Almost a year after accepting the Tony Jannus Award, Colleen Barrett will be back in the Tampa Bay area Tuesday. She retired as president of Southwest Airlines in July but continues with the company as president emeritus or, as employees call her, Mom Emeritus. Barrett's career journey began when, as a divorced mom, she was hired as a legal secretary for Herb Kelleher before he helped launch Southwest. She followed as his assistant when Kelleher took over management of the still-fledgling carrier. Barrett nurtured Southwest's familylike, fun-loving, service-oriented culture. She was named president in 2001, becoming the highest-ranking woman ever at a major U.S. airline. Barrett also was the first woman to win the Jannus, a local award for achievement in aviation. She'll return for the award ceremony next month but agreed to speak at a networking event at the Tampa Club first. And, of course, Mom Emeritus will visit Southwest employees at Tampa International.
Football coaching legend Don Shula to steer cancer center's playbook
Don Shula may be best known as former coach the '72 Miami Dolphins, the only team in NFL history to go undefeated. Or perhaps his namesake steak house chain. Shula's next role takes him to Tampa as he joins Moffitt Cancer Center's national board of advisers. The advisers' group, chaired by longtime newsman Sam Donaldson, offers advice and council on issues relating to the cancer center. The coach has a long history of activism on the cancer front, having established the Don Shula Foundation in 1992 primarily to benefit breast cancer research. One recipient of Shula Foundation funds the past five years: the Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt.
Venture Capital Conference invests in Holland & Knight lawyer's expertise
The venture capital expertise of Lou Conti, a partner with Holland & Knight's Tampa and Orlando office, is getting statewide recognition. Conti has been named co-chair of the 2009 Florida Venture Capital Conference slated for February in Naples. More than 1,200 are expected to attend the conference, which will feature a couple of dozen high-growth private companies prospecting for venture capital funding in Florida. Conti, head of Holland & Knight's Public Companies and Securities Group, is also leader of the firm's national Technology, Venture Capital and Emerging Companies Team.
Small-business payrolls take beating from collapse of real estate market
Michael Alter tracks small-business payrolls and hiring trends, and his latest Florida numbers are distressing. Since the start of 2008, Florida's small businesses have added 3.9 percent to their work forces (good news in this rising unemployment economy) but have dropped the size of the average paycheck 10.6 percent. Why the whack to the wallet? Says Alter, president of the online payroll company SurePay in Glenview, Ill.: "Florida was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the real estate boom. Now Floridians are paying a price for that boom. They have become the biggest casualty of the mortgage crisis and the collapse of the real estate bubble."