Chamber Staff

From visitors, convention & tourism support to small business resources, your Chamber of Commerce professional team is here to serve you.

BarbBarbara Bennett, Executive Assistant to the President

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 233 | bbennett@lakelandchamber.com

In her role as Executive Assistant, Barbara provides administrative and general support for the executive office of the Chamber and works directly with the Board of Directors / Executive Committee and assists in coordinating events that fall under the executive office. Barbara was born and raised in Lakeland and is a 4th generation Polk Countian and Lakelander. She attended Lakeland Christian School and Florida Southern College where she graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree in Communications. Barbara began her Chamber career in 1988, the same year she married her husband Robert. Both must have been a match made in Heaven as she been with each of them for 30 years! Barbara and Robert have two sons and three grandsons, as well as two fur children - a German Shepherd Dog named Baron and a tiger cat, named appropriately, Tiger. Barbara loves baseball (especially the Detroit Tigers!), reading, and traveling/cruising.

DSC_8597Sarah Breed, Director of Initiatives

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 230 | sbreed@lakelandchamber.com

Sarah is a Florida native (which explains why she loves the heat and humidity so much). She grew up in Fort Meade, not too far from Lakeland. Sarah attended Southeastern University where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While at Southeastern, Sarah worked as a freelance reporter at The Ledger newspaper. She also occasionally freelances for Lake Mary-based Charisma magazine. In 2011, Sarah moved to Jerusalem, Israel, to become a high school literature teacher. It was there she met her husband, Josh (a California native), who was already working there as a government teacher. They married in 2012 and moved to Lakeland. Sarah immediately began working for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce as an Administrative Assistant for the Member Relations and Public Policy divisions. In 2014, Sarah and Josh returned to Jerusalem for one year. They moved back to Florida in the summer of 2015. Sarah is now Director of Chamber Initiatives, which includes serving as the Program Coordinator for Leadership Lakeland. She is a member of The Lakeland Rotary Club and serves on the Polk Vision Talent Pipeline Team/CFDC Education Committee.


Sally 02Sally Chapman, Vice President, Finance & Administration

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 240 | schapman@lakelandchamber.com

Sally was born and raised in Columbus, GA, attended Columbus State University, and in 1971, moved to Lakeland where she met and married husband Steve. They were immediately transferred out west for three years, where they became proud parents of son Brannon. Sally always felt that Lakeland was the ideal place to raise a family, so they relocated back to Lakeland and soon welcomed daughter Ashley. Sally’s field of expertise is accounting and finance and when local division of Battle Ridge Companies closed its Florida operations in 1999, the position of Controller came open at the Chamber.  Sally has been a fixture at the Chamber ever since!  She loves traveling with friends and family, Buccaneer football and her little dog, Georgia!


RF headshotRebecca Fortier, Director of Programs & Events

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 229 | rfortier@lakelandchamber.com

Rebecca has been a resident of Lakeland since 1999. Born in Indiana, Rebecca grew up in New Orleans and is a graduate of Loyola University, New Orleans, with a double major in Mass Communications and Drama. After graduation she moved to Chicago and worked for a national insurance consulting company in marketing. Additionally, her previous experience includes working for great hospitality brands such as The Fairmont, Four Seasons, IHG, and Hilton Worldwide. Locally, Rebecca has worked with both public and private entities planning events and securing corporate business at Four Points Sheraton, Fantasy of Flight, RP Funding Center (formerly The Lakeland Center), and Hilton Garden Inn - Lakeland. Before joining the Chamber, Rebecca launched a small business selling specialty cheeses at local farmers’ markets and appreciates all the hard work that small- and micro-businesses face. She also served as President of the Lakeland Hotel & Motel Association. She enjoys the energy of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk, looks to strengthening her existing community relationships, and serving the greater Lakeland community through the support and organization of Chamber events and programs.


JackieJacqueline “Jackie” Johnson, Senior Vice President, Lakeland Convention & Visitors Bureau

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 223 | jackiej@lakelandchamber.com 

Jackie is a tourism industry executive with more than thirty (30) years of Florida public/private sector tourism marketing experience. She began her career as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Hilton Corporation but found her love of the tourism industry at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. Her responsibilities include developing on-going partnerships with Visit Florida, Polk County Tourism & Sports Marketing, the City of Lakeland, The Detroit/Lakeland Flying Tigers, business members of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, and local industry related organizations to promote Lakeland and Polk County as an ideal tourism destination at state, national and international levels. Her youngest son, Brian, was an All-American baseball player—and the 2012 John Olerud Award winner for the University of Florida—drafted in the first round in 2012 with the Boston Red Sox. Her daughter, Brooke, earned a full softball scholarship at the University of Florida and is currently in Physician’s Assistant School. Her oldest son Billy set homerun records at Flagler College and is currently in Sales Management in the beverage industry. Needless to say, she has spent her share of years on baseball and softball fields.


KatieKatie McBride, Membership Consultant

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 236 | kmcbride@lakelandchamber.com

Katie moved to Lakeland from Port Arthur, TX to be closer to her family. She began her time with the Chamber in February of 2009, bringing with her an enthusiastic attitude and a willingness to help businesses succeed. Katie is always ready to lend a hand and is quick to offer advice to members and lift them up when they are down. Always the life of the party, Katie looks forward to assisting our members get the most out of life and their Chamber membership! She has two children, Kidane and Sonnii, five grandchildren and two Dachshunds, Daisy and Boosie.


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Tora Miller, Director of Marketing & Communications

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 239 | tmiller@lakelandchamber.com

Tora was born in Indiana but has grown up in Lakeland since she was 3. She attended Southeastern University where she received her BS degree in Marketing and later an MBA with a concentration in executive leadership. Her professional experience before coming to the Chamber includes marketing, social media strategy, and sales work for Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola. In 2013 she married her longtime best friend Kyle, and they reside in South Lakeland with their 4 fur children (2 dogs, Ruger and Chewy, and 2 cats, Ruffles and Blu). They love Lakeland and everything the community has to offer. In her free time Tora enjoys boating, going to the beach, and powerlifting. 


TerryTerry Ottinger, Vice President, Membership Development

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 231 | tottinger@lakelandchamber.com

A third generation Lakeland native, Terry joined the staff of the Chamber in 2005 as Membership Director. With 17 years of experience as a Chamber member, Past Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors and small business owner, he brings a unique perspective to all members and especially small business owners. Terry has set a goal to help reduce the astounding figure of 50% of small businesses that fail in the first year. Relationships and training from the Small Business Development Center and S.C.O.R.E. help educate first time and potential start-ups. With a strong business plan and in depth planning it is hoped more businesses will prosper.


Darla Sechrest headshotDarla Sechrest Pettaway, Chief Development Officer

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 228  dsechrest@lakelandchamber.com


headshot2018_copy_copyCorydon “Cory” Skeates, J.D., President

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 234 | cskeates@lakelandchamber.com
 
Cory was named President of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce in January of 2015. In his role, he is responsible for chamber leadership, government affairs and also oversees the administration of the Lakeland Chamber Foundation and BusinessVoice, Inc. Originally from Scottsville, NY, Cory moved to Central Florida in 1997 to attend Barry University School of Law in Orlando after receiving a B.A. in Political Science, Cum Laude, from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Lakeland Chamber, he served as President/CEO of the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce in Oviedo, FL (2007-2014), as a Senior Legislative Assistant to Florida State Representatives Attkisson (2001-2002), Kallinger (2002-2004), Quinones (2005) and Adams (2005-2006) and also consulted independently on several local, state and federal campaigns. Cory is married to his wife Shannon and together they have two daughters, Ella and Amelia.

PattyPatty Smith, Administrative Assistant, Lakeland Convention & Visitors Bureau

(863) 688-8551 Ext. 224 | psmith@lakelandchamber.com

Patty began her career at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2001. She demonstrates her love for our community daily as she greets guests, provides visitor and relocation information, promotes Chamber members, and keeps our Community Calendar updated. Patty moved from Hialeah, FL with her family after her husband was transferred. She has three children, James, Jennifer, and Julie and two remarkable granddaughters, Emilee and Hallee.