Leadership NEXT, a monthly program for advancing business professionals, will present a virtual program on “Young Professionals in the Political Arena,” to be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

As the nation readies for the November election, Leadership NEXT will provide insight into the world of politics. Attendees will hear from a panel of young professionals in the community about their experiences in running for political offices and working on political campaigns. Speakers include Bryan Blackwell, Jenna Persons and Elaine Sarlo. The program will be moderated by Chris Lopez, regional manager of external affairs for TECO Peoples Gas.

Blackwell is a managing partner of Molloy Financial Group, a financial planning practice of Raymond James. Most recently, Blackwell ran for the Florida House of Representatives for District 77. He is immediate past chair of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce board of directors, co-chair of the Chamber Foundation board of directors, and helped start the Chamber’s Member Advocacy Committee, which takes on local issues facing the business community.

Persons is the Republican nominee for the Florida House of Representatives for District 78 and partner of Strayhorn & Persons law firm. Persons has been involved in numerous local political campaigns and is presently a member of the Lee County Republican Executive Committee and many local Republican clubs, in addition to serving on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. She was also a candidate for mayor of the City of Fort Myers in 2009.

Sarlo is the director of public affairs for TM Strategic Consulting, a Fort Myers-based political consulting firm running campaigns across Southwest Florida. Sarlo is involved in campaigns from the local to federal levels, as well as community relations for corporate clients. She previously served as the southwest regional director for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, representing the senator throughout seven Southwest Florida counties.

Attendees of Leadership NEXT represent a variety of businesses and industries throughout Southwest Florida. Sessions take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month and offer opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills, establish working relationships with colleagues and engage in valuable programs and discussions to further enhance their careers. Leadership NEXT’s annual sponsor is the Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni Association.

The Leadership NEXT program is free for members of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and $5 for future members. Attendees can register in advance at FortMyers.org to receive webinar login credentials.

About the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce:
Serving Lee County and surrounding areas since 1989, the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Inc. is a business organization of professionals who support and promote a progressive, sustainable community. The Chamber represents over 750 businesses, professionals and individuals throughout Lee County, providing opportunities for members to participate in a variety of meaningful networking, educational and community- and business-focused programs and events. The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is located at 2310 Edwards Drive in downtown Fort Myers. For additional information regarding membership opportunities or events please call 239-332-2930 or visit www.fortmyers.org. For the latest news and updates, follow the Chamber on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gfmcc or Twitter at @FtMyersChamber.