Three Questions With: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Executive Director Tony Vecchio
The Fiorentino Group: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens‘ new Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is scheduled to open early next year. How will this impact North Florida?
Tony Vecchio: The Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is set to open in January. This will provide the only facility in North Florida where injured, orphaned, or cold-stressed manatees will be cared for. This year has seen record numbers of manatees injured by boat strikes. Currently these compromised animals have to be transported to Orlando or Tampa to receive the care they need. This facility will allow us to help the manatees from our region right here in our community.
TFG: The zoo recently launched the Wildlife Immersion Program, a one of a kind program in the state of Florida. How will the immersion program help serve our youth?
TV: This program works with at-risk teens to teach them valuable skills that will help them not only as they further their educations but throughout their lives as well. These teens will, after extensive training, be paid zoo employees charged with educating our visitors as well as the community at large. They will learn communication skills, but, more importantly, they will develop the confidence to speak with adults and children, one-on-one or in formal, group presentations.
TFG: The zoo is always holding interesting events like Brew at the Zoo. Are there any new events on the horizon you’re excited about?
TV: Our newest event is Fiesta del Jaguar on September 17, a celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage that will highlight conservation in Latin America.
Ed Burr Honored at Mineral City Celebration
The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach recently honored GreenPointe Holdings President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Burr at their annual “Mineral City Celebration”. Burr started the Monique Burr Foundation for Children in 1997 in honor of his late wife, a staunch children’s advocate.
“Annually this event celebrates an individual who lives up to and exceeds the Rotary mottoes: ‘Service Above Self’ and ‘One profits most who serves best.'” said Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach President Will Montoya. “Ed has been so focused on making better and safer communities with his successful business and he has helped secure his late wife’s passion to work with and protect children by establishing the Monique Burr Foundation for Children. It did not take us long to identify Ed as a true unsung hero of our community.”
“Ed Burr’s leadership is not only creating great companies, it is creating a better state,” said TFG President Marty Fiorentino. “He is a thought leader that gives tirelessly of his time and talents. Because of Ed, his vision and the gifts he has made, Florida students have a prevention program that teaches them how to protect against bullying, cyber bullying, and all types of child abuse. Ed is a dear friend with a selfless heart who brings a passion for excellence to everything he does.”
TFG Employee Reaches Milestone Anniversary
TFG’s Tiffany McKinley celebrated her 10 year anniversary at the firm in December. Prior to joining TFG, Tiffany served in Governor Jeb Bush’s office as assistant to the executive director of External Affairs and as a White House intern.
“Tiffany is an amazing person,” said TFG President Marty Fiorentino. “She is the nerve center of our firm. Her outstanding work has provided our clients with tremendous value added services. While she works largely behind the scenes, her contributions to our firm are immeasurable and a large part of our growth and success.”
“Working with TFG has been an amazing experience,” McKinley said. “I’ve learned so much throughout my time with the firm, and I’m proud of our efforts on behalf of our clients. The past 10 years have been incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to many more with the TFG family.”
Russ Thomas Presented with Child Advocacy Award
Availity LLC CEO Russ Thomas has been given The R. David and I. Lorraine Thomas Child Advocate of the Year Award.
The award “recognizes those who have made a significant impact toward the lives of underprivileged youth.” Mr. Thomas received the award earlier this year at a Children’s Home Society of Florida awards luncheon.
“As an adopted child, raised by wonderful parents, I’ve always felt called to work with disadvantaged children,” Thomas said. “My early experience in child welfare with great organizations like Joshua House and Hillsborough Kids, both in Tampa, opened my eyes to the huge opportunity we have to break the cycles of abuse and neglect with children.”
“Russ is a renaissance man,” said TFG President Marty Fiorentino. “He has grown a great company and is making an impact in our community with his leadership in the United Way and on the board of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. As an adopted child myself, I’m particularly thankful for his work with underprivileged and adopted children.”
Thomas, a native Floridian, was adopted through Children’s Home Society of Florida in Tampa and joined their Board of Directors later in life.
Yes for Jacksonville
A critical issue in Jacksonville is the city’s unfunded pension liability. Mayor Curry has worked tirelessly to develop a plan to solve this issue for our community. TFG was proud to be the lead lobby firm for the city, which passed state legislation authorizing a local referendum on this issue. In addition, TFG President Marty Fiorentino is serving as a finance co-chair for the “Yes for Jacksonville” campaign, which is supporting the referendum. Curry recently released a video that details his bold plan to solve the pension crisis once and for all. We urge everyone in Duval County to vote “Yes” on County Referendum No. 1 on August 30.
ICYMI: Allison Carter Joins TFG
Recently we announced the addition of Allison Carter to the firm by way of a virtual “scratch off” image. Click the image below to try it for yourself!