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Central Florida Political Leadership Institute Opens Applications for 2021 Class

Orlando Economic Partnership
Orlando Economic Partnership
The free, non-partisan program is seeking business-minded leaders who want to explore how they can make a difference in elected or appointed office.
Orlando, Fla. – The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) is accepting applications for its upcoming 2021 class until January 8, 2021. The unique, nonpartisan program managed by Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) prepares business-minded leaders who have an interest in exploring future public leadership opportunities – either as a political candidate or appointee to a government board or commission – and discovering how their experience and talent could address critical public policy issues. Since its inception in 2008, 29 PLI graduates have served in public office in the Central Florida region.
PLI was developed by business leaders in Central Florida and is geared toward applicants who are not declared candidates but are considering a run for local office or who want to serve on a local government board.
“Given the breadth and depth of the challenges facing our region, state and nation, it’s critical candidates understand what it takes to lead in today’s environment,” said Sharon Smoley, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the Partnership. “This program exposes prospective elected leaders to the political process, regardless of their political affiliation, and prepares them to run a successful campaign and be an effective public servant.”
PLI teaches leadership skills for effective governing and educates participants on the critical public policy issues that are affecting our community.
“Participating in the Political Leadership Institute helped me to hone my passion for politics and community service into a platform to wage a winning campaign,” said Kristen Arrington, Florida State Representative from District 43 and 2020 PLI graduate. “The experience gave me deeper insight and understanding of the issues facing the families and businesses in our region and helped direct my energy toward helping to address the most critical challenges across the state and right here at home.”
“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we were able to enjoy great sessions and be enlightened beyond my expectations,” said Antoinette L. Giles, broker-owner of Affinity Real Estate Group, LLC and PLI Class of 2020 graduate. “From the speakers to the group interaction to the candid insight, I truly feel well-informed and equipped to set new goals as a community leader.”
PLI features a two-day political leadership school, ongoing leadership activities throughout the year, important networking opportunities and a final one-day course that concludes with a graduation. It features local, state and national speakers who share their invaluable expertise on campaigning for public office and leading once elected.
“The PLI program taught me a great deal about myself and helped me recognized how I might be perceived as a potential candidate for office/appointment,” said Mandie Jones, manager of government relations at AdventHealth and PLI Class of 2020 graduate. “The program gives you the tools to work through those details and think about what and how you might like to adjust in response. It also brings you face to face with elected officials who were in your shoes just a few years ago. These discussions help you to identify the specific steps necessary for you to achieve your goal personally and professionally. I have a Master’s in American Politics and Policy, and I can say that this program is unlike anything I have ever experienced.”
Participants are selected based on the strength of their applications and personal interviews with a screening committee. Applicants must reside in Brevard, Lake, Polk, Orange, Osceola, Seminole or Volusia Counties in order to be selected.
There is no cost to apply or attend the program. PLI is made possible by the support of its sponsors including AdventHealth, Charter Communications, CNL, Florida Blue, Full Sail University, Lockheed Martin, Massey Services, Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, Orlando Regional Realtor Association, OUC – The Reliable One, Tavistock Group, Truist Financial Corp., Universal Orlando Resort, University of Central Florida, Walt Disney World Resort and Wyndham Destinations.
Aspiring political leaders can find the more information and the application at Orlando.org/PLI.

About the Orlando Economic Partnership

The Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) is a public-private, not-for-profit economic and community development organization that works to advance broad-based prosperity by strengthening Orlando’s economy, amplifying Orlando’s story, championing regional priorities, empowering community leaders and building a brilliant region. These five foundational objectives serve to improve the region’s competitiveness while responding to the needs of communities, residents and businesses. For more information, visit www.Orlando.org.

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About the author

Diane Sears

A career journalist, author and advocate for business growth, Diane Sears is the CEO, editor and publisher of i4 Business. She is also the founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC, which has handled content marketing projects including nonfiction books, white papers, executive speeches and scripts since 2000. She is co-founder of the nonprofit Go for the Greens Foundation, which helps connect women-owned and minority-owned business owners with growth opportunities internationally.

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