Greater Orlando Sports Commission Announces 2023-24 Officers and 30 New Board Members
Orlando, Fla. (January 4, 2024) – The Greater Orlando Sports Commission (GO Sports) has announced its 2023-24 officers as well as 30 incoming members to its Executive and Advisory Board of Directors, bringing the total to 119 board members. New incoming members will serve as the team that will help GO Sports continue to collaborate on innovative ideas, provide leadership, and expand its mission of bringing a robust calendar of sporting events to Central Florida. This team will provide vision, guidance and counsel when it comes to attracting and managing sports-related events, conferences and activities that are designed to drive positive economic developments and visitation to the greater Orlando area. They will also be focused on marketing the destination that extends across the City of Orlando and Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties.
“As chairman, it’s wonderful to see how successful this organization has been in continually attracting and recruiting some of the most diverse, talented and respected individuals in our community to serve on the board of directors,” said Sharon Line Clary, Chairman of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission Board and Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications for AdventHealth. “We look forward to the contributions of our new members and are excited to work alongside them for years to come.”
“We are proud to formally announce our 2023-24 officers and welcome all of the new members to our board of directors,” said Jason Siegel, President & CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission.
2023-24 Executive Committee Officers:
- Chairman: Sharon Line Clary is Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications at AdventHealth where she oversees marketing, communications, sports and entertainment partnerships and corporate sales for the nationally ranked non-profit health care system. Prior to joining AdventHealth, Sharon worked in sports marketing and operations for the Olympics, World Cup Soccer and collegiate sports.
- Chair-Elect: Caesar Lopez is the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Orlando City Soccer Club, Orlando Pride, and Exploria Stadium, overseeing all legal and business affairs, strategic projects, human resources, administration and external/government affairs. Prior to joining the team side in Orlando, Caesar spent time at Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing where he provided strategic counsel to multiple MLS Clubs, U.S. Soccer Federation and the Mexican Federation on all commercial deals and player transactions.
- Past Chair: Faron Kelley is the Vice President of Customer Service at Walt Disney World® Resort. Kelley joined the Walt Disney Company in 1990 as a production manager and producer for Walt Disney Entertainment and held several other positions before joining the sports team in 2008 as Marketing Director. Faron was promoted to VP of ESPN Wide World of Sports, runDisney and Disney Water Parks in 2016, and was promoted to his current role in 2023.
- General Counsel: Chris Carmody is a Shareholder at GrayRobinson, P.A. He earned his certification as a Designated Professional Lobbyist and is an attorney admitted to practice in all Florida state courts. Chris has substantial experience handling government relations matters, including representation before the Florida legislative and executive branches, purchasing and procurement appeals, and professional licensing.
- Dave Leutwyler is the Director of Ticket Sales for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he oversees the sales team responsible for selling season tickets and premium memberships along with group events. Dave joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011 as an Account Executive where he sold Season Pass Memberships for six seasons. He then moved into a management role overseeing the Sarasota and Orlando sales teams. Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Daveworked as a sales representative for the Cleveland Cavilers. Dave resides in Bradenton, Fl with his wife Lori and daughter Marielle.
- Jamie Barati is a Senior Vice President for JLL, specializing in occupant-driven office transactions. He joined JLL in December 2018 and brings with him 30-years of extensive experience in the Office & Medical Tenant Representation and Agency leasing practices, along with occupant-driven Office and Medical sales transactions. Born and raised in Orlando, Jamie began his commercial real estate career here in 1993 after graduating from Florida State University. Prior to JLL, he spent 19 years with Colliers International as a Managing Director/Principal in their Orlando office. Jamie is a past-president of multiple boards, including the Downtown Development Board, Downtown Orlando Partnership, Delaney Park Little League, and Boone High School Athletic Association.
- Robert “Robby” Barrows is a Senior Vice President at Centennial Bank, specializing in commercial lending but focusing on commercial real estate. Robby has worked at Centennial Bank for over 18 years, 13 of those years in the Winter Park market. Since moving to the area, Robby has funded over $1B in commercial real estate loans, helping grow the central Florida economy. Robby is a current board member of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and is a past graduate of its Leadership Program. He coaches volleyball teams at the Winter Park YMCA as well as his sons’ football team. Originally from Key West, Robby graduated from the University of Florida and settled in Baldwin Park in 2010.
- Sam Barrington currently serves as President of Sky Limit Crane & Rigging. A former NFL Linebacker, Barrington has pivoted from a notable career as a professional athlete to developing a business portfolio that is grabbing headlines. Barrington was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2014, where he made a major impact on and off the field. He was named the NFL Players Association Community MVP for his commitment to giving back to his community. He also played for the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints, and the Buffalo Bills. After a career-ending injury, Sam pivoted to business, and has amassed a growing portfolio that includes Sky Limit Crane & Rigging. He also recently joined the Board of Directors for the USF Foundation, his alma mater.
- Lisa Curran joined Duke Energy Florida as the Government and Community Relations Manager for Orange and Osceola counties. In her role, Curran works to foster relationships with county, community and civic organizations across the two counties. She came to Duke Energy with a wealth of utility experience after serving in multiple external-facing roles for the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) for the previous 13 years. Curran was chosen as one of the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 honorees in 2022 and is active in local causes, including serving as chair of Women United, a Heart of Florida United Way initiative focused on supporting empowerment for women, and is actively involved with the Downtown Orlando Partnership.
- Chris Demetriou proudly serves as District Vice President of Operations for the YMCA of Central Florida, being promoted from his most recent role as Executive Director of the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA and Association Sports. Born in Long Island, NY, Chris started his YMCA career as a Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer, quickly growing within the YMCA movement and holding several roles in sports, wellness, membership, and operations. He has received numerous awards, including the 2013 AYP/YPN James Naismith Award, 2015 YMCA of Greater Brandywine E.A.G.L.E. Award, and 2020 Horizon West Who’s Who. Growing up, Chris played college basketball at the Division III level and, to this day, credits his amazing mentors for preparing him for life after college.
- Ryan DeVos is Vice President of Shareholder Engagement for the Orlando Magic. DeVos’ responsibilities include taking a primary leadership role in ownership engagement, chairing a Third Generation Leadership Team, which will also partner with Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. In this role, he will continue to provide valuable business insights and explore how the third generation of the DeVos family will engage with the team long term. Prior to his new role, DeVos spent four seasons as director of Magic Gaming, overseeing all aspects of the Magic’s NBA 2K League team, and worked in Global Marketing Partnerships for the NBA. DeVos is also among the owners leading the Orlando Squeeze of Major League Pickleball, joining the league in 2023.
- Melanie DiVirgilio serves as Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Manager for the Metro Orlando market for Seacoast Bank, consulting with commercial businesses assisting with raising capital, streamlining cash flow, drafting business succession plans, managing risk, and leading two other commercial bankers on her team. Melanie began her financial career in 2010 when she was selected for BB&T’s Leadership Development Program. She was named as one of Orlando Business Journal’s Women to Watch in 2019 and serves on several boards and committees including Women United, Heart of Florida United Way, Orlando Economic Partnership’s All Women Empowered (AWE), and is President of ATHENA Orlando.
- Barbara Drahl currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Commercial Strategy for Brightline, the first privately funded passenger rail system in America in over a century. Barbara leads Brightline’s commercial, marketing, and brand efforts for its South Florida operations and for Brightline’s Orlando extension, a $2.7B project that spans 168-miles from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport. Barbara brings more than 20 years of hospitality and tourism marketing expertise to her role at Brightline, including roles as President & Founder of Drahl & Co. Marketing Solutions, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Seaworld, and Vice President of Marketing at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
- Katy Eld handles Medicare Regional Strategy & Product Performance for Florida Blue, where she is responsible for Florida Blue Medicare’s regional strategies and business performance for the Central and North regions of the state. An experienced veteran in Central Florida, Katy has spent more than three decades leading teams, improving business operations, and driving strategic initiatives. Shehas been active on various community boards and professional associations and currently serves as a Community Advisor Board member for United Against Poverty. Katy grew up in both Orlando and Titusville and received her bachelor’s degree from UCF.
- Andrew Finklestein is an Orlando-based partner with the international law firm Foley & Lardner and a member of the firm’s Transactions Practice Group. He has extensive experience successfully representing clients in a broad range of transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, leveraged buyouts, venture capital financings, joint ventures, and other direct investments. Andrew and his family are long-time residents of Orlando. He has played an active role in many Central Florida organizations, including several leadership roles with the Historical Society of Central Florida, culminating in his tenure as Chairman and serving on the Rollins College Hamilton Holt School Board.
- Katie Fitzpatrick is the Chief Financial Officer and SVP of Construction and Real Estate of TMRW Sports based in Orlando, FL. She has over 15 years of professional accounting experience and is currently responsible for all financial and accounting functions as well as leading the construction of the SoFi Center in Jupiter, FL. Other professional experiences include CFO of a commercial developer, leading the financials of projects such as Publix, Wawa, Buc-ees, and other large box stores. Katie is a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Central Florida and is also a member of Chief, an exclusive private membership of Senior Executive Women.
- William Giraldez was appointed General Manager at the Crowne Plaza Downtown Orlando hotel in August 2023 by Vista Hospitality Management. He started working for Vista at the Doubletree by Hilton Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton, July 2021. William’s career spans over 30 years as a leader in the Hospitality industry, having the opportunity to work for brands like Marriott, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy, IHG and top tier operators like Heritage Hotels and Resorts in New Mexico. Prior to moving into the hospitality industry, he spent time in the US Army.
- Anne-Marie Hayward currently serves as the Market President and Publisher for the Orlando Business Journal. Prior to joining the Business Journal in 2021 as the Director of Sales, she spent 23 years in the real estate industry in various sales leadership roles, most recently launching the Mark Spain Real Estate brand throughout Florida. Anne-Marie was the founder of Coached By Design, a firm specializing in customized training and coaching solutions for sales teams across multiple business sectors including Keller Williams, ReMax, United Way, American Medical Response and others. Anne-Marie has been a volunteer with United Way for the past 24 years and with Special Olympics since she was a child.
- Craig Leicester currently serves as Director of Service Sales for CES Mechanical. Leicester is a seasoned hospitality manager with 20+ years of experience in various sectors, most recently serving as the General Manager of the Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown. Recognized for demonstrating a natural aptitude for strategic planning and execution, he has a history of contributing directly to company growth and expansion throughout his career. Professional focal points include operational leadership, budget management, revenue forecasting, employee payroll, staff training and development, cross-functional team leadership, complex problem-solving, customer relationship management, and project management.
- George Manias, Founder, President & CEO of the emerging sports marketing agency, GemCo Sports & Entertainment, has been appointed to serve as President & Chief Operating Officer for Orlando’s new professional sports franchise, the Orlando Valkyries of the Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF). Manias oversees the entire operation of the Valkyries, in addition to growing and operating his sports marketing agency, GemCo Sports & Entertainment, a consulting, and management firm that assists professional sports teams to achieve their business goals. Manias has excelled in the business side of sports for over twenty-five years, including roles with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
- Benjamin McCarney is the General Manager for the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando. He is also a partner at Bridges & Bourbon, a molecular mixology bar in Pittsburgh, and a certified Sommelier. McCarney joined the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando in May 2023, the third Kessler property he has worked on, previously serving as Director of Food and Beverage at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston and General Manager of the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront. He also held senior leadership roles with the PGA TOUR, Concord Hospitality, and Gerber Group. Benjamin graduated from Michigan State University and serves on the board of directors for the Downtown Orlando Partnership, Orlando Economic Partnership, and Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association.
- Michael McManus has more than 35 years of commercial real estate development experience and extensive knowledge of retail, mixed-use and arena-based developments. A Principal with JMA Ventures since 2012, he is the firm’s local lead for the new Sports & Entertainment District project being developed in downtown Orlando adjacent to the Kia Center. Michael recently managed the development of arena-based Downtown Commons in Sacramento CA, home to the Sacramento Kings. Prior to that, he served as EVP of Development for Caruso Affiliated, successfully managing several highly complex and successful projects in the Los Angeles area, including The Grove and The Americana at Brand.
- Asia McMillan currently divides her time as the Marketing and Communication Manager for Quest, Inc. and her philanthropic work as Founder/President of BeyondFour Foundation Inc., where her mission is to empower, impact, and transform communities through sports and STEM programs. Asia’s previous roles include Marketing Director for the NFL Alumni Association Central Florida Chapter and Multimedia Manager for the Amateur Athletic Union. Earning her Bachelor of Science in Sports Marketing and Media from Full Sail University and Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University, she continuously supports the sports industry, exploring her passion for sports business, marketing, and philanthropy.
- Jamie Merrillserves as President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, leading the largest Boys & Girls Club organization in Florida, and one of the largest in the nation. Annually more than 12,000 youth are served within its 40 Clubs throughout 6 counties. The organization provides a safe and nurturing Club experience for children from underserved neighborhoods during the “non-school” hours, throughout the year. Prior to assuming this role, Jamie spent 17 years in the senior living and health care industries, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of Sonata Senior Living. Merrill has served on several local and national boards and was awarded the 2022 McKnight’s Woman of Distinction Award.
- Jonathan Perry is a shareholder and Co-Chair of the Real Estate practice group at Greenberg Traurig’s Orlando office. His practice includes the representation of real estate owners, developers, investment firms, institutional and private lenders, and business entrepreneurs in all phases of commercial real estate transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, development, and financing of retail, industrial, office and multifamily properties and hotels. His concentrations include transit-oriented and mixed-use developments, and portfolio acquisitions, dispositions and financing.
- Joshua Rabenovets is a team builder, collaborator and transformative marketing leader known for bridging brand vision, product innovation and disruptive commercial strategies with data and technology to accelerate consumer-centric growth, performance and shareholder value. As Vice President of Fan Engagement & Product Marketing at the National Football League, Josh pivoted the marketing group’s focus to growth audiences and one-to-one relationships that expanded reach, relevance and brand health leading to record fandom, engagement, and revenue. The business community recognized these achievements with countless awards led by Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year.
- Adam Scheinberg is the Vice President of Information Technology for Massey Services. Since 2003, he has overseen technology strategy for Massey Services, guiding the transition from a regional player to an enterprise organization with national presence. A graduate of James Madison University, Adam is a certified Project Management Professional. He has been recognized as Massey’s Corporate Team Member of the Year, one of the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, one of Orlando Family Magazine’s 2020 Supermen, and, most recently was named “One to Watch” in Orlando Business Journal’s 50 Most Powerful in Orlando. Adam serves as Past Chair for Orlando Family Stage was the inaugural Chair of the Orlando Tech Council.
- Carey Sobel is an experienced entrepreneur whose success is built on the foundations of marketing prowess, creative problem solving, and business development. He serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for his award-winning creative company, 321 the Agency, a data and technology powerhouse that has offices in Orlando and Atlanta. He also owns a business brokerage firm, Boss Group international, helping people buy and sell businesses in the main street and lower-to-middle, as well as serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for a private equity firm, COASTAL- specializing in syndicated real estate and venture capital investment opportunities. Sobel has been recognized by UCF’s 30 Under 30 and Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards.
- Rich Tate has nearly 30 years of marketing and sales experience within the audiovisual industry. As Vice President of Live Events for LMG, Rich provides leadership, direction, and strategy for the LMG sales and support teams, ensuring flawless execution and client satisfaction. He discovered his passion for problem solving at a young age, taking his toys apart and trying to put them back together. As a sales and marketing professional, the toys are now different, but he still takes them apart, studies them and innovates to make them better. He believes in design and innovation as tools to improve any process and is proud to be a leader in LMG as they work to grow the company and build and maintain long-lasting relationships with trusted clients.
- BJ Taylor is considered not only one of the greatest UCF Athletes of all-time, but one of the most accomplished athletes in Orlando sports history. He is a graduate of downtown Orlando’s Boone High School where he was the Florida 8A Player of the Year and Orange County Player of the Year, among other accolades, before choosing to continue his career at UCF where he was the leader of UCF’s most successful men’s basketball team resulting in the school’s first NCAA Tournament victory. BJ graduated from UCF in 2019 before going onto have short stints in the NBA with the Orlando Magic and LA Clippers. BJ now appears on ESPN Networks and CBS Sports during college basketball season as one of the youngest national analysts in the country.
- Malik Thomas is a Director of Corporate Partnerships at Playfly Premier Partnerships, a division of Playfly Sports. Malik works in the collegiate athletics naming rights consultation vertical, working with collegiate athletic directors and their staffs to ensure that brands that adorn their facilities fit within the mission and culture of their college and university athletics programs. Prior to joining Playfly Premier Partnerships, Malik served as an Assistant Athletic Director for Corporate Partnerships at UCF Athletics, where he led the sale of FBC Stadium naming rights and executed more than twenty-million dollars of contracted corporate partnership agreements during his six and a half years in the athletics department.
- Maria Triscari is the President and CEO of the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce which represents 135 hotels, hundreds of restaurants, retail outlets, attractions, and major theme parks including SeaWorld and Universal Orlando, and the world class Orange County Convention Center. Maria has led the Chamber since its inception, over 30 years, making her one of the longest running heads of any organization in Central Florida. Maria has worked closely with government and elected officials on projects to enhance the I-Drive Resort Area and the tourism industry. Her influence has resulted in many accomplishments including area enhancements and new ordinances to ensure a family friendly resort destination.
- Frank Vertolli is Co-founder and Managing Partner of Net Conversion, a leading paid media and data analytics services agency founded in Orlando in 2007 who’s partnerships include a notable list of world-class brands, many in sports, travel & tourism, healthcare, and beyond. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Before founding Net Conversion, Frank spent over a decade with Universal Parks & Resorts in a variety of progressive marketing and analytical roles spanning Florida, California, and Osaka, Japan. Frank is Chair of the Brand & Cause Stewardship Committee for the YMCA of Central Florida and Vice President of the City District Main Street board.
- Amy Wise is the Vice President of Marketing at Special Olympics International (SOI). In her role, she works with seven global regions to raise awareness and improve the lives of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities. In addition to leading the marketing department, Wise is charged with managing the nonprofit’s largest fundraising group, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. With more than 25 years of experience in sports, Wise has held development and leadership roles in the AAF, NHL, AHL and collegiate athletics. She was recognized by GO Sports in 2021 with the SPORTYS award for Best in Corporate Partnerships and again in 2022 with the Women in Sports Leadership Award.
ABOUT THE GREATER ORLANDO SPORTS COMMISSION
The Greater Orlando Sports Commission (GO Sports) is a private, non-profit organization established to attract and manage sports-related events, conferences and activities that drive positive economic development in the City of Orlando, Lake County, Orange County, Osceola County, and Seminole County. Founded in 1992-93, the organization has hosted or co-hosted more than 1,660 events in the Greater Orlando area with a total economic impact exceeding $3.3 billion in spending within the community. For more information, visit GreaterOrlandoSports.com.