The Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award’s Selection Board features an array of industry professionals, politicians, professional athletes, and local community leaders. Each member of the Selection Board brings a unique perspective that enables them to recognize all the different ways in which student athletes excel. Together, the Selection Board member’s experience amounts to over 45 years in academic education and over 35 years in athletic performance. Once a month the members of the panel read through several student athlete nominations and, though it is not an easy process, they decide who the award recipient will be. Our firm is immensely grateful for the time and expertise that each Selection Board member volunteers to this award.
Director Special Events, Tampa Bay Sports Commission
Claire Lessinger is a Clearwater native who has always been naturally drawn and committed to the sports industry. She herself was a volleyball player and coach for a total of over 15 years at the University of South Florida (USF). Since then, she has followed a career with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, bringing a lot of attention to the sports industry in Tampa Bay. Claire is very well versed in this area, making her the perfect member of our Selection Board.
Lessinger has been a part of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC) since July of 2012, and she took on the role of Vice President of Events in 2019. Lessinger focuses on driving economic and social impact by identifying and bidding on sporting and entertainment events in Tampa Bay. She has been a liaison between TBSC and the NCAA many times for their DI and DII Championship Conferences, as well as hosting NHL All-Star Weekends in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most recently, Lessinger served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, helping deliver a historic and unprecedented 5th Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay community.
Lessinger has been recognized by numerous organizations throughout her career. She featured as one of the most influential women in Tampa Bay sports by the Tampa Bay Times. She has made a great impact in the “Beyond Series,” which empowers women across Tampa Bay sporting events, and she has also been a mentor for the USF Athletics Selmon Mentoring Institute. Also at USF, she serves on the Executive Board of USF’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy.
Prior to joining TBSC, Lessinger was the head volleyball coach at USF for eight years, and assistant volleyball coach for seven years, totaling a time of fifteen years spent coaching. Her coaching time came naturally to her, as she had already spent 4 years playing collegiate volleyball at the University of Florida (UF). While playing collegiate volleyball, she won five SEC Championships, participated in five NCAA Tournaments and three Final Four Tournaments. In honor of her relentless effort, the UF volleyball program established the “Claire Roach Defensive Award” which is still presented annually to the best defensive player on the team.
Claire, raised in Clearwater, and her husband reside in Tampa with their two sons.
Director of Athletics, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Lanness Robinson has had a lengthy career in educational athletics, now amounting to over 25 years. He has played sports himself, served as coach, athletic director, and now county-wide director of athletics. Mr. Robinson’s accomplishments show he is not only passionate about athletics, but also greatly committed to bettering the programs that help student athletes form a future.
Lanness Robinson has been the Director of Athletics with Hillsborough County Public Schools for over 15 years. He has overseen the nation’s 7th largest school district’s athletic program, which consists of about 20,000 student-athletes and 2,000 coaches. Prior to this, he held leadership positions at Wharton High School, Plant City High School, and Godby High School. He was a coach for over 5 years, immersing himself in the necessities of the programs and its athletes, and he was assistant principal for over 5 years as well, learning the necessities of staff and school-wide programs and operations. Prior to beginning his time in the education system, he earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Saint Leo University.
Robinson was selected to become the 41st President of the NIAAA Board in 2020, making him the fourth Floridian to serve as President and holding the distinction as the association’s first African American president. Prior to serving as President, he served as Region A representative, he served on the Awards Committee, the Blue Ribbon 2015 Panel, and the Professional Development Task Force of 2013. At a state level, he serves as the Florida IAAA (FIAAA) Chair of the Strategic Plan Committee as well as serving as Florida’s LTI State Coordinator
- 2019 NFHS Citation Award
- 2015 FIAAA Dr. Clarence Noe Athletic Administration of the Year
- 2015 Positive Coaching Alliance Leadership Fellow
- 2009 NIAAA State Award of Merit
President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay
Santiago Corrada is an accomplished Tampa Bay figure with over twenty-five years of public service experience. He is an expert at understanding the work city departments do to give residents a better quality of life. Santiago spent 17 years in the Miami-Dade County school system, and shortly after he was recruited to as Chief of Staff for the City of Tampa. Santiago is passionate about bettering the lives of all Tampa residents.
Santiago Corrada is an expert when it comes to Tampa Bay tourism, and more than anything he has an outstanding capability to build connections. These skills have successfully enabled him to manage convention centers, organizations, and teams.
Corrada began his current position as President and Chief Executive Officer of Visit Tampa Bay in May of 2013. He is responsible for the oversight of all agency activities, day-to-day operations, and assuring a smoothly functioning, efficient organization. He serves as the main spokesperson for the tourism and hospitality industry; ensures stakeholders coordinated efforts in collaboratively increasing visitation to the destination while maintaining open lines of communication. Visit Tampa Bay has been awarded numerous marketing awards over the years, including four HSMAI Platinum Adrian Awards, and most recently four Henry Awards at Visit Florida’s Flagler Award Ceremony.
Corrada individually has received HSMAI’s Top 25 Award for Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality, Sales and Marketing. He was also recognized as Hillsborough County’s Hispanic Man of the Year in 2013.
With more than 20 years of public service and management experience, Corrada previously served as Chief of Staff for the City of Tampa. In this role, he coordinated and integrated the efforts of more than 50 City departments and divisions. In his tenure with city government, Santiago participated in bidding and hosting efforts for large meetings and groups including Super Bowl XLIII and the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Prior to joining the City of Tampa in 2004 as Neighborhood Services Administrator, Santiago served as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Miami, and spent 17 years in the Miami-Dade County School System.
His current Board Affiliations include The Florida Aquarium-Board and Executive Committee, Hillsborough County Hotel Motel Association-Board and Executive Committee, Outback Bowl, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Human Trafficking, Hillsborough County Cultural Assets, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa Bay Hospitality Alliance Board, Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission, The Tampa Club, USF CAMLS Health Professions Conferencing Corporation, Tampa Theatre, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo-Board and Executive Committee.
Corrada graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Exceptional Student Education as well as a Master’s in Education.
Vice President of Community Partnerships at Tampa YMCA
Candace Culver is dedicated to the nonprofit work she does at the YMCA. She has served at the Y movement for over 18 years, beginning when she was a teenager. Candace is a valuable member of the Selection Board, as the work she does every day directly impacts many student athletes alike.
As a mission-driven nonprofit professional, Candace is passionate about ensuring access to equitable opportunities for everyone. Her career with the YMCA allows her to serve parents looking for quality childcare, cancer survivors seeking support during their recovery, seniors striving to stay active and connected, among many others that benefit from the Y’s services every day.
As the Vice President of Community Partnerships, Candace builds relationships and identifies collaborations that benefit the greater Tampa Bay community. She brings together civic & corporate leaders, volunteers, community stakeholders and YMCA staff to address issues affecting the community and provide the necessary resources to make change happen. Her efforts grow philanthropic support through annual giving, grants, corporate donations and capital campaigns.
Candace has served the Y Movement for over 18 years, beginning part-time as a teenager and working through college. She explored other careers in customer success, merchandising, and the interior decorating field, but always felt drawn to servant leadership. In 2010, she returned to the Y and progressed from the Executive Director for out-of-school time programs to the Development team. Candace is proud to represent the Y as a current member of the Leadership Tampa Class of 2022, and on the planning team for the 2022 North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO) annual conference.
She obtained her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Alabama and a master of business administration degree from Lindenwood University in St. Louis. She and her husband, Earl, have been married for 25 years. Their family includes sons Hunter and Logan, daughter Faith and son-in-law Jack. She enjoys the Florida lifestyle – spending time at the beach and taking advantage of outdoor activities.
Head of School – Corbett Preparatory School of IDS
Nicholas Rodriguez is the head of school at Corbett Prep, giving him a direct oversight of many student athletes who require the support of their athletic programs. Throughout his career he has served many different positions that allow him to see the importance of athletic program donations. In 19 years in the school system, he has been a leader that has for programs that better the lives of students. Nicholas Rodriguez is a true advocate for educational and athletic development.
Nicholas B. Rodriguez joined Corbett Prep as Head of School in July 2020 and brings to the position a wealth of experience in school leadership and administration, institutional advancement and International Baccalaureate education.
During his 19 years in private and independent schools, Rodriguez has served in nearly all roles throughout an institution, including Head of School, Assistant Head of School, administrator, teacher, coach and volunteer. He is a gifted leader who has exhibited proficiency and success as a senior administrator at three Tampa-area private schools, most recently as Head of School at Brandon Academy.
In his three years at Brandon Academy, Rodriguez led the development of a new IB program, oversaw multiple facility improvements, strengthened staff and community communication and boosted enrollment.
Rodriguez served as Assistant Head of School at Carrollwood Day School for five years prior to Brandon Academy. He was an integral part of the administrative team at CDS that transformed the campus, including building the school’s first gymnasium and athletic complex, upgrading the early childhood campus and making numerous updates in the theatre and art department.
In 2011, a year-long fellowship program at Corbett Prep, then Independent Day School, allowed Rodriguez the opportunity to hone his leadership skills. He studied leadership and curriculum, including Corbett Prep’s M.O.R.E. Model, under Dr. Joyce Burick Swarzman. Prior to that, he was the Admissions and Advancement Director at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School from 2005 to 2011 where he guided admissions and development programs and multiple student life initiatives.
Rodriguez is a Tampa native – a graduate of Tampa Prep and the University of South Florida – and holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Greenville University. As a former college athlete, Rodriguez has remained active in promoting health, wellness and athletics throughout his career. He is an award-winning high school baseball coach who guided his teams to multiple district championships, and he is gratified to see his alumni play at all levels around the country. He has coached varsity baseball, girls and boys basketball, and golf. His teaching experience includes health studies, American history and physical education.
He and his wife, Melanie, have two children, Xavier, 12, and Sloane, 8.
President and CEO Ybor City Museum Society
Chantal Hevia has been a friend of the firm for quite some time. She is the founder of the Ybor City Museum Society and the Tampa Baseball Museum, early home of the great Al Lopez, and now home to the largest collection of baseball artifacts in the Bay. Chantal has true passion for supporting the Tampa Bay Community in many aspects, which makes her a valuable member of our Selection Board.
Chantal Hevia is a local Tampa Native with Sicilian and Spanish heritage. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Ybor City Museum Society and the Tampa Baseball Museum, located at Al Lopez’s original house. The Ybor City Museum Society is the primary interpreter and conservator of Ybor City’s rich history and heritage. The exhibits at the museum provide educational experiences about the people and events that brough immigrant groups together in 1886. These early citizens were the first contributors to the city’s cultural diversity, their mores and flavors are still evident in modern-day Tampa. The Tampa Baseball museum welcomes guests to take a walk back in time over 135 years of local baseball heritage.
Chantal is a member of the Athena Society, the Rotary Club of Ybor City and the Ybor City Development Corporation. She is part of the board of directors of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. She was honored with the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. Business Woman in 2006.
Chantal got her BA and MPA at the University of South Florida.
Sean Shaw is a very valued member of our Selection Board, as he works closely with the organizing committee of the Board. Aside from the work he does as an attorney, Sean’s personal interests revolve greatly around sports. He himself was a basketball player throughout his collegiate career and he continues to enjoy attending the recreational sports games. He has volunteered his time visiting sports banquets and presenting awards with the Award’s planning committee, during these events, he does a great job of inspiring the students to continue working hard.
Representative Sean Shaw was born and raised in Tallahassee and has been a resident of the Tampa Bay community for the past six years. He graduated from Princeton University in 2000 with an A.B. in Politics and graduated from the University Of Florida Levin School Of Law in 2003 with a J.D. In 2008, he was appointed as Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. In that capacity he managed fifteen dedicated state employees committed to protecting Florida families and businesses on insurance matters. Representative Shaw currently represents policyholders at the Merlin Law Group and is a public champion for policyholders as the founder of the Policyholders of Florida, a statewide consumer advocacy coalition. He has been a passionate consumer advocate for the last decade, both inside and outside of the courtroom.
In August 2016, he was elected State Representative from District 61, which encompasses East Tampa, Ybor City, Progress Village, Seminole Heights, and parts of West Tampa. Representative Shaw has immersed himself in his community through mentorship, which he believes is a key element to our youth’s success. Representative Shaw is a strong proponent for fair wages and economic opportunity. In addition, he is committed to closing the gaps in the public school system and ensuring that all kids have access to the best education needed to obtain a bright future. He also believes in affordable access to high quality healthcare.
Representative Shaw is a member of St. Johns Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Hillsborough Education Foundation, the Saturday Morning Breakfast Group, Tampa Organization Black Affairs, George Edgecomb Bar Association, Project NOW, and numerous other civic organizations. He is licensed to practice law in Florida and Washington D.C. and is authorized to appear before any state or federal court in the state of Florida. He is also the proud son of the late Leander J. Shaw Jr., the first African- American Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
Ms. Joyner serves as of counsel to Vanguard Attorneys. Ms. Joyner began a career in law because she viewed it as an opportunity to find justice for those in need and she has taken every opportunity to do so. As a groundbreaking leader in the legal community, Ms. Joyner was the first female black attorney in Hillsborough County and has always been dedicated to helping the local community.
Senator Arthenia L. Joyner is a dynamic individual whose personal life reads like a chronicle of the struggle for equal justice. She has not just lived history, she made it. Senator Joyner is Of Counsel at Vanguard Attorneys in Tampa, FL, practicing in the area of personal injury. Born in Lakeland FL and reared in Tampa, she grew up in a time of segregation and has always been determined to end it. Senator Joyner began her long march for equality as a high school student in Tampa protesting for change. That journey took her to jail cells in Tallahassee during her undergraduate years at Florida A&M University when she was twice arrested for demonstrating against segregation and spent 14 days in the Leon County, FL jail. When president of the National Bar Association, she was arrested for protesting apartheid outside of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Joyner entered politics in the early ‘70s when she chaired Shirley Chisholm’s presidential campaign, Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, and co-coordinator of Lawton Chiles’ 1990 gubernatorial campaign, and Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in Tampa.
A graduate of Florida A&M University College of Law, she was Florida’s fifth black female lawyer, the first black female lawyer in Hillsborough County, the first black lawyer in Polk County, the first black female lawyer to serve on the board of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, first black appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the first black woman appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first black female State Representative and State Senator elected from Tampa, the first black female lawyer in the Florida Senate and the first black female to lead the Senate Democratic Caucus. Joyner has practiced law for fifty (50) years – longer than any black woman in the history of Florida.
Her most prestigious appointments came from President Clinton, including the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women. She is widely recognized for her leadership on women’s and human rights issues and her relentless passion for justice, truth, and equal rights. The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Tampa-Hillsborough Library Board recently celebrated her many contributions to Florida and the community by naming its new $9.3 million library in her honor.