Executive Committee

Click on an image to learn more

John Horne

Board Chair

Owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bars, Bradenton and Cafe L'Europe, Sarasota

John Horne

Board Chair

Owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bars, Bradenton and Cafe L'Europe, Sarasota

This year will mark 41 years of experience in Manatee County’s hospitality industry for John Horne, who began his career working summers at Fast Eddie’s Place while completing his Business degree at Clemson University. In 1995, John opened his first restaurant, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, on the City Pier in Anna Maria, Florida. Four more restaurants followed, and today the restaurants, affectionately known by locals as the AMOBs, are a well-known place to enjoy fresh, delicious seafood at a great value, served by a team of wonderful staff in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. 2022 brought the next evolution of the Horne’s hospitality group with the purchase of Sarasota’s iconic Cafe L’Europe, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year in 2023.

John Horne and his 325+ co-workers have garnered many accolades over the years, including:

  • DBPR congratulatory proclamation for positive impact to the community – 2022
  • 2020 U.S. Senate Small Business of the Week
  • 2018 National Restaurant Association Education Foundation Restaurant Neighbor Award
  • 2019 Leadership Florida Impact Award for Dive Into Reading
  • 2020 Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Seal of Commitment (1st Restaurant in FL)
  • 2020 Florida Department of Education Commissioners Business Award
  • 2021 Manatee Chamber of Commerce Robert P. Bartz Award for Outstanding Leadership
  • Small Business of the Year Award from the Manatee, Sarasota, and Longboat Key Chambers of Commerce
  • Manatee Community Foundation Spirit of Manatee Volunteer of the Year
  • Manatee Community Foundation Corporate Spirit Award
  • 70+ People’s Choice Favorites from Local Newspaper Publication Readers
  • USF 2014-2015 Hospitality Leadership Award
  • Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau – Champion of Tourism Award
  • Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau – Tourism Ambassador Award
  • Anna Maria Island Rotary Club’s Small Businessperson of the Year Award
  • Bradenton Kiwanis Bert South Award
  • Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best: Top 10% of Restaurants
  • Tampa Bay Business Journal One Tampa Bay Corporate Philanthropy Honoree
  • Longboat Key Chamber Ed and Marge Moran Memorial Award for Community Service

John is very active outside of his restaurants, as well.  He has contributed to many community organizations and has received the following recognitions for his service:

  • Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association – State Board of Directors Chair 2023
  • Leadership Florida – State Board of Directors Chair 2021-2022, Regional Council Chair, Co-Chair of Annual Meeting, Cornerstone Class 28
  • Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association – Suncoast Chapter Past President and Treasurer
  • US House of Representatives testimonial before the Ways & Means committee
  • Manatee Chamber of Commerce – Past Board Chair
  • Bradenton Area EDC – Executive Board
  • Manatee Technical College – Advisory Board of the Culinary Program (Past Chairman)
  • University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee – Advisory Board for the College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership
  • State College of Florida – Member of Board of Trustees
  • Campaign for Grade-Level Reading –  National Reading Champions
  • City of Bradenton Beach – CRA Board Member
  • Leadership Manatee Alumni Association – Board Member
  • School District of Manatee County – Citizens Advisory Board Member and Past Chair
  • Bartow High School Hall of Fame
  • PACE Center for Girls – Capital Campaign Co-Chair
  • PACE Center for Girls – Honorary PACE Girl!
  • American Cancer Society
  • Manatee Tiger Bay Club – Community Advocate
  • AMI Community Center – Executive Committee
  • Hernando De Soto Historical Society – Honorary Member

John is married to Amanda Horne, who shares his passion for improving education in their community.

PREV
NEXT

Roger Amidon

Vice Chair

General Manager of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

Roger Amidon

Vice Chair

General Manager of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

Since 2012, Roger Amidon has been the General Manager of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa, where he is responsible for the operation of Palm Beach County’s only AAA Four-Diamond all-suite beachfront hotel. In 2014, Amidon was named General Manager of the Year for its Eastern Region Full-Service Hotels/Resorts, and under his expert leadership, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island was named one of Marriott International’s Full-Service Hotels of the Year. Additionally, he was recognized by FRLA in 2015 as Hotel General Manager of the Year.

Amidon has worked in the hospitality sector since 1983. Joining Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island marked his return to the Marriott brand after serving three years as Executive Director of the Tourist Development Council of Palm Beach County. Prior to leading the Tourist Development Council, Amidon served Marriott in roles including Area General Manager for Marriott Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton Renaissance and Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. His regional tenure included General Manager positions for the Delray Beach Marriott and Sheraton at CityPlace.

Amidon provides leadership in a variety of industry and community organizations. Current and past positions include: Chairman of Discover the Palm Beaches; President of the Palm Beach County Hotel & Lodging Association; Past President of FRLA’s Palm Beach Chapter and Vice Chair with FRLA State Board, Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council Advisory Board member, Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, Honda Classic Ambassador, Palm Beach County Economic Council Board, Singer Island Civic Association and, Riviera Beach Business Council, Coalitions to South Florida Fair and Palm Beach Gardens High School Five Star Magnet Advisory Council.

When not working or volunteering, Amidon enjoys golf, fishing, travel with his family. Amidon and his wife of 35 years, Tina, have two children and reside in Jupiter.

 

PREV
NEXT

Nick Sarra

Restaurant Director 2022-2023, Secretary-Treasurer

Chief Operations Officer, Saltwater Restaurants Inc.

Nick Sarra

Restaurant Director 2022-2023, Secretary-Treasurer

Chief Operations Officer, Saltwater Restaurants Inc.

Nick Sarra is Chief Operating Officer for Saltwater Restaurants Inc. which includes nine iconic high-volume restaurants with over 1,000 employees across the Florida panhandle, a sizable beachfront shopping & dining venue, and an award-winning golf course. Sarra’s 40-year career began as a busser at the Sonesta Hotel in Connecticut and followed with an associate degree in Culinary Arts and bachelor’s in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales University. His management career started at our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. as part of the Specialty Restaurant Division of Gilbert Robinson, including Charlie’s Place Bar & Grill, H.I. Ribsters, and Hogate’s Seafood. After moving to the Gulf coast, Sarra operated many well-known establishments before opening his first restaurant nearly 20 years ago. 

Sarra dedicates his time to the FRLA Minimum Wage Working Group, is an active member and past-president of the FRLA Board of Directors Northwest Florida Chapter, and serves on the Okaloosa County Tourism Development Council.

PREV
NEXT

Barbara Bowden

Lodging Director 2023-2024

Area Managing Director for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando

Barbara Bowden

Lodging Director 2023-2024

Area Managing Director for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando

Barbara Bowden is the Area Managing Director for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, overseeing the operation of the destination’s premier and preferred hotels, including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

Previously, she served as the Complex Managing Director for Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, overseeing the operation of these two resort hotels, comprising 2,000 guest rooms and 250,000 square feet of meeting space.

Prior to joining Loews Hotels, Bowden served as general manager of the Orange County Convention Center. Before that, she spent 27 years with The Peabody Orlando, working her way through the ranks to become Vice President/General Manager.

In addition to her role on the FRLA Board, she also serves on the Visit Orlando Board of Directors, the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Board of Directors Executive Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Rosen College Dean’s Advisory Board. Previously, Bowden served as Chair of the HSMAI Americas Board and as a member of the HSMAI Foundation board.

 

PREV
NEXT

Henry Delgado

Restaurant Director 2023-2024

Managing Partner, Smith & Wollensky Miami Beach, PPX Hospitality

Henry Delgado

Restaurant Director 2023-2024

Managing Partner, Smith & Wollensky Miami Beach, PPX Hospitality

The consummate hospitality professional, Henry’s journey with Smith & Wollensky began 23 years ago. He has led the Miami Beach business for over 14 years, becoming General Manager in 2007 and Managing Partner in 2016. Henry is the past President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in addition to his many other affiliations with Miami institutions and charities. Henry began his career in the hospitality industry nearly four decades ago in 1984.

PREV
NEXT

Lisa Lombardo, MPA

Lodging Director 2022-2023

Chief Culture and Strategy Officer, HDG Hotels, Ocala

Lisa Lombardo, MPA

Lodging Director 2022-2023

Chief Culture and Strategy Officer, HDG Hotels, Ocala

Lisa is the Chief Culture and Strategy Officer for HDG Hotels. She has worked in a leadership, strategy, and mentoring capacity with nonprofits, financial institutions, arts organizations, televised and other high-profile events, higher education institutions, start-ups, individual executives, and hospitality.

Before joining the HDG Hotels team, Lisa worked in roles such as the Director of Development at the CF Foundation and Campaign Counsel for the Central Florida Y’s DeLuca YMCA, helping each raise their single largest charitable gifts at that time. As a consultant, she has worked with a diverse roster of clients including Broadway-based organizations, which fed her passion for the performing arts – a lifelong love that also motivated her to co-found a performing arts conservatory and gaining meaningful experience as a business owner and operator while also still working as an executive and consultant.

Lisa has led organizations through overhauls of mission statements, global brand launches, board and executive team development trainings, and represented brands throughout the state of Florida, nationally and internationally through partnerships such as the LPGA and the Broadway Education Alliance. She has chaired the Marion Cultural Alliance, Marion County Estate Planning Council, and served in leadership for the American Cancer Society – Making Strides, United Way, Dance Alive National Ballet Company, Children’s Home Society, AHLA’s Human Resources Committee, International Franchise Association Franchisee Committee and Convention Committee, and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. She is often called upon to present and keynote at events. In 2021, Florida Trend recognized her as an “Executive Making a Mark.”

When asked what motivates her, she answers, “People.” She believes the first step toward progress is having clarity of purpose. As HDG’s Chief Culture and Strategy Officer, she leads all things “engagement.” Internally, that means making sure the team members onboarded truly feel on board, especially with our vision, mission, and core values. Externally, that includes representing HDG within the industry, in government affairs, communications, and community outreach. Lisa received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

 

PREV
NEXT

Olivia Hoblit

Immediate Past Chair

Regional Manager for Innisfree Hotels, Amelia Island

Olivia Hoblit

Immediate Past Chair

Regional Manager for Innisfree Hotels, Amelia Island

Olivia Hoblit has more than 22 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is a Regional Manager with Innisfree Hotels, where she oversees Seaside Amelia Inn and the new dual-Marriott brand Courtyard/Springhill Suites in Amelia Island. She rejoined Innisfree Hotels in April 2020 after spending a year as Assistant Rooms Executive at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, a 446-room, AAA Five-Diamond luxury resort. While at The Ritz-Carlton, Hoblit served as a member of the team that successfully reopened The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas in 2019. She was nominated as “Marriott Ops Star” for going above and beyond operational expectations. During her previous tenure with Innisfree Hotels, she served for five years was the general manager of the Seaside Amelia Inn.

Prior to her position at Seaside Amelia Inn, Olivia spent seven years as the general manager of the highly acclaimed Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. Under her leadership and management with owners David and Susan Caples, she received numerous awards for the property, including Travel+Leisure’s 2013 World’s Best Awards where it ranked No. 25 on its list of Top 100 World’s Best Hotel, No. 3 Top Resort in Florida in 2012, and No. 2 Best Hotel in the Continental U.S. in 2008 Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Award. She also received a “Sharky Award from TravelShark in 2012 for Best Guest- Service General Manager.

Since January 2017, Olivia has served on the Executive Committee of FRLA. She also serves as a board member on the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, and is an Advisory Council member for the University of West Florida Global Hospitality and Tourism Management program. In 2018, she was named one of Florida’s leading women in lodging by Florida Restaurant & Lodging Magazine.

In 2016, Olivia and her husband Phil founded the Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation in honor of their daughter, Trinity, who passed away in 2015 from a brain aneurysm. Olivia serves as President of the foundation, which supports and funds neurological research, training, and treatment for brain aneurysms, strokes, and other cerebrovascular conditions.

Olivia is an active member of the Amelia Island community. Her son Joshua is at FSU majoring in economics and son Philip Jr., PJ, is a high school student at Bishop Kenny High School.

PREV
NEXT

Senior Staff

Click on an image to learn more

Carol Dover

President & CEO

Carol Dover

President & CEO

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.

PREV
NEXT

Bob Dearden

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer

Bob Dearden

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer

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.

Dearden has a 25 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 Chidren and Families.

Dearden serves 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.

Dearden lives in Tallahassee and is the father of three children. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of Florida State University, with degrees in accounting and finance. In his spare time, Dearden is an avid golfer and participated in the 2012 Men’s Championship Tournament through the Florida State Golf Association.

PREV
NEXT

Samantha Padgett

Vice President, Government Relations

General Counsel

Samantha Padgett

Vice President, Government Relations

General Counsel

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.

 

 

PREV
NEXT

Geoff Luebkemann

Senior Vice President, Education & Training

Interim Senior VP of Membership & Corporate Relations

Geoff Luebkemann

Senior Vice President, Education & Training

Interim Senior VP of Membership & Corporate Relations

Geoff Luebkemann’s career blends hospitality industry, public service, and trade association leadership experience. Starting with 15 years in food and beverage operations, Luebkemann worked up from local independents to opening restaurants across the southeast for a national full-service restaurant company.

In the public sector, Luebkemann served as Director of DBPR’s Division of Hotels & Restaurants, the statewide food and lodging regulator. While there, he oversaw 8 offices statewide responsible for over 85,000 licensees and hundreds of thousands of sanitation and safety inspections annually. The Division’s commitment to quality, that began on Luebkemann’s watch, continues today as the Division leads the nation in quality for programs of its kind.

Luebkemann currently serves as Senior Vice President of Education and Training for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, where he has been since 2006. In this role, he guides the association’s statewide food safety training activity, oversees FRLA’s for-profit Regulatory Compliances Services subsidiary, and is active in numerous state and national industry stakeholder groups.

Luebkemann holds a degree in Economics from the Florida State University and lives in the Tallahassee neighborhood where he grew up.

PREV
NEXT

Andie Levings

Executive Assistant to the President & CEO

Andie Levings

Executive Assistant to the President & CEO

PREV
NEXT