Our Leadership

Our Lakeland Leads team is dedicated to bridging the gap between businesses and education, helping to provide workforce learning opportunities for Polk County students. Click the buttons below to contact our team members!

Melody Rider President of Lakeland Leads

Melody Rider | President

Dr. Melody Rider joined Lakeland Leads because of her passion for education, community engagement, and advocacy. Beginning as a preschool, kindergarten, and 1st-grade teacher, she transitioned into strategic planning, human resources, and financial management in the educational sector. With multiple advanced degrees, including a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, and over 20 years in higher education, Dr. Rider’s career can be characterized by her dedication to student success, leadership development, and cross-divisional collaboration.

As the first to graduate college in her family, Dr. Rider values education deeply. Her journey reflects her dedication to supporting students in reaching their full potential and advocating for resources and programs. In her role at Lakeland Leads, Dr. Rider continues to pursue these same efforts, engaging the business community to support workforce preparedness in Polk County Schools.

Exhibiting her dedication to community engagement, Dr. Rider served on several boards including the Salvation Army, Career Source Polk, Lakeland Rotary, and Junior Achievement. In addition, Dr. Rider is a member of the Lakeland Economic Development Council and Lakeland Rotary and has participated in Leadership Lakeland Class #38, Leadership Polk Class #17, and The National Society of Leadership and Success.

 Stephanie Colón | Vice President of Investor Relations

With 25 years of experience in the banking arena, Stephanie’s journey began as a Teller at Florida First Bank. She transitioned through various roles, within the banking industry. Her leadership and expertise in business development skills  have been instrumental in fostering resilience and embracing diversity in the organizations she supports. 

Stephanie is deeply passionate about giving back to the community. She actively serves on the boards of several organizations, including  The Lakeland Rotary Club, where she holds the position of Membership Chair. She is a proud alumna of Leadership Lakeland Class XXX, Leadership Polk Class VIII and Inside PCPS Class II and currently leads the community network group CORE.

Her commitment to leadership and philanthropy has earned her numerous accolades, including the Girls Inc. “She Knows Where She is Going Award,” the Polk Emerging Leaders Award, and the 2021 Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Business Woman of the Year.

As Vice President, she will leverage her extensive experience and passion for community engagement to strengthen our connections with members and drive positive change in the workforce of Polk County. 

Executive Board

Our leadership is comprised of the most invested and accomplished professionals in the Polk County community. Many of them have not just raised families in the Polk County School System but attended local schools themselves. Their dedication and commitment to our community, Lakeland Leads, and our children’s future will provide a pathway for success.  

David D. Hallock, Jr. | Shareholder, GreyRobinson

Chairman of the Board

David commenced the practice of law with the general practice department of a large firm in Miami, Florida. After practicing for seven years in Miami, David moved to Lakeland, FL, in 1997 to focus his practice on corporate business transactions. Presently, David is involved in corporate and business representation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, tax, health care law, banking, and wealth protection planning. 

David grew up in Los Angeles, California, and Bartow, Florida. After he graduated from Bartow High School in 1981, he attended Wake Forest University, where he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in accounting. He received his law degree from Florida State University College of Law in 1988. David later traveled to Brussels, Belgium, where he obtained a Master’s in International and Comparative Law from Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Jeff Chamberlain | Retired, Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Past Chairman of the Board

Jeff Chamberlain started his career at Publix in 1972 as a front service clerk in the Satellite Beach, FL, store. After working in various roles at several stores in Brevard County, he was promoted to Store Manager in 1983.

Chamberlain transferred to the Real Estate Department in 1991 serving as manager for North Florida and South Georgia. Then in 1999, he was promoted to Director of Real Estate Market Strategy, followed by another promotion in 2011 to Vice President of Real Estate. He became Sr. Vice President of Real Estate & Facilities in 2017.

Ashley Bell-Barnett | Community Advocate, Member of the Board of Governors of the State University System

Ashley Bell Barnett of Winter Haven, Florida, is a community advocate with experience as a public educator, workforce development analyst, and nonprofit leader. Bell Barnett was appointed to the Governing Board in December 2020, and her term expires March 1, 2023. 

A fifth-generation Floridian, Bell Barnett earned her Bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL, and her Master of Public Administration from the University of South Florida.

Bell Barnett serves in a variety of capacities at organizations across the community, including the Vice Chair of Polk State College District Board of Trustees, Community Impact Chair of United Way of Central Florida, Talbot House, Lakeland Regional Hospital Foundation, GiveVisuals Inc., Bonnet Springs Park, JRDF, and the Polk County School District. A Leadership Lakeland Alum, Leadership Florida, and Leadership Polk Alumni, she was recently honored with the 2019 “She Knows Where She’s Going” award bestowed by Girls, Inc. Most recently, Bell Barnett was appointed to the Board of Governors of the State University system in November 2023 and will serve as a member of the board through January 2026. 

Alice Hunt | Marketing, Manager, and Customer Care, Hunt Construction of Central Florida, Inc. 

At Large

Alice Hunt is the Vice President of Hunt Construction of Central Florida, Inc. and President of Hunt Properties, LLC, which specializes in residential and commercial construction in the Central Florida area.

In addition to her professional work, Hunt is active in the community. She is a past chairman of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and received the Chamber’s prestigious George Jenkins Award in 2018. She also served on the Chamber’s Leadership Lakeland Alumni Board of Directors.

She has served as Chair of the Florida Polytechnic Foundation’s Board of Trustees and was Chair the Charter Review Commission for Polk County in 2018. She has also served on the Boards of the Early Learning Coalition, Polk State College Foundation, Polk County Builders Foundation, Lakeland Economic Development Council, Central Florida Development Council, and the Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center.

Hunt is a member of the Polk County Builders Association and the Florida Homebuilders Association.

She is a graduate of the University of South Florida. She and her husband reside in Lakeland. She has three children, one granddaughter and five grandsons 

Brian Philpot | President, CEO, and Principal Owner, AgAmerica

At Large

Brian Philpot is the CEO and Principal Owner of AgAmerica Lending, with headquarters located in Lakeland, FL. His background includes extensive experience in Real Estate investing, agriculture lending, real estate law, market analysis and negotiation. 

AgAmerica developed from Brian’s long-time investment company, Land South Group. Founded in the late 1990s, Land South Group was an investment firm with a particular focus in timberland, agricultural, and conservation real estate across the southeastern U.S. Land South Group also made value investments in residential development, industrial real estate, manufactured housing, office properties, mitigation banks, broadcast towers, and distressed real estate debt.

Jack Harrell | CEO, Harrell’s

Jack Harrell received his education from Georgia Southern College. His community involvement and leadership roles include serving on the advisory boards for the Salvation Army, Youth for Christ, and Parker Street Ministries. He is also a member of the Florida Council of 100. In addition, Jack Harrell, Jr. is a Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Harrell’s, LLC, a leader in the green industry and the premier producer of quality custom blended fertilizers and distributor of chemicals and grass seed for the golf course, sports turf, lawn care, and horticulture industries. The Harrell’s are longtime residents, business, and civic leaders of Lakeland. They created Harrell Family Charities in September 2016 out of a firm belief that God had richly blessed their family and they committed to giving back what had been so graciously given to them. They said their community through the support of local charities, education institutions, healthcare organizations, and community improvement projects. 

Todd Baylis | CEO and Co-Founder, QGiv

Todd is CEO and Co-Founder of Qgiv, a Lakeland-based online giving platform that has worked with over 5500 organizations throughout the US and Canada to more effectively implement and grow their online fundraising through year-round giving, peer-to-peer and event-based fundraising solutions. He previously served as President and CEO of Cipher Integrations, a Central Florida-based managed service provider acquired by DSM in 2021. 

He earned his MS in IT Management, with the highest distinction, from Carnegie Mellon University and received his BS in Computer and Information Sciences, summa cum laude, from Florida State University. In January 2010, Todd was named by The Ledger as one of 20 young professionals to watch under the age of 40 and was also named a Polk County Emerging Leader in 2011.

He served as Chair for the Lakeland Area Economic Development Council and as a Director for the Florida Polytechnic University Foundation. He has previously served as a Director for the United Way of Central Florida, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, Camp Fire USA Sunshine Council (Past President), Imperial Symphony Orchestra (Past Chair), and as a past Steering Committee Member of Lakeland Vision and Emerge Lakeland. He is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXV.

Marcy Benton| Vice President of Human Resources, Publix Super Markets

Marcy began her Publix career in 1992 as an accounting clerk. In 1995, she joined human resources, and after holding various positions, she was promoted to director of retail associate relations in 2013. In 2078, she was promoted to her current position, Vice President of Human Resources. Marcy received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida and her master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Florida. She also was a recipient of Publix’s George W. Jenkins and President’s Award. Marcy provides strategic leadership and oversight over all human resources operations, impacting more than 225,000 Publix associates. Her leadership was instrumental in responding to the pandemic and expediting the hiring and onboarding of tens of thousands of new associates. Benton also oversaw a recognition program that awarded associates for their hard work with Publix gift cards and accelerated pay increases.

Frederick Heid | Superintendent, Polk County Public Schools 

In April 2021, Frederick Heid was unanimously selected by the Polk County School Board to become the new superintendent of Polk County Public Schools. Mr. Heid arrived in Polk County with an extensive background in education. More than 20 years ago, he taught at Booker Middle School in Sarasota County, Fla. In his third year as an educator, he was recognized as Sarasota County’s Teacher of the Year.

In June 2010, he joined the Florida Department of Education to help schools struggling to boost student academic performance. He served as Bureau Chief for School Improvement and leader of Florida’s Differentiated Accountability (DA) project. Mr. Heid later became Chief Academic Officer for Duval County Public Schools, a large district serving more than 127,000 students.

In June 2014, he was appointed as superintendent of District 300 in Algonquin, IL. He holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida and is pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.Mr. Heid, his wife, and his teenage son live in Lakeland.

Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board serves to provide strategic direction, valuable expertise, insights, and external perspectives to help Lakeland Leads achieve its mission of improving K-12 education by engaging the business community. These members are passionate advocates for education and contribute to the overall success of our organization.

Danielle Drummond

President & CEO | Lakeland Regional Health

Jay Chastain

President & CEO | Chastain Skillman

Mark Cabrera Lakeland Leads Board of Governors

Mark Cabrera

CEO | Saddle Creek Logistics

Jason Hirsbrunner

CEO | Watson Clinic

Nick Barnett

Director | Publix Super Market Charities

Marcy Hamrick

Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition | Publix Super Markets

Ryan DelliVeniri

President | IDX Brands

Dawn Willis

Community Regional Manager, South Central Region, Mid-West Region | Orlando Health

Bill Mutz

Mayor | City of Lakeland