04/26/2016 3:14 PM | Deleted user

Ever see a young business leader in the community and think, “Wow how does he do it?” or perhaps a news story featuring a 30-something political leader captures your attention and you can’t help but wonder how did they get started and excel so quickly? Thanks to EMERGE’s Follow The [Young] Leaders event, now there’s an opportunity for you to network with the community’s young leaders in a round robin style discussion and dinner. They will share their thoughts, experiences, and insight regarding their personal connection with Lakeland and discuss how young professionals can grow professionally through various opportunities.

Business attire suggested; check out last year’s photos. Dinner included. Cash/credit card bar available. There are less than 60 spots, so grab your ticket today!


Todd Baylis PhotoTodd Baylis, President & Founder, Qgiv

Todd is President and a founder of Qgiv, a Lakeland based online giving platform which has worked with over 2300 organizations throughout the country to more effectively implement and grow their online fundraising through year-round giving, peer-to-peer and contextual fundraising solutions. Additionally, he is President of Cipher, a managed network services provider based in Todd has served on the board of numerous community organizations including the Lakeland Area Economic Development Council, Imperial Symphony Orchestra, and United Way of Central Florida, just to name a few. He is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXV. In January 2010, Todd was named by The Ledger as one of 20 young professionals to watch under the age of 40 and was also named a Polk County Emerging Leader in 2011.

Lakeland, Fla., May 20, 2015. Photo by Tom Hagerty.Meg Bellamy Executive Director, Catapult

Meg graduated from Florida Southern College with a degree in Communication & Graphic Design. After working across the globe, from Australia to Alabama, she landed back in Lakeland and worked at the Lakeland Economic Development Council as the Special Programs Coordinator. In 2013, she took on the roll as Executive Director of Catapult. Meg is passionate about increasing the viability of startups in central Florida by connecting entrepreneurs with expertise, resources, and community.

Jay Chastain PhotoJay Chastain, iii, president, Chastain Skillman

Jay received his BS in Business Administration from University of South Florida. During his 7 years at ChastainSkillman, Jay has implemented a state of-the-art IT system and created a new branding strategy for the firm. In addition to his work accomplishments, Jay has been involved in numerous community organizations including Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association, Leadership Winter Haven, Leadership Polk, United Way of Central Florida, Vistage, and PSMJ Circle of Excellence.

Matt Clark PhotoMatthew R. Clark, President, Broadway Real Estate and Storeright SElf Storage

Matt is a long time Lakelander who began his professional career as a commercial litigator. In 2009, Matt left the practice of law and formed two real estate start-up companies: Broadway Real Estate and StoreRight Self Storage. Broadway owns and manages Class A office properties in Lakeland. It has recently expanded into multi-family properties, including Lake Mirror Tower and NOBAY. StoreRight Self Storage acquired and manages ten Class A self-storage facilities throughout Central Florida, consisting of over 600,000 s.f. of storage space. An eleventh facility is currently under construction in Matt’s community involvement includes service on numerous boards and committees, including the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, the City of Lakeland’s Charter Review Committee, Ignite Lakeland, Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, and many more.

Brad Johnson PhotoBrad Johnson, Deputy City Manager, City of Lakeland

On March 28, 2016, Brad became the Deputy City Manager for the City of Lakeland. He began working as the Interim Deputy City Manager on September 13, 2015. Brad began his career with the City of Lakeland as the Assistant City Manager in March 2012. Prior to his appointment he served in various governmental roles with the City of Palm Bay, FL, most recently as the Budget Administrator. In addition,he has held leadership positions with the City of Holly Hill, FL.Brad is a graduate of the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri where he received his Masters of Public Administration with a focus in public management. Additionally,he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and is a graduate of the American Public Works Association’s Emerging Leaders Academy. Brad serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Central Florida and the Achievement Academy and is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXI.

Chris McArthur PhotoChris McArthur Owner,Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro and Patriot Coffee Roasters

Chris McArthur is the owner of Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro in downtown Lakeland, and has recently launched Lakeland’s first and only commercial coffee roastery, Patriot Coffee Roasters. As a native to Lakeland, Chris has a passion for building businesses that add to Lakeland’s unique character and positively impact customers, employees and the surrounding community. Chris is married to Charity McArthur and has two children, Aribella, 6, and Noah, 4.


Donna McWilliams PhotoDr. Donna McWilliams, CCRT, CVA Owner, My Pet’s Animal Hospital

Dr. Donna always knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. After receiving her undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, she went on to fulfill her childhood dream by completing her DVM from Virgina Tech. In May 2007, Dr. Donna and her husband, Kevin, moved to Lakeland to purchase My Pet’s Animal Hospital. She also owns Sarasota Animal Hospital, a 2-doctor AAHA- certified practice, with her colleague, Dr. Mark Downing, who serves as the Medical Director. Since moving to Lakeland, Dr. Donna has become involved in various community groups and activities. She currently serves of the board of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lakeland Rotary and is a Past-President of Ridge Veterinary Medical Association. She is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXVII and Leadership Polk Class VII.

Laura Rodriguez_headshot (3)Laura Rodriguez Executive Director, Lakeland Vision

Laura Rodriguez is proud to be a native of Lakeland. She graduated from the University of South Florida and spent over ten years in the public sector serving as a conduit between people and their government. In both the Florida Senate and the United States House of Representatives, Laura’s roles ranged from Legislative Aide, Chief-of-Staff (FL Senate) and Outreach Coordinator (U.S. House of Representatives). Public Service has always been a focus and remains so at Lakeland Vision by providing a platform for citizens who would like to affect change on the long-range planning of Lakeland. Laura has always had a passion for community service and currently serves on the Presbyterian Homes and Housing Foundation, is an ordained elder at First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland, a member of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXII, and a member of the Lakeland Garden Club’s Gloriosa Circle.

Robynne Wilson PhotoRobyn Wilson, Owner, 801 Main and The Poor Porker

Robyn Wilson grew up in the tiny town of Sunset Beach on the island of Oahu, and moved to Los Angeles just before graduating high school. After moving out on her own, she discovered she loved hosting friends for a scrumptious meal made from scratch. A job in tour catering complemented Robyn’s passions, and a few years later, she accepted a position on Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, where she met and co-starred with Jarrid Masse.

Robyn and Jarrid started The Poor Porker within two weeks of their arrival in Lakeland from scrap items found in junk yards, trash cans, and empty lots. They started small and worked hard to turn a tiny farmers market into a place that people were compelled to be a part of. The Poor Porker’s beignets are now served at their new venture, 801 Main, a multi-functional space that boasts amazing barbeque, a stellar craft bar, live music, exclusive grocery items in The Corner Store, and adventure outfitter Bearcat & Big6.

Katie Worthington PhotoKatie Worthington, President/CEO, Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce 

Katie moved to Lakeland with her family in 1997 from Nashville, TN. After attending the University of Central Florida, she returned to Winter Haven to start her career. Her experience includes commercial banking, medical clinic operations, insurance and marketing, online and public relations strategy with a concentration on business, economic development and tourism. Katie began volunteering for the chamber in 2006 and was the founding chairwoman of the Winter Haven Young Professionals Group (now Endeavor Katie serves numerous non-profits including the Humane Society of Polk County, Polk Vision, United Way, Winter Haven Public Education Partnership, PACE Center for Girls, Winter Haven Economic Development Council and Main Street Winter Haven. She was just recently named a 2016 recipient for the Girls Inc. of Winter Haven “She Knows Where She’s Going” award.

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