Central Florida Roundup
A two-part program aims to increase Black representation on boards.
Only 11% of non-profits in Central Florida have Black board members, but a program launched last year by the Orlando Economic Partnership’s Black Boardroom Leadership Institute is working to get that number higher. The BBLI’s leadership track provides six months of training to local Black leaders interested in serving on local boards, while a non-profit track teaches leaders of local organizations how to create more inclusive board environments.
“I think it’s very bold to deliberately insert the word ‘Black’ into the program title. It’s so intentional, but it’s liberating. And it really just prompts conversation. It really just holds our community accountable for change,” says Mia Poinsette, a recent graduate of the program.
Poinsette relocated to the Orlando area from Maryland in 2021. She and her husband own a transportation company there called the Driven Group, which provides school bus services throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. In 2022, the couple established the Poinsette Foundation, a non-profit family foundation that sponsors programs and community events throughout Central Florida that advocate for underserved women and children.
Since graduating from the BBLI program, Poinsette has landed on four local boards, including the boards of the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando, Women on the Rise Orlando and the Mennello Museum of American Art. She was also elected to the executive board of the University Club of Orlando, becoming the first Black woman to serve on that board in the organization’s 97-year history.
Last year, 140 people applied for 20 spots in the leadership track, says Nisha Brice, Orlando Economic Partnership’s director of strategic investment and impact and program leader. She expects applications to triple this year. The program’s first three years have been funded by an anonymous donor through the Central Florida Foundation.
- The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, a New Mexico-based private school, and the Florida Institute of Technology plan to establish a four-year osteopathic medical school on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus. The inaugural class of 100 students will start in 2024 and graduate in May 2028.
- AdventHealth broke ground on an ambulatory surgery center at its Daytona Beach campus. AdventHealth Orlando opened a multidisciplinary clinic to treat and research long-haul COVID-19, which affects approximately 6% of people who are infected with the virus.
- John Kristel was named interim CEO of Orlando-based Stax Payments and nearly two dozen employees were laid off. Kristel replaced co-founders Suneera Madhani and Sal Rehmetullah. Under Madhani and Rehmetullah’s leadership, Stax — originally called Fattmerchant — had grown to processing more than $30 billion in payments for more than 30,000 businesses across the nation. Kristel is an operating partner with Greater Sum Ventures, Stax’s control investor, and was previously CEO of Catalis, a payments platform for government agencies in Georgia.
- Metronet, an Indianabased fiber-optic company, is constructing an ultra-high-speed fiber-optic internet network in Daytona.
- California Retail Properties submitted plans to Titusville to turn the former Searstown Mall, located across the Indian River from Kennedy Space Center, into an urban village, featuring two six-story apartment buildings and a hotel. The $100-million-plus project will also include retail, restaurant and medical space.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration opened a Business Recovery Center at the Daytona Beach Regional Library, where homeowners, renters, business owners, nonprofits and others can apply for low-interest, long-term disaster assistance loans to help with their recovery from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
- Goodwill Industries of Central Florida hired Orlando native Kathie Prince as its new CFO. Prince has previously held financial leadership roles at Walt Disney World, Wyndham and Diamond Resorts International.
- Orlando-based Capacitech Energy landed a $1-million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop technology that can turn ordinary power cords into energy storage devices that replace or enhance batteries. The company is already using prototypes of its “energy patch,” which resembles a sticker, to complement batteries in virtual and augmented reality headsets developed by 3D Media.
- Timeplast, a Longwood-based company working to eliminate traditional plastic products, raised more than $1 million through the crowdfunding platform StartEngine. A new material being developed by the company dissolves in water after 60 hours and has the potential to replace most fossil fuel-based materials. It’s being used to create soluble straws.
- Orlando Utilities Commission, in a collaboration with Massachusetts- based Malta, is exploring molten salt as a solar storage option to help achieve its net-zero carbon emission goals. Malta has developed an energy storage system that converts excess electricity into thermal energy by creating a temperature difference. The heat generated by the process is stored in salt, while the cold is stored in antifreeze. It can be converted back into electricity when needed.