Executive Committee

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Sheldon Suga

2020 Chairman of the Board

Hawks Cay Resort

Sheldon Suga

2020 Chairman of the Board

Hawks Cay Resort

Sheldon Suga is the VP and Managing Director of Hawks Cay Resort located in the Florida Keys. He is a seasoned hospitality executive with more than 35 years of industry experience. He started his career as a room clerk in Niagara Falls Canada for summer employment which led him to pursue a degree in Hospitality Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. Upon graduation, Sheldon was accepted into ITT Sheraton’s General Management Training program. During his time with ITT Sheraton, he attained the ITT Ring of Quality Worldwide Team Award and served as general manager at properties in West Hartford, New York City, Halifax, LaJolla, and Los Angeles. He also worked in Tokyo and was country manager for ITT Sheraton. He has also worked for Wyndham hotels and resorts as an area director in Atlanta and Puerto Rico. He worked in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms as the VP Hotel Manager and was the opening Senior VP and general manager of the Gaylord National Resort.

Sheldon has served as Chapter President of the FRLA Monroe County Chapter, a member and past chair of the District III Advisory Committee of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. He has also served on the board of Tourism Halifax, the Maryland Hotel and Motel Association and as a member of the Maryland Tourism Development Council.

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Jim Shirley

2020 Vice Chairman of the Board

Chef Jim Shirley Enterprises

Jim Shirley

2020 Vice Chairman of the Board

Chef Jim Shirley Enterprises

Jim Shirley is a chef and restaurateur in South Walton, Florida, owning Great Southern Café and 45 Central Wine Bar in Seaside, Florida, as well as The Bay Restaurant, North Beach Tortilla Company and Farm & Fire Southern Pizzeria in South Walton. He is also co-owner of Meltdown on 30A in Seaside. Jim was previously the president of the Northwest Florida FRLA chapter and president of the Escambia County chapter. He is currently the treasurer of FRLA’s Educational Foundation. Jim sits on the board of the Children’s Home Society and the Seaside Neighborhood School. Jim represented Florida in the 2015 Great American Seafood Cook-Off. In addition, Jim has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City four times. He is the author of the cookbook, “Good Grits! Southern Boy Cooks,” a compilation of his best recipes along with entertaining stories.

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Olivia Hoblit

2019-2020 Lodging Director/Secretary-Treasurer

Innisfree Hotels, Amelia Island

Olivia Hoblit

2019-2020 Lodging Director/Secretary-Treasurer

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 overseeing Seaside Amelia Inn and the dual-Marriott brand Courtyard/Springhill Suites currently under construction in Amelia Island, FL. She rejoined Innisfree Hotels in April 2020 in her new role after spending a year at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, 446 room, AAA Five-Diamond luxury resort as the Assistant Rooms Executive. While at The Ritz-Carlton, she served as a member of the opening team, who successfully reopened The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, in 2019. She was also nominated as “Marriott Ops Star” for going above and beyond operational expectations. Mrs. Hoblit was the general manager of the Seaside Amelia Inn for five years during her previous tenure with Innisfree Hotels.

Prior to her position at Seaside Amelia Inn, Mrs. Hoblit 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, Elizabeth Pointe Lodge received numerous awards, 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 as well as No. 2 Best Hotel in the Continental U.S. in 2008 Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Award. In 2012, Mrs. Hoblit also received the “Sharky Award from Travel Shark for “Best Guest- Service General Manager.”

Since January 2017, Mrs. Hoblit has served on the Executive Committee of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) as Lodging Director/Secretary-Treasurer. She also serves as a board member on the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (TDC) and as an Advisory Council member for the University of West Florida Global Hospitality and Tourism Management.

In 2018, Mrs. Hoblit was named as one of Florida’s leading women in Lodging by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Magazine. In 2016, she and her husband, Phil Hoblit, founded the Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation in honor of their daughter, Trinity, who passed away in 2015 at age fourteen from a brain aneurysm. Mrs. Hoblit is the President of the foundation, which supports and funds neurological research, training, and treatment for brain aneurysms, strokes, and other cerebrovascular conditions both nationally and internationally.

Mr. & Mrs. Hoblit are both active members of the Amelia Island community. Her son Joshua is attending FSU with a major in Economics and son Philip, Jr. “PJ” is a high school student with honors at Bishop Kenny High School. In her free time, she enjoys golfing and riding bikes with her family.

 

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Lino Maldonado

Former Chairman

Lino Maldonado

Former Chairman

 

After joining WVR’s predecessor, Abbott Resorts/ResortQuest in 1996 and for the next ten years, Lino moved through several key positions in operations, sales and marketing. Since June of 2007, he has led a staff of more than 1100 full, part time, seasonal and contracted associates and budgets in excess of $500 million in his current role over operations and real estate sales.

Understanding the importance that community and industry involvement play in the overall success of any business, Lino sits on a number of State level boards such as the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association where he served on the executive board as 2016 Chairman. Lino also sits on the executive board of VISIT FLORIDA and most recently, Lino was selected by Governor Rick Scott as one of his (6) appointees to serve on the Gulf Consortium which is tasked with helping to structure the States expenditure plan for the settlement funds from the BP Gulf Oil spill. Locally, Lino serves/has served on boards for The United Way, The American Heart Association, Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council and was a founding member of Coastal Vision 3000 “THE Beach” group that was instrumental in bringing the first low-cost air carrier (Southwest Airlines) into the Northwest Florida Panhandle.

Lino is married to Vicki, his wife of 22 years and has three girls, Stephanie 27, Maci 17 and Madison 14.

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John Horne

Restaurant Director 2019-2020

Anna Maria Oyster Bar

John Horne

Restaurant Director 2019-2020

Anna Maria Oyster Bar

An almost 40 year veteran of the hospitality industry, John began his career as a busboy on Anna MariaIslandworking for a small chain of restaurants. In 1996, after ten years of working his way up the ladder, he took the leap and opened the first of his four. At the Anna Maria Oyster Bar’s you will find a fun, friendly place with great staff serving the freshest food at reasonable prices in a family-friendly atmosphere. John and his 325co-workers have received many accolades over the years including Small Business of the Year awards from both the Manatee & Sarasota Chambers, over 70 People’s Choice Favorites as well as community, volunteer and tourism awards culminating in the 2018 National Restaurant Neighbor Award presented by the National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation. John is very passionate about education and helping his community but life is not all about work…along with his wife Amanda, John enjoys traveling anywhere that there’s a cooking class with wine involved!

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Kevin Speidel

2019 Immediate Past Chairman

Hilton Grand Vacations

Kevin Speidel

2019 Immediate Past Chairman

Hilton Grand Vacations

Kevin Speidel is Vice President of Resort Operations for Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV). In this role, he is responsible for the operations function of all Hilton Grand Vacations locations located domestically and internationally. A fifteen year employee of Hilton Worldwide, Kevin joined the HGV in July 2016.

During his tenure with Hilton, Mr. Speidel directed the repositioning of iconic resort properties in Key West, the Casa Marina and Reach Resorts, transforming these assets into the Waldorf Astoria brands creating some of the most successful resorts in the industry. Previously he also served as Regional Director of Operations for Interstate Hotels, a leading global lodging operator, managing the company’s hotel and timeshare operations during its international growth in Russia, Thailand, Israel, Mexico, Panama, Canada and numerous Caribbean islands.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Speidel was General Manager of the Sheraton Miami and General Manager of the Providence Marriott. A native of New Jersey, Speidel first acquired his passion for international hospitality beginning his career at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York.

Mr. Speidel serves on multiple boards and organizations including the State Executive Committee of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA), past president and current board member of FRLA’s Broward Chapter, the Broward County Tourist Development Council, Broward County Chamber of Commerce, and Fort Lauderdale Boat Parade.

Mr. Speidel is a graduate of Lynn University with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in hospitality management.

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Senior Staff

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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. This position 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 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 industry represents a $108.8 billion industry, $11.3 billion in local and state tax revenue, and nearly 1.4 million employees, making it the state’s number one industry.

She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, Council of State Restaurant Associations, International Society of Hotel Association Executives, VISIT FLORIDA, Florida State University College of Business Board of Governors, Florida TaxWatch and 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, is married and has three children and three grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities including dressage riding and running.

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Bob Dearden

Chief Financial Officer

Bob Dearden

Chief Financial 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.

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Dan Murphy

Senior Vice President, Membership & Corporate Relations

Dan Murphy

Senior Vice President, Membership & Corporate Relations

Dan Murphy is Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations and Membership for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and has been involved in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. He is a passionate sales and marketing professional and over his tenure with FRLA, he has continually increased membership and retention, developed various programs and events to serve the industry and created a sponsorship program that is top in the nation. 

Murphy’s work requires in-depth industry knowledge and constant contact with restaurant and hotel operators as well as industry suppliers like UnitedHealthcare, Heartland Payment Systems, Coca-Cola, American Express and many others. He is involved with national industry organizations including the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Council of State Restaurant Associations. Prior to working with the FRLA, Murphy was a hospitality education trainer for the state of Florida. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University and currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida where he enjoys hunting and fishing with his family.

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Geoff Luebkemann

Senior Vice President, Education & Training

Geoff Luebkemann

Senior Vice President, Education & Training

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.

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Richard Turner

Senior Vice President, Government Relations

Richard Turner

Senior Vice President, Government Relations

Richard Turner assumed the role of General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association in September of 2002.

He has been a member of the Florida Bar for more than 25 years and has more than 17 years’ experience in state government. His last position at the state was as Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, Department of Business & Professional Regulations (DBPR).

Turner represents the industry before the Florida Legislature, and such varied organizations as the Florida Cabinet, Department of Revenue, Department of Agriculture, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and on occasion in Washington, DC.

He thinks the greatest threat facing the hospitality industry is the continuing growth of rules and regulations into every aspect of business.

Turner’s three top career moments include: the repeal of the alcoholic beverage surcharge, preemption to the state of paid leave, and the clarification of the communication services tax.

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Samantha Padgett

General Counsel

Samantha Padgett

General Counsel

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