Florida SBDC Network Announces Performance Excellence Awards

Employees, Partners Recognized for Efforts in Support of Florida's Small 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 2019 Performance Excellence Awards. The awards, which were presented June 25 in Orlando as part of the network's annual conference, recognized top personnel, volunteers, and partners for their contributions to the network's mission of helping the state’s small businesses grow and succeed.

“At the Florida SBDC Network, we believe in creating unimaginable possibilities for small businesses, while also creating economic prosperity for our state,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “Congratulations to our award winners and service year award recipients, who work tirelessly to ensure our state's entrepreneurs and small business owners have the resources and expertise needed to find success."

Florida Level Awards

The Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida receives the Florida SBDC Region of the Year Award at the network's 2019 Annual Conference in Orlando.

The Florida SBDC Region of the Year Award was presented to the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida for exceeding performance goals and the region’s exceptional work to help small businesses following Hurricane Michael. In partnership with the network and its state and federal partners, the Florida SBDC at UWF played a key role in helping small businesses across the Panhandle secure more than $21 million in short-term, interest-free Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans.

The Florida State Star Award was presented to Adam McCloskey, associate director of the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida, for his leadership and extraordinary efforts to help small businesses recover following Hurricane Michael. The State Star award, the highest accolade achievable by SBDC employees, recognizes extraordinary performers who have made strong contributions to their state network. As part of the award, McCloskey will be honored among State Star awardees from SBDCs across the country as part of the 39th Annual America’s SBDC Conference in September in Long Beach, Calif.

The Florida Employee of the Year Award was presented to Lorena Lozada, administrative assistant of the Florida SBDC at Florida International University for her exemplary financial and bilingual communication skills. Thanks to Lozada, the region has increased its reach to Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs.

The Florida Rising Star Award was presented to Kaitlyn Saavedra, a business consultant with the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida. The award, which honors employees under the age of 35 with less than five years of service with the network, was presented to Saavedra for her leadership and dedication to serving clients in Northeast Florida.

The Florida Team Spirit of the Year Award was presented to Debbie Lanford, international trade specialist for the Florida SBDC at Florida Atlantic University. The award, which recognizes one network professional for their collaborative attitude in helping the network achieve strategic initiatives, was presented to Lanford for her leadership in facilitating the network’s statewide international trade committee. As a testament to the team’s work, the Florida SBDC Network was awarded the Program Excellence Award from the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE).

The Florida Game Changer of the Year Award was presented to LaShaun Collier, business consultant with the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University, for her work to create a standard, holistic assessment of a new client.

The network awarded the Florida Student Project of the Year Award to the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida in recognition of the region’s work with University of Tampa students. The student team provided New Port Richey-based Grace Prosthetic Fabrication, Inc. with an in-depth assessment to help the company streamline operations and plan for growth.

The Florida Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Wayne F. Leland. Leland, who serves as managing partner of the Winter Park-based outsourced CFO firm Nperspective, has volunteered with the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida since 2007. As a dedicated and longtime volunteer advisor, Leland has donated 108 hours of pro-bono consulting services to small businesses across Central Florida.

The network awarded the Florida Outstanding Resource Partner of the Year Award to the Florida Economic Development Council for the organization’s membership on the network’s state advisory board. Additionally, FEDC was recognized for serving as an integral member in the network’s Partners in Prosperity initiative, which illustrates how the state’s economic and business development organizations work together to help small businesses succeed.

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. Regional awards were earlier presented to recipients at local events organized by the regional center. View the regional and service year winners.

The network’s 2019 sponsors included United Midwest Savings Bank, ComplyRight, Hiscox Insurance, Florida Capital Bank, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, and Nav.