These business people were exceptionally notable during the past year.
Mark Mills (left) & John Mc Reynolds [Photo: Betsy Hansen]
Mark Mills and John McReynolds, two former aides to U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, aren't just waiting for Florida's next generation of political leaders to appear — they're actively recruiting and training them through "political leadership institutes" they've established around the state ["Training Camp"]. In 2007, the duo teamed up with the Orlando-area business community to launch their first program, the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute. Over the past two years, their non-profit Political Leadership Innovation Institute has launched public leadership training development programs in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Gainesville that build "farm teams" of professionals with business-related backgrounds and prepare them for the rigors of campaigning and elected office. The institute briefs participants on everything from public budgeting and economic development to strategies for balancing public and personal life. The non-partisan program is also highly selective, with only about 25 applicants permitted per year. Graduate Alvin Brown, Jacksonville's mayor, says the institute taught him about building coalitions and how to communicate his vision for the city — and also serves higher purpose. "Getting people to get engaged in public service is a noble thing," Brown says. "It is a good thing."
— Amy Keller