Gulf Power Economic Symposium 2019
Marlene Santos is president of Gulf Power, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. She was appointed to this role in January 2019 after serving as chief integration officer for NextEra Energy’s acquisitions of Gulf Power, Florida City Gas and Southern Company’s ownership interests in two natural-gas generating plants.
Prior to this role, she served as vice president of customer service for Florida Power & Light Company for 14 years. She joined FPL in 1981 and served in positions of increasing responsibility in the areas of finance, marketing and customer service.
Under Marlene’s leadership, FPL was consistently recognized for providing outstanding customer service. The company received the Edison Electric Institute Award for Outstanding National Key Accounts Program – Sustained Excellence in 2018, as well as in 2017, 2014, 2011 and 2009. In 2016, FPL was recognized with the J.D. Power Award for ranking highest in residential customer satisfaction among large utilities in the South. FPL also was named a “Utility Customer Champion” for outstanding performance among the nation’s leading utilities by Market Strategies International in both 2016 and 2015; and received the prestigious ServiceOne Award for excellent customer service among utilities in the United States and Canada for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years.
Marlene serves on the Executive Women in Energy Forum. She also has served the community in a variety of roles, including as a board member of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Foundation and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami. She is a recipient of the Boy Scouts of America South Florida Council’s Hispanic Heritage Award. Marlene graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami with both a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration.
Jennifer McFarren serves as the Deputy Foundation Manager of the Gulf Power Foundation and as a Senior Community Relations Specialist for Gulf Power. In these roles, she is responsible for strategic, impactful giving and aligned engagement in building, supporting and sustaining vibrant and prosperous communities throughout Northwest Florida. Prior to joining the Gulf Power team, Jennifer served as the Director of Workforce Development for FloridaWEST Economic Development Alliance and the Program Manager for Leadership Pensacola.
In 2012, she was named a Rising Star by the Independent News, and in 2014, she was selected as a national fellow for educational attainment through the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Most recently, she completed Leadership Florida’s Connect Florida Institute for the state’s top leaders under the age of 40 and was named Business Woman of the Year by the Junior League of Pensacola.
Her deep passion for the community is evidenced by her long-term involvement as a Big Sister & board member with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, an executive board member with MANNA Food Pantry and as Immediate Past-President of the board of directors for United Ministries. In her professional role, she also serves on the Florida Chamber’s Business Alliance for Early Learning, the United Way of Florida’s ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, but employed) steering committee and the chair of the Operational Support Team for Achieve Escambia.
Eric Silagy is president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., and one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the nation. He was appointed president in December 2011 and CEO in May 2014.
Mr. Silagy has worked for NextEra Energy companies for more than a decade. For FPL, he served as senior vice president of regulatory and state governmental affairs and as chief development officer, managing all generation development, including solar, natural gas and nuclear energy projects. At NextEra Energy Resources, Mr. Silagy served as vice president and general manager of the Southern Region, and vice president of business development.
Prior to joining NextEra Energy, Mr. Silagy served as vice president, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures at Entergy Wholesale Operations, and as vice president and managing director, Southeast Asia, for The Wing Group, a subsidiary of Western Resources. He also worked for U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana in several capacities, including chief of staff.
Mr. Silagy is a member of the board of directors of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, where he served as Chairman in 2013-2014 and currently serves as the Chairman of the International Business Council. He also serves on the Energy Security Leadership Council of Securing America’s Future Energy, a bi-partisan council of business and military leaders supporting a comprehensive, long-term policy to reduce U.S. oil dependence and improve energy security. Additionally, Mr. Silagy is an executive board member of Enterprise Florida, Inc., executive board member of the Florida Council of 100 and board member of the Honda Classic PGA Tour event. Mr. Silagy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center and is a member of the Maryland and U.S. Supreme Court bars.
Ron DeSantis is the 46th Governor of the state of Florida. As governor of the third largest state in the country, Governor DeSantis is focused on building a world-class education system; achieving more now to protect and preserve Florida’s water quality and environment; deregulation and tax relief; infrastructure and workforce development; hurricane recovery; rule of law; safe communities and protecting Florida’s most vulnerable populations.
As a native Floridian, Governor DeSantis learned the value of hard work, discipline, team work and camaraderie at an early age when he traveled from Dunedin to compete in the Little League World Series. His passion for baseball lead him to Yale University where he was captain of the Yale Baseball Team. Working his way through college did not deter Governor DeSantis from graduating from Yale University with honors. He attended Harvard Law School and where he also graduated with honors. While at Harvard University, he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as a JAG officer. During his active-duty service, he supported operations at the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and deployed to Iraq as an adviser to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of the SEAL mission in Fallujah, Ramadi and the rest of Al Anbar province. His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
After active-duty service, Governor DeSantis served as a federal prosecutor, where he targeted and convicted child predators. He was first elected to Congress in 2012, where he fought for term limits, the No Budget/No Pay Act, and lead efforts to cut taxes. While serving in Congress, then Congressman DeSantis refused his Congressional pension and health insurance plan because he is against special deals for politicians. He also sponsored legislation to make it easier for the military to prosecute sexual assault and authored the bill to end the secret taxpayer-funded slush fund for members of Congress to make hush payoffs for sexual harassment.
Governor DeSantis is married to First Lady Casey DeSantis, a former Emmy Award winning television host. They’re the proud parents of two children, Madison and Mason. They are the youngest family living in the Florida Governor’s Mansion in nearly fifty years.
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