CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
M.C. Davis is Founder of Nokuse Plantation and E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. M.C. was raised in Santa Rosa County, Florida and currently resides in Okaloosa County, Florida. He has been an entrepreneur for 48 years and a senior leader in a sundry of businesses. For the past 14 years Davis has been CEO of Fountain Investments, Inc., of Miramar Beach, FL, a land and timber trading company. Has been an avid conservationist for the past fourteen years and involved with a number of conservation projects all over the south, including:
Mallory Swamp, Lafayette County, Florida
Glass Mountain, Dawson County, Georgia
Nokuse Plantation, Walton County, Florida
Founder of E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center
Davis considers Nokuse Plantation his biggest and probably the most important project. It is comprised of 49,000 acres, which form a critical section of the proposed Greenway Corridor that would connect Eglin Air Force Base, Black Water River State Park, and Conecuh National Forest, etal with the Apalachicola National Forest and Tate’s Hell State Forest.
CEO and President (retired) ING Life Group
A recognized leader in the financial services industry with 30+ years experience, Steve is known for enabling companies to compete in complex and highly competitive financial service environments. He has successfully guided multiple corporations through highly complex consolidations, integrations, merger activities and new company launches.
As CEO and President of multiple businesses including ING Life Group (all life businesses in the United States), Security Life Insurance Company (Denver, Colorado), and Southland Life Insurance Company (Atlanta, Georgia), Steve led the strategic consolidation of multiple free standing companies, in addition to, the turnaround and launch of several others. These activities occurred during turbulent industry downturns, yet resulted in record industry financial results, growth, and client relationships
His strategic alignment of companies through the assessment of structure, products, market position, distribution channels, financials, client operations and image has achieved wide industry recognition. His extensive marketing background has resulted in product design and delivery methodology impacting the financial services markets.
Steve’s board involvement has been diverse, including culture, the arts, financial, and charitable organizations. He served on the Governing Boards of the Colorado Symphony and the Denver Botanical Gardens and has led corporate-giving initiatives impacting multiple non-profits and charitable organizations across the country.
Steve received his B.S. from the University of Alabama and his MBA from Samford University.
Nokuse Plantation and E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
Born in Okaloosa County, FL and raised in Santa Rosa County makes Stella a true native of this area. Stella has been the driving force and at times working alongside her husband, M.C. Davis, in his endeavors in education, business and both their quest for conservation.
Stella works full time as a volunteer at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center where she handles scheduling.
Stella and MC have raised 3 daughters and have 5 granddaughters.
Alaqua Animal Refuge
In 2006 Laurie conceived the vision for Alaqua Animal Refuge, a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to providing care for Walton County’s animals in need. Laurie opened Alaqua Animal Refuge in January 2007 on 10 acres of her and her husband Taylor’s personal property. In the first three years of operation, Hood was responsible for finding homes for more than 4,000 animals. The refuge is currently home to more than 250 animals at any given time and places up to 100 animals per month. Hood and her husband designed the refuge to be distinctly different from the standard concrete-and-chain-link kennel concept, and thanks to a generous capital improvements grant last year, were able to create a facility that resembles more of an amusement park than a shelter. The refuge accepts nearly any animal in need of care, including dogs and cats, kittens, puppies, horses, pigs and even emus. Hood has drawn on her business background to create a non-profit that functions for success. Her prior professional experience includes operating an international magazine in south Florida for eight years and serving as the marketing director for a medical development company that has launched several publicly traded medical and drug companies. A graduate of Choctawhatchee High School, Fort Walton Beach, FL, Laurie holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. She is a resident of Freeport and she and her husband are parents to two boys, Crockett, 5 and Garner, 4.
David Jeselnik, Ed.D., NBCT
Coordinator, School Improvement and Accountability
Walton County School District
Born in 1954, Cherry Point, NC.
David has been the Coordinator of School Improvement and Accountability for Walton County School District for the past 11 years and has been instrumental in our relationship with the Walton County School District. Prior to his current position with the Walton County School District, David was the Teacher on Special Assignment for Secondary Curriculum and Honors Science Instructor for Walton County School District. In addition, David has been an Adjunct Professor for Okaloosa-Walton Community College, DeFuniak Springs, FL for the past 28 years where he teachers college classes in Biology, Anatomy and Zoology.
His professional accomplishments include:
- National Board Certified Teacher for adolescent and young adult science
- Florida Professional Teaching Certificate in Biology, Chemistry, Administration and Supervision
- National Tandy Technology Teacher Award
- Professional Wildlife Biologist
David received his B.S. in Biological Science from the University of George, Athens, GA, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, his M.S. in Vertebrate Ecology from the University of George, his M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision of Educational Programs from University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL and his Ed.D. in Higher Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
He resides in DeFuniak Springs, FL with his wife Cynthia. David and Cynthia are parents to Matthew and Briana and new grandparents to Hadley.
Charles W. Rigdon is a real estate entrepreneur with a proven track record. Charles has been activity involved in the real estate and development business in the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi gulf coast since 1981. During this period he has successfully completed numerous real estate ventures on the coast as developer, managing member, consultant and investor. With this experience Charles developed a wealth of financial and operational expertise in real estate. For 15 years he was the President and Chief Operating Officer for M&R Development Inc.headquartered in Destin, Florida. In this position he set the strategic direction of the company. In 2008 Charles founded Harbor Capital LLC., to take advantage of depressed real estate and lack of investment capital in the market. Harbor Capital has effectively completed transactions which include purchase and reposition of depressed real estate, mortgage loans and natural resources. The company represents banks, corporations, and high net worth individuals along with being an approved court appointed Receiver of assets.
Charles earned his B.S. in Accounting from Troy University and is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of Florida. He believes in his commitment to his community. Charles serves on the school advisory council for Destin Elementary School and has represented the school on the Parent Leadership Council for Okaloosa County School District. For the past 22 years he has served on the Board of directors for the Northwest Florida Fair. Charles lives in Destin, Florida with his wife Tina and their two children, Lauren and Blake.
South Walton Community Council
Anita Page spent her childhood in Jacksonville, Florida along the St. John’s river. At an early age she learned to swim, paddle a canoe and find her way around in the woods behind her family home. She attended Auburn University majoring in education and sociology. She graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1972 where she was a member of the Law Review. She practiced law with the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham for 2 years and then joined the legal department of AmSouth Bank where she ultimately became counsel. In 1982 she moved to Destin, Florida and started a sailing school which became one of the first certified sailing schools in Florida with the American Sailing Association. She was also a partner in a sailing charter business on the harbor in Destin.
She was admitted to the Florida bar in 1985 and has focused on land use planning and environmental law.
A USCG licensed captain, Anita also worked as a professional delivery sailboat captain from 1983 until 2003. She worked predominantly out of France, South Africa and Charleston, SC. She has soloed across the Atlantic in her 30′ sloop, “Shadowfax” and logged more than 100,000 offshore miles.
Staying closer to home, in 2003-2004 she captained a 72′ wooden schooner, the “Daniel Webster Clements”, around central and south Florida in connection with an interactive marine science program for school children. The on-board program consisted of various learning stations such as water quality testing, fish ecology using a seine net and an on-board aquarium, and a plankton station.
In 2006 she became the Executive Director of the South Walton Community Council, a 501c3 citizens organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and enhancing the quality of life and environment of the area. She has continued in that position until present date.
Anita was appointed by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners to serve on the Walton County Wetlands Work Group Task Force, an 18 month endeavor to review wetland policies and make recommendations. She was also appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to work with county staff and the special county attorney in the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment damage review and claims process resulting from impacts to Walton County from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
She spends much of her free time out of doors locally or in the mountains where she enjoys hiking, kayaking or riding her mountain bike.
E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
Christy Scally graduated from Auburn University in English Literature in 1995. After graduation, she returned to her hometown of Atlanta and worked in Advertising, Real Estate Development and Rezonings. In 2000, her family relocated to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. From 2007-2013, Christy served as the Director of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. She coordinated construction of the $12 million LEED certified environmental education facility and oversaw the creation a four-day program of interdisciplinary curriculum for highly interactive field experiments for fourth grade and seventh grades. After collaborating with 5 school districts, Christy worked with the South Walton Tourist Development Council to open the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center to the general public on select days of the week. She has served on several Boards, including Alaqua Animal Refuge, Walton Education Foundation, Scenic Corridor 98,Tallahassee Community College Wakulla Environmental Institute, Walton County School District Advisory Council, and is an active member of Destin church of Christ. Christy has worked alongside world-renown Dr. E.O. Wilson and several other esteemed scientists, educators and politicians — but her favorite interest is spending time with her two children.
Chairman of Board
Florida Community Services Corp. of Walton County (d/b/a Regional Utilities)
Graduate of Walton Senior High School.
While serving for five years in the United States Air Force, he received technical training in site development, structural pavements, surveying, planning, scheduling, computer programming and civil engineer inspection.
Dewey served as Project Manager over nine years with Stallings and McCorvey, Inc. of Montgomery, AL on construction projects.
Served as Walton County Administrator from 1982-1987.
Chief Executive Officer of Florida Community Services Corp. of Walton County (d/b/a Regional Utilities) in Santa Rosa Beach, FL from May 1988 until 2009. Currently serves as the Chairman of the Board for FCSC of Walton County. Has overseen major improvements to the utility system including the construction of the Point Washington Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Sandestin Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, the Seacrest Wastewater Treatment Plant, installation of four water tanks, the installation of a 30” sub aqueous line across Choctawhatchee Bay, the installation of a reuse water system and disposal site and the installation of numerous miles of water and wastewater lines throughout the franchise area.
Organizations and Associations:
-Presently Board of Director for Florida First Bank
-Affiliate of E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
-Served on Walton County Comprehensive Plan Committee
-Served on Governor’s Growth Management Committee
-Served on Southern Building Code Congress
-Served on NW FL M.P.O. Advisory Committee
-Served on Florida Road Association
-Served on Utility Technical Advisory Committee
-Former Board Member for Walton County Chamber of Commerce
-Former Board Member of Walton County Tourist Development Council
Resides in Freeport, FL with his wife Vivian and has one son Brett. Grandfather to Matthew and Julia.
Jose E. Valiente, CPA
Jose Valiente was born in Cuba. He moved to the United States in 1962 settling in Tampa, Florida. He graduated from the University of South Florida in 1973 and has been in the practice of public accounting and consulting for over 30 years. He is licensed to practice as a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida, and was one of the founding partners of ValienteHernandez P.A. ValienteHernandez merged with the national accounting and consulting firm, LarsonAllen LLP on November 1, 2009. Jose Valiente is now a Tax Principal with LarsonAllen.
Jose has lived in the Tampa area for 45 years. He and his wife, Lourdes, have a daughter Lauren who has her undergraduate degree of Harvard University and her law degree from the University of Florida Law School.
Jose is very much involved in community and professional organizations including:
Past Chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
Chairman, Tampa Bay-Cuba Trade Commission of the World Trade Center of Tampa Bay
Selected 2006 Volunteer of the Year by Junior Achievement of Hillsborough County
Past Chairman and still active member of the University of South Florida Latin Community Advisory Committee
Selected 2005 Hispanic Man of the Year by Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.
Member, Board of Directors and Finance Committee, The Florida Orchestra
Member, Healthy Together Board of Directors
Member, Museum of Science & Industry Board of Directors
Member, International School Connection Board of Directors
Chairman, Arte 2007 Board of Directors
Member, Committee on Foreign Relations
Leadership Tampa, Class of 1998
Past President and active member of the Rotary Club of Ybor City
Past Chairman of the University of South Florida School of Accountancy Advisory Council
Selected as the 1996 USF BETA GAMMA SIGMA Community Honoree
Past Chairman of the University of South Florida School of Accountancy, Accounting Circle
Hillsborough Hispanic Mentors Foundation, Inc.
Past Member, Board of Trustees of The Spring of Tampa Bay
President (July 1, 2009), Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA)
Founding Member of the Century Bank of Florida Board of Directors
Founding Member of the Northside Bank of Tampa Board of Directors
Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Member, Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants