The Telecommunication Department’s Advisory Council is composed of professionals in all career phases and in most of the areas our students are interested in gaining employment. Advisory Council members visit campus each semester to meet individually and with small groups of students. They also are available to answer questions or provide advice throughout the year.
Dawn Rodriguez, PR 1985
Senior Account Executive, Gator IMG Sports Marketing, Jacksonville (chair)
Dawn is a senior account executive for Gator IMG Sports Marketing. She is responsible for selling all of marketing and multimedia opportunities for University of Florida athletics including venue signage, corporate partnerships, official athletic web site, television and radio.
Dawn came to the Gator IMG Sports Marketing from WJXT – Channel 4, where spent 14 years as a marketing specialist, working with Jacksonville-based businesses and national accounts. She also coordinated sales of all stations sports programming, creating overall sports packages and working with the sales staff to keep the department on track in sports sales. Prior serving as a marketing specialist, she worked as sales promotions director where she was responsible for creating and coordinating all station sales promotions and overseeing commercial production.
She previously served as assistant marketing manager for the Jacksonville Landing Downtown Marketplace and was communications manager for Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. In that role she served as the media center chairman for the SENIOR TPC golf tournament and coordinated credentials and daily operations for The PLAYERS Championship media center.
Dawn is the recipient the Grand-All Jacksonville Golden Image award from the Florida Public Relations Association for a community campaign executed at the Jacksonville Landing and was awarded a state arts grant for another Landing campaign. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communications, with a major in Public Relations. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority.
Jason Alpert, TEL 1996
Alpert Enterprises, Seminole, FL
Jason’s voice can be heard behind the microphone for some of the county’s largest and most prestigious charity fund raisers, corporate functions, award shows, and sporting events. As the owner of Alpert Enterprises, he has brought his energizing, engaging, and captivating manner to groups such as NASCAR, WWE, Orange Bowl Committee, Special Olympics, American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the United Way. He is an emcee, host, live auctioneer, public address announcer, and voice over artist like none other with an electric and entertaining style.
Before becoming The Voice of All Seasons, he spent nearly 10 years as an on-air television sports reporter and videographer for local and regional affiliates around the Southeast United States such as Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida and still freelances for MaxPreps.com and other media outlets around the country. His company, Alpert Enterprises LLC, also produces sports and corporate videos.
Jason is a member of the Florida Auctioneers Association, Southern Automotive Media Association, Football Writers Association, and Young President Association YAF Forum. He is a graduate of the University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communications, with a major in Telecommunications-News. He is a proud Preview Staffer, Cicerone, and Campus Diplomat and was the Outstanding Leader-runner up for the University of Florida’s Summer 1996 graduating class.
Jason currently resides in Seminole, FL with his wife (Devani UF c/o 2001) and two children.
Aragon Production Services, Jacksonville
Manuel is an award winning videographer and editor. In 2001, he started his company, Aragon Production Services, Inc. which is a full service production facility. His expertise is in editing, videography and lighting. He has freelanced for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, GOLF CHANNEL, PGA TOUR, NFL NETWORK/FILM.
Manuel began his career in television news at WCTV, Tallahassee. He became chief photographer at WJXT, Jacksonville. He covered events such as the Challenger shuttle disaster, Hurricane Andrew, numerous political conventions and the NFL expansion of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Manuel has won 3 Emmy awards for his videography as well as numerous Telly Awards, Communicator Awards, Axiem Awards and Cine Golden Eagle Awards.
Born in Cuba, Manuel and his parents left when he was a very young child and he grew up in Puerto Rico. He is fluent in Spanish and has done voiceovers and translations for various videos. He graduated from Valdosta State University in 1985 with a degree in Telecommunications.
Cindi Avila, TEL 1995
Spokesperson, News & Public Relations Expert – Green Goddess Public Relations (Miami & NYC)
Cindi Avila graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunication News. Her works includes anchor, reporter and producer jobs at MSNBC, Fox News, WCBS, NY1, WTVJ, WPTV, WSVN and more.
Midway through her career, Cindi decided to get a culinary degree and combine her career in TV with a career in food. She has since won a reality show food competition on TLC, competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped,” been featured on Bravo, as well as appeared on and written for numerous other outlets talking food. She now appears on various TV stations talking about food and helps get other people on television with her own public relations firm, Green Goddess Public Relations.
Cindi also still keeps her love for the news business alive by helping run legendary newsman’s Dan Rather’s enormously popular News and Guts website and Facebook feed.
Jackie Barron, TEL 1989
Public Affairs Manager, The Mosaic Company, FishHawk, FL
In May of 2011 Jackie accepted a position with The Mosaic Company as the Public Affairs Manager in Manatee & Sarasota counties. Prior to Mosaic, Jackie worked as a Reporter for News Channel 8, WFLA-TV for the last 13 years. Her career as an award-winning, broadcast journalist spanned two decades jumping from Gainesville to Maryland to Sarasota to Tampa.
A third generation Tampa native, Jackie’s family roots can be traced back to when her great-grandmother rolled cigars in Ybor City. As a student at the University of Florida, Jackie covered news and anchored the weather for TV 5.
In 2009 Jackie earned an AP Award for Breaking News Team Coverage. Other recognition includes a Green Eyeshade Award for “Medicaid Mess,” the Award for Outstanding Excellence in Spot News from the Society of Professional Journalists for “Carlton Fire” and a Jack R. Howard Award for Best Investigative Reporting for “The Gang Trap.” Jackie lives in Sarasota with her husband and two children.
Doug Bartel, TEL 1991
Director of Public Affairs and Business Development, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Miami
Doug Bartel serves as Director of Public Affairs and Business Development for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida in South Florida. In his role, Bartel is responsible for Business Development, Media Relations, Public Relations and Communications in Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.
Bartel brings with him years of experience in marketing, business, broadcast journalism, public affairs, non-profit organizations and healthcare. Before joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Bartel spent three years as President and Creative Director of Excel Communications Group, a consulting firm specializing in Marketing, Public Relations and Media Relations for local, state and national non-profits. During that time, he served as Director of Multimedia for the Dan Marino Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity based in Weston, FL, which focuses on research and programs for children with autism and other neurological disabilities. Prior to that, he served as Executive Producer of WTVJ/NBC 6 where he earned one of two distinguished Emmy Awards, as well as several other regional and state awards.
Bartel spent nearly 15 years in the television and radio industry as a producer, executive producer and as a reporter/anchor. Throughout his career, Bartel has held leadership positions with various charitable and professional affiliations. He is currently a Board Member and active participant in several organizations including: the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Donors Forum of South Florida, Broward Alliance, Autism Speaks, March of Dimes of Florida, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Advisory Council, Leadership Broward, Gulliver Schools Alumni Council and others.
Doug has a B.S. in Telecommunications from the University of Florida, with a Minor Concentration in Spanish. He has an M.B.A. from the University of Miami with an Advanced Concentration in Healthcare and Health Management. Doug is married with three children, and lives in Broward County.
Donna Bell, TEL 1994
Morning/Noon Anchor, WJHG-TV (NBC), Panama City
Donna Bell is the News Director at NewsChannel 7. She also anchors “NewsChannel 7 at Noon.”
Donna was promoted to the News Director’s role in February 2014 and anchored “NewsChannel 7 Today” for 13 years. She started her Broadcasting career at WJHG in June 1994, after graduating from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. Donna has reported on a wide range of stories and news events while at WJHG. She’s covered several U.S. Presidential visits to Northwest Florida. She traveled to San Diego to follow a Panama City soldier injured in Iraq through his rehabilitation. She has reported from the cockpit of an F-16 with the Air Force Thunderbirds, and from the front lines of numerous tropical storms and hurricanes, including Hurricanes Opal and Ivan, which severely damaged the area.
While working at WJHG, she was selected to travel across Europe in a special German-American journalist exchange program, learning about politics and policies overseas. Donna currently serves on the Advisory Board for the UF College of Journalism, where she mentors future journalists. She has also been named several times in the Best of Bay Favorite Media Personality category, and is the recipient of a Hearst Broadcast News award, and several Associated Press awards. In her twenty years at WJHG, she has “done it all,” anchoring and reporting on almost every shift, and even working as weather anchor for several years.
Donna is also very active in the community. She volunteers on the board of the local American Cancer Society, and has served as past chair and honorary chair of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Under her leadership, MSABC was an event awarded most over-goal and largest growth of any walk of its kind in Florida. After losing her mom to breast cancer in 2013, she has become even more passionate in raising awareness about cancer screenings and prevention. She was awarded with the American Cancer Society’s Hope Award for her volunteer efforts in fighting cancer in Northwest Florida.
Donna can frequently be seen speaking at local events, ranging from women’s leadership groups to local churches and schools. When she’s not at work, Donna enjoys spending time with her husband and their two sons. Together they love traveling, skiing, baseball, and cheering on the Florida Gators!
Creative Director and Co-Founder, Big Machine Design, Los Angeles
Ken Carlson is the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Big Machine in Burbank, CA. Big Machine is an award winning visual production company that has produced visuals for everything from: film titles, advertising, tv shows, games, multi-screen experiences and mobile devices.
Ken recently directed the documentary series Mob Week for cable network AMC. Ken interviewed former mobsters, undercover cops, journalists and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the week-long series that aired in the beginning of August.
Ken is also a founding partner in Robot Field & Post and an executive producer of several TV shows including: Hell’s Highway (Current), Valentine’s Day Massacre (National Geographic), Real Streets Miami (Discovery) and Do Or Die (Discovery.)
In addition Ken co-owns Degas Dance Studio with his wife in Encino, CA and is on the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization Artist Community for Change Los Angeles.
Ken graduated from the University of Florida in 1996 with a degree in Telecommunication News.
Tom Doerr, TEL 1976
News Director, Fort Myers (Fla.) Broadcasting Company
“Tom Doerr is one of the industry’s top TV station executives. He works strategically with a strong focus on the development of relevant and valuable content to engage the ‘changing media consumer.’ Tom is a skilled leader and collaborator and most importantly has a solid track record for “moving the needle.” –Jerry Gumbert, President and CEO , Audience Research & Development
Tom Doerr joined Fort Myers Broadcasting Company (which operates CBS affiliate WINK) in 2016, as news director. He oversees 11.5 hours of local news, daily, as well as news in Spanish on WINK-TV and WXCW-TV, as well as all digital platforms.
Previously, he was as Vice President of News at Fox Chicago. Throughout his career, Tom has been asked to improve television news operations, programming, content development and marketing at stations across the country as an executive and consultant. His passion is utilizing audience research, new technology and social media to create innovative programs. His Chicago team created a documentary series titled: Chicago at the Tipping Point, which focused on the many economic and social issues threatening Chicago’s stature as a world class city.
Doerr has led news operations at Fox Houston, as well as, Vice President & Station Manager at CBS4 in Miami; VP/News Director at CBS 11 in Dallas; News Director at WPLG in Miami and KTRK in Houston; Vice President/News at WJLA in Washington, D.C; Executive Producer at WSB-TV in Atlanta. He was also Senior Strategist for Audience Research and Development in Dallas, consulting television stations and station groups across the country.
Originally from Detroit, he earned both his BS and MAJC degrees at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism. His Master’s thesis WFAA TV: A Case Study, chronicled the changes that grew the station from last place to #1. Tom was also a member of the two-time Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship Team and as a Gator track athlete earned A.A.U. All-America honors. He lives on Sanibel with his wife Gail.
Trimmel Gomes, TEL 2005
President, Gomes Media Strategies LLC
Trimmel Gomes is a veteran broadcaster and communications expert with more than 15 years experience as an award-winning journalist for major news outlets like NPR and PBS. He’s covered complex and important public policy issues while managing a statewide news team as news director of Florida Public Radio/WFSU-FM, in Tallahassee. Trimmel is often quoted as a noted expert on Florida politics, appearing on national and statewide media. He is a graduate of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, a member of the college advisory council and an adjunct instructor in the College of Communication & Information at Florida State University. Gomes is president of Gomes Media Strategies LLC, a public relations and production firm. He serves on the boards of the First Amendment Foundation and LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts. Gomes also hosts The Rotunda; a weekly public affairs podcast about the people and issues shaping Florida politics.
Brian Marsh, TEL 1975
General Manager, Comcast Spotlight – Nashville, TN, Bowling Green, KY, Paducah, KY (vice chair)
Brian Marsh is the General Manager for Comcast Spotlight in 3 television markets: Nashville, Tennessee, Bowling Green and Paducah, Kentucky. Spotlight is the advertising sales division of Comcast, offering advertising opportunities in linear TV as well as digital media. Brian has worked for cable and television operations since graduating from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications with a Bachelors Degree in Broadcasting in 1975. He is a second generation Gator; his father graduated from UF in 1948. The early stages of his career were spent producing sports and news programming, working for WUFT-TV, WCJB-TV in Gainesville, and WFTS-TV in Tampa. In the late 1980’s, Brian moved into advertising sales, first as an Account Executive, then into management. He joined the NBC affiliate, WTLV-TV, in Jacksonville in 1992 as Local Sales Manager. In 2002, he accepted the position of Station Manager for WASV-TV, a UPN affiliate in the Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina market. In May of 2005 he became the General Manager of Jacksonville’s Comcast Spotlight operation and was promoted to his current position in Nashville in September of 2010.
Brian has received awards from local ad federations, a Freedoms Foundation award for a documentary about the history of the town of Gainesville, Florida, and numerous sales awards. In 2003, he completed the Center for Sales Strategy’s Sales Management Training and he is a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Management Training program. He was one of only three Spotlight employees selected for Comcast’s Executive Learning Forum (ELF) program in 2007. In 2009, Brian was selected to be the Comcast Spotlight Southern Division leader for the rollout of SalesLook, an account management tool used by all Account Executives in Spotlight. He received a Comcast Spotlight “Pioneer” award for his efforts.
In addition to the UF College of Journalism and Communications Advisory Council, Brian has served on multiple Ad Club and Rotary Club committees. In Jacksonville, he was on the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Nashville Sports Development Council. Brian is married to Melanie Hollowell Marsh from Charlotte, North Carolina. They have two children, Ashley and Graham.
Patrick Nealis, TEL 2007
Senior Manager, Digital Business Affairs, PGA TOUR Digital, Ponte Vedra Beach (secretary)
At UF, Patrick was one of the student broadcast directors at WUFT-TV and highly recommends the experience to any of you production majors. Aside from WUFT, he also worked in production outside Weimer as the Dance Marathon Technology Chair and Gator Growl Video Editing Director. Patrick graduated from Florida in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications, specializing in production. Patrick moved to St. Augustine, Florida after graduation to work in the Traffic department of PGA TOUR Entertainment (PGATE). His experience with PGATE included Linear / Non-Linear Editing, P2 / Studio camera operation, and Tape / Digital file delivery.
While employed with the TOUR, he enrolled in the UF MBA program and graduated with his Masters in April of 2012. After graduation, he transferred into the PGA TOUR’s Digital department working specifically in operations and business development. As a Strategic Development Analyst, his responsibilities included monitoring and evaluating future digital industry trends, designing and interpreting financial models, and research support for current initiatives. In 2015 he was promoted to Manager of Digital Business Affairs after his responsibilities increased to managing Digital’s expense budget and providing negotiation support for new vendor agreements.
Jason Ramsey, TEL 1999
Principal, Nimble Creative, Jacksonville
Jason Ramsey holds a degree in Telecommunication-TV Production from the University of Florida and has worked at WJXT-TV 4 since 2001. He began his career in communications in 1996 as a student at the University of Florida where he volunteered as a master control operator of the College of Journalism’s low power TV station WLUF-TV and worked as on-air talent for jazz and classical music shows at WUFT-FM. In 1999 Jason accepted a TV production position at WTOC-TV 11 in Savannah, Georgia as a Technical Director then transitioned to the postproduction division as Client Services Coordinator. For the next two years Jason honed producing skills developed at the College of Journalism by writing and directing commercials, station promotions and shows. He also developed keen interest into the business side of TV.
In 2001 Jason accepted a position at WJXT-TV 4 in Jacksonville, Florida where he developed award winning multimedia marketing products on rigorous deadlines and limited budgets. He wrote, directed, shot and edited targeted commercial and promotional campaigns and supported the marketing needs of 13 Account Executive and their full compliment of local clients. He developed a solid reputation as a dependable and talented producer and built the top regional marketing production unit in the area. He also took part in the rebranding of WJXT in 2002 when the station went independent from CBS. Jason was later promoted to his current position; Client Services Director managing the top media production and marketing division in North Florida. Jason and his creative team produce a broad range of content: multimedia, social media, commercials, news special programming, web videos and station promotions. In his time at WJXT Jason developed a successful record managing relationships with small business, Fortune 500 companies and colleagues company-wide. His commitment to hard work and excellence is not confined to his profession, he is deeply involved in the Jacksonville community as a member of Leadership Jacksonville (Class of 2010) and President of the Jacksonville Jaycees Community Foundation he also served as President of Jacksonville Jaycees Young Professionals in 2008.
Jason’s time as a student in the College of Journalism at UF was a defining moment in his life, it prepared him well for his profession and provided a road map for career and personal success. The journey that began in Gainesville led to another defining point, meeting his wife at WJXT in Jacksonville which led to another defining moment; the birth of his son Aaron. Jason lives in Jacksonville’s historic Riverside neighborhood with his wife DeeAnne and recent addition to the Gator Nation – Aaron.
Stacey Readout, TEL 2007
Assistant News Director, WJXT-TV 4, Jacksonville
Stacey Readout is the Assistant News Director at WJXT-TV4 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Stacey is a 2007 graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. During her time there, she produced the morning newscast and “Front Page” at WRUF and the evening newscast on WUFT News 5.
She began her professional career at WJXT-TV4 in May 2007 as a news producer. She became the Executive Producer of The Morning Show in March 2012 and Executive Producer of Digital Content and Strategy in July 2015. She was promoted to the Assistant News Director role in January 2017.
Stacey won an Emmy in 2015 for breaking news coverage of the gunman on FSU’s campus. She also won Best TV Newscast from the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters in 2010.
She was named one of the “Top 30 Under 30 Future Leaders Of Jacksonville” in 2014.
Stacey also has an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. From 2002 to 2005, she was a member of Dance Theatre of Santa Fe. Before starting a career in television, Stacey was a dance teacher for seven years.
Tanya Rivera, TEL 1993
Reporter/Anchor, WFMY, Greensboro, NC
Tanya joined WFMY News 2 in the February of 2002, Tanya Rivera says she knew from a very young age that broadcasting was for her. She worked for a kid’s news show in Miami when she was ten…and that love of broadcasting took her to the University of Florida.
She graduated in 1993 and took her first job in Panama City at WMBB-TV, where she met and married her husband Brian. In 2000, she left her station in Florida as the morning news anchor and made her way up to North Carolina
In January 2011, Tanya was named 5pm anchor and 6pm co-anchor after several years anchoring the Good Morning Show.
Marc Robertz-Schwartz, TEL 1989
President and founder of Hometown Health TV / Red Apples Media, Leesburg
Marc Robertz-Schwartz, a 1989 graduate of the College, spent the first 20 years of his career working for affiliate and O&O TV stations “from Maine to Miami.” During that time, Robertz and his creative teams accumulated more than a dozen industry awards, oversaw a three-way affiliation switch for Baltimore’s WMAR, a 50th Anniversary and new facility for WTVJ in Miami and achieved countless promotions, programming, marketing, sales and news accomplishments.
In 2003, Robertz took the reins of VNN – the 24 hour cable channel based in The Villages, a massive active lifestyle retirement community in Central Florida. During that time, his staff of 100 produced 18 hours of weekly award-winning, hyper local content including lifestyle, sports, game show, magazine, news and special event programming. Robertz and his team also launched the first live morning show on VNN, established its first revenue model and engineered numerous live broadcasts including a visit to The Villages by former President George W Bush. Robertz would later launch the in-house media, marketing and production company for The Villages until being laid off during the real estate crash in 2008.
Shortly after, Robertz launched Hometown Health TV, LLC with the goal of bringing “Good things to those who wait” in physician waiting areas. HHTV will mark its 100th episode in June, 2017, making it the longest running and most honored locally produced production in the market. In 2012, Hometown Health TV, LLC was named the National Association of Incubator Businesses “Non-Tech Business of The Year.” HHTV has since grown to include extensive multimedia production, marketing and agency offerings under its umbrella, Red Apples Media and is also under contract with Lake Sumter State College to oversee the day-to-day operations of Lake Sumter TV, reaching 160,000 cable homes throughout Lake County.
Robertz serves on several Central Florida boards, volunteers and provides pro bono production services for numerous not-for-profits and MCs several community events throughout the year.
Red Apples Media is in rare company, having been named to the Gator 100 for two consecutive years for its continued financial growth.
Rick Schneider, TEL 1984
Chief Operating Officer, WETA, Washington
Rick Schneider has been a public television station executive for more than 20 years after starting his career in broadcast news.
He is chief operating officer for WETA, the public television station and classical radio station for Greater Washington. He also serves as president of NewsHour Productions, LLC. He joined WETA in 2013 after nine years as president/CEO of WPBT2 in Miami.
WETA is a major producer of programs for PBS including PBS NewsHour, Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, In Performance at the White House, and the films of Ken Burns and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
As a telecomm major at UF, Schneider worked extensively at WRUF and WUFT-TV, and spent his final year as a reporter and weekend anchor at WCJB-TV20.
He moved to WPTV in West Palm Beach as a reporter and anchor, then to New York City, working as a weekend reporter at WPIX while attending the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He then became a Washington correspondent for Post-Newsweek Stations, reporting for WPLG/Miami, WJXT/Jacksonville, WDIV/Detroit, and WFSB/Hartford.
He returned to Gainesville in 1990 as news director of WUFT-TV, where he managed the news operation and taught television reporting. He hosted the public affairs program North Florida Journal and was honored with a Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award for the documentary A Community Crisis: The Gainesville Student Murders. He became station manager of WUFT-TV in 1992.
In 1998, he became president/CEO of public television station KNPB in Reno, where he served until his move to Miami in 2004.
Schneider is chair of the Public Television Major Market Group. He served on the Board of Directors of PBS, and has chaired the boards of Florida Public Broadcasting and the Pacific Mountain Network.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from Columbia. He was added to UF’s College of Journalism and Communications Alumni of Distinction in 2013.
Robyn Sieron, TEL 1982
Robyn Sieron Productions, Jacksonville
Robyn Sieron is an award winning journalist and writer. She currently runs her own production company which focuses mainly on documentaries. She also does marketing, social media and blogging for a law firm and for a non-profit. She writes a weekly column for the Florida-Times Union (under a pen name). She previously hosted a statewide television sports show called “Gator Tales” and spent 16 years as a television news reporter and anchor.
Robyn has been honored with an Emmy Award, numerous Telly Awards, Communicator Awards, Axiem Awards and a Cine Golden Eagle for her documentary work.
While at UF, Robyn was honored with the Weimer Award as Outstanding Student in the College of Journalism and Communications.
Paul Sirmons, TEL 1976
Independent Filmmaker, Orlando
Paul Sirmons has over 30 years experience as an independent filmmaker, director, producer, production manager, and assistant director. He served as Florida’s State Film Commissioner from 2005 to 2008, appointed by then-Governor Jeb Bush.
Most recently he produced the movie TE ATA, based on the life of the Chickasaw storyteller, Te Ata, who overcame prejudice and adversity in the early 1900s to take the stories of all Native Americans to the Roosevelt White House and around the world. Sirmons will produce CHICKASAW RANCHER, a movie shooting the fall of 2016, based on the book of the same name. He line-produced HOME RUN, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS, and LETTERS TO GOD, all faith-based movies, and the documentary BUILDING A FAMILY LEGACY with Dr. James Dobson.
He served as a DGA Assistant Director for 20 years on critically-acclaimed TV series such as QUANTUM LEAP, SEA QUEST, FALCON CREST, OUR HOUSE, KEY WEST, THE CAPE, and THE WALTONS; on the miniseries ROBERT KENNEDY AND HIS TIMES and THE SECRETS OF LAKE SUCCESS; on the features BURNING BRIGHT and TANK; and on the movies-of-the-week MIMI & ME, MAID IN AMERICA, KILLJOY, and EVERY STRAY DOG & KID.
Sirmons directed and produced the movie THE FIRST OF MAY (2001), starring Julie Harris, Dan Byrd, Mickey Rooney and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, which won 13 film festival awards. It has aired on HBO, Showtime, TBN, and is still airing around the world. He also produced four independent features, including THE WAY BACK HOME(2005) starring Julie Harris and Ruby Dee, and SMALL TOWN CONSPIRACY (2003).
As Florida’s State Film Commissioner, Sirmons oversaw the resurgence of the state’s film and television industry, rewriting an incentive program that grew from $2 million in funding to $25 million. Under his leadership, the new program attracted more productions to Florida and better served the state’s indigenous filmmakers. The hit TV series BURN NOTICE was an example of its success. Sirmons spearheaded the creation of a hurricane preparedness program for productions, and a ‘green’ production plan showing producers how to lower their environmental impact when filming in Florida.
He recently directed and produced LAST STOP, a pilot for a dramatic Christian TV series about a counselor who has a gift for helping people — but who doesn’t really like people.
Sirmons serves on the advisory boards for film & digital media at the University of Florida, Valencia College, and Full Sail University. His wife, Sherry Sirmons, is a production accountant with credits that include OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, BLOOD DIAMOND, BRING IT ON: IN IT TO WIN IT, RAISING HELEN, and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.
Erik Waxler, TEL 1994
News Reporter/Multi-Media Journalist, ABC Action News Tampa
Erik Waxler joined ABC Action News in December 2008. He’s been all over the Tampa Bay area covering news and sports as a reporter and multi-media journalist.
He traveled with the United States Air Force to Haiti and reported on the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. He’s also gone on assignment for ABC Action News at the Daytona 500, SEC Championship, and Sugar Bowl.
Before coming back to Tampa, Erik spent 14 years as a sports anchor and reporter in Terre Haute, Knoxville, Louisville and Indianapolis.
Among his career highlights are covering the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, and reporting live from the White House after the Tennessee women’s basketball team won the NCAA Championship.
Never one to slow down, Erik’s also hitched a ride in an F-18 with the Blue Angles and been driven around Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 175 miles an hour.
Erik was named Outstanding Graduate in television news at the University of Florida. He grew up in North Miami Beach and is extremely happy to back in the sunshine state with his wife and son.
Dana Webber, MAMC 2000
President, Legacy Distribution, Atlanta
Webber is a seasoned media executive with deep expertise in U.S. and International Program Distribution, Digital Media Distribution, Content Acquisition, Corporate Development, and Strategic Planning. Dana heads Legacy Distribution, one of the leading independent program distributors of content throughout the U.S. and International markets.Dana handled Domestic Television Distribution Sales & Management experience working with major studios such as NBC-Universal, Warner Bros., and Program Partners International. There she specialized in licensing first-run and off-network programming to both the U.S. Broadcast Syndication and U.S. Cable television markets. Legacy is on the forefront of constantly seeking innovative ways to maximize the value of client’s content through innovative channels of distribution. Dana graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Liberals Arts & Science in 1999 and Masters of Mass Communications in 2000 and remains a loyal Gator fan!