Sandestin, Fla. – At a closing retreat and graduation ceremony on May 17, 2024, Florida’s Great Northwest (FGNW) Foundation honored its new graduates from Leadership Northwest Florida, a regional collaboration program focused on community, content, and connection. Twenty-two leaders from across Northwest Florida participated in the program, fostering a deeper understanding of the region’s diverse landscape.

Class participants were immersed in a seven-month educational program that offered a holistic view of the conditions, challenges, and opportunities shared throughout Northwest Florida. The program focused on the areas of Business Vitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Infrastructure, Talent, and Quality of Place.

Brian Wyer, president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce was selected to participate in Class II of the Leadership Northwest Florida program and elected to serve as the Class President.

“I am truly blessed to have been selected into Class II with such a wonderful group of leaders. The ability to explore our region and meet with a wide variety of businesses was invaluable,” said Wyer. “The Florida’s Great Northwest team did an amazing job coordinating the logistics, treating our class with compassion, and providing detailed background information to maximize the time our class spent together. I am looking forward to attending Alumni events with other Leadership Northwest Florida Class Graduates.”

Another participant, Katie McCurdy, Executive Director of Community Engagement at Gulf Coast State College, shared a similar experience with the Leadership Northwest Florida program.

“This unique program provided invaluable opportunities to collaborate regionally across the 13 counties with businesses and industries that serve these communities,” said McCurdy. This program has empowered me to connect with some amazing leaders across the region, foster lasting friendships, and provide meaningful connections to form partnerships. This leadership program is just one way that Florida's Great Northwest demonstrates its commitment to bettering our region.”

Congratulations to all the graduates from Class II of Leadership Northwest Florida:


  • Jason Alves, Warren Averett, LLC CPAs & Advisors
  • Jordan Conti, Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Matt Davis, Hancock Whitney Bank
  • Lauren Dee, Community South Credit Union
  • Tom Deen, LandrumHR
  • Tarae Donaldson, CareerSource Escarosa
  • Zach Gilmore, Florida SBDC at UWF
  • John Gormley, PNC Bank
  • Jessica Graham, Florida State University Panama City
  • Emily Lowe, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida
  • Katie McCurdy, Gulf Coast State College
  • Chris Munro, COX
  • David W. Peaden, II, Florida Power & Light
  • Diamond Popour, Florida State University Credit Union
  • Bobby Potomski Jr., Baptist Health Care
  • Stephen Schmidt, Kerigan Marketing Associates
  • Margaret Thompson, The St. Joe Company
  • Kristen White, WJHG-TV
  • Joe Whitmer, Gulf County Chamber of Commerce
  • Jeff Wiater, The Highland Group
  • Brian Wyer, Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce
  • Robin Zimmern, University of West Florida


Call for applications for the next Leadership class will be this summer. Visit www.FloridasGreatNorthwest.com/LNWFL or contact Kasey Killebrew at 334-790-4557 or kkillebrew@fgnw.org for additional information.


About Leadership Northwest Florida

For Northwest Florida to continue to compete, diversify and thrive, it will take informed, dedicated leaders who understand the complex and competitive environment of economic transformation. Leadership Northwest Florida is designed to be an educational program for professionals in all industry sectors desiring to grow their knowledgebase, network, and skillset in the 13-county region of Florida’s Great Northwest footprint. This experience will ultimately result in the long-term influence of the leadership graduates for the betterment of Northwest Florida.


About Florida’s Great Northwest

Florida’s Great Northwest is the regional economic development organization for the Florida Panhandle. The organization was created to promote Northwest Florida for economic growth and diversification, advocate for economic development issues that affect the region, and collaborate to improve regional competitiveness. The organization accomplishes this in partnership with the state and local economic development organizations, rural regional economic development organization, utility partners, private sector businesses, local government, higher education institutions, workforce boards, and community leaders.




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