Immigration Lawyer Renee Pobjecky Named Winter Haven Chamber Chair
by James Coulter
Photos courtesy of Mike Potthast
Over the past few years, Winter Haven has become more diverse and inclusive. As such, the community needs someone who has helped make it more diverse and inclusive to help push it forward into the future with further economic growth and development.
Renee Pobjecky, global immigration and compliance attorney, received the honor of having the ceremonial gavel passed to her as the new chairperson of the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce during its annual dinner on Thursday evening.
“Celebrate Winter Haven: An Annual Tradition” was hosted at Nora Mayo Hall on Thursday evening to help commemorate the Chamber’s new chairman for the year, allowing attendees to look forward to the community’s future and look back at its accomplishments within the past year.
Since receiving her Juris Doctorate from Baylor University School of Law, Pobjecky has practiced law in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. She has been recognized for her contributions to immigration law through her local law firm. She has also been recognized as a speaker and author on immigration issues.
During her remarks on Thursday evening, she mentioned how the local community has become more diverse and inclusive, and how she is looking forward to helping the Chamber push the community even further through economic development and growth.
“Today, it is time to look toward the future,” she said. “We are focused on the next ten years. Today, we are ready to deploy you, our leaders, into the community. As chamber members, it is time to rally behind our schools, our businesses, and our residents. I look forward to working with each and every one of you over the next 12 months. It is the only time this attorney is waving her hourly fee.”
Pobjecky was one of many local individuals and businesses honored that evening during “Celebrate Winter Haven: An Annual Tradition”, the annual dinner and meeting hosted by the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce.
The event that evening helped showcase some of the highlights from the past year, as well as the vision for the future. Part of that vision included proposed renovations to the Chamber of Commerce building, which will include a refurbished lobby, second floor, and third floor.
Local individuals and businesses were honored that evening for their achievements. Here are a few of those awards:
Banker’s Cup – Man Of The Year:Bud Strang
Through his active involvement as the CEO of Six/Ten, a privately held investment company, Carl J. “Bud” Strang III has helped Winter Haven transform from a sleepy yet dilapidated town to a bustling center of activity.
His company collectively owns an estimated $60 to $70 million’s worth of downtown properties, many of which have been put to good use through the development of new businesses within real estate, agriculture, and software, according to an interview by The Ledger.
Aside from being active through his company, this lifelong resident of Winter Haven remains active within his own community serving within local organizations and boards such as the Chamber of Commerce, Winter Haven Hospital Foundation, and Winter Haven Economic Development Council.
When he accepted the award, he was at a loss of words. He was honored and humbled to be recognized, but in the end, he attributes his success to the support from the local community.
“This is really a team effort,” he said. “We you get a bunch of us on the same [page], it is amazing what can happen.”
Banker Cup Woman Of The Year:Debbie Harsh
Debbie Harsh started her banking career at CenterState Bank as a teller. She eventually moved up the career ladder, and now serves many roles within the bank exclusive of bookkeeping and accounting, according to an article by Profile Magazine.
Harsh currently serves as the CenterState Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Culture Officer. When not serving at the bank, she serves throughout the community within countless organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Polk, Polk County School Board, and United Way of Central Florida.
Even when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, she went through her health struggle with dignity through the help of her local community and especially of her personal faith. Such endurance in time of hardship makes her a viable female role model.
“I love the community, I always have,” she said. “Somebody asked me…what keeps [me] in Winter Haven. It’s you. It’s the community.”
Industry Award (Less Than 100 Employees):Moore & Associates
Les Moore started Moore & Associates in 2004 with two employees. Today, it has grown to six employees. Since then, his business has impacted the community both from inside and outside its office walls.
Giving back to the local community has been a core value of their firm. They have donated time and resources to many local organizations and causes such as academic fundraisers, the local health board, and the Rotary Club of Winter Haven.
Their biggest achievement thus far has been with youth soccer. Les Moore currently serves as the President and Competitive Director of Winter Haven Youth Soccer Association, or Winter Haven Kicks. His involvement has allowed more than 800 children to become enrolled with the opportunity to play the sport.
“This is truly a surprise,” he said upon receiving the award that evening. “I want to thank everyone for this award, and I will continue to serve the children of this community.”
Industry Award (More Than 100 Employees):Winter Haven Hospital
Employing more than 2,000 people, and helping create even more jobs within the surrounding community, Winter Haven Hospital is the largest employer within the Winter Haven area. Aside from creating jobs within the local community, the hospital has also invested millions of dollars into it over the past five years, helping Winter Haven become the fastest growing in the country.
Currently, the hospital seeks to expand its services, and likewise, its job opportunities, through an additional two floors that will be added over its emergency care center. The second floor with provide additional cardiovascular services, while the third floor will have additional intensive care units.
Through its core value of involvement within the community, the hospital and the surrounding community has experienced great growth within its 93 year history. Their secret, according to Dr. Steven Newman, has been to be different and personal.
“What does that mean?” he said. “It means that we do not take care of patients. We take care of your server at McDonalds, your son or daughter’s school teacher, your local elected officials, we take care of your mother and your father. It is different, and it is personal. That motivates [us] to deliver the highest quality healthcare and make that healthcare accessible to everybody in our community.”