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th annual edition by Rick Outzen / photos by Samantha Crooke

T

he Independent News has been committed to developing a nurturing environment for the young adults in our community since its inception in July 1999. When community leaders started in 2005 to recognize that the 25-44 age group was leaving this area, the IN began an open dialogue with our readers, listening to their dreams, challenges and concerns. We published issues on being a Pensacola 20-something (Independent News, “SWF: Single White Female,” April 7, 2005) and those who left Pensacola for greener pastures (Independent News, “Exiles,” May 11, 2006). From the feedback from those issues and reader forums, we recognized the need for a group to harness the political power of this demographic group and facilitated with the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce the formation of the Pensacola Young Professionals a year later. We also worked to identify emerging leaders in the AfricanAmerican community, such as Juanita Scott, Lumon May, Raymond Palmer and Rev. Lutimothy May, and to support their efforts to improve the urban core. In 2008, our newspaper began our Rising Stars program to honor the leaders in the under-35 crowd. Independent News has published each January a list of Rising Stars, individuals who work or live in

Escambia and Santa Rosa counties who are seen as the upcoming leaders in their professions and in the community. Each year, the number of nominees of talented men and women under the age of 35 grows, and our panel has a difficult time culling the list down to the top third. This year’s list may be our most diverse. The 2011 Rising Stars include attorneys, educators, small business owners, pastors, chefs, engineers and emerging leaders from nearly every profession. Many were born and raised in the Pensacola area and have come back home to build their careers and to raise their families. We asked all of this year’s Rising Stars what they would like to see in the greater Pensacola area in the next five years. For the fourth consecutive year, the completion of the Maritime Park was the top answer for many of them. “Some of my favorite things include travel, dining out, baseball and music, so I would like to see the completion of the Community Maritime Park, including a successful baseball team and more waterfront restaurants,” said Laura Behr, Practice Operations Improvement Manager at Sacred Heart Health System. “Pensacola desperately needs new business development to spur the local economy,” said Matthew M. Villmer, associate attorney with Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon. “Construction of the Maritime Park is the first step in jump-starting this process.” The young vote was critical to the passage of the 2006 Referendum for the Community Maritime Park, the new city charter and the recent election of Pensacola’s first strong mayor, Ashton Hayward. These Rising Stars expect things to change. “There is always plenty of blame and credit to go around for the problems in a community,” said attorney Autumn Beck of Kerrigan, Estess, Rankin, McLeod & Thompson law firm. “Ultimately, leaders have to step up and be willing to share a little of both. There have been many changes in leadership this year in Pensacola. As new leaders take the helm, I would like to see a level of intellectual honesty descend upon all of them. It does not matter if it is the old guard or the new; plans and ideas need to be evaluated and implemented based exclusively on the merit of the idea, not the source from which it came.”

There is also an expectation that we can be better. “We, as young adults of Pensacola, realize that we could have the best of both worlds if we could build our city to become a place of entertainment,” said Katie Rozier, owner of Indigeaux Denim Bar & Boutique. “We want to be able to graduate from college and be able to come back to Pensacola to find a great job, to be able to enjoy the night life, and then during the weekend to be less than 30 minutes away from a beautiful beach that most cities don’t have.” “I would like to see the majority of the people who live in Pensacola understand the significance of the year 1559,” said Scott Wheatley, one of the founders of DeLuna Fest. “This is where the new world began. That should be a major point of local pride.” One area that has continually ranked high for the IN Rising Stars has been education. “I believe in our public schools,” said Josh Rogers, Reliability Engineer at Gulf Power Company. “I believe in the unceasing pursuit of a school district where parents want to send their children, students want to learn, teachers want to teach, and employees want to work. This is our School District Vision, which holds my full commitment and support.” Rising Star Rosie Cooper is an instructor at B.T. Washington High School and Pensacola State College. “I would like to see a bigger focus within the school system on positive behavioral intervention programs targeting at-risk students,” said Cooper. “With successful implementation of these types of programs, I believe we will begin to see a decrease in criminal activity and an increase in high school graduation rates. These changes are desperately needed and would be very welcome in our community.” Hope for change, high expectations and the desire to make this community a better place for themselves, their families and future generations define the 2011 IN Rising Stars. The broad spectrum of professions, talents and ideas these men and women bring to Pensacola is impressive. Their passion is inspiring. Our job is to listen, mentor and support these Rising Stars. They are our best weapon in halting the “brain drain” that has plagued Pensacola for the past decade. Great talent attracts great talent.

What Matters to Rising Stars 2011 Rising Stars 1. Attracting jobs and economic development 2. Education 3. Job Creation 4. Arts & entertainment 5. Affordable housing 6. Healthcare for uninsured 7. Environment 8. Consolidation of government 9. Transportation

2010 Rising Stars 1. Attracting jobs and economic development 2. Education 3. Environment 4. Arts & entertainment 5. Affordable housing 6. Healthcare for uninsured 7. Size and structure of local government 8. Consolidation of government 9. Transportation

2009 Rising Stars 1. Attracting jobs and economic development 2. Education 3. Environment 4. Affordable housing 5. Healthcare for uninsured 6. Arts and entertainment 7. Consolidation of government 8. Size and structure of local government 9. Transportation

2008 Rising Stars 1. Attracting jobs and economic development 2. Education 3. Healthcare for uninsured 4. Environment 5. Affordable housing 6. Size and structure of local government 7. Arts and entertainment 8. Transportation 9. Code enforcement

rick@inweekly.net INDEPENDENT NEWS | JANUARY 27, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |

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2011 Rising Stars Liz Adams, 27

Marketing Media Manager, Baptist Health Care College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Communication, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: Leadership Pensacola, Junior League of Pensacola, Covenant Hospice of Pensacola, Pensacola Young Local mentors or role models: Rodney Rich and Cathy Laird Why I live here: I was born in Pensacola, grew up in this community, and chose to attend UWF and now work for Baptist Health Care. I love Pensacola with all the culture and passion that this community currently has and the fantastic economic development opportunities that we will have in the future with our local health care services to tourism growth.

Mike Bersabal, 30

Interactive Marketing Manager, Visit Pensacola College/degrees: Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Information Technology, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: AAF Pensacola Local mentor or role model: Ellis Bullock Why I live here: This is my hometown, and there’s no place like home. I was born and raised here in Pensacola.

Autumn Beck, 34

Associate Attorney, Kerrigan, Estess, Rankin, McLeod & Thompson, LLP College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Religion from Fl Professional/Community organizations: Florida Bar Association; American Bar Association; Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association; Northwest Florida Association for Women Lawyers Local mentor or role model: Virginia Buchanan Why I live here: I was born and raised in Pensacola and returned home this past summer after living in Tallahassee for many years. Absence makes the heart grow fonder! I not only missed my family, but also the history and culture of Pensacola and the unique personality of our town.

Laura Behr, 33

Practice Operations Improvement Manager, Sacred Heart Health System College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology Professional/Community organizations: Institute of Industrial Engineers; Medical Group Management Association; Junior League of Pensacola; Fiesta Forces; Pensacola chapter of Alpha Chi Omega alumni association Local mentor or role model: Quint Studer Why I live here: My husband, Bobby, and I made the decision to move to Pensacola in 2006 because we knew that we would have the quality of life here that we could not get anywhere else. I was very fortunate to choose a career in healthcare in Atlanta, which made Pensacola a natural fit with the strong healthcare presence in this area. This has also been a great place to raise our daughter. We enjoy the fact that there is always something family-friendly to do, whether it is going to the beach, attending a festival or strolling down Palafox.

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Nicholas Bodkins, 26

Partner, Five Flags Tourism Group College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Communications, University of Central Florida Local mentor or role model: Quint Studer Why I live here: Opportunity to succeed is greater here than in most places I’ve visited or lived. I got tired of hearing “Pensacola” and “Potential” used in the same sentence, but then no action to back it up. I chose to return home because I felt like I could take some of the potential I’d always heard about and convert it to action.

2011 Rising Stars Courtney Dell, 25

Director of Development and Marketing, Ballet Pensacola

Ashley N. Carr, 23

Escambia County State Committeewoman, Republican Party of Florida

College/degrees: Master of Arts, Mass Communication, University of Florida; Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Auburn University

College/degrees: Associate of Arts Degree, Nursing, Pensacola State College; Bachelor of Science in Political Science, Economics (2011), University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: Escambia County Republican Executive Committee; College Republicans; Dance Marathon; EscaRosa Young Republicans

Professional/ Community organizations: Ballet Pensacola, Rotary Club of Pensacola

Local mentor or role model: Mrs. Karen Sindel and Dr. Jocelyn Evans Why I live here: Pensacola is a beautiful place to call home. I am proud of my hometown and the quote rings true, “Pensacola: Where thousands live the way millions wish they could.”

Local mentor or role model: Hilda Jones Why I live here: In addition to being close to family, Pensacola provides the opportunity to enjoy a vibrant arts scene and warm, Southern hospitality.

Courtney Longuet Cook, 29 Client Services Coordinator, Alzheimer's Family Services

College/degrees: Masters in Clinical Social Work, Florida State University, Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Board Member; CONLI Representative for Northwest Florida Unit Local mentor or role model: Social workers that I work with as part of the local unit of National Association of Social Workers Why I live here: I choose to live in Pensacola because the people who live here are so genuine and pleasant.

Rosie Cooper, 33

Instructor, B.T. Washington High School; Pensacola State College; University of Phoenix College/degrees: Ed.D. Organizational Leadership and Communication, Master of Arts, Northeastern University, Boston, MA (in progress); Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning, Kaplan University; Bachelor of Science in Management, Kaplan University; Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support Services, Pensacola Junior College Professional/Community organizations: Florida Association of Community Colleges; National Italian American Foundation; Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society; Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society Why I live here: Living here is affordable, and I’ve been blessed with a career that enables me to bring positive change to the lives of young adults in our community. The beach is beautiful, and it’s exciting to watch the development going on in our downtown area. I’ll always be loyal to Pensacola; it’s my hometown and most of my family and friends are here.

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Daniel Ewert, 32

Attorney, Moore, Hill & Westmoreland, P.A. College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Western Washington University; Juris Doctor, Baylor University School of Law Professional/ Community organizations: Leadership Pensacola (Class of 2011), Take Stock in Children, Executive Council of Escambia-Santa Rosa County Bar Association, Pensacola Young Professionals Why I live here: Pensacola’s white sand coasts and its relaxed beach culture make Pensacola an ideal place to live. The absence of traffic jams, smog and a dangerous downtown have taken some getting used to, but I have adjusted very well. I am looking forward to seeing Pensacola continue to develop and grow.

2011 Rising Stars Whitney Fike, 26

Jason Choctaw Hall, 34

Client Strategist, Ideaworks College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, University of West Florida

Executive Chef, The Blake at Gulf Breeze

Professional/Community organizations: Florida Public Relations Association, Pensacola Young Professionals, Krewe of Hip Huggers, volunteer for Gulf Coast Arts Festival, volunteer with United Way Dine Out Campaign.

Professional/ Community organizations: Volunteer, Gulf Breeze Chamber of Commerce, Ronald McDonald House, Take Stock in Children, Alzheimers Family Services, Manna Food Bank; Co-chair, Gulf Breeze Christmas Parade

Local mentor or role model: Sonya Daniel Why I live here: I’m a Pensacola native and a seventh generation Pensacolian and love living in a city full of arts, culture and so close to the breathtaking beaches. It’s my home and has been for the past 26 years. There is always something to do in Pensacola, and I want Pensacola to develop even more to become a thriving small city where people want to move their families.

Local mentor or role model: Frank Taylor Why I live here: I chose Pensacola because of the people and community. The Pensacola area has plenty of art, recreation and museums. This provides many different options geared for families, seniors and the general community.

Kellie Gruber, 24

Owner/Fashion Consultant, Gibson Girl Clothing Local mentor or role model: All the members of the Pensacola Yacht Club Why I live here: Friendly people, great beaches and the lack of snow is an added bonus.

Matthew C. Hoffman, 32

Attorney, Carver, Darden, Koretzky, Tessier, Finn, Blossman & Areaux, LLC College/degrees: Bachelor of Science, Accounting, University of Florida; Juris Doctor, University of Florida

Leah Harrison, 28

Development Manager, Covenant Hospice College/degrees: Bachelor of Science, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way Emerging Leaders; Pensacola Young Professionals; Pensacola Runners Association; Alpha Delta Pi Alumnae Association; Alpha Delta Pi Advisory Board (UWF); Trinity Presbyterian Church; Fiesta Forces; Krewe of Hip Huggers Local mentor or role model: Jennifer and Jay Bradshaw Why I live here: I am fortunate to have a job that I love, and when I leave there I can choose to go unwind with a run in beautiful East Hill, a beer or glass of wine downtown, or dinner on our beautiful bay. As my husband and I are just starting to grow our family, I look forward to taking my son to baseball games at the Maritime Park and teaching him about the rich history we have right here in Pensacola. People in this community care about the community. I look forward to what the future holds for the Pensacola area.

Professional/ Community organizations: Manna Food Pantries (Board of Directors); Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association; Leadership Pensacola, Class of 2011 Why I live here: I chose to live in Pensacola because of its quality of life. It is a city that is not too big, and not too small. There are always numerous activities and events to enjoy throughout the year without the traffic, hustle and bustle of a very big city.

INDEPENDENT NEWS | JANUARY 27, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |

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2011 Rising Stars Emily Homan, 33 Marketing Communications Manager, Cox Communications College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Communications Arts with emphasis in Public Relations, University of West Florida Local mentor or role model: Eileen Perrigo, Instructor, University of West Florida Why I live here: I moved to the area because my father was in the Air Force and stationed at Hurlburt AFB. I chose to stay in Northwest Florida because it has the best beaches, it’s only a drive away to New Orleans/ Atlanta/Tallahassee, but best of all it’s where I feel I grew up and have a sense of home. I attended high school in Fort Walton Beach and college in Pensacola. I am a testament that you can get a good education, have strong community ties and build on your profession in Northwest Florida thanks to its sense of community and the strong military and tourism industries.

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Lindsey K. Jeudevine, DC, 28 Clinic Director; Chiropractic Physician; Owner, Olde Seville Chiropractic

College/degrees: Doctor of Chiropractic, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Florida; Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of West Florida Professional Community organizations: Pensacola Young Professionals; NSSA Why I live here: Pensacola is paradise if we choose to make it such. We have fantastic natural resources to draw from. Someone said that Pensacola is comfortable, like sweat pants that you always want to return to. I want to help make Pensacola the finest sweat pants ever worn.

Mari Josephs, 32

General Manager, Wine World Wine Bar College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Spanish, University of North Carolina Local mentor or role model: Jason Perry, Chef de Cuisine, Jackson’s Steakhouse Why I live here: The tight-knit community of friends, family and business associates and our beautiful location on the Gulf Coast are the top two reasons I chose to live in Pensacola.

2011 Rising Stars Jennifer Knisbell, 29

Stephanie Knight, 31

Special Events and Volunteer Coordinator, Pensacola Opera

Licensed Massage Therapist, Owner, Escape Wellness Spa College/degrees: General Associates of Art Degree with Science and Psychology emphasis, Pensacola Junior College; Pensacola School of Massage; Nationally Certified in Bodywork and Therapeutic Massage; Florida Licensed Massage Therapist Professional/Community organizations: American Massage Therapy Association; Florida State Massage Therapy Association; Pensacola Young Professionals; Massage Therapy Advisory Board for Fortis Institute; Pensacola Chamber of Commerce; Sponsor of Gulf Coast Kid’s House Local mentor or role model: Bill Greenhut Why I live here: I choose to live in Pensacola because I have a very wonderful, loyal clientele and a growing business that keeps me rooted here. I have the best family and friends you could ever want or need that live here. Of course, the beautiful beaches and relatively low cost of living are very nice, too.

College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, University of Central Florida Professional/ Community organizations: Leadership Pensacola Class of 2011; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Pensacola Little Theatre

Stacey Kostevicki, 27

Executive Director, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Inc. College/degrees: Master of Business Administration, University of West Florida; Bachelor of Arts, Florida State University

Local mentor or role model: Emily Mixon Why I live here: I was born and raised in Pensacola, and upon graduation was itching to get out. Shortly after leaving I realized that Pensacola offered many things that could not be beat; the quality of life is extraordinary with a stellar arts and culture scene and unforgettable white sand beaches. Pensacola is also home to some of the most loving people that I have ever met in my life.

Professional/Community organizations: Florida Public Relations Association, Cordova Rotary Local mentor or role model: Debbie Ritchie, Studer Group Why I live here: Having grown up in the Pensacola area, I was naturally drawn back to it because of the small-town feel and the beautiful scenery. I like having my family close by and Pensacola is a very central place for me to explore the Southern region.

Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel, LLC

“Creating Memorable Services”

Tracy Morton-McCreary Licensed Funeral Director Embalmer 55 Coast Road Pensacola, FL 32507 www.tmmchapel.com Office: (850) 332-7661 Fax: (850) 912-8793 Email: tracymortonmemorialchapel@yahoo.com INDEPENDENT NEWS | JANUARY 27, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |

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2011 Rising Stars Terri Kuvach, 33

Executive Assistant to the Community Development Director; Special Events Coordinator, Community Redevelopment Agency, City of Pensacola College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of West Florida; Associate of Arts in Business Management, Pensacola Junior College; Associate of Arts in Psychology, Clayton College and State University; Computer Information Systems, DeVry Institute of Technology Professional/Community organizations: Member of the Belmont Devillers Association and Diversity Entertainment Board; Secretary of the Environmental Advisory Board Why I live here: Pensacola has many offerings. You can go to the beach with your family or you can hang out in the city with your friends. For the most part, Pensacola has a safe and family-friendly environment that is hard to find in a city.

John Millican, 34 Sales Manager, CEMEX

Local mentor or role model: David Bonnell Why I live here: Beach/Climate

Geoffrey D. Lentz, 30

Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Pensacola College/degrees: Doctorate in Ministry (in progress), Drew University; Master of Divinity, Duke University; Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: Board of directors, United Ministries Local Mentor: Dr. Henry Roberts, Sacred Heart Foundation Why I live here: I chose to live in Pensacola because of the great people who live here, and I believe that this historic city is a place of great promise.

Josh Mason, 31

Financial Analyst, Gulf Power College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting, University of West Florida; Master of Accountancy, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; American Heart Association Heartwalk; American Cancer Society Relay for Life; Ronald McDonald House Fundraising Team; First Baptist Church of Cantonment Finance Committee; Employee Support Committee Chapter Treasurer; West Florida High School ACE Mentor Local mentor or role model: Gary Tringas Why I live here: After moving to Jacksonville immediately after college, my wife and I eventually returned to Pensacola due to its tranquil and beautiful uniqueness, its investment in rich and distinctive arts culture, and its proximity to close family members. Put plainly, my family and I choose to live and work in Pensacola because to us, life is good here.

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Emily Mitchell, 32

Chief Financial Officer/Partner, Five Flags Tourism Group College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Wake Forest University; Master of Arts, Western Kentucky University Professional/Community organizations: First United Methodist Church Local mentor or role model: Collier Merrill Why I live here: I grew up in Pensacola and wanted to raise my family here. Pensacola has a great sense of community. Plus, I love being in the South, and there is nothing like living on the water.

2011 Rising Stars Robert J. Powell, 29

Tracy Morton-McCreary, 30

Associate Attorney. Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond & Stackhouse

Owner, Tracy Morton Memorial Chapel College/degrees: Associates in Mortuary Science, Miami-Dade College; Licensed Funeral Director, Embalmer Professional/Community organizations: Pensacola Chamber of Commerce; Gulf Coast African-American Chamber; Junior Achievement

College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in International Economics, cum laude, University of Florida; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Florida State University

Local mentor or role model: Celestine Lewis, Jacqueline Harris Prep Academy Why I live here: I chose to live in the Pensacola area because I wanted to give back to the community. I attended Miami-Dade College in Miami, Fla. to gain the education that I needed. With that education I wanted to guide young people and show them the importance of education. Lastly, coming back to Pensacola will let young people know dreams do come true.

Lindsey Pieler, 27

Public Relations Coordinator, EW Bullock Associates College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, with a minor in Hospitality Management, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: Florida Public Relations Association; Fiesta Forces; Ronald McDonald House volunteer; Cat Country 98.7; Potential Church Local mentor or role model: Lisa Long, Cox Why I live here: Pensacola is my hometown, and like they say, there’s no place like home. I love that there is always something going on whether it be a festival, Blue Angels show, Gallery Night or a show downtown. The rich history and beautiful beaches, along with family and great friends, make me proud to call Pensacola home.

Justin Pierce, 26

Recreation Supervisor, City of Pensacola College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Sports Administration, Belhaven College Professional/Community organizations: Health Solutions Team; Milk and Honey Board of Directors; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; Abrahams Leadership Academy Local mentor or role model: Lumon May and James Broughton Why I live here: I was born and raised in Pensacola. As a child, Lumon May coached me in youth sports. He always told us to give back to our community when we make something of ourselves. I’ve always wanted to run a Community Center and help touch the lives of the young and old. What better place to do that then from the city that helped make me who I am today. Pensacola has so much potential that has not yet been reached. With downtown on the water, beaches, hunting, fishing and city and country living, Pensacola is a rare town that features different types of people with so many different lifestyles. I am very excited about the direction this city is going in and look forward to the day when all citizens can say, “I love Pensacola.”

Professional/Community organizations: Pensacola Young Professionals; Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Board Member; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida Local mentor or role model: William E. Bond Jr. Why I live here: It is a quaint, coastal community with unparalleled Southern charm and a rich cultural diversity.

Joshua Rogers, 25 Reliability Engineer, Gulf Power Company

College/degrees: Master’s Degree in Business Administration (in progress), University of West Florida; Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, University of Florida; Associate of Arts in Pre-Engineering, Pensacola Junior College Professional/ Community organizations: Pensacola Seville Rotary Club; Gulf Power Engineering Society; United Way of Escambia County Loaned Executive; United Way of Escambia County Emerging Leader’s Society; Florida Board of Professional Engineers, Engineering Intern Local mentor or role model: Sandy Sansing Why I live here: I was born and raised in the Pensacola area. I choose to live and work in this area because this is home. I want to see this community grow into its full potential of a thriving business community with a highly talented work force that embraces its history and diverse culture. Educational investments, such as the National Flight Academy, help Pensacola establish itself as a community with a desire to expand its educational focus. Pensacola area residents and businesses should take advantage of investing in its future by supporting local schools and expanding opportunities to invest in the youth that will fill tomorrow’s needs. INDEPENDENT NEWS | JANUARY 27, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |

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2011 Rising Stars Katie Cameron Rozier, 21

Joshua Trahan, 34

Owner/ Manager, Indigeaux Denim Bar & Boutique College/degrees: Currently enrolled at Pensacola State College, Business A.A.

Financial Advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC

Local mentor or role model: Ike Williams, Owner of Ike’s Beach Service, Orange Beach, Ala.

College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Economics, University of the South, Sewanee

Why I live here: I have lived in Pensacola my whole life and love living here. I’m by nature a beach lover and am lucky to live in a city that has one of the most beautiful beaches. I enjoy the closeness of the community, how you can be walking down the street or eating at a local restaurant and always see someone you know. I have had lots of opportunities to travel all over the United States and to Europe but nothing ever compares to home.

Professional/ Community organizations: Salvation Army Middle School Basketball Coach Why I live here: I spent most of my youth calling Pensacola home and vowing never to return. But after years spent abroad, I found myself called home to have a chance to work with my father.

Carrie T. Stevenson, 33

Coastal Sustainability Agent, UF IFAS/Escambia County Extension College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Biology/Marine Science, Samford University; Master of Science in Biology/Coastal Zone Studies, University of West Florida Professional/Community organizations: Leadership Pensacola Class of 2010; Florida Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals; Florida Association of County Agriculture Agents; UWF Environmental Conservation and Beautification Committee; “I LOVE Science” volunteer; Christ Church Pensacola, member and Sunday School teacher; Beckwith Camp and Conference Center Board of Directors; Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast Environmental Committee; Krewe of Hip Huggers; Krewe of Mystic Maids

Matthew M. Villmer, 27

Associate Attorney, Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon

Why I live here: My career path in marine biology dictated that I’d live somewhere near salt water, and I have always loved the Gulf Coast. My husband Eric is a Pensacola native—we met while in Birmingham but his goal was always to move back here. I love this community—its friendliness, natural beauty, fun-loving vibe, festivals, and the wide variety of people living here. Thanks to the military, talented homegrown athletes and performers, the incredible work being done by the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council, and a very long history, Pensacola has a positive international reputation that can be continually built upon.

Aaron L. Taylor, 33

Owner, A Router Works Signs College/degrees: School of hard knocks, hands on training in the sign industry, General of Creative Signmakers of America, creativesignmakers.com Professional/Community organizations: Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, Creative Signmakers of America, The Letterheads Movement Local mentor or role model: Tom and Lucy Paux, Sprocket Studios Why I live here: I think Pensacola has a lot to offer, from the beautiful beaches and outdoor activities to a growing night life and a variety of new locally owned restaurants and venues. This is a great place to raise your kids.

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College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Western Kentucky University; Juris Doctor, Florida Coastal School of Law Professional/Community organizations: The Florida Bar; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida; U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; Curriculum Development Chair, Pensacola Professional Development Institute; Marketing/Fundraising Committee Chair and Board Member, Pathways for Change; Company Leader, Northwest Florida Heart Walk; President, Florida Coastal School of Law 1st Circuit Alumni Association; Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association; Young Lawyers Association; American Inns of Court, Pensacola Chapter; Pensacola Young Professionals; American Association for Justice Local mentor or role model: Robert Emmanuel Why I live here: Beyond the beautiful beaches, I found that there is more to do in Pensacola than in most major cities. I moved here from Jacksonville, and I can attest to the fact that Pensacola has a better night life, music scene, art culture, and non-chain restaurant selection. For a small town, Pensacola has a “large town” feel.

2011 Rising Stars Courtney Weir, 28

Frank White, 32

Co-Owner, Pizzaz Personalized Gifts & Events

General Counsel/Business Development Manager, Sandy Sansing Dealerships

College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Tourism, University of Florida

College/degrees: Juris Doctor; Master of Business Administration; Bachelor of Arts in History; Bachelor of Business Administration, Business, Southern Methodist University

Professional/Community organizations: Children’s Home Society; Monograms of America; Gulf Breeze Elementary School Volunteer

Professional/Community organizations: State Bar of Florida; State Bar of Texas; Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association; Young Lawyers Section of the Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association; Leadership Pensacola Class of 2011; Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida, Investment in Kids campaign Team Captain; United Way of Escambia County Emerging Leaders Society; First Baptist Church Pensacola

Local mentor or role model: Monica Hoskins Why I live here: I chose to live in this area because of the sense of community I experienced growing up here. I could have moved to another city but wanted to start my business in a community that I saw was growing and knew would support local business.

Local mentor or role model: Nix Daniel and Ron Jackson Why I live here: In early 2010, my wife Stephanie and I moved to Pensacola to raise our kids near family and to slow down and enjoy life in a wonderful place. I was also drawn by the opportunity to be a part of a respected and growing family business and to live in a region with tremendous growth potential. I moved from a high growth area (Dallas/Fort Worth) with an optimistic, entrepreneurial business climate. With recent successes like the hiring of Jim Hizer and revitalization of downtown, Pensacola seems to be on the brink of becoming the same type of place. I hope to help Pensacola fulfill its potential.

Nick Wheatley, 26

Partner, The Bridge Bar & Sunset Lounge, Food & Beverage Director, Five Flags Tourism Group Local mentor or role model: Ashton Hayward, Quint Studer, John Asmar

Mallory Wilson, 26

Why I live here: I have lived here for 17 years, and Pensacola in the early 1990s wasn’t near what it is today. I see more progress happening faster and faster every year, and I love to consider myself a small part of it. I have been calling this the Renaissance period of Pensacola.

Event Coordinator, Fiesta of Five Flags College/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Florida State University Professional/Community organizations: Junior League of Pensacola Local mentor or role model: Jennifer Grove, Gulf Power; Scott Ginnetti, Baptist Health Care Why I live here: I live in Pensacola because I enjoy the beautiful coastal environment, active entertainment calendar, as well as the rich history that our community offers. It has a certain charm that steals your heart.

Scott Wheatley, 30

Founder/Partner, Five Flags Tourism Group; Partner, The Bridge Bar & Sunset Lounge College/degrees: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production Design, Filmmaking, North Carolina School of the Arts Local mentor or role model: Julian MacQueen, Jeff Townsend, Buck Lee, Bob West, Tom Tona Why I live here: The connection to the water and the ability to make a real impact in the community. We also have a lot of great looking girls in this town.

Ben Zimmern, 28

Attorney, Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith, PLC College/degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Vanderbilt University; Juris Doctor, Cumberland School of Law Professional/Community organizations: Board Member, Young Lawyer Division of Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association; Northwest Florida Legal Services; Pensacola Mardi Gras; Florida Bar; Alabama Bar; Alumni Recruiter, Vanderbilt University; American Inns of Court, Pensacola Chapter; Pensacola Young Professionals; Fiesta Forces Local mentor or role model: Hon. Charles J. Kahn Why I live here: I was born and raised in Gulf Breeze and always had a desire to come back home. I loved living near the water, and the relaxed pace of life presented a welcome change of pace from many larger cities. Having friends and family in the area also helped influence my decision. INDEPENDENT NEWS | JANUARY 27, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |

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2011 IN Rising Stars