Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday October 23rd 2018


Rising Stars 2012

By IN staff

The lifeblood of a community is its crop of young leaders. A community can hold on for a decade or so without developing new leaders, but eventually the parade of funerals, bankruptcies and indictments pile up. The void gradually becomes too cavernous to fill and the community dies.

The Independent News has been committed to recognizing, honoring and developing leaders for the past six years. We teamed in 2006 with the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce to create the Pensacola Young Professionals. We provided input to the Better Pensacola Forum and helped to recruit Mason-Dixon Polling and Research to do the first Quality of Life Survey.

In 2008, our newspaper began our Rising Stars program to honor the leaders in the under-35 crowd. Each year since, the IN has sought out nominations of individuals who work or live in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and who are seen as the upcoming leaders in their professions and in the community. Each year, the number of nominees of talented men and women under the age of 35 grows.

Over 160 nominations were received this time. Our panel selected the top 50, which we’ve published in this issue. Some are from long-established Pensacola families. Others have only lived here a few years. Each has a special love for this area and their stories show it.

Buffi Barrineau Bailey, the director of interventional rehabilitation at Sacred Heart Hospital, was drawn to Pensacola because of vacations with her grandfather.

“My countless visits here with him took me all over the town. He was so passionate about this town that he lit a fire in me to love it, too, as well as everything it had to offer,” Bailey tells the IN. “I have vivid memories of always driving down Scenic Highway, eating doughnuts at the ‘old’ Krispy Kreme, the Coffee Cup, going to Joe Patti’s and picking blueberries in Barrineau Park. It was always so exciting. How could I have not wanted this for my kids?”

For Carey King, the PRC coordinator for Studer Group who grew up in Birmingham, this area earned a special place in her heart during many family vacations on Pensacola Beach.

“Now that I have lived here for five years,” says King. “I have found there to be so much more to love than the beach, such as the art and seafood festivals, gallery nights, great restaurants and fundraisers sponsored by our local non-profit organizations.”

David Tuyo, the chief financial officer and interim president/CEO of Pen Air Federal Credit Union, has had two stints in Pensacola. For him, it’s the people that set this community apart.

“In my professional career, our family has lived in three states, moving 10 times.  The sense of community and creating something greater than ourselves is seen throughout the area,” says Tuyo.  “Whether it is the Studer Group, Baptist Hospital, Sacred Heart, the countless volunteer hours, the numerous non-profits which garner outstanding support, the military, Pen Air or just taking time to have a conversation as you check out at the grocery store – that quality makes this community special.”

Every Quality of Life Survey has found economic development and job creation as the top concerns for the City of Pensacola and all of Escambia County. The Rising Stars have also consistently ranked them at the head of their priorities. They see their peers leaving for more promising futures elsewhere or staying here and settling for jobs below their skill and education levels. They want to stop the “brain drain.”

Ed Banacia, Jr., the owner of Play, wants to see the employment in the higher education sector of our labor force improve over the next five years.

“For Pensacola to retain its brightest minds,” says Banacia, “we must attract industries that will employ those with higher education qualifications.”

His fellow Rising Stars agree. Meagan Enderson, director of social media for Jewelers Trade Shop, laments that the opportunity for college graduates from our area to return is limited.

“Jobs are more abundant and often yield higher salaries in other cities,” says Enderson. “It is imperative for Pensacola to actively find ways to bring jobs to the area that not only benefit the current population, but recent college graduates as well.”

Christopher G. Paulos, an attorney with the Levin Papantonio law firm, wants to see over the next five years more economic development initiatives that support sustainable job growth, provide for long-term residency in the area and result in consistent, yet reasonable, growth of the community.

“I would want this increasing population to be able to find the creative, professional and educational opportunities that are necessary to instill a communal sense of pride and value,” says Paulos, “such that Pensacola’s best and brightest do not migrate elsewhere in order to fulfill these needs.”

Each year, we honor them with a party and challenge them to live up to the award. However, the ones needing to be challenged are us. The first decade of this century was disastrous for this area. Our shortcomings became exposed and our leaders avoided dealing with them.

These Rising Stars are talented and have a passion for making this community shine. Our role is to help them build the greater Pensacola area that meets their expectations. They have plenty of energy, drive and determination, but they won’t succeed without support.

Click here to view the 2012 Rising Stars

What Matters to Rising Stars

2012 Rising Stars
1. Job creation
2. Education
3. Affordable housing
4. Crime
5. Poverty
6. Environment
7. Vibrant downtown
8. Consolidation of government
9.  Arts & entertainment
10. Transportation

2011 Rising Stars
1. Attracting jobs and economic development
2. Education
3. Job creation
4. Arts & entertainment
5. Affordable housing
6. Healthcare for uninsured

2010 Rising Stars
1. Attracting jobs and economic development
2. Education
3. Environment
4. Arts & entertainment
5. Affordable housing
6. Healthcare for uninsured

2009 Rising Stars
1. Attracting jobs and economic development
2. Education
3. Environment
4. Affordable housing
5. Healthcare for uninsured
6. Arts and entertainment

2008 Rising Stars
1. Attracting jobs and economic development
2. Education
3. Healthcare for uninsured
4. Environment
5. Affordable housing
6. Size and structure of local government