Dr. Paul Solomon
University of South Florida professor Paul Solomon spearheads the MS in Marketing program and teaches graduate capstone courses. He has received USF’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award a dozen times, recognizing excellence as an educator.
An expert in focus group research, market surveys, and strategic planning for a variety of firms in the health care, entertainment, packaged goods, home building, and real estate industries, Solomon has worked with firms such as Hill and Knowlton Public Relations, BayCare Hospital System, Johnson & Johnson, AAA AutoClub South, Jim Walter Homes, Jewel-Osco, Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Blood Services, Sears, Parke-Davis, Holland & Knight, and Val-Pak. His research in promotion and services marketing has been published extensively in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Accountancy, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Business, and Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, among others. He has provided expert witness testimony on legal and marketing issues, including anti-trust (United States Department of Justice), direct mail, sales tactics, and trademark infringement.
Solomon holds a PhD from Arizona State University and two degrees from the University of Denver. He previously served as associate dean of graduate studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also served as director of research for a mid-sized advertising agency and owned/operated a marketing research firm.
Ana Cruz currently manages Floridian Partners new Central Florida practice, located in Tampa. Ana brings over 13 years of experience in lobbying, advocacy, and political consulting to Floridian Partners. During her career, Ana has represented a wide array of clients throughout Central Florida in both the private and the public spheres.
From 1998 until 2000, Ana served as an aide to Florida Representative Bob Henriquez. Ana was instrumental in managing two successful campaigns in a district that is key for Florida Democrats. During the 2000 Presidential Campaign, Ana was named as the Deputy Florida Finance Director for the Gore Lieberman campaign. In that role, she assisted the national campaign with raising record amounts of money during this country’s most competitive Presidential election. After the 2000 Presidential campaign, Ana served two years as Senator Bill Nelson’s West Florida Regional Director before being tapped to become the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Florida.
Prior to joining Floridian Partners, Ana founded and managed her own successful Governmental Affairs and Public Advocacy practice. Since 2004, Ana has used her extensive political experience in Central Florida to successfully advocate for several high profile clients, including Verizon, Motorola, and the Orlando Magic.
Ana has worked on a range of different issues and legislation. From 2004 to 2006 Ana worked on Verizon’s installation and launch of their new FIOS product while negotiating a new cable franchise within both Hillsborough county and the City of Tampa. In 2010 and 2011, Ana was brought back on to advocate for Verizon on a state and local level. Now, Verizon is recognized as a leading cable, internet, and phone service provider in the Tampa Bay Area, a market that would have been impossible to capture without aggressive and thoughtful public advocacy.
In 2005 Ana was the first consultant hired by the NBA Franchise The Orlando Magic to build a team to assist in their “Arena Campaign” efforts. After two and a half years of aggressive negotiating, the City of Orlando and Orange County closed a deal to fund the $1.8 billion Downtown Venues project. This deal included a plan to build the new $480 million Amway Center. The Amway Center is now the premier basketball arena in the United States and has helped establish Orlando as one of the fastest growing and most business friendly metro areas in the country.
Karen Roberts is a Senior Vice President emeritus in Aon Hewitt’s Client and Market Leadership practice and is based in Tampa, FL. Her knowledge, spanning over 30 years, has been gained on all sides of the business — carrier, corporate and consulting.
Her skills include administrative sourcing evaluations, HR/Benefit process reengineering, strategic benefit planning, health care cost management, health promotion and wellness programs, and web-based and new media wellness engagement strategies.
Karen has extensive experience in large, complex key account management, working with employers to develop, implement and manage a strategic HR/benefits design and delivery environment. HRO Today magazine recognized Karen as an industry leader and one of 42 named individuals on the provider side involved in the most important HRO transactions of 2005. Human Resource Executive magazine recognized her as one of 20 Top Benefits Power Brokers in Healthcare in the US for 2010 where her clients cited her passion and expertise in wellness as a differentiating characteristic.
Karen has published in Employee Benefit Plan Review, CMPMedica’s Drug Benefit Trends, Workspan and authored nationally distributed white papers, “Health Promotion/Disease Prevention — A Corporate Economic Strategy” and “Controlling Health Care Costs: Strategies for Employers.” She is a recognized subject matter expert on wellness strategies.
Prior to her career with Aon, which began in 1995, she was a Principal with another national consulting firm and then the West Coast Practice Leader for the Benefits Administration and Sourcing Solutions group for one of the Big Four accounting firms. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a BS in Education and a BA in Literature. She serves on the faculty of WorldatWork and The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and is a frequent speaker to local and national employer groups.
Craig Lane began his career at SunTrust Bank, spearheading a $55M (debt instrument) purchase of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s NHL medallion. Subsequently, he shifted to private capitalism as Vice President of Strategic Planning for The Flyer, where he created a marketing and branding strategy that helped increase annual margins by more than 1,000% from $159K to more than $1M. He then joined an investment firm focusing on real estate, sports (MLB Rays), and other large projects. He directed five companies with full P&L and board management responsibility along with buying other on-going companies. Entities included private jets, luxury yachts, real estate, retail/wine and equipment leasing companies. Following an IPO, he moved to a position with a consulting firm (DeLeeuw & Associates) with large banking clients, including Bank of America, where he migrated a $2B loan portfolio across the country, and sold 59 banks with $300M in assets to another Bank (Huntington Bank). His next venture included investment banking experience for ThruComm, where he raised $75M on Wall Street through Bear Stearns. The company was later purchased by Marconi Worldwide. The last engagement before becoming an entrepreneur involved purchasing assets and businesses for the Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates. Milestones included organizing off shore corporations, tax structuring, bringing commerce to the Middle East and purchasing assets in the US.
In 1999, Craig launched a mortgage lending company with a extremely ingenious marketing strategy that rapidly expanded to 32 locations and was sold in 2005. Operations included marketing strategy, branding, compliance, underwriting and the funding of $350M per year in residential and commercial loans. Craig remained in the industry and launched TRUMP Mortgage for Donald Trump as the President of Florida Operations until operations were ceased and the company merged with a larger mortgage entity. In late 2008, Craig launched a Plaintiff Funding entity with non-recourse lending infrastructure. The principal monies were raised through private money road shows and the company has grown to dozens of attorney firm clients with a half million dollars in US pipeline funding. Craig has served on the Board of the Miami Chamber of Commerce, Direction Consulting and Debt Solutions of America. In his spare time, Craig enjoys boating, triathlons and spending time with his family outdoors.
He holds a degree in Marketing from Florida State University and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of South Florida.