Alex Sink has had a long and varied career spanning every sector, from private to public and nonprofit.
She may be best known for her attempt at running for governor of Florida in 2010, as the Democratic nominee.
But first, she spent 26 years with Bank of America, retiring as president of Florida operations in 2000, after leading the state’s largest bank with $40 billion in deposits and 9,000 employees in more than 800 branches.
Her public career has included serving as Florida’s elected Chief Financial Officer, a position she held from 2007 to 2011. As CFO, she managed more than $15 billion in state treasury funds, and was responsible for accounting of the state’s $70 billion budget. She also served on the board of the Division of Bond Finance and was one of three trustees of the State Board of Administration, which included the $120 billion pension fund.
Over the years, Sink has also chaired Leadership Florida, Take Stock in Children and The Nature Conservancy-Florida chapter.
Now, she is chair of the FloridaNEXT Foundation, a year-old Tampa-based nonpartisan nonprofit that seeks to empower young people, entrepreneurs and small businesses so they can drive the innovation needed to enhance Florida’s economy and quality of life.
At the same time, Sink also works as a senior advisor with Tampa-based Hyde Park Capital.
We ran into her earlier this year at The Miami Herald’s Small Business Forum at Florida International University. Here, we asked her all about her foundation and her plans for the future, and she emailed her responses:Q. What is the purpose of FloridaNEXT Foundation and what do you hope to accomplish?
FloridaNEXT Foundation works to empower young people, entrepreneurs and small businesses so they can drive the innovation needed to enhance Florida’s economy and quality of life. We primarily go about that in three ways. By convening. (We recently launched Young Leaders Forums around the state.) By communicating. (Our website, floridanext.org, highlights best practices, blogs and videos, and promotes upcoming events with the potential to help tomorrow’s leaders succeed.) And by connecting. (Through FloridaNEXT, startups can learn of or get in touch with new loan programs, while young leaders can meet investors or potential partners with the skill sets they need to, say, kick-start a new business.) Q. What is the geographic area the foundation focuses on, and does it include South Florida?
We look to inspire innovation throughout Florida. But there’s no question that South Florida attracts much of the foundation’s attention. I and others from the foundation regularly appear before business groups and groups of young people, from Miami-Dade to Broward and Palm Beach counties. Several FloridaNEXT board members and bloggers live and work in South Florida. And the Young Leaders Forums I mentioned kicked off in downtown Miami — at the Gordon Biersch Brewery on Brickell Avenue in June. For Florida to be successful in the 21st Century, South Florida’s got to be successful. And innovative. And I’m not just talking about success in, say, the tourism and real estate sectors. But in education. In manufacturing. In trade. In sectors that can help Florida build and sustain a vibrant, diverse and sustainable economy.Q. Why did you feel that there was a need for the foundation?