Samantha Padgett has served as General Counsel of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association since 2018. She became Vice President of Government Relations and General Counsel as of January 2022. Ms. Padgett oversees FRLA’s Government Relations agenda and provides legal counsel and service to the association and its leadership. She serves as an advocate for the restaurant and lodging industries at the federal, state, and local levels. Ms. Padgett serves as the staff liaison to the Government Relations, PAC, Resolutions and Bylaws, and Nominating Committees with the FRLA Board of Directors.
Ms. Padgett is a member of The Florida Bar. She graduated cum laude from the University of Florida College of Law in 2005 and received her B.A. from Emory University in 2001. Ms. Padgett was a member of the inaugural class of Florida’s Gubernatorial Fellowship Program, established by Governor Jeb Bush in 2004. Upon graduating from law school, Ms. Padgett worked in the Office of the Attorney General of Florida for two years as a member of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Ms. Padgett came to FRLA after 10 years with the Florida Retail Federation (FRF), serving as its Vice President and General Counsel. She has served on the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, the University of Florida Center for Retailing Executive Advisory Board, and the Florida Recycling Partnership Board of Directors.
Samantha enjoys reading, movies, rollercoasters, college football, and being a baseball/soccer mom. She lives in Tallahassee with her husband and two children.
Bob Dearden has served as Chief Financial officer of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) since 2002, with responsibility for the financial stewardship of the more than 10,000-member association, its educational foundation, its three political action committees, and its Regulatory Compliance Services (RCS).
Dearden has a 35-year career in accounting, with his first position as Controller for a regional, Florida-based HMO, HealthPlan Southeast. Subsequently, he entered state government and held numerous accounting and auditing posts, including the development and oversight of an audit unit for the State of Florida’s Comptroller’s Office. Dearden also served as the Director of Audit for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Dearden has served on both Federal and State of Florida boards, councils and task forces, including the Federal Reserve Advisory Council for travel and tourism, Florida Tax Watch Board of Trustees, and Florida’s Department of State Business Identity Theft Task Force.
He is a graduate of Florida State University with degrees in accounting and finance. In his spare time, Dearden is an avid golfer and has qualified for multiple statewide Championship Tournaments through the Florida State Golf Association.
Geoff Luebkemann’s career blends hospitality operations, public service regulatory, and trade association leadership experience. Starting with 15 years in food and beverage operations, Luebkemann worked up from local independents to managing new unit openings across the southeast for a national full-service restaurant company.
In the public sector, Luebkemann served as Director of the DBPR Division of Hotels & Restaurants, Florida’s statewide food and lodging regulator. While there, he oversaw eight offices statewide responsible for over 85,000 licensees and hundreds of thousands of sanitation and safety inspections annually. The Division’s commitment to quality, developed on Luebkemann’s watch, continues today as the Division is a national leader in quality benchmarks for programs of its kind.
Luebkemann joined FRLA senior staff in 2006 as Vice President of the Education and Training Department, leading the Association’s statewide training activity in food safety, Qualified Responsible Vendor alcohol safety, high performance/workforce development, and FRLA’s Regulatory Compliance Services for-profit subsidiary. He is active in numerous state and national industry food safety stakeholder groups, including the national Conference for Food Protection. In 2022, Luebkemann was named Senior Vice President of Service Operations, with duties expanded to include oversight of FRLA’s Membership and Sponsor Relations Department and all statewide field activity for the Association.
Luebkemann holds a degree in Economics from the Florida State University and lives in the Tallahassee neighborhood where he grew up.
Carol B. Dover has served as President/CEO of the more than 10,000 member Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) since July of 1995. Dover is a professional association manager, a lobbyist, a former government insider, and a Florida State University Dedman School of Hospitality graduate with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
After graduating from Florida State University in 1978, Dover accepted the position of Assistant Director of the Beer Industry of Florida, which familiarized her with the rules, regulations, and tax laws associated with the beverage industry – information which has been beneficial in her role with FRLA.
In 1989, Dover moved inside the halls of the Florida Capitol and was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff, Executive Office of the Governor, serving under the Martinez administration. As Gov. Bob Martinez’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Dover was responsible for the Governor’s appointments, served as his spokesperson, and represented his administration before the Florida Legislature.
Dover’s other professional accomplishments include positions at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Director of the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, the first woman to serve as Chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention, State Fire Marshall’s Office, and President/CEO of the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association
As the FRLA’s President/CEO, Dover works to protect, educate, and promote the diverse interests of Florida’s hospitality industry before the Florida Legislature and lobbying against unfair government regulation. The association represents a nearly $111 billion industry with approximately 1.4 million employees.
Dover also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), Council of State Restaurant Associations (CSRA), International Society of Hotel Association Executives, VISIT FLORIDA, and is Chairwoman of the Board for the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park.
On opening day of the 2003 Legislative Session, Dover was diagnosed with breast cancer and courageously fought to beat the cancer. Dover, a native of Orlando, has been married to her husband Walt for 44 years and has three children and three grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities including dressage riding and running.