Board of Directors
CHAIR CHRISTOPHER D. FLAGG
FLAGG Design Studio
Chris Flagg, president of FLAGG Design Studio, has dedicated himself to community and Downtown advocacy through his many professional and philanthropic endeavors. His firm specializes in urban design, community planning, place-making, campus master planning and commissioned illustrations. Mr. Flagg is a current member of the Office of Economic Development’s Downtown Development Review Board and has been an Executive Board Member of DVI for two years, serving on multiple committees including the “Great Streets,” Advocacy and Green Committees. His professional involvement in Downtown development has included the redevelopment of Laura Street, lead designer on Friendship Fountain, the Laura Street Façade Improvement Grant Program, the Downtown Arts District Activation Guidebook and the redevelopment plans for the Southbank Riverwalk replacement. He is a graduate of Leadership Jacksonville, Class of 2003, and is licensed to practice his profession of Landscape Architecture in Florida and South Carolina.
Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
Dan King, general manager of Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, is a veteran in the hospitality industry having worked in 11 Hyatt hotels over a 32-year Hyatt career. Mr. King has resided in Jacksonville for six years and is active in our local community. King serves as Past President of Visit Jacksonville CVB Board, Past President of North Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, Past President of the Jacksonville Hospitality Institute, Executive Board member of Downtown Vision, Committee Member Gator Bowl Association, Board Member, Goodwill of North Florida, and Trustee, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. King has been nominated four times for the national Hyatt general manager of the year award, and Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront has been named Best Place To Work in Northeast Florida for Large Businesses. The Hyatt Regency is also a supporting partner of the Clara White Mission, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NE FL, and Sulzbacher Center for the homeless. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, King has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration - Management from Longwood University and resides with his wife in Jacksonville.
CBRE Group, Inc.
Oliver Barakat is a senior vice president with CBRE specializing in the leasing and sales of office space. After attending university and living in Washington, D.C. for eight years, Mr. Barakat moved back home to Jacksonville in 1996. He currently serves as the Chair of the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) and is a Board member of the Museum of Science and History and Episcopal School of Jacksonville. He is a past president of NAIOP and JaxPride and a graduate of the Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2000. Mr. Barakat has significant experience Downtown, including a seven-year stint on the Design Review Committee, a member of the JEDC’s Downtown Infrastructure Task Force which helped create the Downtown Action Plan, and was appointed to the DIA in 2012. Mr. Barakat graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C. with a BSBA in Finance and Real Estate.
Debbie Buckland is Executive Vice President and Commercial Banking Manager for SunTrust in Northeast Florida, and Jacksonville City President. Ms. Buckland and her family moved to Jacksonville in the late '90s, when she joined the SunTrust Commercial Banking Group in North Florida. Debbie serves on the Foundation Board for River Garden, is past chair for the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center, and a Trustee of JAX Chamber. She is a past board chair of the American Cancer Society Duval Board and served on the Florida Division Board. She is a member of Wolfson Children’s Hospital Women’s Board, Jacksonville Women’s Network and the Women’s Giving Alliance. She was named a 2006 Woman of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal, is a 2009 Graduate of Leadership Jacksonville and in 2011 was named by the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women as one of Jacksonville’s Women Making a Difference. She is a 1979 graduate of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, with a B.A. in Business & Economics and Philosophy.
MICHAEL A. JENNINGS
As Vice President, Government Affairs of the nine-state Southeast region of Prudential's External Affairs, Mr. Jennings is responsible for Prudential's legislative and regulatory affairs activities in those states. A strong believer in service to his community, industry and state, Mr. Jennings stays engaged. His past and current involvement includes: immediate past Chair and Board member, Downtown Vision, Inc., Jacksonville; past Chair and current Board member, Associated Industries of Florida; past Chair and current Executive Committee and Board member, Florida TaxWatch; past Chair and current Executive Committee and Board member, Florida Insurance Council; and former Chair, Communities in Schools of Florida. Mr. Jennings is Chair and Board member of the Florida Life and Health Guaranty Association; Treasurer and Board member of the Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Corporation of Maryland; Vice Chair and Board member of the Kentucky Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association; and Board member of the Tennessee Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association. He is also a member of the Government Affairs Council of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Mr. Jennings to serve as a member of the Task Force on Privacy and Technology created by the 2000 Florida Legislature. He is a graduate of Leadership Florida and Leadership Jacksonville. Mr. Jennings holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law, and is a member of The Florida Bar. He also served in the U.S. Navy as a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps.
Vicki Burns is Property Manager at Regency Centers for the North Florida region. She oversees all areas of operations for 17 retail properties, totaling 1.38 million square feet. Vicki joined Regency in 1995 when the company owned 35 properties. As Regency expanded, she began managing properties in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. Today, Regency owns 343 retail properties, totaling 45.9 million square feet nationwide. A Jacksonville native, Vicki lived in New York City and Atlanta prior to working with Regency. She started her real estate career in Jacksonville, working for waterfront condominium and shopping center developers, including Demetree Enterprises, Fort Development and The Development Group. Since 1986, she has leased and managed 32 shopping centers in the Jacksonville market area. With deep roots in the local community, Vicki grew up in the San Jose area of Jacksonville and graduated from Wolfson High School. Her father was the official railroad watch inspector for local railroad officials and owned a small retail store, Terminal Watch Company, located in the Jacksonville Union Terminal, known today as the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center. Vicki is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and holds a Florida broker’s license. A dedicated Seminole fan, she attended Florida State University. Vicki enjoys the Florida Keys and visiting her daughter, a Gator fan, in Long Beach, Calif. During the school year, she tutors at a local elementary school through a YMCA-affiliated program and supports HabiJax and the United Way of Northeast Florida.
Chamblin's Uptown & Cafe
Ron Chamblin is the owner of two of Jacksonville’s finest used and rare bookstores. A native of Live Oak, Mr. Chamblin was previously a technical writer for the aerospace industry until he opened his first bookstore, Chamblin’s Bookmine, in 1976. In 2006, Mr. Chamblin bought a vacant building Downtown and renovated it into Chamblin’s Uptown and Chamblin’s Uptown Café. He now employs 21 workers in his two stores. Mr. Chamblin is an avid pilot, workaholic, and enjoys building engines, airplanes and houses.
Stephen Crosby currently serves as president of CSX Real Estate Property, Inc. During his 25+ year tenure with CSX, Mr. Crosby has served as vice president of development, real estate operations and corridor development, as well as numerous other managerial positions before assuming the title of president in 2000. He received his B.S. and M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and University of Florida, respectively. Mr. Crosby currently serves on the Urban Land Institute – North Florida Advisory Board, is Past National Chairman of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), and is a past member of the advisory board of the University of Virginia School of Architecture.
The Jacksonville Landing
Janice Lowe is the general manager of The Jacksonville Landing. Ms. Lowe has more than 25 years of experience in the retail and property management business and has worked in Downtown Jacksonville since 1989. Her tenure at The Jacksonville Landing spans a 20-year period where she has held various positions such as special events coordinator, marketing director and general manager. She has worked with a large number of charities and community organizations throughout the years. Ms. Lowe currently serves as Chair of Visit Jacksonville. She is a graduate of Florida State University and resides in Jacksonville’s Southside with her husband, Charlie, and their son, Zachary.
Vince McCormack, a Jacksonville native, is the president and co-owner of Perdue Office Interiors. Mr. McCormack has been with the company since 1986. In 2001, after years in sales and sales management, Mr. McCormack took over as president. In 2007, he and an investment partner purchased the company. Mr. McCormack is active in the business community, having served on the Jacksonville Regional Chamber Board of Governors and currently serving on the Board of Directors. He is also a trustee with the Chamber, and serves on the advisory council for Jax USA Partnership, Chair Elect for the Gator Bowl Association and several nonprofit boards including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida and the Florida Theatre. In 2009, Mr. McCormack moved his company from the Baymeadows area back Downtown, where the company was founded in 1916. Mr. McCormack was a member of the committee that worked on NAIOP's Downtown position paper and was also a member of the Chamber's 2010 Downtown Revitalization Committee. Most recently, Mr. McCormack partnered with CoWork Jax, located above Perdue, to make the initiative a reality Downtown.
Dorothy Merrick moved to Jacksonville from Atlanta with her husband in 2006. They enjoy living Downtown because of their riverfront location, diverse lifestyle, proximity to work and walking distance to a variety of restaurants, sports and entertainment venues. She has been a licensed Broker since 1977 and is now an Associate Broker with Warren & Co Commercial Properties, holding an active Florida and Georgia broker’s license. As a member of the Downtown Jacksonville Chamber, Urban Core CPAC, President of The Plaza Condominiums Association and advocate for improvement of our city, she understands the success of mixed use planning and living.
Allison Naseri has an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Business Analysis with a Market Research certification. She has worked for market research firms with a focus on customer research and shopping center development. She currently owns a small consulting company where she coaches small businesses on best practices. Allison is the marketing and logistics coordinator for Jacksonville Fashion Week, on the board of directors for Braided Light Dance Project and an active member of the Junior League and Fashion Group International. She also performs regularly with Turn Point of Dance in San Marco. Allison enjoys being a Southbank resident and walking with her husband and dog along the Riverwalk.
Karen Perkner is an Executive Vice President of EverBank. She serves as the Director of Corporate Real Estate, Quality and Productivity and the Strategic Initiative divisions. EverBank is the largest bank headquartered in Florida with over $18 billion in assets and $13.7 billion in deposits, as of July 30, 2013. Ms. Perkner also served in leadership roles at Bank of America, Barnett Technologies, CoreStates Financial, First Pennsylvania Bank, and Arthur Andersen (Accenture). Ms. Perkner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Delaware. She currently resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with her husband and two daughters. Additionally, she serves on the Board of the Duval Regional YMCA.
WILLIAM R. PRESCOTT
Heritage Capital Group
William R. Prescott is the owner of Prescott Consulting, a firm providing advisory services to businesses to achieve growth and improve performance. Prior to forming Prescott Consulting, Bill was the CFO and SVP of Stadium Operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars since the inception of the franchise in 1993. A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Prescott is a graduate of Pace University with a degree in accounting and a master's degree in taxation. He is a member of the executive board and chair-elect of Visit Jacksonville, a member of the Executive Committee of Downtown Vision, Inc., a member of the Advisory Board of One Spark, and treasurer of Jacksonville’s Downtown Marketing Collaborative. He has two sons, Christopher and Michael, and a step-daughter, Nikki. He and his wife, Kim, live in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The Connect Agency
John Ream is the co-founder and president of The Connect Agency. John is an ideas-lead marketing strategist with more than 15 years of experience as a corporate advisor to emerging companies with a proven track record for leading national companies and brands. John has honed his skill of identifying targets and spearheading successful campaigns on both the agency and client sides in many different industries, eventually specializing in healthcare, manufacturing/distribution and CPG. In 2009, he opened his own marketing consultancy firm located Downtown, The Connect Agency, which has seen rapid growth throughout the state of Florida, New York and California. Recently, John was recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal as one of the top 40 professionals under the age of 40 to watch. John has a unique perspective on Downtown from his experience as a one-time resident, landlord and now Downtown business and property owner. His civic involvement includes the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The First Tee of North Florida, First Coast Worksite Wellness Council and the Episcopal High School Alumni Advisory Board.
Numa Saisselin became President of the Florida Theatre on September, 10, 2012. He is only the second President in the theatre’s 30-year history as a nonprofit arts organization. Numa has built an award-winning career directing nonprofit performing arts centers, especially historic theaters, and developed a reputation for leading organizations from uncertain circumstances to annual profitability. Most recently, from 2002 to 2012 he was the CEO of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. During these 10 years, the organization grew from a $1.5 million a year operation with an ongoing annual deficit into an $8.5 million a year organization that enjoyed 9 years of cash surpluses. He is a graduate of the Fredonia School of Music, received his MBA from the Adelphi University School of Business and Banking, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Springfield College School of Human Services, which he attended on a full and unsolicited scholarship from the Texaco Foundation. He has been a board member of the League of Historic American Theatres, President of the Consortium of Eastern Regional Theatres, and a panelist for numerous foundations and grant makers.
El-Ad Florida, LLC
Pamela Smith is the owner’s representative for El-Ad Florida, LLC, the owners of the EverBank Center in Downtown Jacksonville. Ms. Smith and her husband, Lance, moved from Miami to Jacksonville in 2009, where she launched Smith Commercial Real Estate, LLC. She was recruited by El-Ad Florida, LLC in 2010 to reposition their 1,000,000 SF office property. Ms. Smith has 16 years of commercial real estate experience in both leasing and managing Class A office properties in South Florida, and she has become intensely involved in the revitalization of Downtown Jacksonville. In 2011, Ms. Smith helped orchestrate bringing EverBank's 1,600 employees to 270,000 SF in the EverBank Center. This was the largest office lease in the state of Florida that year. Since starting with El-Ad, Ms. Smith has leased over 450,000 SF of space at the EverBank Center bringing the occupancy rate from 50% to 86%. Ms. Smith is a graduate of the University of Florida and received an MBA from Florida International University. Ms. Smith is a past president of Commercial Real Estate Women-Miami, a member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and has been designated a Co-Star Power Broker.
The Southerland Group/Triage Management Services
Jay Southerland has spent his career developing innovative solutions for various industries and companies. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a MBA from Florida State University in 1981, he joined Andersen Consulting in Atlanta and proceeded to work in various public and private sectors, including The Federal Reserve Bank and Memorial Healthcare Systems. In 1994, Southerland utilized his experience in strategic consulting and managed care to pioneer and found the property insurance industry’s first national third party administration managed repair program, The PRISM Network, Inc. PRISM quickly gained notoriety with several property carriers becoming clients and growing the service provider network to over 2,500 in a two year period. In 1999, the company was sold to Crawford and Company and is now known as Contractor Connection. In 2003, Southerland founded First Choice Repair, and currently serves as CEO. First Choice Repair was initially created as a solution for a significant industry business need – hail and wind claims. After the company implemented the Catastrophe Roofing Solution, it quickly utilized this innovative approach for daily claims management and created the Managed Repair in Overdrive program which was readily received by property carriers as a welcomed enhancement to what currently existed in today’s industry. For the past 16 years, Southerland has focused on entrepreneurial endeavors, including developing high-rise condominiums in Florida. He enjoys his involvement with and support of civic and professional organizations, and involvement in youth athletics.
Holland & Knight
Sarah Toppi is an attorney with the litigation group at Holland & Knight. She is experienced in handling real estate and financial institution litigation matters. She is a 1998 graduate of West Point and served as an aviation officer and Chinook helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army before attending law school at the University of Florida. Ms. Toppi serves on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Bar Association of Jacksonville. She is also a member of the Junior League of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Bar Association. Ms. Toppi moved to Jacksonville in 2006 and lives with her family in Springfield.
Downtown Investment Authority
Aundra Wallace is the Executive Director of the City of Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority. He has served in this capacity since August 2013. Prior to coming to Jacksonville, Mr. Wallace spent three years as Executive Director of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, with previous experience as the Senior Vice President for Commercial Real Estate at the North Carolina Community Development Initiative, as well as holding several positions managing community, economic and housing development initiatives over 12 years with Miami-Dade County Government. Mr. Wallace holds a Masters of Public Administration from Clark Atlanta University and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Georgia Southern University. He is a Certified Housing Development Finance Professional and a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional.
Jacksonville City Council
Don Redman is a successful businessman, operating a small business for more than 40 years, and a member of the Jacksonville City Council. He and his wife, Debbie, have two daughters, three sons and nine grandchildren. Each of their children attended local public schools and graduated from Englewood High School. Councilmember Redman has been an active member of First Baptist Church Jacksonville for 32 years and served as an usher for 27 years. He is a race director in his spare time and involved in producing a number of local triathlons. Active in Little League, River City Swimming, Master Swimming, and an avid biker and runner, Council Member Redman has entered and finished every Jacksonville River Run.