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Gary E. Jenkins has been named president of Amerilife, a Clearwater-based annuity, life and insurance marketing group. He will now serve as the company's president and continue his role as chief financial officer, a position he has held since 2008.

"Gary has been instrumental — indeed his experience and leadership have been integral — in elevating Ameri­Life to a new level of success and profitability," said AmeriLife chief executive officer Timothy O. North in announcing the promotion. "Gary's reasoned and intuitive stewardship is the reason AmeriLife has seen three consecutive years of record expansion, production, sales and profits."

Jenkins has worked for more than 30 years in public accounting and the life and health insurance industries. He began his insurance career as CFO of Academy Life, then joined Americo Financial Life and Annuity Co. as its CFO and executive vice president. Prior to his insurance career, Jenkins was a CPA with Grant Thornton.

Jenkins, 55, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics and accounting from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1971, Ameri­Life represents more than 30 national insurance carriers, has 16 individual marketing organizations, 35 career agency branch locations, and works with hundreds of thousands of independent insurance agents across the country.

• • •

More than 200 people attended the 2013 Pinellas Education Foundation's Career Education Breakfast March 20 at the Achieva Conference Center in the Gus A. Stavros Institute, 12100 Starkey Road, Largo.

The mission of the Pinellas Education Foundation is to enhance and improve educational opportunities in Pinellas County schools with the vision of preparing every student for life after high school.

Joe Sleppy, a senior from Largo's Osceola Fundamental High School, was named the winner of the Next Generation Entrepreneurs Program, a year-long business competition involving high school juniors and seniors that included business plan training, creativity workshops and mentoring.

Sleppy earned the award for his invention involving workout equipment for veterans who have lost a limb. One device, used for pushups, relies on airbag compression to hold an individual by their forearms to keep strain off of wrists. He will receive $10,000 to start his business.

Debra Fischer, director of the Finance Academy at Northeast High, St. Petersburg, was named 2013 Career Educator of the Year. She will receive a $2,000 classroom grant.

The Frances Stavros Career Education Champion Award was presented to Alex McKenna, president of McKenna Group International Inc., a St. Petersburg company providing career transition coaching and counseling to senior executives and managers. A $2,000 scholarship to the Frances Stavros Career Education Program will be awarded to a deserving student in Dr. McKenna's honor.

Keynote speaker Cheryl Carrier, director of Ford Next Generation Learning at Ford Motor Company Fund, announced that Pinellas County has been named a Ford NGL Community, one of only 17 in the nation. This designation reflects the collaboration between Pinellas County Schools, the Pinellas Education Foundation, its business partners and community organizations that have supported the Academies of Pinellas and career education.

With this recognition, Pinellas County will receive ongoing guidance and technical assistance from the Ford NGL Leadership Team, become members in the Ford NGL community national network and leverage the Ford NGL designation to encourage economic development for the region by demonstrating that Pinellas County is preparing students for high-wage, high-skill jobs in the community.

St. Petersburg's Northeast High School took first place in the 2013 Academies of Pinellas Outstanding Achievement Awards and was presented with a $5,000 award. Second place went to Clearwater High, which received $3,000 and Boca Ciega High in Gulfport placed third with an award of $2,000.

"We are honored that our schools' and community's hard work is being recognized by Ford NGL at Ford Motor Company Fund," said Michael Grego, superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. "We have diverse communities, each one unique and wonderful in their own way. Education and the involvement of the community in our academies have the potential to be the catalyst that can unify Pinellas County, providing a bright and better future for our children."

During the breakfast event, a showcase of student skills and programs from the Academies programs was displayed in Finance Park and Enterprise Village. The showcase included the Academy of Engineering at East Lake High, the Center for Computer Technology at Countryside High, the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts at Pinellas Technical Education Center, St. Petersburg; the Center for Wellness and Medical Professions at Palm Harbor University High, and First Responders: National Guard Center for Emergency Management at Pinellas Park High.

The Pinellas Education Foundation is an independent, non-governmental not-for-profit established in 1986 whose mission is to provide enhanced educational opportunities for students and educators in Pinellas County public schools.

Mail business news to Tampa Bay Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756; fax to (727) 441-4119; or email

Pinellas County business news 03/28/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 7:06pm]
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