Pensacola, Florida
Monday September 1st 2014

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Best of the Coast 2011—Community

ASHTON HAYWARD
Winner: Best Local Politician
Runner Up: Best Community Leader
Pensacola’s first strong mayor has changed the culture of city government from passive and reactive to proactive. Hayward provides the bold, decisive leadership voters have craved. His first year started slow, but he has gained momentum with every month. Hayward even figured out how to cut property taxes while improving services. He’s a new style of politician for the renaissance of Pensacola, and IN readers appreciate it. Hayward also earned the top spot on the 2011 IN Power List.

ASHTON HOWARD
Winner: Best Local Artist
This son of Florida’s Gulf Coast is one of the world’s foremost Tropical Artists. His art has been represented and viewed in more than 25 of the world’s leading galleries, especially the coastal and tropical specialty studios of the continental U.S., Hawaii, Canada and Japan.

COLLIER MERRILL
Winner: Best Community Leader
Runner Up: Best Person to Have on Your Side
Collier Merrill is the community leader to whom everyone looks for leadership and guidance. As past chairman of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, he helped with the transition to new leaders, battle the aftermath of the BP oil spill and launch a new economic development initiative. His energy and unselfish devotion to the city, its university and a host of charities has helped him win a broad base of support. Merrill, who topped the 2008 IN Power List, is a worthy successor to M.J. Menge, Vince Whibbs Sr. and Adm. Jack Fetterman. He will set this area on a new course.

EMERALD COASTKEEPER
Winner: Best Local Grassroots Movement
The Northwest Florida chapter of the Waterkeeper Alliance has always led the fight for our environment, and that was never more evident than during last year’s BP oil disaster. Considering the organization was founded by attorney Mike Papantonio with the help of his friend Bobby Kennedy Jr., it’s no surprise that Emerald Coastkeeper has gotten the attention of decision-makers as it fights for our right to swimmable, fishable, drinkable waters.

FRED LEVIN
Winner: Best Person to Have on Your Side
For decades, the people of Pensacola have had Fred Levin on their side. This Pensacola native is one of the most successful attorneys in the country. When the IN picked its first IN Power List in 2007, Levin was placed at the top. It is comforting to know that he still cares so much about this area.

PENSACOLA GRAND MARDI GRAS PARADE
Winner: Best Parade
This family-oriented Mardi Gras parade in historic downtown Pensacola has grown to be the largest parade in the area, thanks to Danny Zimmern, Amy Newman and their volunteers. It’s truly the people’s parade with floats from segments of the community throwing beads, doubloons and moon pies galore. This is how Pensacola celebrates Mardi Gras.

LEWIS BEAR
Winner: Best Behind the Scenes Volunteer
Why was Lewis Bear named the most powerful and influential person in the 2009 IN Power List? Because he gets things done. As the Chamber’s vice president for economic development, Bear was the driving force behind the Oil Spill Recovery Act that authorized $10 million per year for the next three years for economic development in Escambia County and seven other northwest Florida counties affected by the BP oil spill. Also deserving recognition is his wife Belle, who is a co-founder of Pensacola IMPACT 100 and a volunteer for many worthy causes. Belle Bear was a Runner Up in this category and the Best Volunteer category.

PAM CHILDERS
Winner: Best Rising Leader
Pam Childers is a CPA who has worked in the City of Pensacola’s Financial Services Department, where she is the Financial Services Manager, since 1990. She is also a Certified Government Finance Officer and served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Government Finance Officer Association from 2001-2009. She has participated in Leadership Pensacola, volunteered as a Take Stock in Children mentor and serves on the Fiesta of Five Flags Coronation Committee. Pam caught the attention of IN readers when she pre-filed as a Republican to run for the Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court, a position Ernie Lee Magaha has held for decades. Rising Star vs. Veteran Politician—this will be an interesting race to watch.

QUINT STUDER
Winner: Best Local Boss
The founder of Studer Group led the turnaround of Baptist Hospital in the 1990s as its president. Baptist Health Care won the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award three years have he left to form his own healthcare consulting firm. Last year, Studer Group won the same award, a true testimonial to Quint’s leadership. His success is built on creating work environments were employees excel and provide world-class service to their patients and clients.

TERI LEVIN
Winner: Best Volunteer
Teri Levin loves Pensacola, and she volunteers her time, talents and resources to improve the quality of life for everyone. Autism Pensacola, WSRE, Pensacola Symphony, Ballet Pensacola, American Cancer Society, Gulf Coast Kid’s House and the Council on Aging are just a few of the non-profits that Teri has helped over the years.