As Florida's gubernatorial race starts shifting from the invisible primaries phase to the higher visibility phase, Democratic businessman Chris King of Winter Park is making moves to ensure he is not overlooked.
A significant one comes today as King names his campaign leadership team, which includes some heavy hitters in the business, non-profit, and trial lawyer arenas.
King's new state chairman is business leader Harold Mills of Orlando, whose management strategy that turned a workforce management company, ZeroChaos, into a multi-billion dollar global business and one of America's largest black-owned firms, is taught to business students at Harvard.
Each of the major Democratic candidates courted Mills, but the 47-year-old entrepreneur said King's substance and deeply thought out agenda won him over, particularly his ideas on community colleges, affordable housing, and criminal justice reform. Mills just stepped down as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Jacksonville branch so he can devote full attention to King's campaign.
"I'm doing this because I truly believe Chris can win. I think the next 90 days will see significant exposure and response to his policies," said Mills.
The rest of King's state leadership committee, as described by the campaigns:
Linda Chapin, State Vice-Chair
Linda Chapin served as the first elected Mayor of Orange County, and has a long history of civic, business and academic involvement. During her tenure in public office, she led the efforts for a new courthouse, the second largest convention center in the nation, a new history center and the purchase of thousands of acres of environmental lands. At the University of Central Florida, she was the founder of the Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies, a think tank which examines growth, transportation, the environment and social policy issues.
Bishop Allen T.D. Wiggins, State Vice-Chair
Bishop Wiggins is Senior Pastor at The Hope Church of Orlando. In his work across Central Florida, Wiggins helps to reestablish urban economies and promotes residential and commercial growth in the Greater Washington Shores community of Orlando. Bishop Wiggins created Hope Center West, a live, work, play, learn, and worship community serving as an economic and community development engine.
Shannon Del Prado, State Vice-Chair
Shannon del Prado is the past President of the Miami-Dade Trial Lawyers Association. She is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum. Since 2004, she has been recognized as a Top Lawyer by the South Florida Legal Guide in the area of personal injury and medical malpractice. And in 2011, she was named as a top lawyer in the Miami Herald. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Shannon worked for both the U.S. Departments of Justice and State throughout Latin American and the Caribbean.
Skip Pita, State Vice-Chair
Skip Pita is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He has also been elected to the Board of Directors for the Florida Justice Association. He has been recognized as a Top Lawyer by the South Florida Legal Guide since 2002. In 2011, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy named Skip as a top 100 trial lawyer in Florida. In 2010, he was recognized state-wide as a top lawyer in Florida's Legal Elite. Skip is licensed in both the state and federal courts of Florida. He belongs to the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Miami-Dade County Trial Lawyers Association.
State Rep. Nicholas X. Duran, State Vice-Chair
Nick Duran represents District 112 in the Florida House of Representatives. A leader in the non-profit community, Nick became the State Director for Enroll America in Florida, managing a team of over 40 staff members to ensure that every Floridian has access to quality, affordable healthcare. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, a group dedicated to strengthening our community's access to affordable, quality healthcare. Previously, Nick worked as an organizer and advocate for the Children's Movement of Florida, advocating for increased funding toward high-quality learning opportunities for all of Florida's children.
Najam Usmani, National Vice-Chair
Najam Usmani immigrated from Pakistan at age 19 and built a series of successful businesses in Charlotte, North Carolina. He founded the Champ Camp, a program that provides career mentorship to the build the next generation of leaders along with several other charitable initiatives. Usmani is an active fundraiser for Democratic candidates nationwide.
Dr. Russ Prather, State Finance Chair
Russ Prather is a fifth-generation Floridian born in Orlando. He was raised in Kissimmee and recalls holding Senator Bill Nelson's banner in a parade during one of his early congressional campaigns. Prather attended the University of Florida for his undergraduate studies then completed medical school at University of South Florida in Tampa. Dr. Prather returned to Orlando for his Residency training and joined a hospital-based pediatric group at Arnold Palmer Medical Center. Dr. Prather is the Managing Member of Prather Properties, LLC and Three Prathers, LLC, with specific experience in property rehabilitation, renovation, and management. He is a past member of the Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors in Kissimmee.
Alejandro Longoria, National Finance Chair
Until June 2017, Alejandro was a managing director in the Chicago office of Guggenheim Partners, LLC. Prior to his work at Guggenheim, Alejandro held various positions at QVT Financial LP, a multi-strategy hedge fund in New York, and started his career as a corporate associate at the New York law firm Wachtell, Liption, Rosen & Katz. Alejandro currently serves on the board of Bottom Line in Chicago, an organization that helps low-income and first-generation-to-college students get to and through college.