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Executive Committee

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Kevin Speidel

Chairman

Hilton Grand Vacations

Kevin Speidel

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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Alan Palmieri

Vice Chair

Marlow's Tavern

Alan Palmieri

Vice Chair

Marlow's Tavern

Presently with more than 40 years in the restaurant industry, Alan became a Co-Owner and Partner of Marlow’s Tavern in 2011. He is responsible for the growth, development and operations of the Marlow’s brand in Florida. Marlow’s Tavern started in Atlanta in 2004. Alan brings an outstanding professional track record of success to the Marlow’s team, joining Dick Rivera, John Metz Jr and Tommy DiGiorgio as a partner in the business. At that time, Alan had just retired from Darden Restaurants Inc after 13 years as Executive Vice President of Operations in the Specialty Restaurant Group.

Throughout his career in the restaurant industry, he has developed a reputation as a strong, hands-on operational leader. Known for profitable sales growth, strategic turnarounds, aggressive expansion, human resource development and team building. In 2007, Alan was recognized for his many contributions, being selected to receive Darden’s prestigious “Strategic Pillar Award for Restaurant Operations Excellence”.

Alan began his restaurant career in the mid 70s with Norman Brinker’s Steak and Ale located in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. During his 13 years at S&A Restaurant Corporation based in Dallas, Texas (Steak and Ale, Bennigan’s and Bay Street Seafood Restaurants) he held increasingly responsible positions in addition to his “up through the ranks” operations career. Alan was Vice President of Training, Vice President of Research and Development as well as Vice President of Purchasing before becoming President of Bay Street Seafood Restaurants with locations in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In the late 80s, Alan led a LBO (leveraged buy out) of the Bay Street brand and served as President and COO as he and his leadership team took the brand private.

During the 90s, Alan was President and CEO of a 110 unit Boston Market franchise in Southern California. Prior to being a franchisee, Alan spent three years at the Boston Chicken headquarters as one of eight founding officers and served first as Vice President of Franchise Operations and then as Senior Vice President of company and franchised operations, including the responsibility for human resources and training.

Throughout his career, his many successes can be traced to his principles based leadership coupled with his vibrant passion for providing an ever-improving guest experience, working to drive results through improved execution as a product of high quality team member experience. In addition to his passion for the hospitality industry, Alan raves about his family, which includes Paula, his wife of 42 years, grown children Tony and Nicole, son-in-law Jeff and their grandsons Jack and Blake.

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Sheldon Suga

Secretary-Treasurer

Hawks Cay Resort

Sheldon Suga

Secretary-Treasurer

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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Olivia Hoblit

2018-19 Lodging Director

Seaside Amelia Inn (Innisfree Hotels)

Olivia Hoblit

2018-19 Lodging Director

Seaside Amelia Inn (Innisfree Hotels)

Olivia Hoblit was appointed on April 2014 as the General Manager of Seaside Amelia Inn on Amelia Island, overseeing all aspects of the hotel’s day to day operations. During Olivia’s first year, Seaside Amelia Inn experienced rapid growth and continues to grow under her management. On May 2017, Innisfree Hotels took ownership of the Seaside Amelia Inn and Olivia will continue her three-year post as General Manager of the hotel.

Previous 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 the owners David and Susan Caples, she obtained 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 as well as 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”. Olivia has always been committed to putting her team of staff first and her guests. This unwavering dedication to personal service has allowed the company to continuously grow. She has always been active in the non-profit sector through volunteerism or professionally.

She has over 19 years of experience in hospitality, 12 years in Food & Beverage and 11 years in law for Personal Injury and Worker’s Compensation. She sits on board of Florida First Coast of Golf, FRLA-First Coast Chapter and serve as President for the Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation. Olivia is married to Philip, her husband for 13 years and has two boys and one daughter, Joshua Yu-20 who is currently attending his freshman year in Florida State University, Philip jr. (PJ) 12 and her late daughter, Trinity 14. She enjoys golfing and bike ride with her family.

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Jim Shirley

2018-19 Restaurant Director

Great Southern Restaurant Group

Jim Shirley

2018-19 Restaurant Director

Great Southern Restaurant Group

Chef Jim Shirley is a restaurateur in South Walton, Florida, owning Great Southern Café and 45 Central Wine Bar in Seaside, Florida, as well as The Bay Restaurant at the southern foot of the Highway 331 bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay in South Walton. He is also co-owner of Meltdown on 30A in Seaside and grocerant Baytowne Provisions in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

Jim was previously the president of the FRLA Northwest Florida Chapter and previous to that a president of the Escambia County chapter. He is currently the treasurer of the FRLA Educational Foundation, which heads up the ProStart program — teaching high school-age kids culinary skills. Jim sits on the board of the Children’s Home Society and the Seaside Neighborhood School.

Governor Rick Scott chose Jim to represent Florida in the 2015 Great American Seafood Cook-Off. Jim has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City four times. He is author of the cookbook, “Good Grits! Southern Boy Cooks,” a compilation of his best recipes along with entertaining stories.

His community spirit has led him to honor government relations, education, and training toward championing sustainable agriculture and fishery practices at the urban edge.

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Cathie Koch

2018 Restaurant Director

Bloomin' Brands

Cathie Koch

2018 Restaurant Director

Bloomin' Brands

Cathie Koch is the Vice President of Corporate Communications & Government Relations for Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., the parent company for Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

Ms. Koch is responsible for creating the messaging and communications strategy on special issues, image and reputation management, government relations and community affairs for one of the world’s largest casual dining restaurant companies.

She joined Bloomin’ Brands following an eight-year tenure with Arby’s Restaurant Group, where she created a Corporate Communications function and provided strategic direction for a full-service communications department.  She also created the franchised brand’s first 24/7 crisis communication team.

Prior to Arby’s, she provided issues management, investor relations, media relations and crisis communications services to consumer and business-to-business clients through her consultancy. She began her restaurant career as the national spokesperson for The Olive Garden and Applebee’s.

Outside of Bloomin’ Brands, Ms. Koch is a member of the University of South Florida Journalism and Media Studies Advisory Board, and the Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society Board of Directors.  She served as PAC Chair for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association in 2016.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and an accreditation in public relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America.

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Don Fox

Immediate Past Chairman

Firehouse of America, LLC

Don Fox

Immediate Past Chairman

Firehouse of America, LLC

Don Fox is Chief Executive Officer of Firehouse of America, LLC, in which he leads the strategic growth of Firehouse Subs, one of America’s leading fast casual restaurant brands. Under his leadership, the brand has grown to more than 1,010 restaurants in 44 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, and is recognized as one of the best franchises in the country. Don sits on various boards of influence in the restaurant community, and is a respected speaker, commentator and published author. He was recognized by Nation’s Restaurant News as 2011’s Operator of the Year. In 2013, he received the prestigious Silver Plate Award from the International Food Manufacturers Association (IFMA), was recognized by FastCasual.com as the No.1 Executive in the fast casual restaurant community, and received the National Restaurant Association’s Advocacy Leadership Award.

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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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Richard Turner

General Counsel & Senior Vice President, Government Relations

Richard Turner

General Counsel & 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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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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Sandy Moore, CMP

Senior Vice President of Executive Services, Meetings & Events

Sandy Moore, CMP

Senior Vice President of Executive Services, Meetings & Events

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