Our Boards

Our Governance Board


Allison Hertog

Allison Hertog is the founding attorney of Making School Work, a private law firm whose mission is to advocate for parents of special needs children with special needs in public school and to assist them in accessing public and private school choices. Allison, who is one of only a handful of lawyers in the country with a master’s degree in special education, has long been an advocate of school choice and has gained particular expertise in Florida’s groundbreaking McKay Scholarship – a special needs voucher for students with disabilities, as well as the Gardiner Scholarship which allows parents the opportunity to design a customized educational program for their special needs children. Allison is proud to have founded a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with the mission of advocating for low-income parents of special needs children. She has worked in the U.S. Congress and has spoken nationally about special education law and special needs vouchers. She graduated from Smith College, Columbia University’s Teachers College, and the Loyola Law School of Los Angeles.


Terry Jove

Terry Jove is the Charitable Giving Director for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, North America’s largest wine and spirits distributor, and the preeminent data insights company for alcoholic beverages. In this role, Mrs. Jove is responsible for providing oversight of Southern Glazer’s charitable giving activities. This includes reviewing and coordinating product and financial donation requests, supporting festival-related fundraising, as well as managing and tracking the Company’s multi-year grant programs. Mrs. Jove is an active member of the local community, serving on the Board of Miami Country Day School and as a Board of Trustee for Temple Beth Sholom.

Southern Glazer’s gives millions of dollars annually to charities that focus on responsible consumption, education, health and welfare, disaster relief, cultural development, social services, and environmental sustainability. In particular, the Company supports the world-renowned South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals that have raised a combined $32 million for hospitality education and hunger prevention respectively since their inception. For seven consecutive years, Southern Glazer’s has contributed a record-breaking $315 million to Step Up for Students through the organization’s Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

John Kirtley

John Kirtley

John is co-founder of KLH Capital, a Tampa-based private equity firm that invests in management buyouts of smaller middle-market companies. He created the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Tampa Bay in 1998 to privately fund scholarships for low-income children in grades K-8, and the reaction was so overwhelming he persuaded the Florida Legislature in 2001 to create a statewide Tax Credit Scholarship for all low-income students. He is currently vice chairman of the Alliance For School Choice and the American Federation for Children and serves on the board of The James Madison Institute. He was most recently appointed to serve on the Education Transition Team of Gov. Rick Scott.


Alfred “Al” Lawson

Alfred “Al” Lawson is currently serving as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 5th congressional district. Prior to his election to the House of Representatives, Al served in the Florida Legislature for nearly three decades, including as Democratic Leader of the Senate. He is a strong educational voice for helping disadvantaged and minority students and, during his tenure in the Florida Legislature, was recognized by a wide spectrum of interest groups, including Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Sheriffs’ Association, the Florida Student Association and the Nature Conservancy. He was a basketball star at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and had a brief professional career before later earning his master’s in public administration from Florida State University.


John Legg

John Legg is a Florida native. John was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2004, serving four two-year terms. John was the Chairman of the House Education Pre-K – 12 Committee and during his final term, served as Speaker Pro-Tempore.

In 2012, John Legg was elected to the Florida Senate in District 17. From 2012-2014, Senator Legg served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. From 2014-2016 he served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education Pre-K – 12. During his time in the Legislature, Legg served as Chairman of the Tampa Bay Area Delegation, Hillsborough County Delegation, and Pasco County Delegation. John serves on the executive committee of the Southern Regional Education Board, and previously served on the Board of Trustees of Lowery Park Zoo, Bayonet Point Medical Center, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, and the Education Commission of the States.

John is a frequent guest speaker at national educational conferences on acceleration options for students, technology in the classroom, educational choice, and school accountability.

In both the House and Senate, John has led with a focus on improving student performance and opportunities for success. He is a champion of initiatives that drive teaching performance in the classroom, streamline accountability in schools, and maximize flexibility for parents and students. Dayspring Academy–an A+ rated, innovative charter school that targets low-income learners–was founded 18 years ago by John and his wife Suzanne and is a product of these values.

During his time as a legislator, John has stood up for consumer issues, seniors, and our veterans. In his day job, John has more than 18 years of experience in the classroom. Senator Legg earned his AA degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College and both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of South Florida. He and Suzanne have five children.

Denisha Merriweather

Denisha Merriweather

Denisha Merriweather is the Director of Public Relations and Content Marketing at the American Federation for Children and Founder of Black Minds Matter. Denisha previously served as School Choice and Youth Liaison to the Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Denisha is a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program graduate. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of South Florida and bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary social science from the University of West Florida. Along the way, Denisha has become a national symbol for school choice, headlining events with Florida governors and other advocates for school choice. Denisha has shared her story across the country and has been featured in the Wall Street JournalPragerU, the Washington ExaminerEducationWeek, and Fox News among other outlets. She has also appeared in public service announcements promoting school choice.


Richard Outram

Richard Outram is the EVP and CFO of Signature Consultants LLC, a mid-sized, fast growth private IT staffing company. Prior to his work at Signature Consultants LLC, he held the EVP and CFO position at Heritage Brands Inc, a division of Stocks Spirits Group, a $400M global alcohol distribution company. A Certified Public Accountant in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner, Outr


Paul Sherman

Paul Sherman is Chief Development Officer at ABB OPTICAL GROUP, the leading distributor of optical products in the United States. Paul is responsible for strategy, business development, acquisitions, modeling, and ensuring execution of the company’s prioritized opportunities. He was promoted from Chief Financial Officer, due to his progressive finance and operations career, which has been achieved through varied industries of distribution and manufacturing, commercial real estate, multi-unit retail and restaurants. He has operated in diverse environments of public, private and private-equity owned companies, with further complexities inherent in a franchise system. Paul served as Chief Financial Officer at LNR Property Corporation and spent 10 years at Burger King Corporation in various finance roles and operations. Paul is Co-Founder and Board Member of South Florida Business Forum.


Curtis Stokes

Curtis Stokes is a business intermediary for the lower middle markets. Previously he held the position of Vice President of Community Affairs for Fifth Third Bank. In addition, he held management positions at Norwest Financial and later became Vice President Business Client Manager at Bank of America. His broad community involvement includes serving as a member of the Tampa City Council, as former president of the Hillsborough Branch of the NAACP, past chairman of the Board of the American Cancer Society, on the University Area Community Development Corporation and as area chairman for the United Negro College Fund. In 2002,Tampa Bay Business Journal named him one of the “Top 40 under 40” business leaders in the region.

Our Advisory Board

Gary Andresen
Gary is Florida Market Manager for US Bank’s Commercial Banking Division. US Bank is the 5th largest Commercial Bank in the U.S., has the strongest third-party credit rating, and is the only bank named amongst Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical companies the past 4 years. Gary joined US Bank in 2017 to assist its expansion into Florida and has over 20 years of experience in helping corporate customers access a wide variety credit, treasury, and capital markets products and services. In addition to helping companies, Gary is a strong advocate for both school choice and STEM education. He received a B.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and an M.B.A. from Emory University.
Jeff Beauchamp
Jeff Beauchamp
Jeff is a Tax Manager and Functional Lead of State Income Taxes and Audits at SAP America, Inc. In this role he is responsible for overseeing the state income tax compliance & reporting function as well as supporting the federal income tax compliance & reporting function. Prior to SAP America, Inc., Jeff was Senior Manager, State Income Tax at URBN, the parent company of Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie, where he was responsible for overseeing the state income tax compliance & reporting function in addition to credits and incentives.  Jeff began his career in public accounting having worked for both Deloitte Tax LLP and Ernst and Young LLP which included working in a national practice focused on credits and incentives. He graduated from Miami University (Oxford, OH) with a B.S. in Accounting and a minor in Management Information Systems. Additionally, Jeff has an MBA from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). He has an active CPA license in Pennsylvania. He currently resides in the Philadelphia suburbs with his wife and two children.
Benjamin Bright

Benjamin Bright is Director – Sales & Use Taxes at HCA-Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), which is a leading healthcare services company that owns and operates hospitals and surgery centers. This is Benjamin’s second time at HCA. Before having the opportunity to return to HCA, Mr. Bright was Senior Director – State Taxes at VF Corporation, which is a leader in branded apparel, including Lee®, Wrangler®, Nautica®, JanSport®, The North Face®, Vans®, Timberland®, and 7 For All Mankind®, among other leading brands. Mr. Bright has also worked with a regional accounting firm and Service Merchandise Company, Inc.

Mr. Bright has spoken at the Georgetown Advanced State and Local Tax Institute, IPT (Institute for Professionals in Taxation) conferences, has participated as a panelist at several COST (Council on State Taxation) conferences and facilitated at COST’s State & Local Tax Basics School. He has served at the request of the North Carolina Department of Revenue on its Business Tax Advisory Committee. He is on the Advisory Board for Step Up for Students, a Florida Tax Credit program. Mr. Bright is a licensed CPA and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants. He received his degree in accounting from Tennessee Technological University.


Michele Cavallo

Michele Cavallo holds a leadership role as the Director of Small and Medium Business Solutions at Duke Energy. Duke Energy is the nation’s largest utility serving approximately 7 million customers in the Midwest, Carolinas and Florida. Michele joined Duke Energy predecessor, Florida Power in 1989 and has extensive experience in external relations, customer service and economic development. She is a member of the Public Policy Council of the St. Petersburg Chamber. Michele received her B.S. in Management from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

Deb Cone


Ejola Cook
Curt Cunkle

Curt is the President of Florida Banking at TIAA Bank, a position he has held since 2005. In addition to his service on the Step Up Advisory Board, Curt also serves on the boards of the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville, Take Stock in Children Leadership Council and the University of North Florida Foundation. He previously served as Founding Director and President of the Carey Bishop Foundation, a foundation that supported families who suffered the death of a child and brought awareness of children’s safety issues.  He also served as President of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville. Curt is an active member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and Florida Bankers Association.

Curt is a native of Jacksonville where he attended the Bolles School. He received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Alabama. Curt and his wife, Julie, and have three children; Austin, Will and Lindsey.


Gordon Fales


Gordon Fales was born in New York City, graduated from Colgate University and served in the U.S. Coast Guard before beginning his business career with American Airlines.  He and his family moved to Miami where he continued his aviation career with Eastern Airlines and Air Florida. In 2002 he was working as Community Redevelopment officer for Pointe Bank when he became involved with a school in the Overtown section of Miami. The school and the families were significantly supported by and benefitted from Step Up for Students scholarships. It was here that he became enthusiastically involved. Beyond  gaining a significant contribution from his bank, he continues to be active introducing businesses, including banks and potential scholarship families to our programs.  He also participates in local celebrations of our students accomplishments.

Jake Farmer

Kimberly Johnson

Kimberly is Founder and Executive Director of FL Institute of CFOs (fiCFO). fiCFO is a protected, thought intelligence organization for CFOs of Florida’s leading companies. fiCFO provides a secure CFO community peer group that promotes the development of key professional relationships so that CFOs may learn and grow together, share best practices and experiences, and serve as a sounding board for technical and business matters. Kimberly oversees operations, planning, programming, membership and client relations.

Step Up For Students if fiCFO’s Choice Charity Partner. fiCFO is honored to promote opportunities to educate fiCFO members and partners about Step Up, and encourages them to support Step Up for Student’s extraordinary cause.

Prior to fiCFO, Kimberly served as an outsourced business development professional through her company, NextStep Strategies. She optimized opportunities for growth in a myriad of industries for companies ranging from start-up businesses to Fortune 500. As a business development professional, she has been responsible for leading growth and expansion plans, including strategic partnering, channel partnering, public relations, marketing, and sales initiatives. Kimberly designed, implemented and facilitated marketing and client service tactics that resulted in increased visibility, revenues, and enhanced customer service.

Kimberly designed, implemented and facilitated marketing and client service tactics that resulted in increased visibility, revenues, and enhanced customer service.

Troy Gross

Troy Gross

Troy Gross has lived in Florida since 2018 when he relocated to Saint Petersburg from Chicago.  Troy is currently the Zone Finance Leader for the East Zone of Allstate Insurance Company where he has worked for the last five years, and prior to Allstate Troy worked in finance for several technology firms including 15 years at consulting firm Accenture.   Troy has a bachelor’s degree from Lake Forest College, an MBA from the University of Illinois of Chicago, and he completed the Certified Financial Planner tm certification program at Northwestern University.

Troy served on the Lake Forest College alumni board for 8 years, and for several years was the Event Chair for the $1M American Cancer Society Walk & Roll Chicago annual event.

Brian Lukasik

Brian Lukasik

Brian, a Partner and Southeast Market Tax Leader with PwC, has over 30 years of experience as a tax professional. He has and continues to serve a wide variety of public and privately held clients in the manufacturing, retail, and distribution sectors. Brian’s client base is comprised of both public and private companies. Brian focuses in the federal tax area, serving clients’ needs for tax compliance and consulting, income tax accounting, acquisitions and divestitures, accounting methods, and IRS examinations. Brian is also responsible for coordinating the work of our specialty tax practices for his clients, such as international tax services, state and local tax, and transfer pricing.

Brian graduated from Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan) with a BA in Accounting. Prior to relocating to Tampa, Brian practiced in Detroit and Milwaukee. He has active CPA licenses in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. He is a member of the AICPA, FICPA, WICPA, and MACPA and is a former board member of the WICPA Educational Foundation.

Michael Maddaloni

Michael Maddaloni

Michael is Vice President-Tax and Shareholder Relations at Beall’s, Inc., parent company of Bealls Stores, Inc., Beall’s Outlet Stores, Inc., and Burke’s Outlet Stores, LLC. Michael joined the company in 1996 and is responsible for the Tax and Treasury Departments. Previously, Michael spent 11 years in public accounting at a firm in Albany, New York. He earned his CPA license in New York and graduated from Siena College in 1985 with a B.B.A. in Accounting and a minor in Computer Science. Michael also sits on the Tax Committee of the National Retail Federation, the Board of Trustees for FL Tax Watch, and the Humane Society of Manatee County.


Cole Peacock


Cole Peacock is a fifth generation Floridian with 18 years of experience in the areas of corporate and governmental relations and non-profits, including charitable giving, community development, investor relations, crisis management and social responsibility. He is a past retail executive at Chico’s FAS, a Fortune 500 corporation, and has also managed political campaigns on the state and local level, served as President of the Lee County YMCA’s, Co-Founded Game Nation Theme Parks and operated as President of his own company, RC Peacock Consulting. Peacock’s consulting clients include Hope Hospice, The Florida Retail Federation, Retail Companies, Game Nation Theme Park and Video Games, Pure Love Organics, Harley Davidson, Imaginarium, Harry Chapin Food Bank, museums as well as political candidates.

In 2002, Peacock began an eight-year career on the retail organization’s corporate executive team where he oversaw corporate relations, internal and external communications, branding programs, associate programs, governmental and community relations as well as managing national charitable giving.

Peacock is a member of the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast University’s Lutgert School of Business Board of Directors, 2011/2012 Leadership Florida Regional Advisory Board, 2008/2009 Leadership Florida Class, past Community Advisor for News-Press Editorial Board, Board Member with the Florida Chamber and Executive Board for the Florida Retail Federation. In addition, he serves on a number of non-profit boards including Chair of the Boys and Girls Club Be Great Campaign, Edison Ford Winter Estates, AMI Kids and the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.


Jeff Sabin

Jeff is the Government Affairs Manager at Waste Management and has been with the company since 1979. He is responsible for Public Sector Services, based in Hobe Sound, and for interfacing with Government Agencies in the surrounding six counties. Jeff’s role as Government Affairs Manager includes Statewide Strategic Initiative coordination and oversight of outreach activities for Waste Management. Jeff is a charter member of the Keep America Beautiful affiliates of Florida and former chairperson of the Palm Beach Gardens Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He also serves on the Big Heart Brigade of the Treasure Coast, Keep Martin and Palm Beach Counties Beautiful, Okeechobee County Education Foundation, President of the Business Development Board and board member of the Economic Council of Martin County, Trustee on the Northern Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, Presidents Council member of the Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce and former Palm City Chamber of Commerce Board member.

Paul Shoukry
Paul Shoukry
Paul Shoukry is Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Raymond James Financial, Inc. (NYSE: RJF). He is responsible for the overall financial management of the company, including balance sheet management, financial reporting, investor relations, corporate tax, cash management, regulatory reporting and financial planning and analysis. He is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Mr. Shoukry joined Raymond James in 2010 to participate in the firm’s Assistant to the Chairman program. He earned an MBA with honors from Columbia University. Before business school, Mr. Shoukry worked for a strategy consulting firm that focused on serving clients in the financial services industry. He started his career as a commercial banker after graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor and Master of Accounting from The University of Georgia. Mr. Shoukry also completed the Strategic CFO Program at The Wharton School. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Certified Treasury Professional, and a Series 7 and 27 holder. Mr. Shoukry enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. He is passionate about childhood education and serves on the advisory board of Step Up for Students. He is the executive sponsor for the firm’s multicultural network.