Our LEaders Advocate on your Behalf
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Firehouse of America, LLC
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.
Hilton Worldwide Fort Lauderdale
Hilton Worldwide Fort Lauderdale
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 Vacation 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.
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
Chau Nguyen MBA, CPA/CMA has been an owner/operator of the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse chain in Central and West Coast of Florida since 1984. Kobe has been recognized as being one of the top Japanese restaurants in the region for the last 30 years. Along with his restaurant businesses, Chau also owns several real estate investments in the Central Florida area. He is an active member on the board of directors of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association for the last 4 years. As a board member, he brings diversity and small-business insight to the FRLA organization.
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.
Hawks Cay Resort
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 currently serves 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.
Seaside Amelia Inn
Seaside Amelia Inn
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, and also in charge of all sales and marketing efforts. During Olivia’s first year, Seaside Amelia Inn had experienced rapid growth and continues to grow under her management. Through her leadership, the hotel has moved to the ranking of #2 Best Hotel on Amelia Island by Trip Advisor.
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 as 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 more than 18 years of experience in hospitality, 6 years in Food & Beverage and 11 years in law for Personal Injury and Worker’s Compensation. She sits on the board of Florida First Coast of Golf, Vice President in Lodging for FRLA’s First Coast Chapter and served on the Management team for Katie Caples Foundation. Olivia is married to Philip, her husband for 12 years and has two boys and one daughter, Joshua Yu, 19 who is currently attending his freshman year in Florida State University, Philip Jr. (PJ), 11 and her late daughter, Trinity, 14. She enjoys golfing and bike rides with her family.
Wyndham Vacation Rentals
Wyndham Vacation Rentals
Lino Maldonado is the Vice President of Operations for the Gulf Region for Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America.
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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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 $82 billion industry, 23% of Florida’s economy, $4.6 billion in sales tax revenue, and more than 1.1 million employees, making it the state’s number one industry.
Dover serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Council of State Restaurant Associations, International Society of Hotel Association Executives, VISIT FLORIDA, Florida Tourism Commission, Florida TaxWatch and the Florida 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.
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.
Richard Turner assumed the role of General Counsel and 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.
Dan Murphy is 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 the past 16 years 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 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.
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 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.