50 Most Powerful in Orlando 2022: Business
1 Randy Haffner
President & CEO, AdventHealth Central Florida
Living in Central Florida, you’ve visited at least one AdventHealth hospital. Since February 2021, Randy Haffner has been the man in charge, overseeing over 20 hospitals and ERs in seven counties that treat over 3.4 million patients annually. Haffner has been with AdventHealth for 33 years in leadership roles across eight states, but when he’s off duty, you can catch him soaking up the Florida sun while cycling and running. “From an early age, I knew I wanted to be involved in business and leadership,” explains Haffner. “It wasn’t until choosing an employer after college that health care became clear as a perfect fit for me.” The caregivers in his industry inspire Haffner each day. “To me, health care is a calling. It is much more than a vocation or a job. It is a calling to step into the health journey of individual patients and the community at large. Whether you serve on the clinical side as a caregiver or can support the caregivers like myself, the motivation must start with a calling to serve others.”
2 David Strong
President & Chief Executive Officer, Orlando Health
Orlando Health hired David Strong in 2015 when the nonprofit healthcare organization faced financial struggles. The Orlando-based hospital system now has $8 billion worth of assets under management that serve the southeastern United States through its Central Florida hospitals, labs, and physician offices.
Under Strong’s guidance, Orlando Health has grown into a 3,200-bed system with ten hospitals, nine hospital-based ERs, and seven free-standing emergency rooms. In addition are rehabilitation services, cancer, and heart institutes, imaging, and laboratory services, wound care centers, physician offices for adults and pediatrics, skilled nursing facilities, and an inpatient behavioral health facility. In 2021, Orlando Health served over 160,000 inpatients and 3.6 million outpatients.
3 Craig Ustler
President, Ustler Development
Craig Ustler is all about putting Orlando on the map. Orlando is where Ustler works, lives and plays, so he made it his goal to make the “real Orlando” (the non-Disney World/Universal Orlando) a better place. Using his liberal arts background and passion for community, Ustler turned to real estate as the primary tool in his quest for the redevelopment of economically challenged areas. Ustler Development is all about making Orlando into one of the great American cities. Think of improvements to UCF Valencia Downtown, Parramore, Creative Village, and the West Side. Orlando is lucky to be home to visionary leaders like Ustler, who embrace its many neighborhoods and work tirelessly to improve life for all.
4 John Morgan
Founder & Attorney, Morgan & Morgan
Life comes at you fast when you are America’s most prominent “TV lawyer.” Morgan was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, recently with friends when he saw one of his billboards along the highway. It was news to him he had set up an office there.
“I would say I’m fighting the war from 40,000 feet instead of in the jungle,” he says. “I live in Hawaii during the wintertime, and I go to New Hampshire in the summer, where it’s not hot. My three sons have instrumental roles, and I have managing partners. It’s very hands-off except for big decisions.”
Morgan, now 66, had earned the right to shift into cruise control. He’s come a long way since 1988 when he was a founding partner of Morgan, Colling & Gilbert. Morgan’s most significant personal victory was the legalization of medical marijuana in 2016. The ballot initiative John pushed for to raise the minimum wage was on Florida’s 2020 general election ballot as Amendment 2. It passed with 60.8 percent of the vote and increases the minimum wage by a dollar per year until it reaches $15 in 2026.
5 Tim Giuliani
President & CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership
When Tim Giuliani became the Orlando Economic Partnership president, he came in knowing that technology would drive the region’s growth. He held the equally strong conviction that everybody deserves to benefit from that growth. The Partnership is a public-private organization that uses its connections to mold a future that embraces all residents.
Two of Giuliani’s initiatives in the past year exemplify his focus on the future: He championed semiconductor manufacturing in Osceola County and took Central Florida into the metaverse. NeoCity, the venture between Osceola County and South Korean firm LG to create a research park/smart city, recently won a $500,000 federal grant to develop a proposal to expand semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing capabilities. The Partnership creates pathways to equal access to resources so that all residents may enjoy the fruits of success.
6 Rasesh Thakkar
Senior Managing Director, Tavistock Group
If there’s one word that sums up Rasesh Thakkar’s daily to-do list, it could be “trailblaze.” That’s what Tavistock’s senior managing director, who’s been with the group for over 25 years, is known to do at the private investment firm that shaped Lake Nona into a trendy, booming “smart” community. Under Thakkar’s steady leadership, the new Lake Nona Wave Hotel opened last December, blending art and technology for visitors seeking a deluxe overnight Orlando experience. The UCF Lake Nona Medical Center has pioneered innovative healthcare techniques and is closely integrated with the high-tech Lake Nona Performance Club. Last February, Thakkar helped lead the 10th annual Lake Nona Impact Forum, a health and wellbeing conference that drew global leaders such as Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and President Bill Clinton. He and his team are working to define water use, conservation, and ecological preservation guidelines with the University of Florida’s Sustainable Floridians Benchmarking and Monitoring Program.
7 Chuck Whittall
Founder, President & CEO, Unicorp National Developments
Chuck Whittall’s 2020 book, “Perseverance: Broke to Billions,” tells readers how to build a billion-dollar business. The Orlando entrepreneur who ran a lawn-care service at age 12 and opened a teen nightclub at 18 should know. President and CEO of Unicorp National Developments, Whittall juggles 30 Central Florida development projects and another 20 Midwest U.S. projects partnering with Wawa Inc.
Well-known for his development of ICON Park and bringing Trader Joe’s to Central Florida, Whittall is now immersed in multiple projects including Unicorp’s sprawling O-Town West development. The company, which just finished The Mark master-planned community in Horizon West, also will develop a 100-acre, mixed-use town center in Oviedo. “Every time I think we can’t get busier, we get busier.”
8 Pamela Nabors
President and CEO, CareerSource Central Florida
As the head of Central Florida’s workforce development board, Pamela Nabors helps businesses, educators, and job seekers make critical connections. With its 250 employees and $40 million budget, her organization provides career counseling, job placement, training and education, paid internships, and employee recruitment services.
“There’s this sense of being able to give back, to serve, with an organization like CareerSource Central Florida that truly can make a difference in a person’s life or a business,” Nabors says. “Creating that right fit is incredibly motivational and inspirational to me.”
In response to the need for talent in a shifting market, Nabors and her team are helping businesses rethink job descriptions and helping job seekers “adjust their target marketing or even add skills to their portfolio” while “elevating the voice of the career or job-seeker.”
9 Inez Long
President & CEO, Black Business Investment Fund of Florida
Winter Garden native Inez Long had set her professional goals on working with numbers. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Florida and her MBA from the University of Central Florida and joined Southern banking behemoth SunTrust. Long wanted to do more, and her mission: economic empowerment. She left her job as a banker and joined the fledgling Black Business Investment Fund as its president. Long found her true calling in lifting disadvantaged communities in a way that provides lasting success. Thirty-two years later, she has the distinct pleasure of adding up just how important that move turned out for her and so many small-business owners. The BBIF is a community development financial institution that loans capital it borrows from a network of large banks. Through a partnership with the Small Business Administration, the BBIF offers community advantage loans of up to $250,000. The nonprofit BBIF has loaned nearly $80 million to 1,060 Black, minority, and underserved small businesses throughout Florida. These economic lifelines have enabled entrepreneurs to create over 14,000 jobs, primarily in Central Florida. Long recently enjoyed recognition for her lifetime of work as an inductee into the 2022 UCF School of Business Hall of Fame. “I am a big believer in partnerships. I think it takes a team of people to make success happen.”
10 Gaby Ortigoni
President & CEO, The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando
Sometimes we miss many opportunities to learn new life lessons or meet great friends because we are too busy paying attention to our devices rather than people. The HCCMO is all about connecting people with the resources they need, and that’s why Gaby Ortigoni worked to become its president and CEO. Ortigoni loves connecting with people to help them grow personally and professionally. Her career advice is to honor the time you spend with each person.
11 Robert D. Bridges
Chief Executive of Nemours Florida Operations
A third-generation Floridian, Robert D. Bridges, and Nemours Children’s Health share a long history of supporting families and fiscal responsibility.
“With roots dating back to the 1940s, Nemours is proud to be a Florida-headquartered health system, one that understands the importance of good stewardship and service to others,” Bridges says. “Nemours’ vision for Florida’s children is to see our state ranked in the top ten for child health and wellness by 2030.”
Bridges joined Nemours in 1999 as vice president of business operations and chief financial officer. He developed and led the execution of the organization’s fiscal and enterprise services strategies, which yielded success in finance and operations.
“The most important trait to be successful in healthcare is putting the patient at the center of the care-delivery system,” Bridges says. “An effective healthcare leader will adapt to change. Technology and innovation fuel efficiency opportunities—one must learn to be nimble.”
“Today, our children rank 35th in children’s health and well-being, which is simply not good enough; I’ve always felt that we must aspire to be better. We should want the best for our children, and that’s the mindset I’ve brought to the table every day.”
12 Cliff Long
CEO, Orlando Regional REALTOR Association
As the leader of his trade organization since 2017, Cliff Long has already made his imprint: The REALTOR association’s $12 million, 45,000-square-foot headquarters is projected to open in early 2023 near Interstate 4 and Lee Road.
The four-story, hotel-like center will benefit the association’s 20,000 members but also “can change the landscape of the community,” Long says, by boosting property values and offering the area’s first event center. “It’s going to raise the profile of the buildings on Interstate 4 and Lee Road,” he adds.
Long emphasizes maximizing potential, operating under the mantra of “highest and best use”—volunteer leadership, staff members, and his members’ dues.
“Making sure that we have programs and offerings that meet their needs and that are adequate is a tremendous challenge,” he says.
Long’s role requires him to be motivational, empathetic, and mission focused.
“If you don’t know who you’re leading, don’t know where you’re leading, or don’t know the mission, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time. A leader must convey the mission to those who’ve signed up to be a part of the journey.”
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