50 Most Powerful People – 15 to Watch

Other people making news or working behind the scenes

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Martha Are – As executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida, Are is known as a tireless behind-the-scenes advocate who delves into the nuts and bolts of efforts for the homeless.

Flavio Augusto da Silva – The majority owner of the underachieving Orlando City Soccer Club has said he might sell a chunk of the MLS team by 2022 and shift his focus to philanthropy.

Jan Edwards – The Republican businesswoman and head of a nonprofit that combats child sex trafficking is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in 2020.

Alauna Friskics – With Friskics as executive director, the 28th annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival saw its highest attendance ever, drawing more than 75,000 people over two weeks to Loch Haven Park.

Mike Griffin – As vice president of advocacy and public policy for AdventHealth, Griffin has emerged as a force for compassion, leading hospital efforts to combat homelessness, among other initiatives.

Frank Kruppenbacher – The former airport authority chair (and 50 Most Powerful alum, 2012-2018) resigned as counsel for Florida Virtual School last August. An audit later alleged that he helped steer contracts and asked school employees to do work for his outside businesses. Kruppenbacher says he's the victim of a "smear campaign." Can one of the area's most well-connected political operatives make a comeback?

Jonathan and Krista Ledden – The couple   helped put Orlando Ballet on more stable footing, as well as being big donors to various arts groups. Jonathan, a private equity investor, is ballet board chairman. Krista, formerly with Twyla Tharp Dance Company, also is on the board.

Marcos Marchena – A 50 Most Powerful regular for several years, Marchena has maintained a low profile since resigning from the UCF Board of Trustees amid investigations into misspent construction money that drove university President Dale Whittaker from his post. He remains general counsel for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Brendan O’Connor – The editor of the community-focused news website Bungalower delivers need-to-know info like openings, closings and transit updates. He’s also been an advocate for children's art projects.

Orange County Commissioners – Three women (Maribel Gomez Cordero, Christine Moore, Mayra Uribe) won posts on the board last year, joining the female trio of commissioners already there (Emily Bonilla, Victoria Siplin, Betsy VanderLey). Will a new leader emerge in County Mayor Jerry Demings’ first term?

Belvin Perry – Best known for presiding over the Casey Anthony trial, the former Orange-Osceola chief judge is considering a run for the state attorney’s post being vacated by Aramis Ayala. Perry, a former prosecutor, is currently an attorney in John Morgan’s firm.

Barbara Poma – The owner of Pulse nighclub and CEO of the onePULSE Foundation is hoping to have a permanent memorial opened at the site of the mass shooting by 2022. The Legislature recently allotted $500,000 toward the project, and the design was narrowed to six architectural firms.

Jason Siegel – The CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission is leading the drive to have Orlando selected as a host city for World Cup soccer in 2026.

Jeff Weltman – The Orlando Magic’s head of basketball operations hired Steve Clifford as coach, and the team made the playoffs (although falling to Toronto in the first round). Will he make the right decisions on players to engineer a more successful repeat for next season?

Falecia Williams – It’s almost here—Valencia College’s downtown campus—and Williams is in charge. What benefits and challenges will the school’s landmark accomplishment bring?

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