Meet the Team

Beth Miller-Tipton, CMP, CGMP
Director

(352) 294-3581
bmt@ufl.edu

After nearly a decade in the hotel industry, Beth took the helm of OCI in 1994. She has spent the past 20 years providing vision, leadership and a constant supply of energy to a team of creative and dedicated planning professionals. In addition to routine management duties, Beth coordinates several large conferences supporting environmental protection and restoration. She is passionate about customer service and building relationships, and she says it’s working with dedicated people toward a common goal that keeps her motivated after all these years. Beth is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. When not planning conferences or traveling around the country, you’ll find her recharging her batteries at home in the country (usually on a mower), surrounded by her family and a bevy of four-legged kids. Connect with Beth on Twitter or LinkedIn.


Jessica Bailey
Conference Assistant

(352) 294-3584
j.bailey@ufl.edu

As a graduate of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, Jessica has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, as well as hotel, banquets and special events management. Partnered with an associate’s degree in Journalism, Jessica utilizes her communication skills and passion for the hospitality industry to create unforgettable and beneficial experiences for all clients. She looks forward to her future as a part of the OCI team. Outside of work, Jessica’s number one is spending time with her daughter while trying to convince her she’s “not like a regular mom, she’s a cool mom.” Quality time with her crazy family, adoring friends and loved one is also her favorite way to enjoy time. Solid puns, Harry Potter references and binge watching Netflix shows all come in a close second.


Kimberly “Kim” Brand
Registrar

(352) 294-3576
kimmer72@ufl.edu

Kim is the typical Virgo: sensible, precise, observant and reliable – essential qualities you would expect to find in someone who manages thousands of online registration transactions and customer service calls a year. As OCI’s Registrar, Kim oversees the entire registration process from beginning to end, all while monitoring the financial aspects of tracking registrations. With more than 20 years of service at OCI, Kim is known to co-workers as the Oracle. When she’s not serving as OCI’s resident rockstar, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.


Beline Lafayette
Conference Assistant

(352) 294-3585
bcherichel@ufl.edu

Beline graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Tourism, Events and Recreation Management and is thrilled to display her passion for the events industry. Coming from a diverse background in the hospitality industry, Beline has a special attention to detail and is committed to delivering superior customer service. When Beline is not busy at work, she enjoys traveling, binge watching shows on Netflix and attending local events in Gainesville.


Lisa Pennington
Office Manager

(352) 294-3575
lpenn@ufl.edu

Lisa has been the office manager with OCI since 2013, and enjoys overseeing the HR and budgetary needs of the office. Lisa is originally from Maryland and while she misses the fall season, is enjoying the close proximity to the beautiful Florida beaches.


Kyle Pitman
Webmaster & Graphic Designer

(352) 294-3577
kpitman1990@ufl.edu

Kyle has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design from Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL and he’s the guy responsible for creating eye-catching web sites and designing creative promotional materials to publicize our conferences. Kyle has a deep passion for the martial arts, so it’s not uncommon to see him practicing kicks around the office!


Michelle “Shelby” Sowder
FMNP Coordinator & Technical Assistant

(352) 294-3583
msowder@ufl.edu

This native Hoosier is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Before joining OCI in 1999, Shelby had experience in both laboratory and office settings. Skills learned during her scientific research and writing in graduate school prepared her for the rigors involved in producing abstract books and technical publications for OCI’s conferences. Shelby is a multi-faceted team player. In 2001, she was assigned management of the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP), a perfect fit for this lifelong environmental advocate. In this role, she oversees registration and helps instructors prepare for each course, and she continues to take on myriad new tasks as the program grows. Shelby also assists with producing conference evaluations, email lists and other technical items, in addition to being responsible for a few fiscal duties. Her main interests are her family (husband, two energetic kids and two felines), music, sports, traveling and outdoor activities. Her family regularly attends local cultural, art and music events.


Mandy Stage, CMP, CGMP
Conference Coordinator

(352) 294-3578
mstage@ufl.edu

Tenacious, detailed, analytical, dependable—where to begin? A lifelong Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida, Mandy is an accomplished meetings professional. She joined the OCI team more than 20 years ago and has organized countless large scale conferences. When it comes to complex arrangements, she’s our go-to gal, always willing to put in the extra time and effort to make sure everything runs smoothly from start to finish. In her free time, she loves being with her husband and daughter, and spending time at the beach or on the river.


Rachel Surette
Conference Coordinator Assistant

(352) 392-5930
rsurette@ufl.edu

Rachel is a recent University of Florida graduate with a degree in public relations. As the newest member of the OCI team, Rachel is energetic and passionate about event management. She strives to be a positive leader and communicator in everything she does and is excited to learn more with the amazing, experienced staff at OCI. Hailing originally from Sarasota, Florida, and Rachel loves going back home to enjoy the beach and her family. She also loves playing her piano and ukulele, watering her many succulents, and enjoying scenic Gainesville with her friends. You can connect with Rachel on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Kristin Zupancic
Conference Coordinator

(352) 294-3582
kzupancic@ufl.edu

Kristin was born and raised in Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Event and Hospitality Management – Go Gators! A planner by nature, she is extremely detail oriented and has had a passion for events for as long as she can remember. Kristin has previous experience in Weddings, Special Events and Corporate Event Management. She loves all animals and has a heart as big as her appetite! In her spare time, Kristin enjoys anything food or nature related and relaxing with her husband, family and fur babies.


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Upcoming Conferences

International Citrus & Beverage Conference (ICBC)
September 18-21, 2018

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What is UF/IFAS?

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessible. While extending into every community of the state, UF/IFAS has developed a national and international reputation for its accomplishments in teaching, research and Extension.



  • Phone:
    (352) 392-5930
  • Email:
    conf@ifas.ufl.edu
  • Address:
    2311 Mowry Road, Bldg. 78
    PO Box 110750
    Gainesville, FL 32611
  • Questions?
    Contact Us