The Poynter Foundation

Brian P. Tierney

Foundation Chairman, CEO of Brian Communications and Realtime Media

Brian P. Tierney is the CEO of Brian Communications and Realtime Media (a digital marketing firm) and is a nationally recognized expert in marketing and communications. He is also the chairman of the Poynter Foundation. Prior to Brian Communications and Realtime Media, Brian was owner and publisher of the Pulitzer-prize winning Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News as well as the Chief Executive Officer of its parent company, Philadelphia Media Holdings.

Paul C. Tash

Chairman and CEO of the Times Publishing Company and Chairman of Poynter's Board of Trustees

Paul C. Tash is the chairman and CEO of the Times Publishing Company. A native of South Bend, Indiana, Tash graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University in 1976. He received a Marshall Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of laws degree from Edinburgh University in Scotland in 1978. He started with the Times that fall as a local news reporter. He also has been a Tallahassee reporter, the city editor, metropolitan editor, Washington bureau chief and executive editor for the Tampa Bay Times.

Linda Marcelli

Managing Director, Lucky’s Real Tomatoes

Linda Marcelli joined Merrill Lynch in 1975 as a financial adviser in Boston, Massachusetts. She assumed various sales leadership roles, before being named one of the first women field officers for Merrill. In 1994, Ms. Marcelli was named Director of the New York City District with responsibility for 900 financial consultants, nine branch offices and more than $760 million in annual revenue.

In 2001, Marcelli relocated her career to Tampa, Florida, where she and her husband maintained their residence.

Barry Edwards

Political Consultant and Strategist

Barry Edwards, who received his B.A. from Florida State University, is a political consultant and political strategist, located in St Petersburg, FL. He is a former finance and trustee director of the Florida Democratic Party. He is also a veteran of several high-profile statewide races working for both the House and Senate Victory Caucus, Education Commissioner Betty Castor, Cong. Dan Mica, Cong. Lois Frankel and the Clinton 96 re-election campaign.

Christopher Pizzo

Senior Vice President, Deloitte CRG

Christopher Pizzo is a senior vice president with Deloitte CRG. With more than 25 years of experience, Mr. Pizzo has advised management teams, creditors, private equity groups and boards of directors in many aspects of distressed businesses and financial restructurings. He has helped boards of directors to establish strategic direction, implement business plans, debt and equity financings, M&A, recapitalizations and restructurings. To date, he has been involved with transactions in excess of $2 billion in both private and public markets.

Prior to joining Deloitte CRG, Mr.

William F. "Chip" Merlin, Jr.

President and Founder, Merlin Law Group

William F. “Chip” Merlin, Jr. is the president and founder of the Merlin Law Group. His firm represents and advocates for policyholders both in an outside of the courtroom. Since 1983, Mr. Merlin has served as a plaintiff’s attorney with a focus on Commercial & Residential Property Insurance Claim Disputes and Bad Faith Insurance Litigation.

Mr. Merlin is a noted national authority on Insurance Bad Faith, lecturing to national trade groups and publishing a number of papers and articles on the subject.

James Holton

President, Holton Companies

James Holton, of Indian Shores, is the president of Holton Companies, a Florida-based real estate development company and investment firm. He has previously served as Chairman of the Florida Transportation Commission and as a member of the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors.

He has served as a board member at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research and the Pinellas County’s Police Athletic League. Nationally, he is a member of the Board of Directors for Drug Free America.

Elizabeth Sembler

Chair, Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Elizabeth Sembler serves as Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board of Directors. She also serves as a Director at Florida West Coast Public Broadcasting, Inc. and The Florida Orchestra Inc. She has served on the board of WEDU-TV since 1993 and was the chair of its board from 2001-2003. From 2006-2008, she served on the board of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), a nonprofit group that supports the continued growth and development of a strong and financially sound noncommercial television service.


Fassil Gabremariam

CEO, Footsteps International

Fassil Gabremariam is a highly respected and leading member of the Tampa Bay Community, with 38 years of senior financial management experience in the telecommunication, information technology and a variety of other industries. Additionally, his service with several prestigious boards and councils of government, commercial and academic institutions has given him invaluable insight into the local and international business communities and challenges. Foremost among his aspirations is to use his experience and contacts to develop and enhance African-U.S. business relationships.


Bob Graham


Sen. Bob Graham is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. Graham retired from public service in January 2005, following his presidential campaign in 2004.

Graham is recognized for his leadership on issues ranging from education, economic development, healthcare, environmental preservation and his service on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — including 18 months as chairman in 2001–2002.