50 Most Powerful in Orlando 2022: Entertainment, Sports, & the Arts
1 Kathy Ramsberger
President & CEO, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
An ongoing international pandemic and construction delays might have toppled many business executives. Those challenges only made Kathy Ramsberger stronger. As President & CEO of Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Ramsberger forged ahead, calling audibles and pushing projects forward.
When COVID-19 closed indoor venues, the center swerved and created The Frontyard Festival, bringing concerts and other performances to audiences on the lawn outside. Throughout its run, thousands of guests have enjoyed the over 430 shows presented by AdventHealth. That’s innovative.
And just weeks after that, in mid-January, Ramsberger was front and center for the grand opening of Steinmetz Hall, one of the world’s most acoustically perfect, multiform performance spaces.
As pandemic restrictions eased, The Walt Disney Theater, the main hall, welcomed audiences. All this, while staffing cutbacks caused by the pandemic, left Ramsberger with a downsized staff of 40 people.
“Not only did our businesses come back to life from a touring perspective,” she says, “but our team also has to re-engage completely. Not only with hiring a new team, the industry woke up differently with different guidelines we had to deal with, all while opening Steinmetz Hall and closing down the Frontyard.”
A well-deserved standing ovation should be forthcoming.
2 Alex Martins
CEO, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic’s 34th season is underway, and CEO Alex Martins wants fans to know this: The players, the coaches, and the staff are invested in you. “We live by our mission statement, which is to be world champions on and off the court, delivering legendary moments every step of the way,” Martins says. “The thing we love about sports is that it can bring people together from all walks of life.” But it’s not all game-day fever, Martins notes. The gratifying moments come from helping others through the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation. “We are proud that through OMYF, over 500 local nonprofit organizations have received funds over the last 32 years, affecting about two million children,” he says. Martins earned his MBA from UCF, where he is a Distinguished Alumnus and member of the College of Business Hall of Fame, and so he gives back to the university through service on the board of trustees. “My role on the Board of Trustees at UCF, and now as Chair of the Board, has been one of the most fulfilling volunteer roles I have engaged in.”
3 Mark Wilf
Chairman, Orlando City Soccer
It’s been just over a year since the Minnesota Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf and family acquired the Orlando City Soccer Club and the Orlando Pride, promising to build a championship organization for the “most memorable fan experience in soccer.”
In September, the club hosted its first U.S. Open Cup soccer final at sold-out Exploria Stadium as fans clamored to watch the Lions bring home a trophy (at press time, the final had not yet taken place).
Wilf says there’s been an “incredible demand for tickets,” and the organization is looking ahead to the team’s push to make its third-straight MLS playoffs. The Pride, too, is growing into the future of the women’s game; its roster of young talented players is key to making The Pride a long-term competitor in the NWSL.
“For both teams, I’m happy to say we are investing more than ever into both franchises, both in the players we’re bringing into the rosters and the work we’re doing within the front office,” says Wilf.
He points to efforts to grow youth soccer “with a pathway established that could one day lead to our professional team.”
A passionate supporter of the Jewish community—Wilf’s parents are Holocaust survivors—he recently completed a term as chair of the Jewish federations of North America and was named chairman of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel.
4 Jennifer Evins
President & CEO, United Arts of Central Florida
With 13 full-time staff members and a $9.6 million budget to oversee, South Carolina transplant Jennifer Evins began leading the arts nonprofit in 2021. “I am excited to be working in the arts in Central Florida because people are intentional about honoring and celebrating our differences, [while] at the same time recognizing that arts and culture bring us together,” she says. Relying upon funding from the public and private sectors, United Arts of Central Florida supports over 2.9 million arts experiences each year. Evins says she finds it “invigorating and inspiring each day,” to be “surrounded by different cultures and people from all over the world who have brought their unique talents and a deep passion for working together for the betterment of people and our shared community.”
“Global leaders in business and economic development, public health, education, mental health, public safety, community development, and philanthropy recognize that investing in a vibrant, creative community is a critical investment in the basic infrastructure of a thriving community.”
5 Jason Siegel
President & CEO, Greater Orlando Sports Commission
“You can’t do ordinary stuff and expect unique results.” – Mike Tomlin, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
These are Jason Siegel’s words of inspiration when leading the Greater Orlando Sports Commission (GO Sports) team. Siegel is the president and CEO of GO Sports, which has given us incredible events like the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds, WrestleMania 33 and 36, the 2019 MLS All-Star Game, and the 2022 USMNT World Cup Qualifiers. Inspired by “optimism, toxic positivity, and people who are ‘all in,’” Siegel has expanded GO Sports by four times the size and increased corporate partners by over 3000% since taking over six years ago. GO Sports is celebrating its 30th year, and Siegel is excited to see where he and the GO Sports team can go from here to keep Orlando at the top of its game.
6 Terry Olson
Director, Arts & Cultural Affairs of Orange County
If you’re involved in the Orlando arts community, you know Terry Olson. Olson is the director of the Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs Office. This team heads up exciting events like FusionFest—a project of Olson’s—free art exhibitions like Sculpture on the Lawn and more. After realizing his passion in life after a not-so-great college freshman calculus experience (and loving his touring theatrical troupe), Olson changed his major and never looked back. His biggest inspiration is his former college professor, Donald Rainbow. Besides creative ideas and pushing his students to aim for excellence, he genuinely cared about every person he met and made each one of them feel special. Olson loves that his job allows him to bring together people with different skills, backgrounds, and ideas to work toward common goals. He’s called Orange County home for four decades and loves that he gets to give back to the community that’s been so supportive of him.
7 Gabriel Preisser
General Director, OPERA ORLANDO
From his days at Florida State University, Apopka native and Grammy Award-winner Gabriel Preisser was drawn to opera — “music theater on steroids,” as he calls it. “It is storytelling in a grand way with orchestra, dance, acting, singing, sets, costumes, wigs, lighting, and special effects all coming together to convey the human experience and connect with the audience,” Preisser says. Opera Orlando, which began six years ago with a $250,000 budget, now boasts a $2 million-plus budget and makes Steinmetz Hall its performance home. Under Preisser’s leadership, the arts organization partners with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Orlando Ballet in its MainStage productions while offering in-school educational programs. “We strive to remind our audiences that opera has something for everyone, from a Star Trek-inspired Mozart opera that we presented in 2018 to a baseball opera coming up this season,” says the renowned baritone, who appreciates the universal appeal of the art form. “I can guarantee that anyone and everyone who comes to our productions, no matter their age, will be moved by the visceral experience of the natural voice without microphones. They will feel that special power opera has to connect us to our shared humanity.”
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