UNF Delegation Joining Gov. DeSantis On Trip To Israel

May 22, 2019

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is bringing a delegation of more than 90 people with him on his business mission to Israel this weekend.

Among those that will be traveling with the governor will be a delegation from the University of North Florida.

“Our delegation includes professionals and experts from a wide range of policy and business areas, representing every corner of our state. During this trip, we will affirm Florida as the most pro-Israel state in the nation and strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel for decades to come,” DeSantis said in an email to WJCT News on Wednesday.

Organized in conjunction with Enterprise Florida, Inc., the trip’s mission will be to strengthen the economic, academic and cultural bonds between Florida and Israel. 

Called the Governor’s Business Development Mission to Israel, the trip runs from Saturday, May 25 through Friday, May 31.

Representing the University of North Florida will be:

  • Heather Duncan, Vice President of Government Affairs
  • Mag Malek, Chair, Construction Management, College of Engineering, Computing and Construction
  • Dan Moon, Associate Provost and Professor of Biology
  • Jamie Moon, Associate Lecturer

A long list of Florida cabinet members, academia and business leaders will also be joining the governor.

From travel, lodging and meals to security, no cost estimates have been released for the trip. But it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, based on an analysis using travel sites such as Kayak.com and Expedia.com.

The traveling party will include an undisclosed number of state law-enforcement officers providing security for the governor and Cabinet members.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement noted that, according to state laws, the governor can request security services for people other than himself where “failure to provide security or transportation could result in a clear and present danger to the personal safety of such persons.”

State law also says security services can be granted to people at the request of the governor if not doing so “could result in public embarrassment to the state.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s office said it understood that the FDLE was continuing to review the trip for security purposes.

Florida’s tourism-marketing agency, Visit Florida, is scheduled to host a networking reception in Tel Aviv with Israeli companies.

Also, DeSantis has indicated that he will sign a bill (HB 741) to combat anti-Semitism during the trip. Under the bill, the state’s education system would add religion as a protected class regarding discrimination against students and employees. Currently, people are protected from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, marital status or disability.

The state has not posted an agenda for the Cabinet meeting, which is expected to be held May 29. But during the Cabinet meeting, DeSantis may name winners of grants from Space Florida, the state’s aerospace arm, for Florida-based companies working with Israeli companies.

The Space Florida Board of Directors last week approved a list of 12 finalists for “Innovation Partnership Grant Awards.” Among the finalists are proposals involving companies such as Harris Corp. and Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

“The trip is an opportunity to strengthen the Florida-Israel relationship, and to bring home to Florida ideas and innovations from one of the world’s leading nations on technology and research,” Fried spokesman Franco Ripple said in a statement.

The Florida Channel, the state-funded public affairs network, intends to have a crew in Israel to cover DeSantis and state Cabinet members as they meet overseas. The Florida Channel airs on WJCT Channel 7.4.

The attendees announced as of Wednesday morning, May 22 are:


Ellyn Bogdanoff, Shareholder and member of the Government Practice Group at the Becker Law Firm.

Simon and Jana Falic, Simon Falic is the CEO and Chairman of Duty Free Americas, Inc. and Jana Falic is the Co-President of the Women’s International Zionist Organization. 

Barbara Feingold, Speech and language pathologist and philanthropist.

Jeffrey Feingold, a Florida-licensed periodontist. He established MCNA Dental Plans in 1992.

Marc Goldman, the former owner of Farmland Dairies. He is on the advisory board of the Jerusalem based Aish HaTorah and is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Carlyn and Lothar Mayer, philanthropists. Carlyn has been on the American Israel Public Affairs National Board (AIPAC) while Lothar is on the AIEF (American Israel Foundation). 

Delegation Members 

Florida Cabinet and Elected Officials

  • Governor Ron DeSantis
  • Attorney General Ashley Moody
  • Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis
  • Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (Jake Bergmann)
  • Senator Wilton Simpson (Kathryn Simpson) 
  • Representative Chris Sprowls
  • Senator Lauren Book
  • Representative Randy Fine
  • Representative Chip LaMarca
  • Representative Joseph Geller
  • Broward County Mayor Marc Bogen
  • Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman

Florida Department and Agency Personnel

  • Pamela Añez, Senior Executive Assistant, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Justin Caporale, Director of External Affairs, Executive Office of the Governor 
  • Frank DiBello, President and CEO, Space Florida
  • Selma Fates, Director, International Strategic Initiatives, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Helen Ferre, Communications Director, Executive Office of the Governor  
  • Tony Gannon, Vice President, Research and Innovation, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Fred Glickman, Senior Consultant, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Richard Martin, General Counsel, Florida Office of the Attorney General
  • Manny Mencia, Senior Vice President, International Trade and Development, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Robert Mons, Special Assistant to the Governor, Executive Office of the Governor
  • Jared Moskowitz, Director, Florida Division of Emergency Management
  • Christopher Munoz, Manager, International Trade and Development, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Judith Rebollar, Manager, Administration and Export Compliance, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Jared Rosenstein, Legislative Affairs Director, Florida Division of Emergency Management
  • Derek Silver, Deputy Legislative Affairs Director, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
  • Jamal Sowell, President and CEO, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Shane Strum, Chief of Staff, Governor Ron DeSantis 
  • Noah Valenstein, Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection
  • Ryan West, Chief of Staff, CFO Jimmy Patronis 
  • Dana Young, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA


  • Susan Amat, Executive Director, Global Entrepreneurship Network
  • Alan Becker, Founding Shareholder, Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.
  • Philip Brown, CEO, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
  • Bob Diener, President, getaroom.com
  • Rachel Feinman, Executive Director, Florida-Israel Business Accelerator
  • Howard Goldstein, Senior Partner, Director of Business and Entrepreneurial Services, Appelrouth Farah and Co.
  • Marcy Goldstein, President, Marcy E. Goldstein, CPA PA
  • Margy Grant, CEO, Florida Realtors
  • Robert Grossman, Chair, Israel Practice, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
  • Fred Karlinsky, Shareholder, Co-Chair, Insurance Regulatory & Transactions Practice, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
  • Eytan Laor, Chairman, Electoral Strategies
  • Vicki Rabenou, President and CEO, StartUp Nation Ventures
  • Marc Reicher, Senior Vice President, Rida Associates, LP.
  • Aaron Ripin, COO, StartUp Nation Ventures
  • Ashley Ross, Senior Advisor, Rubin, Turnbull & Associates
  • Scott Ross, Consultant, Capital City Consulting
  • Mark Ruben, Executive Director, Palm Beach, Israel Bonds
  • Eric Sain, President, Florida Realtors
  • Domingo Sanchez (Thomasa Sanchez), Chairman, Aviation Authority Board, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
  • Danielle Scoggins, Vice President of Public Policy, Florida Realtors
  • John Sholar, Florida Realtors
  • Eric Silagy, President and CEO, Florida Power & Light Co.
  • Sri Sridharan, Director, Cyber Florida
  • Jason Unger, Attorney, Tallahassee Managing Director, GrayRobinson PA
  • Melanie Weinstein, Interim Executive Director, Miami-Dade/Broward/West & Central Florida, Israel Bonds
  • Jonathan Weiss, Director of Strategic Innovation, INSIGHTEC, Inc.
  • Mark Wilson, President, Florida Chamber of Commerce


  • Dr. Charles Adams, Dean, Honors College, University of South Florida
  • Christina Bonarrigo Villamil, Project Manager, Full Sail University 
  • Heather Duncan, Vice President of Government Affairs, University of North Florida
  • Dr. Brent Edington, Director, Office of Commercialization, Florida State University
  • Dr. Daniel Flynn, Vice President of Research, Florida Atlantic University
  • Dr. Melissa Friedman-Levine, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University
  • Dr. Enrique Ginzburg, Professor of Surgery, University of Miami
  • Morgan Holmes, Director of Corporate Partnerships, University of South Florida
  • Dr. Max Hooper, Strategic Advisor – Business & Financial Modeling, University of Central Florida
  • Mimi Jankovits, Executive Director, Teach Florida
  • Dr. Jeff Jones, Vice Provost, UCF Connect and UCF Global, University of Central Florida
  • Dr. Sandra Kauanui, Director, Institute for Entrepreneurship, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Dr. John Kelly, President, Florida Atlantic University
  • Brad Levine, Trustee, Florida Atlantic University
  • Dr. Mag Malek (Samia Abdel-Malek), Chair, Construction Management, College of Engineering, Computing and Construction, University of North Florida
  • Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, President and CEO, Florida Institute of Technology
  • Dr. David Metcalf, Director, Mixed Emerging Technologies Integration Lab, University of Central Florida
  • Dr. Dan Moon, Associate Provost and Professor of Biology, University of North Florida
  • Jamie Moon, Associate Lecturer, University of North Florida
  • Dr. Larry Robinson (Sharon Robinson), President, Florida A&M University
  • Dr. Lenore Rodicio, Executive Vice President and Provost, Miami Dade College
  • Dr. Mark Rosenberg, President, Florida International University
  • Dr. Jeffrey Senese, President, Saint Leo University
  • Dr. James Sullivan, Executive Director, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University

Religious Leaders

  • Rabbi Howard Needleman, Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El
  • Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, Chabad of Tallahassee & FSU
  • Dvir Weiss, Executive Director, Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El 


  • Matthew Bogdanoff, State Director, Republican Jewish Coalition
  • Lior Haiat, Consul General, Consulate General of Israel in Miami
  • Morton Klein, National President, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
  • Lisa McClaskey, Director of Political Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in Miami 

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.