Celebrating the Pinnacle
Welcome to the second Apogee Awards, a tribute to the success of 24 C-level executives throughout South Florida.
Success in business these days is all about teamwork, which is why SFBW includes the entire C-suite team in the Apogee Awards, including chairman, chief executive officer and president, but also embracing chief operating officers, chief financial officers, chief information officers, chief marketing officers and top HR executives. The awards reflect talent throughout South Florida with one honoree per category from each of our three counties.
One of the things I like about the Apogee Awards is that it gives widespread public recognition to positions that often play key behind-the-scenes roles in the success of a business. Chief operating officers and chief information officers, for example, can be incredible drivers in the success of a business, but often are not highly visible public faces.
I am personally thrilled with the quality of this year’s honorees. We spent considerable effort seeking nominations, conducting outreach to the business community and doing research via LinkedIn and the websites of key businesses and professional organizations. The honoree profiles in this section show we have an abundance of world-class talent that has been recognized by national associations and the media.
As I write this column, we are just days away from the awards program, taking place on Oct. 21 at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. I’m looking forward to a great networking opportunity and a lively, festive event – that’s the way we roll at SFBW. Look for photos from the event at SFBWmag.com and in our December issue.
All of this would not be possible without our sponsors. Special thanks goes to presenting sponsor Mitch Kramer and his Octagon Family of Recruiting Companies (including its divisions Octagon Technology Staffing and Octagon Professional Recruiting).
We would also like to thank our other sponsors: Quantified IT, Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law, BankUnited, Comcast Business and NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
South Florida Business & Wealth
Top Business Event
As CEO of the Octagon Family of Recruiting Companies, I am honored to be the presenting sponsor of the second-annual Apogee Awards, brought to you in partnership with Lifestyle Media Group and South Florida Business & Wealth.
An Octagon has eight sides and the Apogee Awards is honoring eight outstanding individuals from each of the tri-counties. What makes this event so special? Most of the events that I have attended over the years have recognized just one category of honoree. When SFBW’s Chairman and CEO Gary Press and I sat down to discuss what corporate America is really about today, we felt that an event recognizing all the C-suite executives would be a powerful statement of how closely each department works together. It is critical for finance, information technology, human resources, operations and marketing, along with the offices of the president, CEO, COO and chairman, to work hand-in-hand to ensure their companies function effectively with the highest level of success.
The match between Lifestyle Media Group and the Octagon Family of Recruiting Companies (including its divisions Octagon Professional Recruiting and Octagon Technology Staffing) couldn’t be a more perfect fit. SFBW is an entrepreneurial magazine targeting the South Florida business community with a circulation unmatched by its competitors. Octagon is an entrepreneurial, explosively growing professional recruiting firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade and Boca Raton. SFBW shares cutting-edge information on all types of interesting people and companies in the community. Octagon connects the top talent in the marketplace with those same companies, specializing in the areas of accounting/finance, technology, human resources and general search.
On behalf of the entire Octagon family, I am both proud and humbled to have sponsored this year’s event and to have had the opportunity to meet such a remarkable group of honorees. I would like to personally congratulate each and every honoree for being selected as a recipient of this prestigious award. 2015 marks the second of many years of partnership with SFBW, and I want to thank the SFBW team for making this a wonderful experience for us!
Mitch Kramer, CEO
Chief Executive Officer
Frank V. Sacco
Memorial Healthcare System
Since July 1987, Frank V. Sacco has enacted dynamic change as president and CEO of the South Broward Hospital District, known to the public as Memorial Healthcare System. It is one of the largest public health care systems in the U.S., with six hospitals, a nursing home, a home health agency, primary and urgent care centers, 11,000 employees and 1,700 physicians.
Sacco began his career at Memorial in 1974 and became COO in 1985. He chaired the Governor’s Medicaid Reform Task Force in 1996 and served on the Governor’s Task Force on Health Care Reform and at the 1992 Florida Health Care Summit. He also served on Governor Jeb Bush’s transition policy team in 1998 and 2002.
In 2006, Sacco was honored with the Silver Medallion Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice. He has also been inducted into the Miami-Dade College Alumni Hall of Fame.
Tere Blanca is the founder, president and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, the leading Miami-based commercial property real estate advisory services and brokerage firm. Blanca has more than 25 years of experience in the South Florida real estate sector. Prior to launching her own firm, she served as senior managing director for Cushman & Wakefield of Florida and as senior vice president at Codina Realty Services.
Blanca is chairwoman of City Year Miami, a director of BankUnited and a past chairwoman of The Beacon Council. She was named on Real Estate Forum“s 2013 Women of Influence: Legends list and 2010’s Women of Influence list; as one of 2013’s Top 25 Women in Real Estate by Commercial Property Executive; as one of 2010’s Top Dealmakers of the Year by Daily Business Review; and as one of 2007’s Ultimate CEOs by South Florida Business Journal.
Kaufman Lynn Construction
Michael Kaufman is president and CEO of Kaufman Lynn Construction, a commercial construction management and general contracting firm he founded in 1989. Since that time, the company has grown into one of South Florida’s largest construction firms. It was selected as one of South Florida’s Top Workplaces for 2015 by the Sun-Sentinel.
Kaufman serves on the dean’s advisory board for the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University and on the boards of the FAU Foundation and the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the United Way Tocqueville Society. He supports the Florence Fuller Child Development Center and the George Snow Scholarship Fund. He graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in building construction.
J. David Armstrong Jr.
J. David Armstrong Jr. brings more than 25 years of experience as a state and national leader in higher education and economic development to his presidency at Broward College. He leads one of the largest and most diverse colleges in America, enrolling nearly 70,000 students from more than 150 different nations of origin.
Under his leadership, the college has transitioned from being a traditional community college to offering baccalaureate programs in targeted workforce areas. The college has been ranked among the top 10 community colleges in the nation, after having been named among the top 10 percent of community colleges for the past two years by the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute.
Previously, Armstrong was the chancellor of the Florida Community College System and chairman of Leadership Florida and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.
Michael D. Katz
Michael D. Katz is a founding member of Katz Barron, a full-service law firm with offices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Katz began his practice in 1970 in Miami and Boca Raton. He was general counsel to Leonard L. Farber Company, a major developer of regional shopping centers.
Katz currently represents major commercial, retail and multifamily developers, lending institutions and general contractors. His areas of practice include commercial litigation, real estate acquisition, financing, development, leasing and litigation involving real estate, construction and business organization. He has experience in generational wealth transfer, administration of estates and trusts and business succession planning. He is counsel to the Ocean Reef Club and the Fisher Island Club.
Katz is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, has been included in Florida’s Super Lawyers annual list since 2006 and has been listed as a Best Lawyer in America since 2009.
Boca Raton Resort & Club
Richard Hayduk is more than a steward of the iconic Boca Raton Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, he is ensuring the resort reflects the energy and vibrancy of Boca Raton. He has overseen the completion of a
$30 million renovation and the addition of a FlowRider and surf lessons to help broaden the resort’s family appeal.
Hayduk has more than 25 years of experience in international luxury resort, hotel and country club management. He was previously regional managing director for LXR Luxury Resorts in the Sanibel area, vice president for the Cliffs communities in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, and general manager of Grand Caribbean Resorts Ltd. in Great Exuma, Bahamas. He also spent 16 years at The Breakers Palm Beach and has international experience at Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Grand Hotel Continental in Munich, Germany.
Mike Jackson is one of the most influential and effective leaders in the automotive industry. As chairman, CEO and president of AutoNation (NYSE: AN), Jackson has modernized the automotive retail business with contemporary operational practices and customer service. In 2014, AutoNation sold more than 500,000 vehicles, yielding more than $19 billion in revenue. It currently has more than 25,000 associates and 293 new vehicle franchises.
AutoNation has been named America’s Most Admired Automotive Retailer by Fortune five times. In 2009, Automotive News named Jackson on its list of the 50 Visionary Dealers of all time, while in 2011, Fortune named him on its list of Top 50 Global Business Leaders.
Previously, Jackson served as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, overseeing the German automaker’s U.S. sales operation and 311 franchised dealerships. He is a special contributor to the CNBC, Fox and Bloomberg business news networks.
Antonio L. Argiz
Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra LLC (MBAF)
Since 1997, chairman and CEO Antonio L. Argiz of Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra LLC (MBAF) has led the growth of his firm to become one of the top 40 accounting firms in the nation and the largest in Florida. MBAF is a 19-time honoree on INSIDE Public Accounting“s annual list of the nation’s 50 best-managed accounting firms.
Argiz has in-depth knowledge and experience in practices involving audits, business planning, economic damages, fraud examinations, valuations and litigation. He is a nationally recognized practitioner in litigation consulting services. He has served on the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Nominations Committee and on the governing body of the AICPA. In 1986, Argiz was appointed to Florida’s Board of Accountancy and was then elected to chair the board and its probable cause panel.
George LeMieux has a long history of public service as Florida’s 34th senator in the 111th United States Congress. He served on the committees of Commerce, Science and Transportation, Armed Services and the Special Committee on Aging. He helped passed legislations on health care fraud, export promotion, rating agency reform and small business promotion.
As Florida’s deputy attorney general, LeMieux oversaw more than 400 attorneys and appeared before the Supreme Court. He was chief of staff to Florida’s governor, overseeing all state agencies and operations.
In addition to being chairman of one of the state’s most prominent law firms, LeMieux focuses on resolving business and governmental disputes and advising CEOs and C-level executives on business, law and politics from both a state and national perspective.
Chief Operating Officer
Jessica Pavlik has over 15 years of experience in the management of law firms. As a results-oriented problem solver, she plays an integral role on Berger Singerman’s senior management and strategic planning team. She is ultimately responsible for all of the financial stability and productivity of the law firm.
The number of lawyers at Berger Singerman has more than doubled in Pavlik’s tenure, and she has been a big resource in the financial and operational planning of lawyer talent acquisition. Due to Pavlik’s skills and the innovative management style of the firm’s co-CEOs, Berger Singerman’s net profit has increased annually.
Pavlik received her bachelor’s in accounting from Florida State University. She is very involved in the community with her participation on charity boards such as A Child Is Missing and in local fundraising events for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
As COO and executive director of eMerge Americas, a multiday conference in Miami Beach that looks at how technology and innovation are disrupting industries, Xavier Gonzalez has put the exclamation point on the emerging technology scene in South Florida. In its second year, eMerge Americas attracted 10,000 attendees from 50 countries, 500 companies and 125 startups; it had 200 speakers, including top international names in business.
The conference plays a key role in further establishing Miami as the innovation hub of the Americas, engaging local educational institutions, international entrepreneurs and sources of capital to help fuel ventures.
Gonzalez was previously vice president of corporate communications and director of corporate communications at Miami’s Terremark, which was purchased for $2 billion by Verizon Communications in 2011. He was also director of marketing and communications for The Beacon Council.
Mark Smith is COO of 3Cinter-active, which he co-founded in 2007 and has since grown to over 150 employees. In 2013, Forbes profiled 3C with the headline “America’s Most Promising Company.”
3C empowers many of the world’s leading brands and retailers with mobile marketing services that increase customer loyalty, brand awareness and results. Services include SMS and MMS messaging, mobile coupons, mobile wallet and mobile Web location-based services.
Smith had 16 years of sales leadership positions at MCI before joining the startup Internet Billing Company, one of the first Internet-based payment processors. As executive vice president of sales and operations, he was instrumental in growing the company to more than 400 employees, who processed over a half-billion dollars in payments each year.
Smith is co-chair of the South Florida Technology Alliance’s talent committee, which focuses on workforce and economic development.
Chief Marketing Office
Magic Leap Inc.
Brian Wallace brings years of experience at leading technology companies as chief marketing officer of Magic Leap Inc., which has been backed with a $542 million investment from Google and has a highly anticipated Cinematic Reality human computing interface.
Wallace was previously vice president of global digital marketing and media at BlackBerry when it was ranked by Forbes as the world’s fastest-growing company. In 2011, he became vice president of strategic marketing at Samsung, and the company’s overall Android market share increased by 300 percent. In 2013, Google named Wallace vice president of brand and product marketing at its newly acquired Motorola Mobility division.
In 2012, Wallace was named to Business Insider“s list of 17 People Who Redefined Advertising and to iMedia 25’s Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators list. He was also named to the Advertising Age Marketer A-List in 2011.
Maylynn Vargas-Menoud has more than 16 years of experience in the South Florida legal market, focusing her efforts in marketing, public relations, practice and business development and legal recruiting. Throughout her professional career, she has worked for a multitude of national and regional law firms, including Greenspoon Marder Law, Greenberg Traurig, Hunton & Williams, Stearns Weaver Miller and GrayRobinson.
As the practice development and marketing director for Roig Lawyers, Vargas-Menoud has led the development of the firm’s rebranding initiative, including its website redesign and internal and external communications for brand positioning consistency. Her primary focus has been in promoting and executing practice groups” marketing and media plans, which drive and support the firm’s overall growth and long-term vision. She has built a strong and dynamic infrastructure to accomplish many of the firm’s objectives.
Eric Lebersfeld is on the leadership team at Capitol Lighting, a 91-year-old lighting and home furnishings retail chain founded by his great-grandparents.
During Lebersfeld’s 28-year tenure at Capitol, he has held numerous positions, from cashier to manager to buyer to vice president of marketing to, now, president and chief marketing officer.
Lebersfeld has been instrumental in building an omni-channel retail business with 300 brands and more than 1 million products. The company interacts with 12,000 designers who are served by 170 lighting professionals.
Capitol has illuminated more than a million homes and offices and thousands of iconic commercial businesses. It is opening new showrooms in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Along with serving on the board of Habitat for Humanity, Lebersfeld is co-chairman for the business and professionals division of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
Chief Financial Officer
Steve Wilder has played a key role in the growth of City Furniture for the last 34 years. He started his career as a CPA, and his financial acumen has helped City Furniture become a top-30 retailer on Furniture Today“s list.
Wilder says he was fortunate to join his favorite client, Waterbed City, the predecessor to City Furniture, in 1981. Waterbed City, led by Keith Koenig and his late brother, Kevin, represented the true essence of entrepreneurial spirit, which Wilder says allowed him and many others to have the opportunity to learn, grow and have a rewarding career.
In 1994, the company rebranded to City Furniture, achieving 800 percent growth from 1994 to 2006. This helped the company withstand the Great Recession, which saw numerous furniture retailers go out of business.
City National Bank
Daniel Kushner has been executive vice president and chief financial officer of City National Bank for eight years. In 2008, he was instrumental in the largest bank transaction of the year – the sale of City National Bank to Caja Madrid, the fourth-largest bank in Spain. Recently, he played a key role in the marketing and sale of the bank to Banco de Cr’dito e Inversiones (Bci) of Chile.
Kushner implemented a change management division at the bank that has been successful at evaluating, improving and controlling changes in systems, technology and processes. He oversees the bank’s portfolio of more than $1.5 billion. He is also chairman of the Asset Liability Committee and a member of numerous other committees.
Kushner assumed the CFO position after nearly 30 years as a CPA with Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Company, P.A. He became a Chartered Global Management Accountant in 2010.
Joanne I. Aquilina
Bethesda Health Inc.
Joanne I. Aquilina is a CPA and vice president of finance/chief financial officer of Bethesda Health Inc., which operates two not-for-profit hospitals in Boynton Beach. Aquilina is responsible for the financial operations of the system and is a member of its executive council. She started with the company in 1996, working her way from assistant controller to controller to assistant vice president of finance to her current position.
Aquilina has over 10 years of public accounting experience working for a regional-certified public accounting firm with an office in Boca Raton. She is a fellow and Certified Healthcare Financial Professional for the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).
Aquilina served for eight years on the board of HFMA’s Florida chapter and was chapter president from 2011-2012. HFMA awarded its highest chapter honor – the Robert M. Shelton Award – to the Florida chapter in 2013 to recognize five continuous years of excellence in chapter leadership.
Chief Information Officer
Tom West is Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) chief information officer and vice president for information technologies. He arrived at NSU in March 2011 to advance strategic goals with increased investments in academia technologies.
West was previously chief technology officer of Health Choice Network in Miami and chief information officer at Kaplan Higher Education, where he built an IT support team of more than 450 employees in less than five years. He also served as senior vice president of global information technology and engineering for Pfizer pharmaceutical, as vice president of global information technology for Citigroup Latin America and as senior director of IT for General Electric corporate in Asia Pacific and Latin America.
In 2014, West was named one of America’s Top 100 Global CIOs by IDG Enterprise. He is on the board of Florida LambdaRail, a research and education network.
Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium
Tery Howard is in her 17th season as senior vice president and chief technology officer for the Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium. She directs technology initiatives and the strategic direction of business operations to drive consumer and fan engagement.
The Miami Dolphins was recognized by InfoWorld as a top 100 company in using technology to enhance business, by PC Magazine as a top 10 company using technology in intelligent ways to improve business and by Computerworld as a leader in best practices in mobile and wireless.
In 2011, SportsBusiness Journal named Howard an industry game changer. She is a recipient of the Glass Ceiling Award from the Florida Diversity Council.
Howard is an advisor to eMerge Americas and on the dean’s advisory council at St. Thomas University. She spent 16 years with Carnival Cruise Lines managing shipboard technologies.
Lakshman Charanjiva is vice president and chief information officer for NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE), the parent of Florida Power & Light. He joined NextEra in December 2008 and is on its operating committee.
A chartered accountant with an MBA from Tulane University, Charanjiva was previously vice president and global chief information officer for the AES Corporation. He served as co-chair for the Edison Electric Institute’s CIO committee and on the advisory boards of the Palm Beach County School District, the Tulane Energy Institute, Cisco and SAP.
Charanjiva received a Top 10 Breakaway Leaders Award at the Global CIO Summit in 2011 and was one of ExecRank’s 150 Most Distinguished CIOs in 2012. He was also named to Computerworld“s Premier 100 IT Leaders list in 2013. In 2012 and 2013, NextEra was named to Computerworld“s list of 100 Best Places to Work in IT.
Senior Human Resources Executive
For over 20 years, Tracy Wiggan has focused her career in the financial services industry. She joined Federated National (formerly 21st Century Holding Co.) in 2005 and was promoted to director of human resources in 2008, where she continues to oversee the growth and development of the company with responsibilities for compliance, training and development, payroll/compensation and benefits. She recently took over the operations of facilities management in addition to her HR responsibilities.
Federated National, which began in 1992, offers homeowners insurance, condo insurance, flood insurance, umbrella liability insurance and general liability insurance. It has a financial stability rating of “A” (exceptional) from Demotech.
Wiggan believes in education and volunteers her time at a local high school where she speaks to junior and senior classes about the expectations of entering the workforce.
Baptist Health South Florida
Adriene McCoy has more than 20 years of experience in health care human resources management. She leads Baptist Health South Florida’s HR function, which includes talent management, talent acquisition, benefits, compensation, leadership development, employee learning, HR operations and employee communications.
McCoy’s background includes leadership roles in both for-profit and nonprofit health care environments, including large hospital systems and acute and long-term care facilities. Since joining Baptist Health eight years ago, her mission has been to transform the HR team to make it more responsive to the needs of employees and the business. During her tenure, Baptist Health has increased its employee population by almost 5,000.
McCoy is on the advisory board for FIU’s Center for Leadership and on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami. She is the 2015 winner of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Executive Leadership Excellence Award.
Jo Carol Rutherford
Jo Carol Rutherford has been the senior vice president and chief human resources officer of SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC) since January 2014. She joined the company in July 2001 as vice president of human resources and has been instrumental in overseeing critical functions that drive culture, organizational growth and change management to support SBA’s corporate strategy on a global basis.
Prior to joining SBA, Rutherford spent nine years with Invacare Corporation, an ISO-certified manufacturer of home health care products. From 1998 until 2001, she was corporate director of human resources for Dixon Ticonderoga, where she managed all human resource functions, including collective bargaining, plant consolidations and organization restructuring.
Rutherford has a Bachelor of Arts in organizational psychology and an MBA and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources.