Board of Advisors
The 26-member, nonpartisan Institute Board of Advisors is a diverse cross section of some of Florida's most respected and successful business, civic, and community leaders. It includes 15 CEOs from private, public, or non-profit organizations; the former Chairman of the State Board of Education; past presidents of the Jacksonville Bar Association; a former President of the American Medical Association; the Chairman of St. Vincent's HealthCare system; the first Chairman of the Jacksonville Children's Commission; leaders of several multi- billion dollar companies; a former Jacksonville Mayor; and industry and public leaders in education, finance, banking, public infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, and other areas.
- Fernando J. Acosta-Rua
- The Honorable Jason Altmire
- Giselle Carson, Esquire
- Gary Chartrand
- Robert M. Clements
- Yank Coble, MD
- The Honorable Ander Crenshaw
- Daniel J. Davis
- Shantel Davis
- Joseph N. Debs, P.E.
- J.C. "Jay" Demetree, Jr.
- G. Ray Driver, Jr., Esquire
- Fred Franklin, Jr.
- Steve T. Halverson
- Chris Hand
- Jane R. Lanier
- Steve McInall
- Willard Payne, Jr.
- The Honorable John Peyton
- C. Daniel Rice
- Richard L. Sisisky
- David Strickland
- William H. Walton, III
- Michael J. Ward
- Nina Waters
- Chuck Wodehouse
Fernando Acosta-Rua is President and CEO of Pet Paradise. His involvement with Pet Paradise began in 2004 when he led an investment group to invest in the company. He joined the Board of Directors in 2005 and, in 2007, he joined the team as Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Acosta-Rua has played a key role in accelerating the growth of Pet Paradise from three pet resorts with 45 employees in northeast Florida to more than 700 employees across seven states and 27 resorts. Prior to joining Pet Paradise, Mr. Acosta-Rua spent seven years in Private Equity working with FondElec Group and L&L Capital Partners, two CT based Private Equity firms. Previously he ran several family-owned businesses in Costa Rica, then worked for BellSouth International in Atlanta. Mr. Acosta-Rua serves on several Boards including as Chairman of Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Bolles School, the Board of Advisors at the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, and President of The Acosta-Rua Family Foundation. Mr. Acosta-Rua received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, and his Master in Business Administration from Northwestern University.
Jason Altmire is author of the book 'Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It'. He is also a former Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Government, and Community Affairs for Florida Blue. He was a key spokesperson for the company's health care policy efforts and corporate social responsibility programs. Prior to joining Florida Blue, Altmire served three terms as a United States Congressman in Washington, D.C. A nationally recognized leader on health care policy, Altmire is highly regarded throughout the political and health care community. Before being elected to Congress, he led the Department of Government Relations and Community Health at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Earlier in his career, he helped lead the legislative effort for the Federation of American Hospitals in Washington, D.C. and served as an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University, focusing on politics and policy. Jason Altmire holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Florida State University and a Master's Degree in Health Services Administration from George Washington University.
Giselle Carson is a shareholder with Marks Gray, P.A. practicing primarily in the area of immigration law representing employers and individuals. She is a former President of the Jacksonville Bar Association. Ms. Carson served as General Counsel of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and is a member of its Board of Directors. She serves on the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board and is a graduate of Leadership Florida and Leadership Jacksonville. She has received many distinguished recognitions including an AV peer review rating from Martindale-Hubble, Jacksonville Lawyer of the Year (2013) and Top Rated Immigration Attorney by ALM and Martindale-Hubbell. She was born in Cuba and is fluent in Spanish and French. She is a marathoner and two time Ironman triathlon finisher. In 2015 she will have completed all six World Marathon Majors. She is married to Jeff, a physical therapist, marathoner, and triathlete. She received her bachelor's degree in Physical Therapy from McGill University, Montreal, Canada and a J.D. with high honors, from Florida Coastal School of Law, Jacksonville, Florida.
Gary Chartrand is the Executive Chairman of Acosta, Inc. Acosta is a leading full-service sales and marketing agency. The company employs over 21,000 associates and operates 64 offices in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Chartrand received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the State of Florida in May 2001. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, St. Vincent's Healthcare System, The Jacksonville Public Education Fund, State Board of Education, and the KIPP schools in Jacksonville. Mr. Chartrand earned his bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire.
Mr. Clements is the Chairman and CEO of Covius Holdings, Inc. Mr. Clements previously served as the Chairman and CEO of EverBank Financial Corp. During his 23-year tenure at EverBank, he led the bank’s transformation from a monoline mortgage company with less than $200 million in assets into a nationwide banking franchise with more than $27.3 billion in total assets. Mr. Clements currently sits on the Board of Covius and also serves as Advisor on the Jacksonville University Public Policy Board, Trustee on the Board of Directors for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Member of the Jacksonville Civic Council and Trustee of Isidore Newman School. Previously, he served as Member of the Federal Reserve’s Thrift Institutions Advisory Council (TIAC), Director of Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Episcopal School of Jacksonville and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School. Mr. Clements was recently inducted into the First Coast Business Hall of Fame. Mr. Clements received a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Dr. Yank Coble is the former Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy, University of North Florida, and Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Florida. From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Coble served on the USA and WMA Delegations to the World Health Organization and Assembly. An endocrinologist in Jacksonville, Florida for more than 35 years, Dr. Coble is also active in his community. He served on the founding boards of the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI) and Leadership Jacksonville and as President of JCCI. Dr. Coble has medical degrees from Duke University School of Medicine and the London School of Medicine.
Former Congressman Ander Crenshaw represented Florida’s 4th Congressional District for 16 years. During his tenure, Crenshaw established himself as a respected voice on defense issues and a champion for our military. He fought for key priorities for Northeast Florida and led the way to bring the Jacksonville National Cemetery to the area and to make Naval Station Mayport the East Coast homeport for all Littoral Combat Ships and Naval Air Station Jacksonville the East Coast home for all P-8 aircraft. Crenshaw, a member of the Appropriations Committee, chaired the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. He served both on the prestigious Defense Appropriations and the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittees. Prior to Congress, Crenshaw worked in the private sector as an investment banker and served as Florida’s first Republican Senate President. Job creation and economic prosperity for all have been the driving forces behind Crenshaw’s public service. He and his wife, Kitty, live in Jacksonville. They have two grown daughters and two granddaughters. Crenshaw graduated from the University of Georgia and received his law degree from the University of Florida.
Daniel Davis assumed his role as the JAX Chamber’s president and CEO on July 1, 2013. Daniel is committed to small business and innovative leadership. He has in-depth knowledge of a wide range of business issues, and he is dedicated to further growing our local economy. He is the former executive director of the Northeast Florida Builder’s Association (NEFBA), Florida’s largest local membership trade association representing the building and construction industry in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns Counties. He grew and enhanced the membership of NEFBA during one of the most economically-challenging times in our history. In addition to leading the JAX Chamber, he served in the State House of Representatives representing District 15 which encompasses parts of Duval County. Daniel and his wife, Rebekah Davis, have 4 children. Daniel also serves on numerous non-profit organization boards throughout Jacksonville.
A Jacksonville, FL native, Shantel Davis was recently named Vice President Sales, Southeastern US with The Greenbrier Companies. Prior to this role Shantel worked for CSX Transportation for 20 years serving in various leadership roles in Sales & Marketing and Real Estate. She is a proven leader who values diversity of thought, experience and culture in shaping strategy and vision for her teams. Shantel traveled the U.S. and Canada fostering relationships while growing profitable businesses in various commodities. She is active in various community and civic organizations. Shantel is a board member for The Sulzbacher Center, University of North Florida Foundation, JaxUSA Advisory Council and the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. In July 2019, Shantel was appointed to the Florida State College of Jacksonville Board of Trustees by Governor Ron DeSantis. In her spare time she enjoys mentoring, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. Shantel’s most rewarding and humbling position is being a mommy to her daughter, McKinley.
Joseph Debs is a member of the Board of Directors of RS&H, one of the nation’s leading architectural, engineering, and consulting firms with over 60 offices across the US and having performed work in over 50 countries. He served in a variety of leadership positions with RS&H during his 40-year tenure. Mr. Debs also provides consulting expertise to private and public organizations in the areas of transportation, community resilience and organizational improvement. He serves on the Board of Directors of Historic Eastside Community Development Corporation and is championing the renovation of a 100-year old structure to serve as a community center. Mr. Debs earned his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida and an MBA from the University of North Florida.
Jay Demetree is the President and CEO of Demetree Brothers, Inc., a Florida based real estate service company. He serves as Managing Member and President of Pentagon Properties, LLC, a limited liability company with investments in real estate, banking, chemical, bio tech, and communications. Mr. Demetree currently serves as a Director on the boards of both growing and established companies and serves on numerous charitable boards. He is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree.
G. Ray Driver, Jr. practices in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, venture capital finance, securities law and general corporate law and is a partner in the law firm of Driver, McAfee, Peek & Hawthorne Mr. Driver has experience in representing publicly owned and privately held businesses in a wide range of corporate transactions. Mr. Driver is a member of The Florida Bar, the American Bar Association and the Jacksonville Bar Association. Mr. Driver earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Montevallo, and a Master's degree in accounting and a law degree from the University of Florida.
Mr. Franklin is Managing Director of Rogers Towers and Chairman of the firm's Board of Directors. Mr. Franklin is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department. His practice is concentrated in the areas of complex commercial litigation, land use litigation and negligence litigation, including personal injury and wrongful death claims. His experience includes the representation of banks and federal banking agencies involving the workout and foreclosure of commercial and real estate loans. Mr. Franklin also has extensive experience litigating title insurance claims and other real estate matters.
Mr. Franklin is a former prosecutor and previously served as General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville and its independent agencies, including the Jacksonville Port Authority, the Jacksonville Electric Authority, the Duval County School Board and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. As general counsel, he was the chief legal officer for Jacksonville’s consolidated government. Mr. Franklin received his undergraduate degree from Jacksonville University, and his JD from the University of Florida.
Steve Halverson is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Haskell Company, one of the nation's largest integrated design-build organizations, with operations throughout the United States and Latin America and headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. Mr. Halverson is Chairman of the Florida Council of 100, Past Chairman of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and is Vice-Chairman for St. John's University. Mr. Halverson earned his bachelor's degree from St. Johns University, law degree from American University and completed executive business education at Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania.
Chris Hand is a Jacksonville native with a long record of public service. He currently leads Hand Law, which helps clients anticipate and address opportunities and challenges with government. From 2011 to 2015, Mr. Hand was Chief of Staff at the City of Jacksonville. He recently authored the 50th Anniversary update to A Quiet Revolution, which chronicles Jacksonville’s consolidated local government.
Mr. Hand previously served as speechwriter and press secretary for then-U.S. Senator and former Governor Bob Graham. With Senator Graham, Mr. Hand is co-author of America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall – and Win, a guide to help Americans flex their citizenship muscles and make government respond. He has also served in the United States Electoral College, as policy advisor to gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham and on the transition team for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. Mr. Hand helped to lead the Groveland Four Clemency Coalition, which worked to obtain pardons for four unjustly accused Floridians.
Mr. Hand graduated from the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs and the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.
Jane R. Lanier, CFRE was President and System Chief Development Officer of St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida from 1999 through 2019. During that time she was responsible for establishing, directing and implementing the fundraising program; in addition to distribution, investment and management of Foundation assets. Jane Lanier currently provides consulting services in the areas of donor development, cultivation and philanthropy to a limited number of non-profit organizations. She has 30 years of experience in fundraising, business and education fields. Ms. Lanier has served as President of the Ascension Health Council on Philanthropy, Director of the YWCA Children’s programs in Jacksonville, and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities in Jacksonville. She has served as President of the First Coast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and as a volunteer with civic organizations in the Jacksonville community. She is a recipient of the national award from the Catholic Health Association of the United States for creativity and breakthrough thinking, the Sister Mary Concilia Moran Award; the St. Augustine Diocese Catholic Business Women’s Award and the Jacksonville Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award. She is a graduate of Georgia State University and holds a B.S. degree in Education. She and her husband, Randy, have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
Steve McInall received his Master of Public Policy degree from Jacksonville University and is the alumni representative on the Board of Advisors. Mr. McInall holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont and is formerly JEA's Vice President of Energy and Water Planning. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional, in Building Design and Construction. Mr. McInall is on the Board of the North Florida Chapter of the US Green Building Council, and serves as vice-chair of the St Johns County Citizens Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee.
Willard Payne is the President/Treasurer of Northern Florida Recruiting & Consulting Services, Inc. (NFRCS) and directs professional recruiting, consulting and lobbying client services. An educator by training, Mr. Payne spent 14 years with the Chicago Public School System as a teacher and district administrator. In 1975, he left Chicago when he was awarded several McDonald's Corporation franchises in Jacksonville, Florida. He was the first African American franchise operator in the city and built four stores, hiring more than 500 employees. The Mayor of Jacksonville appointed Mr. Payne as the first African American to serve on the Jacksonville Port Authority Board and he also served as the first President of the The100 Black Men of Jacksonville and the Downtown Rotary Club. Mr. Payne received his Bachelor's Degree in Education from Xavier University in New Orleans, LA and holds a Master of Science Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Loyola University in Chicago.
John Peyton was named President of GATE Petroleum Company, one of the largest privately-held companies in Florida, in January 2012 after serving two consecutive terms as Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida. He has been actively involved in the community serving as chairman of the Jacksonville Transportation Agency, Jacksonville Symphony Association and Greenscape of Jacksonville. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Peyton to the board of trustees of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Mr. Peyton earned his bachelor's degree from Mercer University and completed the Harvard Executive Education Program.
C. Daniel Rice has served as President and CEO of Mayport Venture Partners, LLC since its founding in 2000. Mr. Rice currently serves on the Board of Directors of American Pet Resort, Inc. and has been an adviser to other portfolio companies on issues such as strategic partnerships, fundraising, business plan development, operational issues and restructuring. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Saint Vincent's Healthcare System. Mr. Rice received his bachelor's degree from Clemson University and an MBA and law degree from the University of Florida.
Richard L. Sisisky is President of The Shircliff & Sisisky Company, a management-consulting firm based in Jacksonville, FL. His company has had consulting agreements with more than 200 clients, primarily franchised bottlers of Pepsi-Cola products in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Middle East. Mr. Sisisky currently serves as Lead Director of Stein Mart, Inc. and has held leadership positions in many not-for-profit organizations including Baptist Health System, Jacksonville Children's Commission, The Bolles School, Jewish Federation of Northeast Florida and United Way. Mr. Sisisky earned his bachelor's degree from The College of William and Mary and a law degree from the University of Richmond.
A native of Daytona Beach, Florida, David Strickland retired from EverBank in 2013 after 42 years in banking. He served in senior management positions at Trust Company of Georgia, Barnett Bank of Florida and EverBank, where he was the founding president and CEO. He was the interim President and CEO of the Jacksonville Symphony in 2019, where he has been a Board member since 2012 and currently serves as Chairman of the Board. His other current activities include Chairman of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and board member of the Cummer Museum and the Marine Science Research Institute. He served as chairman of the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville from 2016 to 2018 and currently serves as its advisory council chair. Strickland’s prior community and educational service includes being chair of Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville, the North Florida Land Trust, the Youth Crisis Center Foundation and positions on the boards at Stetson University and the Coggin College of Business at the University of North Florida. He has degrees from Emory University, Rutgers University and the Harvard Business School.
Bill Walton is co-founder and managing member of Rockpoint Group, LLC, a global real estate private equity firm which sponsors real estate investment funds capitalized by domestic and foreign institutional investors. Mr. Walton is responsible for the overall operations and management of Rockpoint, as well as overseeing the origination, structuring and asset management of all of Rockpoint’s investment activities. In 1994, Mr. Walton also co-founded Westbrook Real Estate Partners, LLC, a similar real estate investment management firm. Since 1994, the Rockpoint founding managing members have invested in approximately $60 billion of real estate. Prior to co-founding Westbrook, Mr. Walton was a managing director in the real estate group of Morgan Stanley & Company, Inc., which he joined in 1979. Mr. Walton is involved with several real estate industry organizations and serves on the boards of Boston Properties, Crow Holdings, and FRP Holdings, Inc. He is a former director of Corporate Office Properties Trust and the St. Joe Company. He also serves or has served as a Director or Trustee on the Boards of several non-profit organizations, with a particular interest in educational and policy entities, including the American Enterprise Institute, Communities in Schools, the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, KIPP Schools Jacksonville, Mercy Ships, the Mpala Wildlife Foundation, the University of Florida Investment Corporation, Princeton University and Princeton University Investment Company. Mr. Walton received an A.B. from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Michael Ward served as the chairman and chief executive officer of CSX Corporation for fourteen years. Under Mr. Ward’s leadership, the company continually achieved record safety performances while providing vital services to customers and posting strong financial results for shareholders. A native of Baltimore, MD., Mr. Ward’s commitment to personal philanthropy and corporate citizenship has been recognized with City Year’s prestigious Lifetime of Idealism Award. Through his private foundation, the Michael Ward and Jennifer Glock Foundation, he has donated over $35M to various charitable causes. The focus of the giving has been increasing educational opportunities, as well as promoting healthy relations, preventing domestic violence, support of the military and the arts. Mr. Ward earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1972, and received a master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard Business School in 1976.
Nina Waters is President of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, a position she has held since 2005. Her primary responsibilities include the leadership and management of donor services, grantmaking and administration of the Foundation. Prior to joining the staff of the Foundation in 2001, Ms. Waters served as Executive Director of the PACE Center for Girls Jacksonville program for twelve years. Ms. Waters is the recipient of the JU Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2013 Florida Times-Union EVE Award for Employment, the 2014 President’s Citation from OneJax Institute and the Girl Scouts’ Women of Distinction Award. She was inducted into the 2014 First Coast Business Hall of Fame. She is the past chairman of the Southeastern Council of Foundations. Ms. Waters earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Jacksonville University.
Chuck is a retired Fortune 500 executive with a long association with Jacksonville University. He spent most of his business career with CSX Corporation and its predecessor companies, last serving as President of CSX Technology and Senior Vice President of CSX Transportation. In retirement, he and his wife, Camilla, have been active in a number of philanthropic and community activities and were named NE Florida Outstanding Philanthropists of 2017. He has served JU in various capacities, including 18 years as a Trustee and as the initial chairman of the Davis College of Business Advisory Board. He and Camilla have been frequent donors to JU, including most recently to the Public Policy Institute as founders of the MPP Minority Fellowship Program. Chuck received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, and his MBA from Rutgers University.