Florida SBDC Network recognizes outstanding staff, partners

Florida SBDC Network State Office (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, recently announced the recipients of its annual staff awards.

The awards, which were presented at the network’s annual conference June 27 in Tampa, are the highest recognition bestowed by the network to staff members, partners, and volunteers.   

“I am honored to recognize this year’s winners for their outstanding work to help our state’s small businesses launch, grow and thrive,” said Greg Britton, state director of the Florida SBDC Network. “These individuals work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of small business owners and their communities. We congratulate this year’s winners and are grateful for the opportunity to share their inspiring work.” 

The Florida SBDC Region of the Year Award was presented to the Florida SBDC at Florida International University for their outstanding work to help small businesses in Miami-Dade. In 2021, the region assisted 2,050 clients, providing over 20,660 hours of consulting. As a result, they helped entrepreneurs launch 114 new businesses and helped businesses secure $117 million in capital. The region also recently secured a highly competitive grant from the SBA to help expand access to small business support services in underserved communities across the Miami-Dade region.

The Florida State Star Award was presented to Karen Krymski from the Florida PTAC at USF.  The Florida State Star award is the highest accolade achieved by employees, recognizing extraordinary performers who have made strong contributions to their state network. This year’s award was presented to Karen for her outstanding performance as a PTAC procurement specialist. During her tenure with the network, Karen has assisted clients secure more than $100 million in government contracts. 

The Florida SBDC at UWF was presented the Florida Alan Cowart Pioneer of the Year Award for their New Business Start Impact Collection Process.

The Florida Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to Lisa Brunson from the Florida SBDC at UNF for her excellent customer service and contributions to the center’s processes, customer experience and team culture. 

The network presented Kelly McLeod, former assistant director of marketing for the Florida SBDC Network State Office, with the Jerry Cartwright Lifetime Achievement Award for nearly 30 years of dedicated service with the network. 

The State Office Distinguished Service Award was awarded to James Gray, IT Administrator at the State Office, for his service to the network over the past 15 years. 

The Florida Rising Star Award was presented to Katie Muldoon, marketing specialist with the Florida SBDC at IRSC. The award, which honors employees under the age of 35 with less than five years of service with the network, was presented to Katie for her willingness to learn, serve and support the Florida SBDC Network and IRSC region. 

The Florida Team Spirit Award was presented to Keith Bowers, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at FAMU, for his above and beyond efforts in support of the network. 

The network awarded the Florida Student Project of the Year Award to the Florida SBDC at FGCU and Florida SBDC at UCF in recognition of their work with My Shower Door/D3 Glass and Dovi Window Designs, respectively. Under the guidance of the Florida SBDC at FGCU, undergraduate student teams worked on global expansion plans for the client, providing detailed research and insights on six different potential international markets for the client to consider. A graduate student team at UCF worked on a plan to help Dovi Window Designs improve efficiencies and overall production efforts. 

The Florida Resource Partner of the Year Award was presented to Enterprise Florida’s Minority and Small Business Entrepreneurship and Capital Program (MaSBEC) for their commitment to small businesses and partnership on a multi-series small business bootcamp.

The Florida Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Herbert Ricardo, instructor and professor with the IRSC School of Business, for his outstanding outreach, partnership, and commitment to the region.

The network also bestowed two new lifetime achievement awards to staff for their outstanding capital access and government contracting impact during their tenure with the network:

Capital Access Lifetime Achievement Awardees:

  • Dan Cavanaugh, Florida SBDC at UWF - $250M +
  • Cathy Hagan, Florida SBDC at UNF - $100M +
  • Julio Estremera, Florida SBDC at FGCU - $100M +
  • Eunice Choi, Florida SBDC at UCF - $75M +
  • Dr. Philip Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF - $75M +
  • Angel Rentas, Florida SBDC at FAU - $75M +
  • Roberto Castellon, Florida SBDC at FIU - $75M +
  • Hal Thayer, Florida SBDC at UCF - $50M +
  • Jill McLaughlin - Florida SBDC at UCF - $50M +
  • Suzanne Specht, Florida SBDC at FGCU - $50M +
  • Jill Kaufman, Florida SBDC at UCF - $50M +
  • Marge Cirillo, Florida SBDC at UNF - $50M +
  • Ray Juncosa, Florida SBDC at FIU - $50M +
  • Pauline Davis, Florida SBDC at UCF - $50M +

Laura Subel Government Contracting Lifetime Achievement Awardees:

  • Steve South, Florida PTAC at UCF - $250M +
  • Scotty Wilson, Florida PTAC at IRSC - $250M +
  • Carole Hart, Florida PTAC at FAU - $100M +
  • Don Zavesky, Florida PTAC at UNF  - $100M +
  • Kara Vernon, Florida PTAC at UCF - $100M +
  • Jill Kaufman, Florida SBDC at UCF - $100M +
  • Luis Batista, Florida PTAC at FIU - $100M +
  • Keith Bowers, Florida SBDC at FAMU - $100M +
  • Karen Krymski, Florida PTAC at USF - $100M +
  • Cathy Hagan, Florida SBDC at UNF - $50M +
  • Yolanda Cowart, Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development - $50M +

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.

This year’s sponsors were United Midwest Savings Bank, Florida Power & Light, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, Thryv, United Community Bank, Intuit Quickbooks, Florida Economic Development Council, FloridaMakes, CareerCourse Florida, UpSlope Advisors and Florida Trend. 

Media Contact: 

Dianne Fazio

(850) 898-3486