50 Most Powerful People in Orlando

Compiled By Mike Boslet, Barry Glenn, Jay Boyar, Shelley Preston, John Kennedy, Mark I. Pinsky and Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor. Portraits by Scott A. Miller
Published July, 2009

 

50 Most Powerful People in Orlando

 

The people with the most power are the ones who affect how we live.

Government officials have the power to raise or lower our taxes. Heads of big corporations can order layoffs or other spending cuts. The school superintendent has a lot to say about what kind of education our kids get (and what time they have to leave for school). The actions of law-enforcement leaders can influence whether we feel safe. And the decisions of both government and business leaders can determine whether our economy booms or goes bust.

These kinds of individuals appear throughout this year’s list of the 50 Most Powerful People in Orlando. But there also are religious leaders, sports leaders and shapers of public opinion. There are arts backers, educators and just plain do-gooders. All have made a difference.

 

You’ll find that many people have moved up the list since last year and that some are appearing for the first time. You’ll also notice that some have slipped in ranking — sometimes simply to make room for those whose stars have risen. New to the list is a Hall of Power designation, bestowed on some of the perennial names that make our list. The criteria for being considered Hallworthy are at least five consecutive appearances on the 50 Most Powerful list and a reputation for being influential in political, business or civic circles. Most Hall of Famers likely would be involved, to some degree, in all three.

Here’s hoping that the 50 will continue to use their power wisely. After all, as the Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power. ’’

 

26 Mark NeJame
Defense Attorney
Age: 54

You may know him from his brief but very dramatic association with Cindy and George Anthony. Beyond the publicity, which does overshadow his reputation as a tenacious trial lawyer, he has parlayed his high-profile status and passion for liberal Democratic issues into political influence. NeJame is in tight with rookie U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (No. 21). Orange County mayoral candidate Bill Segal (No. 22) calls NeJame “very influential,” a friend and ally. NeJame, along with his wife, Josie, works the charity circuit, too. The couple chaired this year’s Fashion Funds the Cure Orlando event, raising money for pediatric-cancer research. Look for NeJame’s law firm to expand its presence this year, as it branches out into personal injury, domestic and immigration law. Last Ranking: 42 in 200.

Mark NeJame Defense Attorney