Past AFE Medal Recipients

2018: George T. Elmore

Founder of Hardrives, Inc. George Elmore

George T. ElmoreGeorge T. Elmore, from New Castle, Pennsylvania, moved to Florida in 1947. He attended the University of Miami for one year and then was called to duty in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict. Upon returning, he and his wife Wilma traded in their car for a pickup truck, borrowed $3000 from his father and got started paving driveways. They used their house as an office and the back of a gas station as an operating base. Wilma kept the books while her husband worked in the field.

Today, Hardrives has become one of the largest road construction firms in Palm Beach County and is one of South Florida’s preeminent, longest running heavy construction firms. With Elmore’s leadership, perseverance, a keen eye for opportunities and a business practiced with foresight and a genuine concern for the community, Hardrives has grown along with South Florida, constructing the major highway projects including much of I-95 and many of the major thoroughfares in South Florida.

Click here to read more about George T. Elmore

2018 Companion Medalists: Joseph Anderton, John Crossman, Damien Simmons 

2017: David C. Novak

Co-Founder and retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc.

AFE speaker David Novak  at Palm Beach Atlantic University

Novak received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Prior to leading Yum! Brands, Novak was president at both KFC and Pizza Hut, and held senior management positions at Pepsi-Cola Company, including chief operating officer and executive vice president of marketing and sales.

Yum! Brands is one of the world’s largest restaurant companies with over 43,500 restaurants in more than 135 countries and territories. During Novak’s tenure, Yum! Brands doubled in size and established itself as a global powerhouse.

Novak has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year,” one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs,” one of the “Top People in Business” and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World.”

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Read David Novak's full speech here.

2017 Companion Medalists: James Donnelly, David Donten, Judy Mitchell and David Wright 

2016: Kenneth Langone

Founder of Invemed Associates and co-founder of The Home Depot

AFE speaker Kenneth Langone at Palm Beach Atlantic University

Kenneth Langone is the founder of Invemed Associates LLC, a New York Stock Exchange member firm specializing in healthcare and high technology companies, and co-founder of The Home Depot. 

Langone received a B.A. from Bucknell University and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, which he attended at night while working on Wall Street. The part-time night program was renamed the Langone Program thanks to the generosity of Langone and his wife, Elaine.

Langone is a co-founder of The Home Depot and was lead director and a member of the executive committee of its board since it was founded in 1978 until 2008 when he left the board. He also serves on the boards of Unifi, Inc., Micell Technologies, Relationship Sciences and Juice Press. Past corporate board memberships include ChoicePoint, Geeknet, General Electric and YUM Brands. In addition he serves on the boards of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Ronald McDonald House of New York, the Medal of Honor Foundation, Horatio Alger Society Foundation and the Harlem Children’s Zone and its charter school, the Promise Academy.

Click here to read more about Kenneth Langone

Read Kenneth Langone's full speech here.

2016 Companion Medalists: Yvonne Boice, Alan Crowetz and Rob Morris

2015: Leo A. Vecellio, Jr.

Chairman and President of Vecellio Group Inc.

Leo Vecellio Jr.

Leo A. Vecellio, Jr. is chairman and president of Vecellio Group Inc., one of the nation's top 400 contractors and among the Top 50 in transportation construction, as ranked by Engineering News-Record.

Mr. Vecellio grew up in the family business, founded in 1938 by his father, grandfather and uncle as road contractor Vecellio & Grogan. He joined the company in 1973 after earning degrees in civil engineering and construction management from Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and gaining four years of international project management experience as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 

He was instrumental in the company’s continued growth and expansion into new markets and industries, especially in Florida, transforming the already successful business into the large-scale, multi-faceted operations of today. Interstate work alone has included over 1,000 miles of new or upgraded highway lanes, in contracts exceeding $1.1 billion through 2014, as well as extensive road construction, site preparation and asphalt paving work for states, local municipalities and the private-sector. 

Click here to read more about Leo A. Vecellio, Jr.

Read Leo Vecellio's full speech here.

2015 Companion Medalists: Joseph B. "Jay" Shearouse III, Penny G. Murphy and Carey O'Donnell

 2014: Arthur L. Williams

Founder of A.L. Williams & Associates

Arthur Williams AFEArthur L. Williams is the founder of A.L. Williams & Associates, a life insurance business that began in Atlanta, Ga. and a highly-regarded motivational speaker. 

Born in Waycross, Ga. and raised in nearby Cairo, Williams began his career after college as a high school football coach, just like his father. In the midst of success as a winning football coach, Williams made a decision that would change his life dramatically. In 1963, his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, leaving his family with no will and very little life insurance. Several years later, Williams' cousin introduced him to the concept of "buy term and invest the difference." Remembering his parents' experience, Williams became a crusader for the term insurance concept.

After selling insurance part-time and earning more than his coach's salary, Williams left his first company ITT in 1973 for Waddell & Reed, another term company. In 1977, he formed A.L. Williams & Associates, which quickly grew in sales and by 1990 was ranked as the largest seller of life insurance in the world. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi State University and a master's degree in education from Auburn University.

Read more about Arthur L. Williams.

2014 Companion Medalists: Fabiola Brumley, Greg Quattlebaum and Peter D. Reed


2013: Tim Gannon

CEO of Palm Beach PDQ

Tim Gannon AFE

Tim Gannon is a co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, Inc., and the creator of the “Bloomin’ Onion” recipe and many other dishes on Outback’s menu. He is the CEO of Palm Beach PDQ.  

A Florida native and Palm Beach resident, Gannon has been an art gallery tour guide in Italy, a successful restaurateur and a champion polo player. Gannon is an alumnus of Florida State University, where he studied art history and dreamed of being a museum curator. This took him to Florence, Italy, where he became a tour guide for an art gallery.

He then went to Aspen, Colo., where he developed his passion for food and cooking. In 1987 Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan invited Gannon to return to Florida, become their partner and launch a new restaurant concept, which would become known as Outback Steakhouse. Outback Steakhouse became one of the biggest corporate success stories in recent years.

Riding the success of his restaurant ventures, in 1992 Gannon obtained his dream of playing polo. He had his own team, Outback Polo, and has been one of the greatest sponsors of the game. In 2001 Outback Polo won its third U.S. Open in a row, which no other polo team has ever done.

Read more about Tim Gannon. 

Watch a video of Gannon's speech at AFE 2013.

2013 Companion Medalists: Paul Donahue and Kenneth Kennerly

2012: Brian P. Burns

Attorney, entrepreneur and philanthropist 

Brian Burns AFE

Brian P. Burns, attorney, entrepreneur and philanthropist, is former chairman and chief executive officer of Boothe Financial Corp., and of Robert Half International, Inc. Burns has had a distinguished career as a practicing attorney. His broad range of business experience has led to his election or appointment to the boards of major corporations, as well as professional, governmental and charitable organizations across the United States as well as in Ireland.

He is chairman of The Burns Foundation in San Francisco and served as a trustee of the Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Family Trusts of 1926 and 1936 in New York City from 1998 to 2010. He also has served as a member of the board of directors of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises Inc. in New York.
He and his wife, Eileen, have eight children and 15 grandchildren. In recognition of her extensive community service, Mrs. Burns received the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic in 2011.

Read more about Brian P. Burns.

2012 Companion Medalists: Connie Cooper Shepherd and Donald K. DeWoody, Jr.

2011: H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr.

President of Huizenga Holdings, Inc.

H. Wayne Huizenga Jr. AFE

H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr. is president of Huizenga Holdings, Inc., a diversified company that manages the Huizenga family owned private businesses and real estate. He also is chairman of the board of Rybovich, a super yacht marina and refit facility based in West Palm Beach.

Huizenga is a member of the board for the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County. He is founder and a member of the board of directors for the Christian Community Foundation of South Florida.  He serves on the Trinity Forum's Board of Advisors and Lifework Leadership National Advisory Board. In addition, he is a member of the Advisory Committee for Door of Hope Outreach, Inc. He serves as a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, Florida Chapter; a member, presenter and advisor of PathNorth; and a member of the CEO Forum.

A graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in business, Huizenga is married to his childhood sweetheart, Fonda Hix. They have four children: Savannah, Tres (Wayne, III), Gerritt and Ainsley. The family regularly attends Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale.

2011 Companion Medalists: Robert Anderson, Michael J. Bracci and Clay Williams

 "I Am Second" Video -- H. Wayne Huizenga Jr.

Hear from 2011 American Free Enterprise Medalist H. Wayne Huizenga Jr. how Jesus Christ came into his life and changed him.