Above the Fold: Alumna Jamie Floer ’92 is Still Making News
Above, Jamie Floer ’92 is the inaugural recipient of the FPRA Orlando’s “The Roger Pynn Award for Career Excellence,” with the legendary Roger Pynn ’73 at left, and José Luis Dieppa, the president of FPRA Orlando at right.
By Camille Dolan ’98
Jamie (Carte) Floer ’92, had a very strong reason and family connection to go to UCF. As a second-generation UCF grad – her mother, Louvina Carte ‘86, a teacher, had gone back to UCF for her bachelor’s degree – Floer lived nearby and was able to commute to her journalism classes and her job at Disney World.
“I was just always that girl that wrote for a newspaper,” Floer says. “I had done it since the fifth grade – then I continued writing in middle school and high school. I have just always liked to write and tell stories.”
The Hits Keep Coming
Floer, communications manager at Toho Water Authority in Kissimmee, recently received the Roger Pynn Award for Career Excellence from the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) for her long career in public relations, looked back on her time in journalism and public relations.
The award is the latest
in a series of honors for Floer; last year, she was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows, the gold standard for public relations professionals that recognizes individuals chosen for the select society are the “best of the best.” In the Orlando area, there are just six PRSA Fellows.
In addition to her career longevity, she has earned accreditation in public relations from the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), and was named a counselor in public relations from FPRA, the same credentials that trailblazer Roger Pynn ’73 has.
The Deep Roots of Floer’s Career
Her communications chops were honed at UCF. She began working for the Central Florida Future, the university’s student newspaper of record that published from 1968 to 2010.
From left: Jamie Floer, Rebecca Falcon ’92, Jennifer Burgess Ludone, Heidi Steiner Glick ’92 , Sandra Pedicini ’93. Floer made lifelong friends at UCF.
As editor-in-chief of the Central Florida Future, she was committed to reporting the news that affected UCF, and much of her “free time” was spent in the newsroom, collaborating with the other students and laying out the twice-weekly paper.
“We produced 35,000 papers on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Floer says. “That was my social life.”
As someone so close to the inner workings of the school’s administration, Floer had a front-row seat to many of UCF’s major news events. As a student representative, she attended the hiring committee meetings when Dr. John Hitt was interviewed as a candidate for UCF’s highest office in 1988.
Floer, then Jamie Carte, worked at The Central Florida Future during her time at UCF.
The camaraderie at the newspaper that developed over four years left lasting impressions on Floer, so much so that she went back to the Future on its last day in 2010 to reminisce. (picture below)
“I was so grateful for the opportunity as a student to serve as editor-in-chief for the Central Florida Future,” Floer says. “There was always something going on in the UCF community, it was an exciting time that really prepared – and propelled – me to go out into the ‘real world’ and continue doing what I loved.”
The Changing Face of News
When she moved to Atlanta for love and for professional growth, Floer had no idea that she would be working on the fringes of some of the nation’s biggest stories.
The international press discovered Atlanta’s suburbs; Floer’s reporting beat during her tenure at the Marietta Daily Journal newspaper was across the street from a cemetery where JonBenét Ramsey, a murdered child beauty queen, was buried. The focus on the town was surreal, Floer says.
Floer saw the smudged typeface on the wall. She had begun working for the trade press in Atlanta, a job that fed Floer’s need for reporting facts without reporting’s tight deadlines and holiday hours.
In 1996, the area was gripped by fear when the venues built for the Summer Olympics routinely received bomb threats. The fear escalated into panic when one person died and 111 people were injured by an explosion in Centennial Park.
It was the beginning of a series of terror attacks on the area.
Floer’s trade journal office was located next to a government print shop. Every day, she took all her personal items with her when she went to lunch, never knowing if that would be the day that whoever was making the threatening calls/letters would finally follow through.
“It was scary to live there,” Floer recalls. “Literally, every day, our office received bomb threats.”
The world of reporting began to change as well.
As new fiber optic lines began being installed across the country, interest in networking grew in research and academia, and then spread to consumers. Newspapers, in general, were somewhat unprepared for the 24-hour news cycle.
After talking with her husband, Mark, they decided to move back to Orlando. Mark, an engineer, eventually returned to work for Disney, and Floer cast about for her next endeavor, which led to public relations.
It was, perhaps, destiny. (Below, Jamie at Disney World during college. She and her husband still love it, and can see the nightly fireworks from their Orlando home)
A bonus: there were no bomb threats.
Orlando Embraces Floer
“Mark and I had met on Mickey Mouse’s porch at Walt Disney World in college, dressed as mouse people,” Floer laughed. “We missed the area, and our family, and, of course, Disney World.” (below, Jamie and Mark from their dating days.)
Floer joined Toho Water Authority just before the pandemic. The company has three lines of business: water, sewage and irrigation water. Floer’s job is to oversee the communications for the utility company’s 150,000 customers and 500 employees. She is also a utility communications expert in the areas of power, solid waste and recycling from previous job experiences.
“People have to have essential services,” Floer says. “If you want to ruin someone’s day, don’t pick up their garbage, have no water or, even worse, sewage could be backing up into a building or home.”
It’s part of Floer’s job is to make sure the utility communicates well.
Her work at Toho has earned her national accolades as well as invitations to serve as keynote and conference speakers. Floer also serves as a GoodFellow coach for PRSA members who are seeking to earn a spot in the College of Fellows.
Her team also manages the utility’s intern program. “We have a really robust intern program,” Floer says. “I was an intern once; I interned at the Orlando Business Journal and several other journalism outlets to start my career. At Toho, we have paid internships every semester, and I love paying it forward.”
Gratitude for Doing What She Loves
Even though it has been over 30 years since Floer left UCF, “it doesn’t feel like the time has moved that quickly,” she says. “But, the campus wasn’t the city that it is today. We had very, very few food options, and parking was always a real challenge.”
Floer is still a story-teller at heart, and likes her communications to have a deeper meaning. A few years ago, she discovered that the young son of a customer on one of the county’s garbage routes would come out every day, waiting for the garbage man. Floer pitched the story to the media, who came out and filmed the “special surprise for the trash-truck loving toddler.”
After the story ran, Floer heard from the mother that the toddler’s grandfather was fighting a serious illness, and when he saw his grandson so happy, it helped him get through a bad day of chemo.
“Those are the moments that I really cherish about the power of public relations,” Floer says.
Paying it Forward
As an active member of UCF’s Town & Gown Council, Floer helps raise funds for scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students. She has also volunteered with the American Cancer Society to honor the memory of a dear friend, Karen Plunkett ’98MA, who died from the disease in 2010. Floer has donated her long blonde hair to charity ten times to provide wigs for cancer patients.
The idea of ‘paying it forward’ is a way of life that Floer has embraced ever since she was a student and young professional and recognized that she couldn’t do it alone.
“And even though UCF’s official tag line isn’t ‘UCF Stands for Opportunity’ anymore, I believe that the education and mentorship I received has influenced not only my career, but also the way I’ve lived my life. I am so grateful for every opportunity that UCF has provided.”