TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Monday, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson announced the appointments of Archie Collins, Reggie Holt, Charles “Charlie” Lykes, Chad Lyons, Jake Raburn, Dr. Cindy Sanders, Ted Schrader, and Robert Thomas to the Florida State Fair Authority Board.
“I am proud to appoint the newest members to the Board of Directors of the Florida State Fair Authority today,” said Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “The Authority Board does a tremendous job of creating positive entertainment experiences throughout Florida, and I am confident that these new members will make a meaningful impact on our state through their commitment to agriculture, education, and community service.”
Archie Collins is the President and CEO of Tampa Electric. He has more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry. He began his career at Nova Scotia Power in 1990, and he has held increasingly senior roles since then. Prior to joining Tampa Electric, Collins served in leadership roles at Nova Scotia Power and Emera Energy, as President and CEO of Grand Bahama Power Co., and as President and Chief Operating Officer of Emera Caribbean. Most recently, he served as CEO of Tampa Electric. Collins is a professional chemical engineer, and he holds a Bachelor of Engineering from St. Francis Xavier University and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Dalhousie University. He sits on the boards of the Florida Council of 100, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Economic Development Council and Enterprise Florida. He also serves on the boards of The Association of Edison Illuminating Companies, Florida Reliability Coordinating Council and Tampa Theatre.
Reggie Holt became the CEO of Farm Credit of Central Florida in April 2008. Reggie joined Farm Credit in 1982 and has spent his entire career serving the American farmer and rural communities. During his career with Farm Credit, Reggie has had the opportunity to serve in various instrumental roles including Branch Manager, Area Vice President, and SVP of Agribusiness Lending. Reggie has an MBA from Florida Southern College and a BS in Business Administration from East Carolina University. He is a graduate of the Graduate School of Baking at Louisiana State University, the Wedgworth Leadership Institute at the University of Florida and Harvard Business School Executive Education Corporate Governance Program. Reggie is an active member of the Plant City Rotary Club. He and his wife Gaye have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.
Charles “Charlie” Lykes was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. He and his wife Kathryn now live on the west shore of Lake Placid, Florida. At the age of thirteen, Charlie began working during the summers for Lykes Bros., Inc. a family-owned company. Most of his early work was on the Lykes Florida Ranch where he learned to ride horseback and handle beef cattle. In 1971 Charlie began full-time employment with Lykes Bros., spending time in almost all the diverse business units in Florida and Texas. In 1983 he began managing the Florida Ranch and later became the manager of the 02 Ranch in Texas. While managing these ranches, Charlie represented the company as a member of the Florida Land Council where he served a term as Chairman. In 2012, he helped establish the Landowner Coalition of Texas. He also served on the Board of Directors of Citrus World, Inc. which owns the Florida’s Natural Brand. Charlie was the President and CEO of Lykes Bros. Inc. when he retired in 2019. Today he manages Highlands Ranch and Groves, LLC. with cattle in Highlands County and a grapefruit grove under protective screen in Polk County.
Chad Lyons is a fifth-generation agriculturist from Mayo, Florida. He is the agri-science teacher and FFA advisor at Lafayette High School. Chad, alongside his family, has built a successful show pig operation that includes ninety sows and focuses on serving the exhibitors of Florida, but continues to achieve national recognition. In addition to the swine industry, Chad also assists with the family’s cow/calf operation that has transitioned into focusing on producing competitive club calves. Chad serves on the North Florida Livestock Show Board, Suwannee Valley Youth Livestock Show Board, and the Florida State Fair Swine Committee.
Jake Raburn is the CEO of Hinton Farms Produce, a grower, packer, and shipper of fresh Florida fruits and vegetables that specializes in strawberries. He currently serves as the President of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Growing up in Plant City, his passion for agriculture can be traced back to his early days as a member of 4-H and the FFA. An alumnus of the University of Florida, his career has been rooted in the industry for more than 15 years. He previously worked in marketing at the Florida Department of Citrus.
In 2012, Raburn was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he served for three terms. During his tenure, he received numerous awards, including the UF College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Outstanding Young Alumni Award (2014), Florida Farm Bureau Legislator of the Year (2014), Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association Legislator of the Year (2014), Florida Forestry Association Legislator of the Year (2015), Florida Nursery Growers & Landscapers Association Legislator of the Year (2016), and the UF IFAS Legislative Leader Award (2015).
With a renewed focus on family and business, he opted not to run for reelection in 2018. In recognition of their service to the community and work in the industry, Jake and his wife, Melissa, were the national winners of the 2019 American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award. When he isn’t working on the family strawberry farming operation, you can find Jake spending time with his four children: Jackson (11), Mason (8), Clayton (8), and Leah (6).
Dr. Cindy Sanders is a sixth-generation agriculturist. As a Livestock Extension Agent for the University of Florida, she works with producers in Alachua County. She was born and raised in Polk County, Florida where her grandfather raised citrus and cattle. She was active in both 4-H and FFA. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Doctorate Degree in Extension Leadership and Administration, Master’s Degree in Extension Education, and a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science/Agricultural Education. As an undergraduate she served on the University of Florida’s Livestock Judging Team, and still judges livestock shows around the state today. Her work experience includes a pure-bred Angus ranch manager, vocational agriculture teacher in Alachua County, feed sales, A.I. technician, and supervisor of meat processing for Lykes, and currently UF/IFAS Extension Director/Livestock Agent for the past 22 years. As the Extension Director, she provides the overall leadership and management for the office administrative affairs, both Alachua County and University of Florida/IFAS.
Ted Schrader is a fourth-generation Floridian and Tampa resident. Ted possesses effective leadership and management experience with more than 31 years of public service, including 16 years as a member of the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners (four of those years serving as Chairman), and 16 years as a Board Appointed Member to Tampa Bay Water, a regional water utility (four of those years serving as Chairman). He has been consistently recognized for delivering results through applying a logical approach to solving problems along with the know-how to connect, listen, and understand individuals at all levels of an organization.
Robert Thomas is the CEO of Two Rivers Ranch, Inc., Hickory Hills Land Company, Crystal Springs Preserve, Inc. and Balsam Gap, Inc. He is a third-generation Tampa, Florida native and a graduate of the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. He is responsible for the management of more than 22,000 acres of low intensity agricultural operations in Florida and North Carolina. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Thomas gained his first major business experience helping supervise the sale of the largest privately held deep water port in North America. Port Sutton was a privately held company for over 40 years prior to being sold to the Port of Tampa.
The Florida State Fair Authority, also known as the Authority Board, is a twenty-two member board comprised of respected community, business and agricultural leaders from across the State of Florida. Authority board members volunteer their time and expertise to guide the administration of the State Fair and various events held at the Florida State Fairgrounds including the annual Florida State Fair. The Board meets to conduct business at the call of its chair, at the request of a majority of its membership, at the request of the Commissioner of Agriculture or at times prescribed by its rules. All FSFA Board activities are conducted in compliance with the Florida Sunshine Law, §286.011, Florida Statutes.
For more information about the Florida State Fair Authority, visit: FloridaStateFair.com.