Betwixt the rain, the rush-hour traffic and a packed concert next door, the Orlando Sentinel held its first Central Floridian of the Year event on the evening of Jan. 28 at the Pegasus Ballroom within the University of Central Florida’s student union. Hosted by everybody’s favorite “aw, shucks” political columnist Scott Maxwell, and attended by all of the mucky-mucks and the editorial board members that have crossed them at one time or another (plus Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his entourage … oh, and the amazing philanthropist Harriet Lake, who left the house for the first time in a long time despite her illness), the catered soiree was just about what you would expect it to be. We had the stuffed chicken.
What we didn’t expect, however, was the presence of LGBT tech entrepreneur Carlos Carbonell, who was shortlisted as one of the finalists for the prestigious Sentinel award. We’ve known other winners and nominees in the past, and you’re not allowed to talk about it. What happens in the paper’s mahogany boardroom STAYS in said boardroom.
In his two-minute video short – think the Oscars, only with municipal tinting – Carbonell spoke of Orlando as “a very collaborative town” that blends the means of “tech and culture” with entrepreneurial ambition. He was also pleasantly blunt about his role as a role model: he comes from an immigrant family; he is gay; he wants people to know that anyone can make a tech change in Central Florida, even if you can’t work your way around the back end of a computer’s actual back end. It just takes drive. No, not a hard drive, though it helps.
Carbonell also pointed to his engagement with Orlando City Soccer, CANVS, the Orlando Tech Association and the Creative City Project. So, sports, tech and arts, he said, those are all in his wheelhouse. Though he didn’t win – that award ultimately went to Central Florida Commission on Homelessness CEO Andrae Bailey – he did do us proud. Congratulations to Carlos for making a mark on this city. We look forward to what’s next.
(Editor’s note: This story was edited to reflect that the Carbonell works with the Creative City Project, not the Creative Village)