After a decade of growth, Chris Burton was faced with his first real test as a business owner when, in 2008, “everyone told me to cut, cut, cut; hang on for the ride and hope for the best.” Rather than “shrinking to success,” Burton remained loyal to his people and re-invented his company. By creating superior systems and more innovative designs, he delivered what his clients said they desired most, a “better building experience and more value for their investment.”

In the past year, Burton Homes has expanded its services to include the prestigious Arthur Rutenberg Homes; Inspirations Home Design Center; and Burton Home Services; with the cornerstone of the business continuing to be Burton Luxury Homes – and the results are evident with nearly a dozen homes already finished in 2011, eight more currently under construction, another half dozen about to start, and inquires and design meetings with potential clients increasing weekly.

Chris and his wife, Ginger, have two young children and are tremendously supportive of programs benefiting other children, such as the KLD Youth Foundation.

“My business mantra is simple: just do the right thing.”

In May 2011, Parrish Medical Center’s leadership team announced the formation of a new department called Service and People Excellence. This new department united the departments of Communications & Service Excellence, Human Resources, and People Development (education). Sellers was selected to direct and lead this new department, which reports directly to the CEO, due to her leadership track record and accomplishments related to PMC’s brand management strategies.

“At PMC, our culture has been our key to success, and given new healthcare legislation at the federal and state level, an even deeper focus on our culture is necessary for the proper charting of our future and a guarantee of continued success,” said Sellers. “Therefore, my new position plays a significant and necessary role for our future success.”

“Successful leadership, I think, is best defined within this quote by John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’”

“Success in the business of innovation requires vision, substance and resources. At Lighting Science we are fortunate to have all three: a vision to reinvent light for a better world, game-changing technology, and world-class human, financial and technical resources to bring it to life.”

Lighting Science Group is reinventing light. Their highly efficient LED lighting products use up to 80 percent less electricity, last 50 times longer than incandescent, and contain no toxic mercury. With 59 new products and international distribution in more than a dozen countries so far this year, the company is on track to more than double revenues. Already the largest producer of high-performance LED replacement lamps, Lighting Science has more Energy Star™ certifications than any other producer.

Founder and Chief Technology Officer Fred Maxik has been honored as a White House “Champion of Change” and “Congressional Medal of Merit” winner for his contributions to technology and commercial enterprise, and has co-authored with sustainability expert Greg Horn “The Meaning of Light,” a thought-provoking book on light’s impact on economies, society and life.

Native Brevardian Mitch Varnes has an earnest and true affinity for this area and its potential. Between his two companies, he has created and produced the East Coast’s most prestigious pro surfing contests here in Brevard as well as the State Farm Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon Weekend, which, in just its fourth year, is now the biggest weekend-long running event in East Central Florida. This year he also introduced a three-event triathlon series.

This past spring, he was honored with the Champions award by the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce for the positive economic and community impact that has resulted from the State Farm Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon.

“You hear it all the time, but I believe the best qualities of a business leader – particularly an entrepreneur – are hard work, vision and the willingness to take calculated risks.

A thick skin is also critical for anyone who enters a competitive business environment; I learned right away that any time you put your head above the crowd, there is always someone there wanting to knock it off.”

Lynda Weatherman has served as president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast since 1994. Recently, under her leadership, the EDC successfully secured Embraer’s first and only U.S. manufacturing assembly plant, streamlined building and site permitting throughout Brevard County, attracted AAR Corporation, and created the award-winning Space Transition Public Relations Strategy.

Weatherman was named a 2011 White House ‘Champion of Change’ by the Obama Administration; received the 2011 Eunice Sullivan Professional of the Year award by the Florida Economic Development Council; named an Air Force Civic Leader; and currently serves as chair of the Federal Reserve Board Jacksonville branch.

“A successful leader is a visionary that can inspire and lead others – someone who perseveres, despite dubious odds, because it is the right thing to do. My keys to success have been to maintain a keen focus on the task at hand, build an outstanding team, and have the courage to make the tough decisions that will advance the Space Coast economy.”

As the former Chief of Staff at Wuesthoff Hospital in Melbourne, current president of Medical Associates of Brevard (MAB) and present chairman of Brevard Physician Network (BPN) Dr. Gadodia, a cardiologist, has developed his ability for conflict resolution and channeling physicians’ ideas towards a common goal. MAB has 43 multi-specialty physicians known for their excellent medical care and camaraderie and BPN is the largest Independent Practice Association in the county with 240 members.

His recent achievements include creating a medical information exchange, inter-office referral and healthcare integration system, risk contracts with insurance companies, and providing cost-efficient care to Medicare beneficiaries, all leading to financial gains and growth in membership.

“Leadership is to inspire and uplift people to achieve a higher goal. A true leader is one who has clear vision and is passionate about helping others.”

Timothy Stockton – Certon Inc.

Since founding Certon, Inc. in 2006 with a vision of providing efficient and innovative “Safety-Critical Engineering product certification services to avionics customers,” Timothy Stockton’s company has grown at an incredible rate. This year, Certon has taken the expertise they developed working in the aerospace industry into other areas where safety critical systems are essential, like rail transportation and medical technology.

This diversification is paying off; in the last twelve months Certon has more than doubled its revenue, staff and customer base. Stockton sees his own growth as a leader as a major factor in this equation. As he put it, “One of the changes I have made is redefining my perspective on being CEO. I now see it as the ‘Chief Enabling Officer’. It is my job to erect a strong base and then release control, enabling and empowering others to build something bigger than ourselves.”

Angelica Cotshott – Kindred Hospital Melbourne

Angelica Cotshott came to the Space Coast in 2009 to complete the opening and startup of Kindred Hospital Melbourne as their CEO. According to Cotshott, “Kindred Hospital Melbourne is unique because it is the only long-term acute care hospital in Brevard. We treat medically complex patients with pulmonary, cardiac, wound, and infectious disease issues. The average length of stay is 25-30 days.” The Hospital, located across from Melbourne International Airport, has grown to over 150 employees.

“I have been extremely fortunate to have great mentors who saw in me something I may not have seen in myself at the time – the ability to be a hospital leader. These people taught me on both professional and personal levels and gave me the opportunity to move forward and continue to advance my career.”

Javier Molinares -Al Dia Today

Javier Molinares came to the United States from Colombia in 1991. While working at Florida Today, he saw an opportunity for a bilingual newspaper, Al Día Today, which he launched in 2004. As Molinares put it, “I saw the need in Central Florida that would connect the growing Hispanic community with businesses, government entities, civic organizations and the people in general. But publishing the newspaper is not only what makes my job fascinating; it has given me the opportunity to work directly with my community.”

This year he joined the board of directors of the Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce and created the Multicultural Networking Committee, to bring together people from different ethnic backgrounds in the business environment. “We live in a great multicultural community; if ‘leaders’ don’t take this into consideration, they cannot lead properly.”

John Hopkins has served not only the business community but all facets of the community since 1975. An early partner of the accounting firm that evolved into Berman Hopkins Wright & LaHam, he has compiled 33 years of experience in auditing, accounting, management and corporate business planning.

Hopkins is also an inspiration for his service to the community, which includes the Scott Autism Center at Florida Tech, Holy Trinity Episcopal School, Brevard Heart Foundation and Genesis House to name just a few. As Hopkins says, “If community organizations and businesses are successful, then Brevard County will be successful as a whole.”

“I have always had a strong work ethic and a passion for succeeding in anything I do. I derive a lot of satisfaction in seeing our clients succeed in their business as well as watching our young staff grow and succeed in leadership roles. As Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

After five years at the helm of Brevard Community College, Dr. James A. Drake is retiring. His unique ability to bring together all the players that make an educational institution successful and to create “a shared governance” will be a lasting legacy. He leaves the college in what he called “rock-solid” condition – serving almost 30,000 students, employing nearly 1,500 people, and maintaining a nearly $100 million operating and capital budget.

Drake is the only president in BCC’s history to donate $101,000 of his salary to establish a student scholarship for textbooks. During his administration, BCC has become one of the top community colleges in the U.S. and Florida. Nationally, it ranks 28th among 1,700 community colleges in the number of two-year A.A. degrees awarded, and ranks second in Florida with a 47.6 percent graduation rate.

“Our solidity is a reflection of the unity of our board of trustees, faculty, staff, and student government representatives. Any and all credit for the college’s achievements during the past five years belongs to them, not to me.”