Julia du plooy
As Founder/President of the Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance Julia du Plooy is responsible for the vision and strategy of L.O.B.A. and also oversees all of the organization’s efforts including daily operations, member enrollment, social education programs, and develops L.O.B.A.’s web presence.
Julia was raised in Clewiston, FL, and her family has resided in the Glades for close to century. She graduated from Florida State University in 2005, with a Bachelor’s degree from the College of Human of Sciences.
In 2003, Julia was elected to F.S.U.’s Collegiate Merchandising Association Executive Board to serve as the Community Service Officer. It was then she gained a wealth of experience creating programs that promoted the support of local businesses and enrichment of local youth’s daily lives on on-existent budgets.
Upon graduating college, Julia moved the Manhattan to pursue a career in Public Relations. While in New York she founded ENK International’s very successful internship program which focused on giving highly-sought-after fashion internship opportunities to college students in rural areas. After ten years of producing and marketing multimillion dollar trade events, she moved back to the Glades to get married and start a family. After returning, she saw the need to bring her knowledge and skillset to aid conservancy of the small farms and communities of the Everglades Region.
Julia has served as a volunteer mentor at Ft. Braden School in Tallahassee, FL and was named Mentor of the Year for Leon County Schools in 2004. She is a member of the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society and a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Alumni.
Hillary Hyslope is the executive director for the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce. With a professional background of being a small business owner in the Glades for many years, Hillary began working with the chamber of commerce in January of 2015. Since her arrival the chamber has continued to grow its general membership base. Hillary has brought forth new community events such as the “Fourth of July Family Celebration”. She continues to work with local businesses in marketing, advocacy and growth. In 2015 the chamber piloted their first ever “Shop Local” campaign, encouraging Clewiston residents to make their holiday purchases from their local retailers. “This campaign was a huge success and we are looking ahead at planning for the upcoming holiday season very soon,” Hillary said.
Hillary, along with her husband and four sons, is a resident of Clewiston, FL. Being born and raised in Belle Glade, she has a great affection for the Glades community and its agricultural origins. “This is where we live, work and play. I love that I am afforded the opportunity to raise my family in a small, rural community. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” says Hillary.
With recent attacks on Lake Okeechobee and agriculture in the EAA, Hillary has seized the opportunity to step up and advocate for her region and its way of life. Under her direction the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce has toured over 6,000 people during one harvest season on it Raisin’ Cane Tours and/or Sugarland Tours. She has released an op-ed running in the Fort Myers Newspress, participated in a press conference on the West Coast in regards to the local economy and is the chairperson of the marketing committee for the local Sugar Festival. Hillary also serves as a member of the Economic Development Council of Hendry County, a board member of the Hendry County Tourism Development Council and board member to the Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance. Hillary believes “it is not enough to simply live in a community, you must get involved and become a part of that community”.
Lewis Pope, iii
Lewis Pope,lll is a longtime resident of the Glades and has been a steward of the community for decades. He currently co-owns a family farm operation suitable named Pope Farms, Inc. which was founded in the late 1920’s by his grandfather E.L. Pope ,Sr. Growing up on the farm, Luis learned not only how to run a business but also how to raise a myriad of crops such as sweet corn, cabbage, green beans and sugarcane.
As the current President of the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce, Luis is involved heavily in Pahokee’s business community and economic development, but his passion lies in building programs that help children and teens grow into successful adults. He has spent years donating his time and money to the 4-H program and Glades Day FFA program. He works year after year with the Palm Beach County School District, and can be credited as a leading force behind the International Baccalaureate program being established at Pahokee Middle Senior High School.
Luis is married to Angela K.Pope and is the proud father of five children, two of whom are deceased, three whom attend college at the University of Florida and Florida State University. He co-owns Pope Management, LLC, is a partner in Branch Packinghouse, and serves on the Florida Farm Bureau labor advisory board.
Jon Farner was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance for his dedication and involvement to the Glades community, and his passion for protecting the farming industry and the towns of the Lake Okeechobee Region.
Jon was raised in Hendry County. His family moved to the area from rural Indiana adjacent to Amish communities, thus he grew up appreciating the ideals of simplicity, farming and social welfare. In 2003, Jon graduated from ITT Technical Institute with a degree in Information Technology. After graduation, he moved to Orlando to begin building his career. In 2006, he was recruited to Tallahassee to work for the Republican Party of Florida as an IT consultant. There he gained perspective on the inner-workings of the political circuit and the power of activism.
Jon has worked in the IT industry for over a decade. Many businesses in the Glades have utilized his skills including U.S. Sugar, Hendry Regional Medical Center, and a number of small businesses. Currently, Jon holds a full-time role at Wedgworth, Inc. In 2013, Jon completed the Leadership Glades program and gained a full perspective on the Glades and the robust economic impact of the local farming industry.