THE LEGACY OF FOUNDERS FORUM

The Mission of Founders Forum is to Inspire, Educate and Connect Entrepreneurs.

Founders Forum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has no full- or part-time staff member or administrators; instead it relies solely on its voluntary Board of Directors for its strategic and financial operations and management. Our board is comprised of a wide breadth of local business leaders representing private companies, educational institutions and business organizations.

Review our past Founder of the Year winners here.

Board of Directors

Brenda Plocharczyk (Board Chair)
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Brenda Plocharczyk (Board Chair)

Strategic Business Solutions, Inc.
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Founder of Strategic Business Solutions, Inc., a business consulting firm specializing in strategic growth, research-KPI’s, accounting services, and government relations, she brings 22 years of leadership and management experience with proven success directing a broad range of business and finance initiatives while participating in planning, analysis, and implementation of business objectives in business and technology. Brenda’s specific expertise is in accounting, marketing, strategy, product design/implementation, and business development in the economic development, technology, and healthcare sectors.

Originally from Florida, Brenda grew up in Thomasville, Georgia. She moved back to Florida in 2001 and moved to Brevard County in 2010. Her passionate to help others succeed allows her to follow her dreams and fulfill her life’s purpose.

Dale Dupree (Vice Chair)
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Dale Dupree (Vice Chair)

Zeno
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Alex Dunnam (Secretary)
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Alex Dunnam (Secretary)

CNI Senior Account Executive
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Lee Garner (Treasurer)

Lee Garner, CPA
Lee Garner (Treasurer)
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Lee Garner is President of Lee Garner, CPA in Melbourne, Florida. He has been a Florida Certified Public Accountant since 1992 and has experience in both public and private accounting for small and medium sized businesses as well as individuals. His company provides on-going advising for business and personal financial development and growth, spending, accounting, tax planning as well as tax preparation.Lee received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Central Florida. In addition to Founders Forum, he is a member of the Community Advisory Board of WFIT Radio and has served on many nonprofit boards throughout his business career. He also leads seminars through the Small Business Development Center at Eastern Florida State College on small business tax and accounting issues.
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Joshua Adams

Rock Paper Simple
Joshua Adams
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Joshua Adams, the Head Honcho at Rock Paper Simple, started programming at 11 years old and began his freelance web career at 14. As a result of working with over 750 clients, he has become an expert in the fields of web development, digital marketing, and branding. Joshua founded Rock Paper Simple in 2013 with the vision of empowering businesses who are awesome at what they do by developing their brand and digital presence. Joshua serves on the board of directors for Founders Forum, Space Coast Early Intervention Center and Brevard Rescue Mission. He was honored as a winner of LEAD Brevard’s “4 under 40” award in 2019 and as a semifinalist in the Bright House Networks Regional Business Awards (2016). He and his team earned the Business Acceleration Award (2017) and twice-earned the Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce Business Champion of the Year award (2011 & 2018). Rock Paper Simple has also proudly earned 23 Addy awards including three Judges Choice and Best of Show in 2018. He is never satisfied with the status quo and is always working hard to find the simplest, but most effective ways to create results for his clients and ventures. You will frequently hear him say “Ever Forward!”, as he believes the best option is always, always to move forward. He lives to empower talented people and dedicates his work in every endeavor to the glory of God.
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Christine Thompson

Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC
Christine Thompson
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Christine Thompson is the Business Development Executive for Carr, Riggs and Ingram CPAs covering all of East Central Florida. Her philosophy for business growth is to be a “people connector” and a “success resource” to help local businesses to grow and thrive.

She was formerly in charge of Business Development and Marketing for Hayworth, Chaney and Thomas, PA an Intellectual Property, Corporate and Personal Injury law firm in the Central Florida area. She has owned two successful businesses of her own. Christine founded Hip Hop Hooray, Inc. in 2000, developed and then sold it in 2006. Hip Hop Hooray, Inc. continues to grow in the South Florida area today. She then started Personal Assistant for a Day, Inc. which grew and eventually led to her position at the law firm. She is a Florida native and has a passion to help our local economy flourish.

Rob E. Salonen, CEcD
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Rob E. Salonen, CEcD

FIT
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Robert E. Salonen is Director, Global Business Development for the Florida Institute of Technology connecting the talent and technology development capabilities of the university to industry and community interests worldwide. Rob is serving on the Florida Tech leadership teams for the University Corporate Alliance for Success (UCAS) and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Innovative Design (CAMID). He is also a member of the successful Florida Tech EDA, State of Florida and City of Palm Bay grant capture teams supporting the infrastructure development of CAMID. During the course of his career prior to joining Florida Tech, Rob was a member of the executive team that founded the Southern Aero Medical Institute and Brevard Regional Hyperbaric Center in Melbourne, FL. Through the Economic Development Commission, he was a team member and a leader of multiple economic development projects including Embraer, the Navy’s Strategic Weapons Systems Ashore, CEV – LMCO Orion, Boeing CST 100, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman. Rob is a distinguished Eagle Scout, a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BA in English / Business Management and currently enrolled in the MPA program at the Florida Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of Leadership Brevard and credentialed as a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council in Washington D.C. Rob serves on the executive committee for the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, a member of the Florida District Export Council NCW, a member of the board for the Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce and on the advisory council for the Space Coast MakerFaire. He is also a board member for Circles of Care and the National Space Club – Florida Committee.
 Bill Williams
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Bill Williams

A Cut Above Video Productions, Inc.
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Bill Williams grew up on Long Island and received an electrical engineering degree from New York University. His early career fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming a scientist and working on rockets when he worked as a missile guidance engineer for General Electric at Lockheed in Sunnyvale California & Cape Canaveral and Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) in Orlando. Another childhood dream was fulfilled when in 1988 he started A Cut Above Video Productions. A Cut Above provides production of advertising placed in movie theaters, television and the web, instructional and informational videos, and marketing videos.

Bill has long term involvement in the American Advertising Federation – Space Coast, Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida, various video and film professional organizations, Founders Forum, and is a key organizer of the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival.

Cherise Czaban
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Cherise Czaban

i4 Business
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Jessica Kane

Space Coast Magazines
Jessica Kane
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Barry Forbes

BB&T
Barry Forbes
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Lifelong resident of Brevard County, resides in Titusville with his wife Traci. We have two children, Molli 24 and Luke 22. I have been a commercial banker in Brevard County for the last 30+ years. Current board member of the EDC, Treasurer for the Brevard County Housing Finance Authority and Board President for Hope for North Brevard. Attended the University of Central Florida and am an active alumni of the school.
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Tim Reynolds

Wild Manta Ventures
Tim Reynolds
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Lief Johnson
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Lief Johnson

Description
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Lief Johnson is a Vice President and Financial Consultant with The Lipman PetersGroup of SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. He offers clients more than 15 yearsof comprehensive wealth management experience, with a family office approachthat brings together specialists in investments, financial planning, riskmanagement and estate strategies. Lief has earned the professional designationof CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. He is a native of Margaretville, NY and is agraduate of the State University of New York, College at Fredonia. Lief serves onthe board of directors for Brevard Rescue Mission, is active on the localdevelopment committee for the Space Coast Chapter of Coastal ConservationAssociation, and is a troop leader with his local Trail Life Troop, FL0031.Lief and his team’s focus is advising on the development and implementation ofinvestment strategies to help clients meet their immediate and future goals. Hefollows a disciplined process of outlining strategies that are supported not only bydeep expertise from his team of specialists, but also highly attentive service andcoordination of resources in order to obtain measurable results. Lief takes thetime to gain an understanding of the critical aspects of your financial life so thathe can assess the interaction of multiple objectives and the far-reachingimplication they can have on each other.SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. is a full-service broker-dealer that is anintegral part of SunTrust Banks, Inc. – one of the nation’s largest and mostrespected financial services organizations. When you bring your investment needsto SunTrust you will benefit from a long history of management experience, anextensive range of financial products and solutions, and personalized financialplanning and advice. More importantly, you establish a relationship with a teamof trusted advisors who can address all of your financial needs.
Stephen Thomas
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Stephen Thomas

Description
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Matt Chestnut
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Matt Chestnut

CEcD Director of Business and Economic Development
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Matt Chesnut joined Space Florida in December 2018 as a member of the business development team. Utilizing his experience in economic development in Florida, Matt works closely with economic development organizations, airport organizations, and local government in utilizing Space Florida's tool kit in the attraction of aerospace companies. Matt's role also involves working with aerospace related business who are considering locating or expanding in Florida. Before joining Space Florida, Matt worked with Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation in Daytona Beach as the Vice-President of Business Intelligence and Operations and as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Titusville, FL. Prior to working in the economic development field, he served as City Manager for Maryville, MO. Matt holds a Master Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a Bachelor of Science in government from Northwestern Missouri State University. In 2012, Matt earned his Certified Economic Developer status through the International Economic Development Council.