Communication Builds Our Community

Commissioner Gibson Chosen for 2021 Political Leadership Institute

Lake Wales City Commissioner Curtis Gibson has been chosen as one of 20 participants in the 2021 Central Florida Political Leadership Institute, a regional, nonprofit program sponsored by the Orlando Economic Partnership.

The program prepares business minded leaders throughout Central Florida for future leadership opportunities – as political candidates or appointees to government boards or commissions. Since its inception in 2008, 29 PLI graduates have served in public office.

Gibson is not seeking re-election to his city commission seat this year, but has indicated an interest in possibly running for Lake Wales mayor in 2022. Gibson was first elected to the city commission in 2017, and re-elected in 2019 with more than 63 percent of the vote.

A selection committee reviewed the strength of applications, conducted interviews and selected the participants, ensuring representation from a wide range of business, civic and community organizations across the Orlando region.

Gibson said he feels honored to be selected for PLI, and expects the experience to expand his network of contacts throughout the region and to provide him with a strong background for future public service.

"Electing candidates who truly understand what it takes to lead in today's environment is more important than ever," said Sharon Smoley, partnership vice president of advocacy and public policy. "The PLI class encourages new leaders within our Orlando region and teaches them new skills, provides important resources and helps them make the connections they need to launch their political careers."

PLI meets from February through July and includes monthly meetings, which consist of half-day and full day sessions. A final all-day gathering will be highlighted by team presentations before concluding with a graduation. Sessions feature local, state and national faculty who share their invaluable expertise on strategies to transition from private to public life, campaign for office, land an appointment and address important public-policy issues. Gibson's employer, Geico Insurance, is supporting his participation in the PLI program.

"PLI is one of most unique and successful public leadership programs of its kind anywhere in the nation," said Mark R. Mills, PLI consultant and president of Mills Strategic Communications, Inc. "The curriculum is engagement-based and practical. Everything we do is intended for class members to emerge encouraged and educated with a strategic plan for clearing the personal, professional and political obstacles for engaging in the process and stepping to the starting line prepared and positioned to succeed and lead."

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.

"Through PLI, I was able to meet folks that I need to know both to successfully do my job now and run my campaign for re-election," says Chris Anderson, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections and PLI graduate. "During the class, I never felt anyone was trying to push a certain opinion or agenda. The focus was entirely on the strategy of campaigning and the process of campaigning or becoming appointed to office."

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, Inc., Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, Orlando Regional Realtor Association, OUC – The Reliable One, Travel & Leisure Co. (formerly known as Wyndham), TRUIST, Tavistock Group, Universal Orlando Resort, University of Central Florida, and The Walt Disney Company.


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