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Catching up with 20 who made their mark on Tampa Bay's business landscape

They made their strong marks — mostly for the good, some not so much — on the Tampa Bay business landscape. Some are still here. Many have moved on. Some have passed away. Here are 20 people who shaped this area. What are they up to now?

1. Chris Sullivan, co-founder of Tampa-based Outback Steakhouse chain and restaurant corporation. He's still an active investor, but one of his pet projects is raising funds for the United Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa., before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks this Sept. 11.

2. Shelley Broader, former CEO of Tampa's Sweetbay Supermarket, who reinvented the old Kash n' Karry brand. She moved on to hobby chain Michael's but has since landed as chief merchandising officer at Walmart Canada.

3. Carl Cronan, longtime business journalist for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and, most recently, the Gulf Coast Business Review. He passed away last week from cancer. Godspeed.

4. Sid Morgan, served as Central Florida president for health giant Humana and recently chaired the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce through a difficult transition. He's now chief operating officer of JSA Healthcare in St. Petersburg.

5. Ed Turanchik, former Hills­borough County commissioner, Tampa housing developer, high-speed rail advocate and recent candidate for mayor of Tampa. "Choo Choo" Turanchik recently joined the Tampa law office of Akerman Senterfitt.

6. Ben Eason ran and then lost the Creative Loafing alternative newspaper chain in a financial squeeze. Now he's affiliated, among other things, with tampaplanet.com media website.

7. Howard Troxler, longtime influential St. Petersburg Times columnist. Hey, he just left, but we miss him already. He says he's got some lofty goals, like walking his dog near the North Carolina mountains.

8. Lesley Blackner, the Palm Beach lawyer who started Florida's whole Hometown Democracy movement to localize economic development decisions. It was soundly defeated by voters in the fall. She's reportedly bummed out by the polls and has retreated from the spotlight.

9. Frank Murphy, former CEO of Baycare Health System and emerging regional business leader. He gave it all up to run Catholic Charities, focusing on helping the homeless. No lack of business there.

10. Kim Scheeler ran the local United Way, then spent seven years heading the staff of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. He left in 2008 and has been running the chamber in Richmond, Va., ever since.

11. Satish Sanan became an early believer in outsourcing and a computer services multimillionaire when he sold Clearwater's IMRglobal (big in the "Y2K" computer systems crisis that never happened) for $438 million. He's still big in horse racing circles at his Padua Stables, now helped by son Sasha Sanan.

12. Peter Monroe, former Safety Harbor real estate developer, who entered late in the 2006 Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate and lost to Katherine Harris. Monroe says he's now an independent and, if he had the money, "would be starting a third party dealing with the key issues facing our country."

13. John Wulbern was a banker for more than 30 years and once served as president of Tampa's First Florida Banks, then controlled by the Lykes family. He passed away of a heart attack earlier this month, as his obit says, "shortly after hitting a beautiful golf shot on the ninth hole at Wildcat Cliffs Country Club in Highlands, N.C." May we all be so active until the end.

14. Tony Hayward, who ran BP's USA operations during the gulf oil spill and became infamous for his comment during the crisis of "wanting his life back." Well, he may get rewarded more than he imagined. His new energy company, Vallares, this month said it plans a $1.6 billion initial public offering.

15. Gay Culverhouse, former Tampa Bay Bucs president and daughter of former owner Hugh Culverhouse. She formed the Players' Outreach Program to help retired players with brain concussions navigate the benefits process. At last report, she was fighting her own battles with multiple illnesses.

16. Jack Critchfield ran Florida Progress Corp. (parent of Florida Power) before it was sold to Progress Energy, served as Rollins College president and helped bring Major League Baseball here. Long retired, he can still be seen on TV (if you squint) at most Tampa Bay Rays home games since his seats are behind home plate. "Dr. Jack" recently received recognition for his contributions to education, including his chairing the Pinellas Education Foundation.

17. Todd Farha was CEO of WellCare Health Plans in an era of alleged Medicaid fraud at the company. An FBI raid soon followed. Farha, who once was a big fundraiser in the Republican Party, now keeps a lower-than-low profile, especially since March, when he and four other ex-execs were charged by federal prosecutors in an elaborate scheme to divert millions of dollars designated for Medicaid patients to company profits.

18. Antoinette Rodriguez, a co-founder of the Tampa Bay Internet Forum, now known as the Tampa Bay Technology Forum. Before she left for New York (she's a marketing consultant), she challenged the local power structure, asking: "Why do chambers continue to only populate their leadership positions with older white male bankers?"

19. Phil Coon was real estate lender at Bradenton's Coast Bank, one of the earlier local banks to get involved in scam mortgage deals during the housing bubble. Coon pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering by illegally pocketing $1.2 million and will be sentenced July 6.

20. Aj Jemison was the first and perhaps most unusual general manager at International Plaza, Tampa's upscale mall that was launched amid storm warnings just three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. She left in 2005 to run another Taubman Center shopping jewel, the mall in Beverly Hills, Calif. At last word, she's still riding her motorcycles. But now she's known as Aj Jemison Coffee, running Simon Property Group's Cottonwood Mall in Albuquerque, N.M.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Catching up with 20 who made their mark on Tampa Bay's business landscape 06/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 7:11pm]
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