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Conversations with the Council

Conversations with the Council

Conversations with the Council featuring Allen Gast

“When I was in third grade, I wanted to be an architect.” However, just as designs evolve, so too did the plan for Allen Gast’s future. “When I got to the University of Florida, I discovered the premier ME Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction, and everything changed.”

Allen Gast

Words of Change: From Pilot to Philanthropist: One Leaders Inspiring Journey of Generosity

“Most people get involved with charities that have somehow affected their lives. I’ll make an educated guess that most of us have never gone hungry. When you think about it, caring about something that has only affected others and not yourself is almost like unconditional love. And isn’t that the best kind?” Those purposeful words Marti LaTour shared with guests at a capital campaign party for the Palm Beach County Food Bank. If people are hungry in Palm Beach County, it’s crazy. I got involved because I knew with

Marti LaTour

A Blueprint for Building Personal and Professional Success

“We are Builders.” Those bold words emblazon the Hedrick Brothers Construction website. I can assure you that CEO Dale Hedrick is more than just a builder of quality commercial and world-class residential structures. He is a builder of character, empowering over 200 employees to be their best. “I am committed to cultivating an organizational culture characterized by mutual respect, where everyone is treated with the dignity they desire. This culture is anchored in trust, welcoming robust discussions free from the fear o

Dale Hedrick

Conversations with the Council Featuring Fabiola Brumley, Palm Beach County President and Senior Public Policy Lead at Bank of America

Sunshine and palm trees, the scenery was the same, but Fort Lauderdale was a very far cry from Beirut, Lebanon, where 9-year-old Fab Brumley had just immigrated with her family. “It was very different from being in an all-girls Catholic school in Beirut where there was a strong sense of discipline to being in a co-ed public school where there was no dress code.” Read more.

Fabiola Brumley

Conversations with the Council featuring Chris Duke, Managing Partner of Akerman

"If something negative is happening, I embrace it." You could say one of Chris Duke's superpowers is his optimism. "Having a positive outlook is something I got from watching my mom from a very young age. If something does not go my way, I view it as an opportunity for growth and learning."

Christopher Duke

Conversations with the Council featuring Michael Kohner, Managing Director with Alvarez & Marsal Tax

“Leaders who start with what they believe are the ones who inspire those around them.” For Michael Kohner, those powerful words from leadership coach and author Simon Sinek motivate him to get the best out of his team. “I’m likely to be considered a transformational leader. I strive to both think long term and to inspire my teammates to maximize their potential to provide exceptional client service.”

Michael Kohner

Conversations with the Council featuring Dr. Ava Parker, President of Palm Beach State College

"I want to make sure our students have a seat at the table of opportunity." As President of Palm Beach State College, Dr. Ava Parker leads with a strategic approach emphasizing innovation, student success, and community and business collaboration. That passion and purpose attracted her to the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. "The opportunity to work with the business community and the Council's mission of ‘creating a prosperous business environment in Palm Beach County’ goes hand in hand with Palm Beach State Coll

Ava Parker

Conversations with the Council featuring Brian Curtin, Executive Vice President at BRPH

"Growing up in the Washington D.C. area in the '60s and early 70s, the space race was intriguing." The excitement ignited our nation's curiosity allowing us to imagine what life was like beyond the stars. It was a time of discovery that sparked the curiosity of a young boy named Brian Curtin, who had previously dreamed of being a third baseman for the Washington Senators before they left to become the Texas Rangers. "I've always had this innate ability to put things together. As a kid, it was erector sets, and I was goo

Brian Curtin

Conversations with the Council featuring Cliff Hertz, Partner at Nelson Mullins

This past April, Cliff Hertz was contacted by a homeowner's association president. This was not typical– they usually know not to call Cliff; he only represents landowners and developers seeking development approvals. In this case, however, a community resident who sits on a County Advisory Board thought Cliff would be a perfect match to represent the Association. If he would take on the matter.

Clifford Hertz

Conversations with the Council featuring Mark Elhilow, Principal at Blue Ocean Capital

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Absolutely nothing.” Dedication is one of the many words you could use to describe Mark Elhilow, the Managing Principal at Blue Ocean Capital. “I function as a protector of sorts, fighting hard for what is best for our clients and employees, above all else. Working to ensure we have a culture of giving here at the firm, whereby we all endeavor to create more value with each action than we might otherwise expect to receive in return for our efforts.”

Mark Elhilow

Conversations with the Council featuring Bill Perry, CEO & Managing Shareholder at Gunster

“I am a big history buff.” For Bill Perry, the study of the past provides a greater understanding of the present. As Shakespeare wrote… “What’s past is prologue.” Bill believes that everything that has taken place is in preparation for what is to come. “A greater understanding of the past better prepares you for new opportunities and challenges in the future.”

H. William Perry

Conversations with the Council featuring Deana Pizzo, Founder & CEO of IT Solutions of South Florida

It may not be as famous as Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s garage, but Deana Pizzo’s former living room has an origin story worth knowing.

Deana Pizzo

Conversations with the Council featuring Paul Leone, President of The Breakers Palm Beach

Imagine waking up with a clear mind, free from the inner noise, with no worries about the past or fear of the future. The present is a precious gift that eludes most. However, Paul Leone has captured its beauty. "I am happier, healthier, and full of gratitude. A better version of me tries to show up and meet life's challenges every day."

Paul Leone

Conversation with the Council featuring Tom Hoban, Chief Investment Officer and Partner of Kitson & Partners

“Keep charging hard but with a softer touch.” That’s the advice Tom Hoban would give his younger self. “I have a strong work ethic, which led me to Wall Street upon graduation, where I worked for eight years. The Wall Street environment is intense. Working seven days a week for 100-120 hours a week can take its toll on you. The learning curve is tremendous, but it comes with a lot of sacrifices as well. While I would not trade that experience, I would tell my younger self to slow down a bit and enjoy it more.”

Thomas Hoban

Conversations with the Council featuring George Elmore, Founder of Hardrives, Inc.

You would think it would be easy to schedule an interview with a 93-year-old, but George Elmore's not your typical nonagenarian. He keeps a very active schedule and is in more demand than ever between board meetings, events, and work. Yes, he still goes to the office each day.

George Elmore

Conversations with the Council featuring Rachel Docekal, President & CEO of Hanley Foundation

Passion it's just one of the words you could use to describe Dr. Rachel Docekal and her dedication to making a difference in the lives of people battling addiction. She is a transformational leader looking past what is present to what is possible in her role as CEO of the Hanley Foundation. "We are changing the conversation around addiction, making sure that people understand that it is a disease that can affect any one of us. We are creating a new narrative around mental health challenges, so people don't suffer in sil

Rachel Docekal

Conversations with the Council featuring Scott Hawkins, Chairman at Jones Foster

"I believe it is critical that the private sector have a balanced and strategic voice in the county's future development." That is just one of the reasons Scott Hawkins was interested in joining the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. "The mission of the Economic Council really interests me, and I have been deeply impressed by those who have led the council. Further, I believe Palm Beach County is a bellwether county, one of the most crucial in the state, and, in turn, Florida is one of the most important states in t

Scott Hawkins

Conversations with the Council featuring Gary Lesser, Managing Partner, Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC.

What can I say about Gary Lesser that hasn’t already been said by others who have bestowed honors and accolades on him? To me, Gary is that friend that you can always depend on. The steady rock. He is wise beyond his years, always ready to offer sage advice when you need it most, and is the definition of the Yiddish word mensch, a person of integrity. Simply put, Gary is special, so writing this piece is a privilege. It also presents a challenge, as there are not enough words to capture the goodness he embodies.

Gary Lesser

Conversations with the Council featuring Dr. Laurie George, President & CEO of United Way Palm Beach County

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; Together, we can do great things.” Working together to make an impact, it’s what Laurie George, the president, and CEO of the United Way of Palm Beach County, does each day, putting Mother Teresa’s meaningful words into action. With a strong focus and dedication, George and her team improve the lives of individuals and families throughout our county. “Our mission is to ensure that everyone in Palm Beach County has access to the basics: a quality education, a place

Laurie George

Conversations with the Council featuring Maziar Keshavarz, Owner of Keshavarz & Associates

Service to others, it’s at the core of who Maziar Keshavarz is, not for the expectation of reciprocity but because it’s who he is, culturally, as a self-described Eastern man whose family has served others in leadership roles in their native homeland of Iran for generations at great personal cost. Perhaps that’s what made our meeting so different from all the conversations I’ve had with his fellow Economic Council leaders.

Maziar Keshavarz

Conversations with the Council featuring Sergio Mariaca, President of Mariaca Wealth Management

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.” Nelson Mandela lived those words notwithstanding the obstacles he had to overcome. Despite 27 years of incarceration, he transformed his country, helping to abolish apartheid without bitterness or anger. Those characteristics resonate deeply with Sergio Mariaca, who admires Mandela’s belief in the power of people and a worthwhile cause.

Sergio Mariaca

Conversations with the Council featuring Eric Kelly, President of Quantum Foundation

“Be kind” are simple yet purposeful words Eric Kelly has instilled in his four children. A loving husband and father, he says, “Kindness is not what you do but who you are.”

Eric Kelly

Conversations with the Council featuring Pam Rauch, Vice President of External Affairs and Economic Development for Florida Power & Light Company

Energetic, it’s one of the many words to describe Pam Rauch, vice president of external affairs and economic development at Florida Power & Light Company. Her schedule is jam-packed, with commitments day and night, often zig-zagging across the state. But for Pam, those are her favorite days. “It inspires me to have the most diverse day possible.”

Pam Rauch
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