Florida SBDC Network Announces Performance Excellence Awards

Employees, Partners Recognized for Efforts in Support of Florida Businesses

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Performance Excellence Awards. The awards, which were presented October 29 as part of the network’s virtual awards celebration, recognized top personnel, volunteers, and partners for their contributions to the network’s mission of helping the state’s small businesses grow and succeed.

“Congratulations to our award winners and service year award recipients,” said Dr. Cheryl Kirby, interim CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “These individuals work tirelessly to ensure our state’s entrepreneurs and small business owners have the resources and expertise needed to succeed.”

Florida Level Awards

The Florida SBDC Region of the Year Award was presented to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida for exceeding performance goals, including helping clients access capital, secure government contracts, generate sales revenue, and for service quality.

Christian Garman, executive director for the Florida SBDC Network's CARES Act initiatives, emcees the Florida SBDC Network's 2020 virtual awards celebration

Christian Garman, executive director of the network’s CARES Act initiatives, emcees the Florida SBDC Network’s 2020 virtual awards celebration

The Florida State Star Award was presented to Marge Cirillo, a consultant for the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida in St. Johns County, for outstanding performance and client satisfaction. The State Star Award, the highest accolade achievable by SBDC employees, recognizes extraordinary performers who have made strong contributions to their state network.

The Florida Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to Briana Williams, junior special events manager for the Florida SBDC at Florida International University. Thanks in part to her efforts, the Florida SBDC at FIU has expanded its presence in the City of Doral.

The Florida Rising Star Award was presented to Julia Montgomery, international trade specialist for the Florida SBDC at UNF. The award, which honors employees under the age of 35 with less than five years of service with the network, was presented to Montgomery for her leadership and dedication to serving clients in Northeast Florida.

The Florida Team Spirit of the Year Award was presented to Dorian Zwierewicz, associate director of the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida. The award, which recognizes one network professional for their collaborative attitude in helping the network achieve strategic initiatives, was presented to Zwierewicz for his commitment to workplace culture and for going above and beyond for the betterment of his region and team.

The Florida Game Changer of the Year Award was presented in recognition of the Florida SBDC Small Business Enterprise Program. Spearheaded by Dr. Cynthia Johnson and the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development team, the award was presented in recognition for the team’s work to foster minority, women, and small business contracting in Pinellas County.  

The network awarded the Florida Student Project of the Year Award to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida in recognition for the region’s work with Lost Returns and a UCF MBA student team. Under the guidance of the Florida SBDC at UCF, the MBA team developed a marketing strategy for the company that identified three new potential markets.

The Florida Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Andrew Rowe, relationship banker for Synovus Bank. Nominated by the Florida SBDC at UWF, Rowe has been an outstanding partner of the Florida SBDC through his advocacy, serving as a resource on financial matters, and through his participation on the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program loan committee.

The network awarded the Florida Partner in Prosperity of the Year Award to the Florida Chamber of Commerce for their long-term partnership and advocacy for the state’s small businesses. Recently, the Florida SBDC Network partnered with the Florida Chamber and the UWF Haas Center on the COVID Small Business Impact Survey, a study that examines the long-term challenges and needs of small businesses following COVID-19. To read the study, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org/covidstories.

Regional and Service Year Awards

As part of the awards, the network also recognized exemplary employees and partners for making significant contributions to their respective SBDC regions and for achieving service year milestones.

As part of these awards, the network presented Janice Donaldson, regional director of the Florida SBDC at UNF, and David Weeks, chief financial officer of the Florida SBDC Network, the Jerry Cartwright Lifetime Achievement Award. Donaldson and Weeks will both retire next year after 39 and 35 years of service, respectively, with the network.

The network’s 2020 sponsors were United Midwest Savings Bank, Florida Capital Bank, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, and the National Development Council.

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