November 22, 2014

Rod Petrey - Floridian of the Year

Under Rod Petrey, the Collins Center for Public Policy has never been a traditional think tank. In 2010, Petrey took the center to new heights while leaving its mark on two of the year's thorniest issues.

Mike Vogel | 1/1/2011

Rod Petrey
[Photo: Brian Smith]
Both Florida Trend's Floridian of the Year, Rod Petrey, and the organization he heads, the Collins Center for Public Policy, are obscure names for most Floridians. He has run the think tank since 1992, after former Gov. LeRoy Collins, for whom the center is named, called to plead with him to head it. Collins, terminally ill at the time, told Petrey, "You're my friend. You've got to do something to make this work."

Over the years, Petrey has defined the center's mission as becoming a "think tank with muddy boots." In addition to producing data and reports, it organizes and actively manages programs dealing with issues that the state can't or won't address in a timely way.

During his tenure, Petrey and the center have taken on — usually quietly — long-running Florida issues like sustainability, health and criminal justice. Until two years ago, the center funded its work on

$3 million to $4 million a year Petrey raised from foundations and other donors.

What makes Petrey our Floridian of the Year in 2010 is his and the center's muddy boots on two of the year's most difficult issues for Florida: Oil drilling and the wave of foreclosures that has inundated Florida's courts.

In both arenas, Petrey steered courses that served the state, its citizens and businesses well. In a highly politicized year, he took a practical, even-keel approach that kept the center focused on service and out of politics. In the process, he produced a breakout financial year for his organization that should serve it — and Florida — well in the years to come.

Story continues on next page

Business
Mark Wilson
Wilbur Ross Jr.
Lola Gonzalez
John Textor
Robert Clements
Thomas Gaffney
Hugh Green
R.J. Scaringe
Foreclosure Fighters
Julian MacQueen

Politics
Mel Martinez & The Dominoes

Military
Florida's Fallen Soldiers

Education
Frank Brogan
Maryellen Elia

Science/Innovation
Win Phillips & David Day
Ian MacDonald & William Hogarth

Environment
Extreme Temperatures

CRITTERS
Mystery Monkey

Sports
Tampa Bay Rays' Top Brass
Pat Riley

Volunteer/Non-Profit
Barth Green

Arts/Entertainment
New World Symphony
Pitbull
Pamela Tuscany

Dubious Achievers
Scott Rothstein
David Brooks

Jim Greer
Wayne McLeod
Lewis Freeman
Pawl Hawks
Lee Farkas

Tags: Trendsetters

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

More people to hit the road this Thanksgiving
More people to hit the road this Thanksgiving

The good news for Thanksgiving travelers: the price of gas is at five-year lows. The bad news: a lot more people will be on the road. 

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Did President Obama overstep his executive authority by enacting immigration reform?

  • Yes. He should have gone through Congress.
  • Unsure
  • No, other presidents have taken similar action, and something had to be done.

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe