Governing Board Elects New Officers

new Governing Board officers

Two officers of the District Governing Board are stepping up to new leadership roles, and two Board members are serving their first terms as officers.

The District Governing Board unanimously elected Ronald E. Oakley to serve as Governing Board chair during its May meeting. Oakley served as the Board treasurer and vice chair before his election as chair.

“I’m excited to continue to work to protect our natural resources, and I’m humbled that the Board would place so much confidence in me,” said Oakley. “This is a great organization with great people to work with. I look forward to serving as chair.”

Other Governing Board officers selected include Hugh M. Gramling, vice chair; H. Paul Senft, Jr., secretary; and Douglas B. Tharp, treasurer.

The Governing Board elects officers each May. Officers serve a one-year term.

Chair Ronald E. Oakley

Oakley of Zephyrhills was appointed to the Governing Board in June 2007. He is also co-chair of the Withlacoochee River Basin Board. His term expires March 1, 2011.

Oakley graduated from Pasco High School in Dade City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.

Oakley is executive vice president of Oakley Groves, Inc., in Lake Wales. He has spent the majority of his career in the citrus industry and has experience in the caretaking, marketing, processing and transportation of citrus.

In addition to his citrus industry experience, Oakley serves as director of Florida Traditions Bank in Dade City, and he is also a licensed real estate broker with experience in both real estate and land development.

Vice Chair Hugh M. Gramling

Gramling of Plant City was appointed to the Governing Board in April 2008. He is also co-chair of the Hillsborough River Basin Board and has served as the Governing Board secretary. His term expires March 1, 2012.

Gramling graduated from Plant City High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida.

Gramling is the executive director of Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers. He is also a member of several professional organizations, including International Plant Propagators Society, American Nursery & Landscape Association, Florida Society of Association Executives, and Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association.

In addition to his nursery and landscape industry experience, Gramling is chair of the Hillsborough County Soil & Water Conservation District and has served on the Green Industry Advisory Committee, the Plant City Election Board, the Hillsborough County Utilities Water Technical Advisory Committee, and the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association Research Committee.

Secretary H. Paul Senft, Jr.

Senft of Haines City was appointed to the Governing Board in March 2008. He is also co-chair of the Peace River Basin Board. His term expires March 1, 2011.

Senft graduated from Druid Hills High School in Atlanta. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Emory University and his master’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University.

Senft is the owner of Townsend-Senft Consulting and Insurance, Inc., and is past president of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. He has served in numerous appointed and elected government positions on the Polk County Commission, Polk County Industrial Development Authority, Polk County Zoning Board, Polk Community College Board and the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities. He is a past chairman of the Central Florida Economic Development Council and is currently the president of the Haines City Economic Development Council.

Treasurer Douglas B. Tharp

Tharp of The Villages was appointed to the Governing Board in September 2008. He is also co-chair of the Withlacoochee River Basin Board. His term expires March 1, 2011.

Tharp graduated from Shamokin High School in Shamokin, Pa. He earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Penn State University.

A retired industrial engineer, Tharp has more than 15 years’ experience managing large government contracts. He also has more than 10 years’ experience as an outreach specialist for the Penn State Department of Engineering, where he advised entrepreneurs and manufacturers on using technology to improve efficiency.

Tharp serves on the Sumter County Republican Executive Committee and is the past president of The Villages Homeowners Association, which boasts 17,000 members. He currently serves on the association’s board of directors and The Villages Homeowners Charitable Foundation, Inc., which raises money for local charities and disaster relief.