Local Inspirations

APA Florida Chapter, Emerald Coast Section


Friday, November 13, 2015
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. CST

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Recent stories from the northwest Florida regional will inspire future projects.  This session will include discussion of partnerships and lessons learned from local success stories, and will look forward to the next steps of regional collaborations. 


The moderator of this session is Jim De Vries of James DeVries Consulting.  Speakers are Dan Brown, superintendent for the National Park Service; Keith Bryant, traffic engineering manager for Bay County; Vernon Compton, president of Blackwater Heritage Trail; and General Gordon Fornell, chairman of the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority. 


Jim De Vries has more than 30 years of transportation planning experience in the public sector working with federal, state and local entities, Jim De Vries has extensive experience working with the public through all phases of project development and operations. He is knowledgeable in transportation funding alternatives and opportunities and represented the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on three bridge authorities. De Vries recently opened his own business, JCD Consulting, in January 2015. He worked for the West Florida Regional Planning Council from 1977 to 1985, most recently as Director of Transportation and served FDOT as manager of the Pensacola Urban Office from November 1985 to December 2014. De Vries holds a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of West Florida.


Dan Brown has served as superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore since 2010.  Prior to coming to Gulf Islands, he served as interim deputy regional director for the National Park Service Southeast Region overseeing 23 national parks in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. His other assignments with the National Park Service have included serving as park superintendent at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. Brown also served as a park ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Olympic National Park, Death Valley National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


Keith Bryant is a registered professional engineer and professional traffic operations engineer with 21 years of experience in the fields of civil and transportation engineering. His work experience includes the design, construction and repair of roads, bridges, traffic systems, and utility systems as well as structural engineering for wind protection systems. Bryant has a bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of South Alabama. He currently serves as the president of the Emerald Coast Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), editor for the Florida Green Book, vice chairman of the Bay County Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST), and chairman of the Bay County TPO Long Range Planning Committee.


Vernon Compton serves as project director for The Longleaf Alliance, established in 1995 to promote retention, management, and restoration of longleaf throughout its historic range.  He has a bachelor of science in forest management from Louisiana State University and prior to joining The Longleaf Alliance worked for the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the Florida Forestry Service at Blackwater River State Forest. Compton currently serves as the president of the Blackwater Heritage Trail Inc., the citizen support organization for the Blackwater Heritage State Trail, which is a popular paved multiple-use trail that runs from Milton in Santa Rosa County north to the Military Heritage Trail and Naval Air Station-Whiting Field.


General Gordon Fornell retired from active duty in the United States Air Force in 1993. Since his retirement from the air force he has been a consultant for the government and the aerospace industry. He is active in local projects that include chairman of the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation, chairman of the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority, former member of Governor Bush’s BRAC Advisory Council, member of the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast board of directors, and member of the Defense Support Initiative of the Okaloosa Economic Development Council. He is a member of the Emerald Coast Military Affairs Council and Niceville-Valparaiso Military Affairs Council. He also serves on two industry boards of directors. Fornell served in senior acquisition leadership positions in AF Systems Command and AF Materiel Command and has had a wide range of operational and test experience. He has flown more than 50 types of aircraft, logged over 7,000 hours flying time, wears parachute wings, and is certified as a Level III acquisition program manager.





Jim De Vries

Confirmed Speaker