Alyssa Brown

Alyssa is the Senior Director of Public Affairs for the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce. 

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Favorite thing about Gainesville: There are too many things I love about GNV to pick just one. I love the warm spirit of the people, the cultural assets (Dance Alive is a favorite!) and the proximity to beaches and other cities. It also is midway from Tallahassee, where I lived for more than 25 years and Melbourne, which is where my husband’s family lives.

3 traits that best describe you: Tenacious, competitive and responsible

One thing you could not live without: My family

Something unique about you: I recently started painting. My maternal family is full of prolific artists, and so I decided to pick up a brush a few months ago. It worked! In a few hours, I had painted a boat.

Jessica Hurov

Jessica is the Alachua County Tourism Manager. The position is responsible for the leadership of the Visitors and Convention Bureau, implementing a robust and creative marketing strategy to attract tourists, and enhancing nature, culture, and arts opportunities for Alachua County visitors and residents.

Immediately prior to her current position, Jessica served as the Managing Director of the Hippodrome Theatre where she manages business operations including the oversight of their $2.5 million budget, and marketing and development efforts. 

Her previous experience includes working as a conference and event planner in Boston, which involved booking and managing large-scale international conferences and high-profile events. She has experience designing and creating customized packages for corporate incentive travel programs.

She started her career in marketing as a project manager working on research studies for multiple national brands, including a New England-based resort destination.

Her volunteer work includes work with the Gainesville Entertainment Sampler Coalition, the University of Florida’s P.K. Yonge Performing Arts program, and as a design partner for Dance Alive National Ballet. In 2014, she was awarded the Gainesville-Alachua County Cultural Affairs Board Individual Arts Award. Jessica graduated with honors from Boston University. She is currently a board member of the Gainesville Downtown Owners and Tenants Association (GDOT).

Commissioner Ken Cornell

Ken was born and raised in Gainesville, FL and attended Terwilliger Elementary, Ft Clarke Middle School and Buchholz High School prior to college. Following in his parents' footsteps, Ken attended the University of Florida and earned his Master's degree with high honors from the Fisher School of Accounting.


Commissioner Cornell was elected to the Alachua County Commission in November 2014.

James Coats

James G. Coats, CEO & Head of Applied Sciences at Phalanx Defense Systems,  formed his first company, Coats Magic Productions, around a number of different illusions he designed for the magic industry while attending the University of Florida.


Within 12 months of starting Coats Magic Productions, James merged his company and talents with one of the largest manufacturing development companies in the industry.


In 2003 James invented an illusion technology that allowed a person to quickly blend into a background, giving them the illusion of invisibility.  Eventually, James developed the technology into a counter surveillance technology, which was subsequently acquired by one of the alphabet agencies charged with maintaining national security.


In 2007, this led to an a position in the newly formed Advanced Development department of BAE Systems-Safariland division. Shortly after starting, gained training experience from operators at various levels within the special operations community and civilian law enforcement.

Jessica Hurov

Jessica has been at the Hippodrome for ten years. In her current role as the Hippodrome’s Managing Director, Jessica oversees administrative areas of the theatre including fundraising, subscriptions, memberships, and patron relations. During her career, both in Boston and Gainesville, she has worked in market research, event planning, communications and theatre administration. She has worked with Gainesville’s professional arts organizations on the Gainesville Entertainment Sampler, the Chris Morris Arts Education Endowment at P.K. Yonge, the University of Florida’s P.K. Yonge Performing Arts program, and is a design partner for Dance Alive National Ballet. She also serves as a board member of the Gainesville Downtown Owners and Tenants Association (GDOT). Prior to moving to Gainesville, Jessica was the Administrative Manager of the Tsai Performance Center in Boston and a national research director at a marketing agency.


Jessica graduated with honors and has dual degrees in English and Psychology from Boston University. She is proud to play her part in supporting the Hipp’s artistic mission, and through her work, create a sustainable and thriving artistic home at the Hippodrome.

Scott Gill
Scott is a long time Gainesville resident and UF graduate.  After graduating in 1992, Scott continued working for then local company Museum Services. Putting his new business degree together with skills he had been honing since model train building in his youth, Scott started ThemeWorks in High Springs in 1995.  Working first with museums and then theme parks, Scott has provided work for many local artists and creatives. 

He  still resides in Gainesville, FL. The city that has been his home since arriving at UF in 1988. 

When not working on a top secret theme park project, Scott has made time to serve on  local and nation boards including the Gainesville Advanced Manufacturing Council, Historic Preservation Board, and Themed Entertainment Association.

Mayor Lauren Poe

Mayor Poe has lived in Gainesville since first moving here in 1982 as a young child.  Poe is a graduate of Gainesville High School, earned his BA in History and M.Ed. in Secondary Social Sciences from the University of Florida.

Lauren has been a teacher in Alachua County since 1998, teaching American History at Ft. Clarke Middle School for four years before accepting a job as a Professor at Santa Fe College. Poe teaches Economics and Government in the High School Dual Enrollment Program.

Mayor Poe was first elected to two terms for a total of six years on the Gainesville City Commission. His service on the commission included a year as mayor pro-tem, chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, chair of the Regional Utilities Committee, and chair of the Recreation, Cultural Affairs & Public Works Committee.

Lauren is married to Emily Monda Poe and has two spirited and beautiful daughters Elizabeth (4) and Beatrice (1).

Mayor Poe enjoys reading, cooking, spending time with his family and watching sports.


Former Mayor Ed Braddy

Former Mayor Braddy served over a decade in the greater Gainesville region, serving first on the Gainesville City Commission from 2002 to 2008. As commissioner, he chaired both the Public Safety and Regional Utilities committees and also served on key transportation boards including the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization and the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council.


Braddy is a lifelong Floridian – born in south Florida; raised in north Florida – and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in history, one of his greatest passions. He is the father of five children ranging in age from eight to 18 and often enjoys fishing and boating with his friends and family.

Scott Karwan

Scott is a professional mechanical engineer with a background in mechanical systems and materials as well as computer graphics and art.


He attended the University of Florida where he received a Bachelor of Science in Digital Arts and Sciences and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He currently works for a local environmental engineering and consulting firm as a project engineer providing engineering services to a variety of public and private sector clients.


When not at work, Scott can usually be found tinkering on his car or one of his many bicycles, developing with microcomputers, mountain biking at San Felasco Hammock Preserve, competing in Sports Car Club of America solo events, or creating new recipes in the kitchen.

Rob Hyatt
A native of Gainesville, Rob Hyatt is serving in his first term on the Alachua County School Board. He taught in Florida’s public schools for thirty-eight years. Twenty-three years were spent as a high school band director beginning at Key West High School and ending at Winter Haven High School. His final fifteen years of teaching were at Duval (Elementary) Fine Arts Academy where he was named Alachua County’s Teacher of the Year in 2009. In 2016 he received the Elected Official Leadership Award from the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. 

Mr. Hyatt holds three degrees from the University of Florida and has done additional graduate work at the University of South Florida. He also holds certifications in Orff-Schulwerk and World Music Drumming. He has been an active adjudicator for the Florida Bandmasters Association since 1981. Mr. Hyatt has also served as saxophone instructor at the Florida Summer Music Camp and Adjunct Professor at Florida Keys Community College. 

Active in community events, Mr. Hyatt has served on the boards of both the Gainesville Youth Chorus and WUFT-FM Classic 89. Rob and his wife Lou retired from teaching in 2011. They have two sons and two granddaughters.

Paige Beck

Paige is a native of Princeton, West Virginia, and a graduate of West Liberty University in West Liberty, WV. She's been a member of the WCJB TV20 since 1989.  She currently co-anchors WCJB TV20's 5:30 Live, 6:00 Report and the 11:00 pm Nightbeat.


As a child in rural West Virginia, Paige says the 'Golden Rule' was a guiding principle instilled by her parents. It's a philosophy she brings to her work with charitable groups, and anyone in need.  Whether it's helping someone find a state agency to solve a problem, or calling and emailing viewers, Paige is always giving of her time to benefit North Central Floridians.


Her hobbies include cooking (she was a finalist in the U.S. Chef's Open), painting, gardening and antiques. She's also graduate of Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School and an avid Gator football and basketball fan.


Paige was honored as a "Woman Who Makes A Difference" by the Gateway Girl Scout Council and was named an "Outstanding American" by Alachua County's African American Cultural and Historical Society as well as a Woman of Distinction by Santa Fe College. She was inducted into the West Liberty Wall of Fame in 2009 for her outstanding community service. It is a prestigious honor given to only one graduate every year.

Christopher Hoffman

Christopher Hoffman is a mechanical engineer, software developer, and 3D printing enthusiast located in Gainesville, Florida. After graduating with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, he found himself a home at OPIE Software, designing clinical software for the Orthotic and Prosthetic industry.

Outside of work, Chris has dedicated himself to the fields of digital fabrication, including 3D printing, 3D scanning, and computer aided design. He enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with the online community, running a Youtube channel called Hoffman Engineering. There he showcases his own projects ranging from 3D printed, animatronic Pokemon to the latest in open-source CAD software.

While waiting on his 3D prints to finish or his videos to render, Chris can be found at the Gainesville Hackerspace, where he regularly gives demos of the successes and failures of his personal projects. He enjoys teaching classes at the Hackerspace, inviting the Gainesville community to learn from his many mistakes.