Mayor of Pensacola, 2010-2018
Ashton J. Hayward III joined Andrew’s Research & Education Foundation as President in January 2019. A native of Pensacola and a graduate of Florida State University, Hayward previously worked in New York as an executive at the AT&T Corporation and the Financial Times. In 2003, Hayward and his wife An returned to Pensacola to raise their son, Aiden. Hayward founded a successful real estate development company, which he managed until taking office as Mayor of Pensacola in 2011. Hayward served two terms as Mayor of Pensacola from 2011-2018. As Mayor Hayward led regional economic development by working to create a cultural environment where businesses grew and thrived.
Active in public service on a local, regional, and statewide level, Hayward was appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott to the Florida Commission on Community Service, also known as Volunteer Florida, and is a member of Leadership Florida’s Cornerstone Class XXXVI. Locally, Hayward has actively supported organizations including Autism Pensacola, the Gulf Coast Kids House, and the PACE Center for Girls. Hayward also currently serves on the Board of Directors for Achieve Escambia and as a member of the Escambia County Infant Mortality Task Force, and has previously served on the board of directors for the Florida League of Mayors and as a member of the Northwest Florida Transportation Corridor Authority.
Having a vast repertoire in leadership and financial development, Hayward now utilizes his experience to further the goals and mission of world renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. James R. Andrews. Through his work as President of AREF, Hayward will continue to lead his team into the future of health education and research to promote sports medicine.
Sheriff of Escambia County
Former Chief of Police, Pensacola Police Department
Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons has been in the field of law enforcement for more than 30 years.
He previously served as Chief Deputy for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, assistant county administrator for Escambia County, and as police chief for the Pensacola Police Department before retiring from the police department in August 2015. He began his law enforcement career in 1984 as a corrections officer for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and was hired by the Pensacola Police Department as an officer in 1986. His assignments have included Patrol, Investigations, Narcotics and SWAT.
Sheriff Simmons has received numerous department awards in recognition of his service to the community, including a Bronze Cross and the Gold Medal of Valor, which is the department’s highest award for heroism. He also has been named to the Police and Firefighters Heroes Hall of Fame, the Pine Forest High School Alumni Hall of Fame, and received the Volunteer of the Year and Sports Lifetime Achievement awards from the Emerald Coast Youth Sports Association. In 2013, he received the Mayor’s Leadership Award for the city of Pensacola.
The Pine Forest High School graduate holds an Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Pensacola Junior College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Troy State University, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Troy State University. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.
Sheriff Simmons has had memberships on the Statewide Terrorist Network Group, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, U.S. Customs Blue Lightning Strike Force, Favor House Board of Directors, Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors, and is currently on the Board of Trustees for Pensacola State College. He was a member of Leadership Pensacola class of 2004.
Owner, Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Quint Studer has spent decades in healthcare. He worked for multiple healthcare systems, the last stop being president of Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. In 2000, he founded Studer Group®, a healthcare and education coaching company. The company was sold in 2015, and Studer left in 2016. He went on to found the Studer Community Institute, a not- for-profit whose mission is to improve the quality of life for people and Vibrant Community Partners, which coaches communities in building out a blueprint for achieving growth and excellence.
He has authored many books, with several listed on bestseller lists. His newest book, The Calling: Why Healthcare Is So Special, is aimed at helping healthcare professionals keep their sense of passion and purpose high. He serves on several healthcare boards and is a frequent speaker, workshop facilitator, and mentor to individuals and organizations. The tools and techniques Quint has created over the years are now staples in communities, businesses and healthcare systems.
He has been recognized by Florida Trend for the past three years as a ”living legend” and an influential business leader in the state. He currently serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida, Executive-in-Residence at George Washington University, and Lecturer at Cornell University.
Florida State Representative, District 1
Former President, Escambia County Council of PTA’s
Representative Michelle Salzman was elected in November 2020 to serve as the District 1 Member of the Florida House of Representatives. Her current committee assignments include: Judiciary, Healthcare Appropriations, Finance & Facilities, Civil Justice & Property Rights, Local Administration & Veteran’s Affairs, Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning, and State Legislative Redistricting. Michelle is a business owner, Philanthropist, Wife, Mother and a Wounded Warrior. She is a committed community volunteer serving on numerous boards, and logging hundreds of volunteer service hours. She served in the US Army for five years. Michelle holds a degree in Computer Analytics as well as a degree in Business Administration. Currently, Michelle serves on two state level boards of directors: Northwest Florida Health and Navigating Aging Needs Advisory Council. Her local board positions include: Escambia County Public Schools Foundation, Pensacola Crime Stoppers, Junior Achievement, Take Stock in Children Advisory Council, and Foundation For Hope. She has previously served as the County level PTA President as well as serving on the State Florida PTA Board of Directors. Along with many State, County and local awards for building momentum within the parent organizations and promoting collaborative impact efforts across the school district, and for her service to the greater community. Her leadership and philanthropy efforts led to locally fundraising millions of dollars each year and hundreds of thousands of community service hours. Michelle has followed her heart and passion to help those who cannot help themselves. This passion leads her in the focus areas of children, families in poverty and her fellow wounded veterans.
Community Volunteer and co-Chair, city of Pensacola Homeless Reduction Task Force
Connie started her career as a medical social worker for the Baptist Health Care system and eventually was named the director of their counseling and outreach ministry. In 2005, Connie founded Pathways For Change, a court ordered, faith-based addictions treatment program, and the Clinton Cox Residence a sober living environment for graduates. Understanding the core issues of addiction, she opened the Family Center in the middle of three area housing projects, lifting barriers for those in poverty seeking transformative services. Pathways For Change pivoted from daily programming and now focuses full time on reducing homelessness in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.
She is an Alum of Leadership Florida Class XXX and Leadership Pensacola, 2010. She has served on Mayor Grover Robinson’s Transition Team as the Crime and Safety subcommittee chair, 2019; Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors 2015-21, and President 2021-22 and Immediate Past President, 2022-2023; The FL Bar Pro-Bono Committee since 2019; University of West Florida Foundation Board since 2018. Connie has two sons, James J. Reeves, II of New Orleans and D.C. Reeves and granddaughter, Caroline Reeves of Pensacola.Connie also enjoys two step daughters and four granddaughters with her late husband, Alan Bookman.
Emily Ley is the founder of Simplified®, a bestselling brand of planners and organizational tools for busy women found online, in Target, Walmart, and other major retail stores.
She has spent nearly fourteen years empowering, inspiring, and equipping women in the areas of organization, planning and simplicity. She is the host of The Simplified Podcast and author of nine including her latest, a children’s book, You’re Always Enough.
Emily has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, and Good Housekeeping and was recently recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by Studer Community Institute.
Now, as an author, podcaster, entrepreneur, wife and mother to three, Emily lives in Pensacola, Florida, with her husband, Bryan, and their son
Brady and twins, Tyler and Caroline.
Director of Public Safety, DeKalb County, Ga. 2013-2017
40+ Year Law Enforcement Veteran
National Law Enforcement Analyst
Cedric L. Alexander Psy. D. is a law enforcement expert with over 40 years of experience in public safety. He has appeared on national media networks to provide comment on police-community relations and as a CNN law enforcement analyst has written editorials including “How to Build a Sensitive Cop;” “Police and Communities of Color Need to Build Trust;” and “Attacks on Police are an Attack on Community.” He has also served as Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, and as an assistant professor at the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry. He is a former National President for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). He has lectured on police stress and burnout and currently trains on topics of management and leadership, centered around 21st Century Policing. He is the author of The New Guardians: Policing in America’s Communities for the 21st Century and In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic.
Early Brain Development Advocate
Frency is an advocate for all children in our community. She currently serves as the Early Brain Development Expert at Studer Community Institute, a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for all people in the diverse communities they serve, creating a vibrant place to live, work and play. Frency’s main job is to educate parents on the importance of talking, singing, reading, and playing with their babies to promote early brain development. Prior to joining the SCI team, Frency was an educator for 10 years. She taught children of all ages in public schools and private schools. She specialized in second-language education and gifted education. While teaching, Frency also served our community as a licensed foster parent. She is now a proud mother of four. She holds a degree from the University of West Florida and is passionate about building strong communities through education!
Longtime Pensacola Architect
Michelle MacNeil has been a resident of Pensacola since 1986. She graduated from Tulane University with her Master of Architecture in 1982. She started her career at Architectural Affairs, Inc. working her way up to becoming the President. In 2019 she started her own architecture firm. Michelle is an accomplished architect working on many impactful projects here in Pensacola. Her experience includes custom homes, neighborhood planning and design, retail and commercial enterprises, low-income single family housing, and historic renovation and preservation. She has designed and developed more than one hundred units of affordable rental and home ownership housing and has worked with H.U.D. and State of Florida
requirements. In addition to more urban projects, she also has worked with the town of Century, a small rural community in the north end of Escambia County, toward providing community-building projects. Her historic renovation and preservation projects include preserving the Rex theater when it was considered for demolition for a parking lot, renovating the waterworks building where she has lived and worked over the last 30 years, and promoting the revitalization of older buildings and neighborhoods as an integral part of neighborhood and town planning. She has worked at improving the Old East Hill neighborhood, doing the first architectural survey of the area, and the Long Hollow neighborhood. Through a neighborhood planning and visioning process, a neighborhood plan was developed which helped established the Long Hollow Neighborhood Park, a community center which includes First City Art Center and Open Books, and the first new construction in the neighborhood after many years, an infill housing project on a vacant City-owned parcel north of the park. She was also the sole designer and was a partner in the development team of the Aragon Neighborhood in downtown Pensacola.
In her free time Michelle is also a dream worker and artist healer. She has been working with dreams for 25 years and has presented her work at the Dreaming the Arc of Life Conference in Mexico in 2019. Her practice includes one-on-one sessions and presentations and events centered around dreams, the labyrinth, arts, community, and 12 step programs. She has collaborated on three films about dreams including Telling Dreams, Dreams of Transformation, and Telling Dreams of the Departed, which explores the transformative quality of dreams to help with the experience of death and loss.
As Founder and CEO of Catalyst Healthcare Real Estate (HRE), Chad is responsible for shaping Catalyst’s mission, vision, values as well as fostering and growing the organization’s deep-rooted culture. Under Chad’s leadership, Catalyst has grown from a boutique healthcare development company focused on the southeast to a national platform with multiple offices and investments in over 30-states. Prior to launching Catalyst, Chad founded THG Investments, a private investment firm focused on launching and investing in multiple opportunities involving healthcare delivery change, most notably – Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS). Chad actively guided Catalyst in their latest iteration of funding through a $1.5 billion joint venture with Washington D.C. based National Real Estate Advisors. The newly formed venture is actively investing in healthcare real estate through both, development and acquisitions. Chad is also the visionary and primary investor/developer behind the “East Garden District”, a placemaking project in historic downtown Pensacola, FL. Chad received his Bachelors of Science in Finance from Florida State University.
Finally, Chad is a member of the Southern 7 Chapter of Young Presidents Organization, a Foundation Board and Investment Committee member for the University of West Florida, and recent chairman of the board for the Studer Community Institute.