Tampa Bay Host Committee Inc.
  101 E Kennedy Blvd Ste 3300 Tampa, FL  33602.  
incorporated March 26, 2010; filed statement of organization with the FEC on May 19.  ...501(c)(3)

(page updated May 23, 2013)

...June 25, 2012: "Largest Welcome Event in the History of the Republican National Convention"
"...approximately $49 million in private donations needed to host the Convention."

Chairman of the Board  Al Austin

(announced May 21, 2010)  CEO of A.S. Austin Company, a real estate development corporation; Austin was a pioneer developer of the Westshore Business District of Tampa.  He has been a delegate or alternate to every Republican National Convention and has served in leadership roles in every presidential campaign in Florida since 1972.

Co-Chair  Don DeFosset

(announced vice chair May 21, 2010)  Chairman and CEO of DJD Group, an investment firm headquarted in Tampa (inc. 2009); Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The University of Tampa.  DeFosset previously served as Chairman (2002-05), President and CEO (2000-05) of Walter Industries, Inc.  Executive positions at Dura Automotive Systems, Inc.; Navistar International Corporation; AlliedSignal, Inc.; Mack Trucks, Inc..  Started out at Rockwell International, where he worked for 18 years.  M.B.A. from Harvard University, 1974; B.S. in industrial engineering from Purdue University.  Grew up in St. Louis, MO. >

Co-Chair  Dick Beard (Richard A. Beard III)

(announced vice chair, treasurer and secretary May 21, 2010)  36 years experience in real estate development.  President of R.A. Beard Company, a real estate investment company, since 1995.  A partner of Paragon Group, which developed major projects in downtown Tampa in the 1980s.  Beard moved from Dallas in 1972.  He was founding chairman of the Board of Trustees for the University of South Florida.  Bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, 1967.

President and CEO  Ken Jones

(announced May 21, 2010...oversees day to day operations)  Senior Vice President, Managing Director and General Counsel of Communications Equity Associates.  Chief Legal Counsel and Senior Staff member for then U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and the Senate Rules & Administration Committee.  In 2005 Jones also served as General Counsel to the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee.  Attorney at Patton Boggs in Washington, DC.  Chief Counsel to the 54th Presidential Inaugural Committee, 2001.  Counsel for the Bush-Cheney campaign in Palm Beach following the 2000 campaign.  Deputy Counsel at the RNC.  J.D. from University of Florida; undergraduate degree in communications and criminology from Florida State University. >

General Counsel  Bob Grammig

Partner at Holland & Knight.  J.D. from Harvard Law School; M.A. in diplomatic history and B.A. from University of Pennsylvania.

Executive Committee: Al Austin, Dick Beard, Don DeFosset, Ken Jones, Bob Grammig, former Gov. Bob Martinez, Paul Catoe, Ron Ciganek, Bill Edwards, Steve Mitchell, Kathleen Shanahan, Robert Watkins

Board of Governors:

Carlos Alfonso, Mayor Rick Baker, William Barker, Thilo Best, Mike Corcoran, Ronnie Duncan, Tom DuPont, Maryann Ferenc, Aaron Fodiman, Maritza Rovira Forino, Judy Genshaft, Richard Gonzmart, Mayor Dick Greco, Oscar Horton, Tom James, Joe Kadow, Tod Leiweke, Sandy MacKinnon, Patrick Manteiga, Rick Michaels, John Ramil, Michelle Robinson, Gary Sasso, John Scheuler, Ambassador Mel Sembler, Curtis Stokes, Chuck Sykes, Paul Tash, Dr. R. Vijay, Jeff Vinik, Joe Williams

Chief Operating Officer  Matt Becker

(Sept. 2011)  Vice president at Regions Bank in St. Petersburg, July 2006-Aug. 2011.  Deputy chief of staff and White House liaison at the Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush, 2003-06.  Deputy director of the Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics at the U.S. Department of Education, 2001-03.  Managed the Michigan GOP’s Victory 2000 campaign.  Michigan political director on Forbes 2000, May 1999-Feb. 2000.  Executive clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives' Legislative Resource Center, 1998-99.  Area manager Bil Mar Foods/Sara Lee, 1995-97.  B.A. in political theory and constitutional democracy from Michigan State University, 1995.  From Grand Rapids, MI.

Chief Financial Officer  Paul Watson

Previously chief financial officer and chief operating officer of the Free Enterprise Nation Inc., a non-partisan educational and advocacy organization.  From 1996-2008 chief financial officer and chief operating officer and senior financial analyst (1997-1999) of Clearwater Funds, Inc., a group of private hedge funds.  Started career at Arthur Andersen LLP in the New York City Financial Services Division.  B.S. in accounting from St. John's University in New York, 1992.  Originally from Belfast, N. Ireland; immigrated to the United States in 1988.

Director of Events and Hospitality  Amanda Whitelaw

(June 2011)  Director of volunteer services for the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee starting Sept. 2009. Volunteer services coordinator for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee, and event staff supervisor for the Tampa Sports Authority at Raymond James Stadium, 2008-09.  Graduate of the Florida State University, College of Business, 2007.

Deputy Director of Events & Volunteers  Rita Wesley

Administrative coordinator (April 2011-March 2012) and special assistant to the president and CEO (May 2006-Feb. 2011) of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.  Special assistant to the first two strong mayors for the City of St. Petersburg, 1997-2004.  Master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida, 2002; bachelor’s degree in English from Florida State University, 1990.  Native of St. Petersburg, FL.

Manager of Events  Whitney Wilkins

(May 2011)  Marketing specialist at Prime Vendor Inc. and Lighthouse Foods, 2009-11.  B.S. in advertising from University of Florida, 2009.

Event Coordinator  Heather Ridgeway

(Jan. 2012)  Server at Beef 'O' Brady's Restaurants, 2011-12.  B.S. in event management from University of Central Florida, 2011; A.A. from Florida State University. 

Florida Finance Director and Director of Donor Programs  Sarah Collins

Previously director of development for American Solutions.  She has also worked as the regional finance director for  the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign, overseeing several Southern states, including Florida, Georgia and Texas and as the finance director for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee in Georgia.  Bachelor's degree in consumer sciences from the University of Mississippi.  Native of Madison, GA.

Director of Economic Development  Arlene DiBenigno

Founder and president of Unico Strategies.  Director of minority communications and outreach for the Office of Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos.  Director of legislative affairs and special projects for the 2011 Florida Inaugural Committee.  Political director on Rick Scott for Governor, 2010; advisor for campaigns of Gov. Charlie Crist, and Gov. Jeb Bush, and the presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain, and very briefly of Herman Cain.  Executive assistant to the president at Figg Engineering.  Associate’s degree in education from Miami Dade Community College. Native of Miami, FL.

Manager of Community Programs  Sara Palmer

(Aug. 2011)  Associate at Atlantic American Opportunities Fund, April-July 2011.  Digital marketing coordinator at RegisterPatient.com, Sept.-Dec. 2010.  M.A. in international business from University of Florida, 2010; B.S. in marketing from University of Florida, 2009.

Communications Director  Aileen Rodriguez

Founder/principal at AR Public Affairs & Strategic Solutions in Tampa.  Gulf Coast regional director for U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.  Community liaison for the H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center and Research Institute.  B.A. in organizational and interpersonal communications from the University of South Florida.  Born in San Juan Puerto Rico.

Deputy Communications Director  Jessica R. Aspiras

(March 2012) Previously communications and marketing specialist for the University of South Florida College of Business, July 2010-March 2012. Account executive at the public affairs firm The John Truscott Group in Lansing, MI late 2008-ea. 2009.  Media relations coordinator at the Michigan Republican Party, 2008.  Medical and health reporter WILX-TV in Lansing, MI, 2006-08.  Master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University, 2005; bachelor’s degree in mass media studies from Florida State University, 2002.  Native of Pensacola, FL.

Executive Assistant to Ken Jones  Gwen Finn

Executive assistant/office manager at Pujari Center, July 2005-Oct. 2011.  Owner of Wedding Library, an event planning and retail business, 2001-04.  Executive assistant to the vice president of human resoources at Sykes Enterprises, 1998-2001.  Executive assistant at Quality Distribution, 2000.  Legal secretary at Holland & Knight, 1989-98.

Office Manager  Aubrey Lospinoso

(Feb. 2012)  Office coordinator/guest relations at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in Orlando, 2006-11.  Attended Valencia College.


Deputy Director  Krista Soroka

(July 2010-June 2011)  Senior vice president of events and marketing at EventMakers Corp, April 2009-June 2010.  Director of events and hospitality for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee, 2007-09.  Film commissioner for the Tampa Bay Film Commission, 2004-07.  President of Wonder Events, 2001-04.  Director of events and public relations for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Task Force, 2000-01.  Director of public relations at the Governor's Office of Physical Fitness and Sports, 1997-99.  Degree in sports management from the University of Michigan.