Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter!

2022 Men of the Year

In addition to all of the entertainment options, the arts and culture offerings and the beautiful weather that make living in Central Florida such a delight, we are also blessed to have a seemingly endless supply of residents who consistently put others before themselves. It is our honor every June to shine a spotlight on some of them with our annual Men of the Year story. Whether they are dedicating their careers to life-changing services, volunteering in their free time to affect change or inspiring others to give back, these distinguished gentlemen do not do what they do for awards or recognition, but out of a sincere desire to uplift their communities. That only pleases us more to bring a little bit of attention to their efforts.

Man of the Year

Bob Rivera

A cancer diagnosis is bound to slow down even the most energetic person, but since being told he had follicular lymphoma about a year ago, Rivera has managed to keep his foot on the gas pedal, especially when it comes to the nonprofit he founded in 2017. He started Future Dreamers & Achievers as a means to support underprivileged children who strive to continue their education at the collegiate level, attend trade school or enter the workforce. The organization provides scholarships and mentoring to help pave the way to a future filled with accomplishments.

“When I was younger, I was in a middle-income family and I was lucky enough to have two parents who guided me,” Rivera says. “Some of these students need our guidance and our help. It’s my passion to help them and we also have a very strong board of directors—everyone is here to help them succeed. It’s up to them afterwards to succeed but we’re going to give them all the tools.” Rivera, who also owns a record label, has combined his love for music with his charitable work by making Concerts for Scholarships one of the signature programs of Future Dreamers & Achievers.

Just last month they held an event hosted by comedian Tommy Davidson and featuring musical acts from the 1980s and ’90s where they awarded two $5,000 scholarships to local students. Rivera’s plan is to have six smaller events a year at venues like the House of Blues and Walt Disney Theater, as well as two or three major shows with A-list artists at Amway Center, with the goal of awarding between $300,000 and $400,000 in scholarships. A native New Yorker who has lived in Central Florida since 1986, Rivera has a 28-year-old daughter and a grandson. His family members, along with Future Dreamers & Achievers, are motivating him in is recovery from cancer, which he says is going well. “I’m very high on God. You have to be, because he’s the one guiding you. I’ve had this cancer for over a year and that has never stopped me from following my passion.”


Men of the Year

Dr. Andre Baptiste

For years, Baptiste has been known to generations of patients as the founder of Baptiste Orthodontics, but lately it’s his alter ego, Andre the Farmer, who has found himself in the spotlight. With a large following on TikTok and Instagram, he aims to educate others about sustainability, eco-friendliness, using resources wisely and working with nature rather than against it. He has also started a company, Permaculture Life, to represent the movement and offers apparel and other products made with bamboo hemp and recycled materials. Baptiste became interested in sustainability about six years ago when he planted a mango tree in his backyard and developed into an avid gardener.

“There’s the obvious benefits of creating a world that we can continue to live in,” he says of his hobby. “For me, my selfish motivation is that my philosophy is, in order to have a fulfilling life you have to have things to look forward to. I used to really look forward to going on fishing trips, going on hunting trips, going golfing or playing basketball, but those were things that happened periodically. When you garden and grow something in your backyard and have a variety of plants, every day becomes something you look forward to.” Baptiste is also a longtime supporter of more than 40 schools in Orange County through the Partners in Education program, and frequently visits schools to present scholarships. A native of Canada who has made Central Florida his home for the past two decades, the married father of two teenaged boys was a board member of the Dr. Phillips YMCA for 10 years and is currently a board member for the Wayne Densch YMCA in Pine Hills.


Glen Casel

Casel is the president and CEO of Embrace Families, which provides foster care and related child services in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, and has been involved in social work for more than three decades. But he points to a specific incident 23 years ago that confirmed for him that he was in the right field and had found his life’s work. As a father to a 2-year-old daughter at the time, he was working in a service center when a young mother walked in holding the hand of her son and simply walked out on him. As a coworker chased after the woman, Casel was left to comfort the crying child, and the entire time he kept thinking about his daughter.

“I decided that day that as long as I worked, this is what I would do, and that as long as there was a kid like that little boy, I wanted to try to help him and try to make a difference,” he says. “At that moment it went from a job to a career and from a paycheck to a passion. I guess the rest is history.” At Embrace Families, Casel has helped establish a community-based care model and grown the organization into a groundbreaking leader not just across the state but nationally. He is especially proud of integrating a specialty Medicaid program with child welfare services so that foster parents can take an active role in the children’s medical care, and of Keys to Independence, a program that helps foster kids acquire their driver’s license. The latter has been so successful that other states are now following suit. “In any line of work but certainly in foster care, you have to make sure you celebrate those successes because there are plenty of hard days,” Casel says. 


Israel Santiago

A native of Puerto Rico who discovered a love for cooking upon moving to Orlando many years ago, “Chef Izzy” has two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, including stints at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and several restaurants as executive chef and general manager. He joined Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida close to 10 years ago as the lead instructor of the food bank’s Culinary Training Program. The free, 16-week course gives qualified applicants facing barriers to a culinary career the tools they need to work in a commercial kitchen, such as food safety, meal preparation and different cooking methods. Santiago, who has been mentored by countless individuals in his own career, is thrilled to fill the same role for others.

“It’s humbling,” he says. “Deep in my heart, when I see the students come in with a dream and I get to be a part of that … it’s such a privilege for me. I get emotional from time to time when I talk about it. It’s a great opportunity for me to share not only what I’ve been through but also what the culinary world is looking for and how they can [do] some things that will help them be successful. … I’m grateful that Second Harvest has given me this opportunity to touch other people’s lives with the knowledge I’ve picked up through the years.” There is no better feeling for Santiago than when graduates come back and share that they’ve gotten a job in the industry and can now support their families. 


Mike Brodsky

Keeping up with all of Brodsky’s charitable work and leadership positions at local organizations can be a difficult task, even for him, but he wouldn’t want it any other way. “I know that I’m involved in a lot of different things but that’s by design,” he says. “I enjoy it and I like being able to have that kind of impact on the local community and the world as a whole, really.” One of Brodsky’s main roles is chairman of the board for The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, a nonprofit clothing and furniture bank that serves local families in need. He helps to oversee fundraising events and marketing for the nonprofit, and finds it rewarding to give beds to kids currently sleeping on the floor or a dining room table for a family to share meals together.

Brodsky, a graduate of Yale University and the MBA program at Duke University, is also the president of the Yale Alumni Association of Central Florida and the All-Ivy Club of Central Florida. A former television news producer, he has been a financial advisor for more than 20 years but still dips his toes into journalism and has covered sporting events for various media outlets, including Pro Bowl practices and the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Also the author of two books, he has raised two grown children in Orlando with his wife. “I certainly hope that our kids have learned from my example,” he says. “I hope I can inspire others to get out there and not only improve themselves but also improve the lives of others and improve the world.”


Ed Durkee

In the two and a half years since Durkee came to Orlando to serve as president and CEO for Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, not only have he and his wife fallen in love with the area on a personal level, but he has also been overwhelmed by the opportunity to make a difference through his work. “Florida is not only a great place to do business, it’s a great place to do Goodwill’s business,” he says. Durkee, who previously served in the same role at Goodwill Central Coast in California, has been busy in his short time here, helping the organization open four new stores (with more on the way), increase wages significantly for its staff and offer free college tuition to all full-time and part-time employees after 90 days with the company.

He has also launched a Prosperity Planning initiative that furthers Goodwill’s mission of providing vocational and job placement services to those with disabilities and other barriers to employment by helping them set goals and achieve them with proper preparation. A native of Indianapolis, Durkee started at Goodwill in 2001, but his commitment to helping others goes back even further. “I was doing Goodwill’s work before I worked for Goodwill,” he says. “When I got out of school I immediately went into the urban, impoverished neighborhoods in Indianapolis and began working in housing and health care initiatives at the street level, so I’ve devoted my whole career to this work. I was really fortunate to find Goodwill about 10 years into my career and discover a place that because of its funding model has a level of independence and can really help people define what success looks like for them, and then help them achieve it.”


John Riordan

Riordan is approaching his 10th anniversary at Community Health Centers, where he serves as the director of marketing and community relations. He finds it rewarding to work at a company doing so much good in the region, providing quality and compassionate health care services to diverse communities in Lake and Orange counties, but his efforts don’t stop there. The Sarasota native, who arrived in Orlando in 1992 to attend the University of Central Florida and never left, has more than 25 years of experience in health care marketing, community relations and philanthropy. He is the board treasurer for the Children’s Safety Village of Central Florida, a nonprofit that aims to prevent injuries and fatalities through lifesaving education.

“We put children in real-life situations, whether it be water safety, pedestrian safety, fire safety or medication safety,” he says. “It’s a real village with roads, a working traffic light, a working railroad crossing gate … and an indoor swimming pool to teach swimming lessons. It’s a really great organization.” Riordan has also been the board chair at the Tavares Chamber of Commerce for the past five years and will soon become the president-elect of the Rotary Club of Winter Garden, which donates money to local charities and for college scholarships. He previously helped bring the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to Central Florida and also volunteered for the Space Coast Cancer Foundation, Safe Kids of Volusia/Flagler, Life’s Journey End of Life Care Coalition and Port Orange Family Days. “They’re all really good community organizations,” he says, “and I think as much as I give and our company gives, we get back in return.”


Nick Falcone

Falcone is the founder of NDM Hospitality Services, which has become a leader in the dining and curated vacation resort industries since its inception in 2011. He and his family have also made significant philanthropic contributions in South and Central Florida over the years, a lesson he was taught early in life. “I remember as a kid, my mom took my siblings and I to volunteer at the Children’s Home Society in South Florida where I grew up,” he says. “It was my introduction to giving back as we helped kids from underprivileged homes and abusive environments. It really influenced me as I saw so many children in bad situations and I was just naturally eager to help them.”

Falcone, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a child, is proud to be a longtime supporter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, as well as charitable organizations like In Jacob’s Shoes, Junior Achievement, SOS Children’s Village and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. He is also passing down his strong belief in giving back to the next generation, as he and his wife Jaclyn and their two children have volunteered multiple times at Give Kids the World. “There is nothing better than helping people in your community,” he says. “Every time my family or my company can help someone through volunteering and doing our part, it brings a smile to our faces. … My dad was an amazing example of this as he has spent his career supporting various causes and initiatives. I grew up watching the amazing work he has done.”