Florida's young professionals are making their presence felt in government, non-profits and business.
MIKE BROWN, 30, Orlando
JOB: Founder and president of Hoop
Connection, a business designed to help high school basketball players connect with coaches at NCAA Division II, Division III, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools and junior colleges
Growing up in Vermont, Mike Brown loved basketball but didn’t get a lot of exposure to college coaches. He wasn’t much of a student in high school and says that but for basketball, he would never have gone to college, where he found himself and became a good student.
HIS GOAL with the business is to help other young athletes who don’t have the skills for NCAA Division I schools find a way to use basketball to pursue higher education. Hoop Connection offers an array of services ranging from free biographical online listings to access to a database of 3,000 college basketball programs ($39.99) to a $1,000 package that includes a one-on-one interview, player evaluation and college recommendations as well as a personal profile and DVD sent to coaches.
ON THE COURT: Brown played point guard in college and shooting guard in high school.
FERNANDO U. DIEZ, 25, Miami
JOB: Vice president of operations, Marin and Sons, a governmental consulting firm
AFTER COLLEGE, Fernando Diez worked at an advertising firm, where he assisted with a Miami Beach political campaign. “I got bit by the bug,” says Diez. He began working part time at the Marin and Sons phone bank and quickly was hired as a full-time associate. At age 24, he was promoted to vice president of operations. Diez handles campaign strategy, direct mail, media production, media buying and phone bank operations, supervising 20 to 30 people. Marin and Sons designs federal, state and local campaigns for voters who speak English, Spanish, Creole and Hebrew. Diez managed or participated in campaigns for U.S. congressional races and state, county and city races.
COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Boys and Girls Club; Teach for America; and Camillus House, which provides food, shelter and services for the homeless
[Photo: Mark Wemple]
SEAN PATRICK HOPWOOD, 29, Tampa
JOB: Founder and president, Day Translations
TWO YEARS AGO, Sean Hopwood founded Day Translations, a service that offers document translations in almost 100 languages and dialects as well as interpreters in many languages. Although the business’s bread and butter is legal translations, Hopwood’s business has worked with Deutsche Bank, Coventry Health Care and Bombardier Aerospace, among others. He says the company does 50 to 60 translations a day, working with contract translators around the world. Hopwood says he works 80 to 90 hours a week. “It just keeps growing every week.
We haven’t had any decrease in business.
It’s something that people need.”
LANGUAGES: Learned Spanish as a child by listening to comedy tapes and talking with friends from Mexico. Also speaks French and Arabic and is learning Hebrew and German. Lived in Fez, Morocco.