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The 10 most intriguing people in Tampa Bay

Either through personal encounters, big news or steady accomplishment, a lot of people struck a chord with me in 2011.

In narrowing that group to the 10 most intriguing people of the year, I looked for actions that reverberated through Tampa Bay and may continue to be felt in 2012.

This is my 10th such list, and it may have been the most difficult. There were so many possible choices: Sean Callahan, Jane Castor, Bill Edwards, MaryEllen Elia, Bill Foster, Judy Genshaft, Lilly Gonzalez, Carolyn Hill, Oscar Horton, David Hurley, Pam Iorio, Judy Lisi, Dottie Berger Mackinnon and Ralph Smith, just to name a few.

Here's who beat them out:

Bob Buckhorn: Buckhorn, 53, defied the odds in winning the Tampa mayoral election, and now sits as the point man for controlling the potential chaos of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

T. Hampton Dohrman: In striving to promote the arts, Dohrman, 28, brought some real innovation to the table in 2011 through microgrants and crowd financing, and now he's poised to do even more as the new head of Creative Pinellas. He's the kind of young entrepreneur we need to keep in Tampa Bay.

Dr. Stephen Klasko: Give the dean of the USF College of Medicine 15 minutes, and he will win you over with his vision for the college and for health care in America. If you don't believe me, ask Frank and Carol Morsani, who backed the vision of Klasko, 58, with a $20 million gift to the college.

Brian Lamb: Lamb, 35, took over as Fifth Third Bank's market president in 2011 while continuing to be a key player on USF's Board of Trustees. He will have to extend the bank's success to solidify his meteoric rise, but I wouldn't bet against him.

Jack Latvala: The longtime Pinellas politician is bidding to become president of the Florida Senate, and Latvala, 60, may be savvy enough to pull it off, even if it involves backing tainted colleague Jim Norman.

Linda Lerner: Credit the Pinellas County School Board member's tenacity for finally winning a 10-year battle to deny tax dollars to a program sponsored by the Boy Scouts. Lerner, 68, objected because the organization excludes gays.

Joe Lopano: Sometimes it takes an outsider like Lopano, 57, to truly see the area's potential greatness. The new CEO of Tampa International Airport hasn't been here long, but his plans could pay huge dividends.

Michelle Robinson: Verizon's Southeast president will begin 2012 as the secretary/treasurer for the Tampa Bay Partnership and a key member of the Tampa/Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. Robinson, 43, has a solid record of hiring people of color at Verizon. I hope she can bring a similar infusion to the area's overall business leadership. It's needed.

Jeff Vinik: The Lightning owner has surrounded himself with super talents, revamped the St. Pete Times Forum with $40 million of his own cash and set a new standard for philanthropy, all while setting the team up for long-term success. Vinik, 52, is for real.

Will Weatherford: The incoming speaker of the House showed some moxie in the initial redistricting maps his committee presented in November. Those lines may end up changing, but this could be a sign the 32-year-old may not be as ideological as some of his colleagues.

Happy New Year, everyone.

That's all I'm saying.

The 10 most intriguing people in Tampa Bay 12/30/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 30, 2011 8:32pm]
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