee, Scott Rivkees, still serves as chairman of the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. The News Service of Florida reports Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez appears to be playing a key role in running the department. Though state law requires that the department secretary be a Florida licensed medical doctor, Nuñez is not. She is a former lawmaker from Miami.