MGSF Leadership

Board of Directors

Deena started with the Mason G. Smoak Foundation in June 2021. She

graduated from Lake Placid High School and earned a Bachelor of Science

degree in Agricultural Education and Communications from the University of Florida. She was the first Executive Director of Florida Ag in the Classroom, Inc. in Gainesville, Florida. After moving back to Highlands county, she worked for

Take Stock in Children and was most recently a Teacher and College and

Career Coach at Sebring High School. Deena and her husband, Don, live

on her family’s cattle ranch in Lorida with their son, Danny. She and her

family are members of Grace Bible Church in Sebring. 

Deena Wright,

Executive Director

David was born and raised in Lake Placid, Florida. After graduating from

Lake Placid High School, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree In Citrus Business from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. After college,

David worked in the Florida Citrus Industry in both production and harvesting management roles. Over time Summers has combined his interests in

technology and his passion for agriculture and currently manages GeoAg Solutions, an agriculture technology solutions provider. He and his wife,

Andrea, reside in Lake Placid with their two children where they

attend and serve at Memorial United Methodist Church.

David Summers,

President

Paul Koukos has been a resident of Highlands County since 2006. He grew up in the Jacksonville/St. Augustine area where he graduated from The Bolles School. Mr. Koukos attended the University of Florida where he earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Food and Resource Economics. While at the University of Florida, Paul developed his passion for community involvement, leadership and agriculture through membership in the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and Florida Blue Key. Paul has worked professionally in both the Florida and California citrus industries, as well as a commercial loan officer. He is currently the COO of Wheeler Farms. Paul and his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Madison, live in Lake Placid and attend First Presbyterian Church.

Paul Koukos,

Vice President/Treasurer

Sally enjoys giving back to the community and meeting new people. She has found a way to do that through her job at The Results Companies as an HR professional. She is able to support organizations serving as Team Captain for several organizations like March Of Dimes and One Blood. She has been a volunteer for the Mason G. Smoak Foundation 5K and Family Fun Festival since its inception and is beyond honored to serve on the board. Sally attends Memorial United Methodist Church with her husband Scott. Scott and Sally have 3 daughters, Toni, Taylor and Lecy and have 3 grandchildren. 

Sally Durban, 

Secretary

Tracee was born in Greensboro, Alabama and moved to Lake Placid, FL in 1986 where she was raised and currently resides. She graduated from Lake Placid High School as valedictorian before attending the University of Florida.

Tracee graduated with a Bachelor and Master of Art in Education degrees in 1998. She was a fourth grade teacher at Lake Placid Elementary and

Director of Children’s Ministries at Memorial United Methodist Church.

In 2008, she took ownership of, The Blueberry Patch, a small business in Lake Placid. Tracee lives with her two sons, Gabe and Landon, and her daughter, Ellie.

Tracee Smoak, Chairperson – Youth Leadership Highlands

Mark is a third generation Florida citrus grower from Winter Haven, FL and works in Lake Placid, FL. Mark serves as the Chief Financial Officer for Wheeler Farm, Inc. He has served on the boards of Florida Citrus Mutual, Inc., Ag First Farm Credit Bank and Farm Credit S.W. Florida. He is a graduate of Winter Haven High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Troy State University in Alabama. Mark is also a graduate of the Wedgworh Leadership Institute sponsored by the University of Florida and has served on the Mason G. Smoak Foundation board since its inception. He and his wife, Christi,

live is Bradenton with their three children, Hannah, SaraBeth, and Leland.

Mark Wheeler, Chairperson – Fundraising

Randy Gilde

Randy moved to Highlands County in 2001 when the family nursery business, Delray Plants, relocated here from South Florida. He worked for Delray Plants for 35 years and served as CEO until the family made the decision to sell the 50 year old business in early 2017. Randy has served on many different industry organizations and boards.  Before joining his wife’s family business in 1982, he served 4 years in the USAF and is proud to be a veteran.  He and his wife, Marian, attended Lake Worth Christian Church and are both graduates of Lake Worth Christian School in Palm Beach County.  All their children attended LWCS where Randy also served on the School Board a total of 9 years, including the last term as President. Randy attends First Presbyterian Church, where he has served as an elder, youth leader and on other committees. Randy and Marian are high school sweethearts and in 2018, they celebrated 40 years of marriage. They have 4 happily married children and 5 grandchildren.

Laurie was born in Greensboro, Alabama and moved to Lake Placid when she was 5 years old. Laurie attended Lake Placid High and then went on Florida Southern College in Lakeland to earn a degree in Citrus Marketing. Her hobbies include spending time with family and being outdoors. Laurie is the Office Manager at Citrus Animal Clinic. She and her husband, Carey, live in Sebring with their daughter Caylee. The Howertons are active at Memorial United Methodist Church in Lake Placid.

Laurie Howerton

W. Kyle Thompson.jpg

Kyle was born and raised in Venus, Florida and is a graduate of Lake Placid High  School. He went on to receive a Food and Resource Economics Degree from the University of Florida and a J.D. and L.L.M. in Tax Law from the University of Alabama School of Law. After graduation, he returned to Highlands County to practice law. He is a partner at Rider & Thompson, P.A. in Lake Placid where he focuses primarily on estate planning, estate and trust administration, along with real estate and business corporate law. Kyle lives in Venus and is a member of

First Baptist Church of Lake Placid.

W. Kyle Thompson

Born and raised in Highlands County Florida, Smoak graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Citrus/Horticultural Science from Florida Southern College in 1993. After working in his family’s citrus and cattle business for several years, Smoak relocated to Nashville to pursue a lifelong dream of working professionally in the music industry. “I feel very blessed to have worked with many artists both on the road and in the studio in what has turned into a 20 year journey. I am grateful for the professional relationships and even more for several lifelong friendships that were born out of this music thing.”

A co-founder of the Foundation, Smoak resides in TN.

Ed Smoak,

Director Emeritus

Amy was born and raised in the farming community of Eldridge, Iowa. Amy received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Luther College. Following graduation, she joined the high school ministry of Cru in Minneapolis and progressed through the ranks to a position on the national leadership team. She has always been actively involved in her local community, church and missions. Amy used her creativity and nurturing leadership style to serve the Mason G. Smoak Foundation from April 2014 until May of 2021 as the Executive Director. Amy was awarded the status of Director Emeritus upon resolution of the Mason G. Smoak Foundation Board of Directors in recognition and appreciation for her hard work, dedication, personal passion and service.  Amy and her husband Scott currently reside in St. Cloud Minnesota serving as church planters at Faithful City Presbyterian. 

Amy Smith,

Executive Emeritus