ROP Edition

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In the Spotlight

Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College, was named a winner of the 2017 McGraw Prize in Education. He received the U.S. Higher Education prize for a stellar model of community college change that is increasing graduation rates and helping large numbers of Hispanic students succeed.

If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why? Bill Gates. Figuring out how to invest those billions to relieve suffering and help all of humanity flourish must be one of the most interesting challenges in the world.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Mouth of Wilson, Va. We have a modest cabin and a few acres near the highest point in Virginia, and I love every minute we can spend there.

Your most interesting deal or project: Helping create Direct Connect when all of the rest of the colleges in the state were going the other direction, angling to add as many bachelor degrees of their own as they could. We’ve added a few, but the future for higher education is in deep partnerships like we have created here. The difference is, other colleges think of themselves first. Valencia thinks first of our students – what they need, what we want them to experience and what will make them successful.

Your greatest extravagance: I own far too many guitars, but I love each one for a different reason and I always regret selling or trading one.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career? This is an old joke and the punch line is, “Sincerity: Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” But the real answer to the question is that my heart is fully in this work. What could be more gratifying than to make opportunity real for everyone? And because my motivation is the mission, others are willing to trust me with their heart for the mission as well.

What’s one question you always ask a potential employee? What are you working on in yourself right now? This gives me a little glimpse into whether this person has any self-awareness, a real interior life and work to go along with the exterior work.

What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant? Cafe de Paris in Dr. Phillips. This is a very small, simple cafe, owned and operated by a French family. The food is simple, wholesome, fresh and very authentically French.

Your worst habit as a leader: Sometimes when I am anxious to see a project move forward, I find that I have assigned it to more than one person. This isn’t intentional, but it is a recurring mistake. It can be very awkward for them.

One thing you’d teach someone in your industry: The only adequate definition of authentic human service is to render a unique response to the unique human in front of you. And to demand this “at scale” in large, bureaucratic organizations that tend to dehumanize the people they were intended to serve is precisely the work of a leader.

What’s one thing you’re glad your employer didn’t know about you before you were hired? My music life, I suppose. There’s never been anything but encouragement for my creative life by the board, but I can imagine a “singing president” may have seemed a risky hire.

Best lesson from a mentor: If there is a performance problem in my team or organization, be sure to include myself in the problem statement. There’s a very good chance that I am contributing to it in some way. This makes it easier to work together to solve the problem rather than assign blame. And it opens the door for me to learn and grow, even as the senior leader.

What you’re struggling with now: How to speak in the public arena, especially on issues of education, opportunity and equity, without bringing harm to my institution and those we serve. We’re in a period where bullies and arrogant, vindictive politicians seem to be ascendant. It can be dangerous to speak up and say what you believe to be true. I have no fear for myself, but I worry for consequences to the college and those we serve.

Favorite book: The book I have often gone back to, the book that spoke most powerfully to my heart, is “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Your worst subject: German. I studied it long enough that I should be fluent, but I generally just embarrass myself in Austria and Germany.

One thing you wish everyone knew about your job: How frequently I get to meet someone whose life was changed and transformed because of Valencia College

Commercial Real Estate

John Krzyminski joined Cite Partners to lead the retail investment sales team.

Thomas L. Miller, director of property management at NAI Realvest, was awarded the certified commercial investment designation.

Health Care

Christopher Cosby joined Poinciana Medical Center as chief operations officer.

Vince Evans joined Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care as regional partnership development manager.

Eric Kachnycz joined Synergy Billing LLC as vice president of client success.

Debbie Loyd joined Synergy Billing LLC as vice president of human relations.


Corey Bloxam was appointed an associate at DRMP Inc.

Megan Mott was appointed a senior associate at DRMP Inc.


William T. Dymond, CEO and president of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed PA, was honored with the 2017 James B. Greene Award by the Orlando Economic Partnership.

Matthew Bernstein joined Vernis & Bowling of Central Florida PA.


Peter Rahill rejoined ITEC Entertainment as project director.

Alexandre M. Mestdagh was appointed to the board of directors of the French American Business Council of Orlando.


Jeremiah Fuller joined Hylant as a client executive.

Ronald Kifer joined FFVA Mutual as assistant vice president of claims.

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LOAD-DATE: May 2, 2017

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