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Julie Imanuel Brown anticipated historic and widespread power losses across Florida after Hurricanes Fiona and Ian arrived in September.
Game On: Julie Imanuel Brown
‘My passion is creating healthy regulatory environments and protecting the public,' Julie Imanuel Brown says.
JULIE IMANUEL BROWN
Inaugural Chair, Florida Gaming Control Commission, Tampa
As Hurricanes Fiona and Ian closed in on Puerto Rico and Southwest Florida in September, Julie Imanuel Brown of Tampa knew better than most what the storms could do to power supplies.
An attorney who served for 10 years on Florida’s Public Service Commission and a brief stint in 2021 as secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Brown anticipated historic and widespread power losses across Florida; the hurricane eventually knocked out power to 2.7 million Floridians. But the state’s utilities fared better than expected, Brown says, in part because of hardening projects she helped promote during her tenure on the PSC, such as burying transmission lines and replacing wooden power poles with stronger metal ones.
“Storm hardening was really my focus,” says Brown, 47, who chaired the PSC from 2016-18 and left the commission in February 2021 to lead DBPR, which formerly regulated gambling. In January, she was named inaugural chair of the Florida Gaming Control Commission and remains a commissioner.
In her current role, the Fort Myers native is leading the state’s effort to expand gambling in Florida. The state’s plans to legalize sports betting and expand casinos are stalled in legal battles involving federal law and Florida’s anti-gambling constitutional amendment. But existing pari-mutuels and casino games continue, now under the auspices of the Gaming Control Commission, the first state agency with law enforcement authority over their activities. “Florida will be a leader once sports betting is legalized in the state,” Brown predicts.
Brown’s professional trajectory has been steady since she attended the University of Florida, where she studied journalism and communications and graduated from law school. She went on to work as an assistant city attorney in Tampa and honed her insights into the challenges of utilities and power companies through service on the legislative Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water and Wastewater Utility Systems and the Southern States Energy Board Blue Ribbon Task Force, as well as serving as a director on national utility boards.