Although I’ve written countless news stories and promoted dozens events throughout the year, the most important part of my job at SFGN is reaching out to the people in our community who are making South Florida a better place to live.

In the past twelve months, I’ve had both the opportunity and pleasure of meeting some of our region’s most influential and inspirational people. From young professionals such as Chris Caputo and Dustin Jacobs to music icons like Chuck Panozzo from Styx, this year has been magical. Here are some of the people who made the greatest impact on me in 2010:


Al Cicotte & Kevin Palombo

American Tax and Insurance Services is a local investment company owned by partners of nearly 25 years, Al Cicotte and Kevin Palombo. The couple has been active in the retirement-planning industry and makes an indelible impact on the South Florida community. Cicotte and Palombo work hard to support charitable organizations around the country, including the Pride Center at Equality Park, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Joining Hearts among others.

Chef Ron Kerr

Alibi’s culinary renaissance began two years ago when Chef Ron Kerr was hired to spearhead the venue’s new menu. Kerr earned his culinary degree from the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, but he only relocated to South Florida three years ago from Naples. Specializing in modern American cuisine, Kerr has also been instrumental in the formation of Alibi catering.

Chris Caputo

At age 28, South Florida resident Chris Caputo has a lot going for him. Not only does he operate his own company, MetroMediaWorks, but he is also partners in two other companies, Print-ibles and RecruiterBuddy. Prior to beginning his own ventures, Caputo achieved a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the New York Institute of Technology. Always looking to stay ahead of the curve, Caputo is actively enrolled in Florida Atlantic University’s Weekend MBA program.

Jason Tamanini

Jason Tamanini is no stranger to South Florida nightlife. Known by enthusiasts throughout the east coast, Tamanini has already left an indelible mark on LGBT culture at just 29 years old. Tamanini’s first foray into nightlife came when he held the prestigious position of General Manager at China White, one of Fort Lauderdale’s most remembered establishments. Tamanini then took on the title and responsibilities of Regional Director for Halo in both Miami Beach and Washington D.C. Now, as the General Manager of the Manor, Tamanini oversees all aspects of operations including private events, community outreach, human resources, restaurant and nightlife operations.

John Tanasychuk

The man behind most of the dining reviews in the Sun-Sentinel, John Tanasychuk earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Windsor in Canada and has held numerous writing and editing positions in the publishing industry. Tanasychuk has reviewed everything from local mom and pops to superstar chef Emeril Lagasse’s flagship Miami Beach restaurant.

Kevin Gale

Kevin Gale is the editor of South Florida’s largest and most respected business publication, South Florida Business Journal. Gale oversees all aspects of the paper’s news operations in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. He joined the Business Journal as editor in 1998 after 15 years with the Sun-Sentinel where he was business editor. Gale is an active member of the Fort Lauderdale Front Runners, an LGBT group for people who enjoy walking and running. Gale recently served as president of the organization.

Richard Cortez

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I sat in the living room of local singer-songwriter, Richard Cortez. I listened track by track to his new album, Sleeping with Strangers. Composed over the past two years, the album is a compilation of Richard’s trials and tribulations as a gay man. Written and arranged entirely by Richard, the album features heart-felt music about love, sex, relationships and sorrow. Drawing from musical influences, Joni Mitchell, Carol King and Ani DeFranco, Richard creates a unique sound, which incorporates his love for theatre and folk music.

Thomas Barker

Thomas Barker has changed the landscape of gay publishing as we know it in South Florida. He is one of Miami’s most influential young professionals and is served on the executive committee of this year’s Miami Beach Gay Pride. In addition to that task, Barker is the executive editor and co-publisher of Wire Magazine. Barker is a supporter of Equality Florida, Care Resource and Pridelines Youth Services and has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organizations.

Michael Goodman

Michael Goodman is partner in one of South Florida’s most prestigious public relations firms, Bitner Goodman. His work stretches beyond the conference room. He is actively involved with numerous local arts organizations. Goodman is the Immediate Past Board Chair of ArtServe, Immediate Past Vice-Chair and honorary board member of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood and Board Secretary of the Florida Theatrical Association. Furthermore, Goodman supports AIDS-related organizations such as the Poverello Center.

Pastor Leslie Tipton

Out of the many women we have profiled in SFGN, Pastor Leslie Tipton has one of the most interesting life stories. In her second year of college at San Diego State University, where she majored in Behavioral Psychology and Naval Science, Pastor Leslie began toying with the possibility of homosexuality. In 1987, she entered the Marine Corps, where she remained for over a decade and then in 1997, Pastor Leslie answered the “call of God” and left the Corp, eventually ordained as a Pastor and becaming Associate Pastor at the Church of the Holy SpiritSong.