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The 4 Outstanding First Responders of Leadership Venice 2023

Serving the Community With Care & Commitment

Article by Emily Leinfuss

Photography by Stephanie Snow Photography

Originally published in Venice City Lifestyle

The Venice Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Venice, class of 2023, has 25 participants representing a variety of businesses, nonprofits, and industries in the city of Venice. 

One of them is Venice City Lifestyle’s vibrant publisher, Charmaine Tincher. Four are the outstanding first responders who shared their concerns for the city, and takeaways from the program, in the following interviews. 

Each, in their own way, expressed that Leadership Venice is providing new perspectives on the city, and networking with the other class members will assuredly assist them in doing their job better and more efficiently moving forward. 

Chief Frank Giddens

Venice Fire and Rescue

Twenty-one years ago, Frank Giddens, now 46, was a newbie firefighter for Venice Fire and Rescue. Today, as Fire Chief, he oversees all aspects of the organization. A ‘lifelong’ Floridian, Frank is married and has two children. 

Q. Why did you want to join the 2023 Leadership Venice class? 

FG. What intrigued me was the opportunity to gain an in-depth perspective of how our business leaders and the City of Venice truly operates. And who can say no to (Leadership Venice Director) Barbara Hines? She is such a great leader to learn from. 

Q. What are some highlights of your experience in the program? 

FG. Networking and building good relationships with the people. We cover the whole spectrum of the workforce – police, fire and rescue, business owners, accountants, city planners. 

Q. How is working with everyone on the Leadership Class Project of 2023: A Tribute to First Responders?

FG. This project really provides the table for different agencies, organizations, and workforces to come together for a common goal to benefit the city. 

Q. What is your greatest wish, or positive change you’d like to see for the Venice area?

FG. I hate to sound cliché but this city on the Gulf is titled as ‘Paradise,’ and with so much change going on I (wish) for the continued good will of the genuinely good people here.  

Assistant Chief Kyle Hartley

Venice Fire and Rescue

The 35-year-old Kyle Hartley has worked for the City of Venice Fire Rescue nearly half his life. Today, as Assistant Chief of Fire Operations, he oversees the daily operations of firefighters and their training. Married to wife Kaytlin, with two children, Emery and Raegan, Kyle is an avid golfer and disc golfer, and he loves to surf, fish, and dive. 

Q. What was the impetus to join the 2023 Leadership Venice class? 

KH. Chief Giddens thought it was a good opportunity to network with up and comers and people with leadership roles throughout the city. 

Q. How has your experience been?

KH. At first, I was leery because I’m pretty introverted and it forced me out of my comfort zone. But I’m enjoying it, partly because (Fire Rescue) gets to showcase what we do for the city beyond just responding to 911. There’s a lot more to our day-to-day operations.

Q. What are some takeaways so far?  

KH. It’s let me see and learn things about the city’s needs that are normally outside of my scope. I worry about public safety and emergency protections. The others are more about tourism and the money-making side. But at the end of the day we all have the same concerns, like managing growth and housing issues. Fire Rescue can’t fix those problems, but we do have to try to anticipate future needs. 

Q. What is your greatest wish for our area?

KH. No red tide!

Lieutenant Paul Cernansky

Sarasota County Sheriff

Paul Cernasky is the Lieutenant assigned to the Special Operations Bureau division of Law Enforcement at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. He oversees the Agricultural Unit, the Mounted Patrol Unit and Animal Services Section. The 46-year old has lived in Venice since grade school and is married with four children. 

Q. What was your motivation to join Leadership Venice? 

PC. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s strategic plan includes placing members out in the community to learn more about the issues (Venice) faces. The program helps build relationships so people can call on us, and we can deliver services to help the community in innovative and efficient ways.

Q. What are you learning through Leadership Venice? 

PC. One thing I learned is that affordable housing is a big concern for everyone – law enforcement and business leaders alike, and that we need good quality, living wage paying jobs. 

Q. What benefits do you get from interacting with all kinds of business leaders?

PC. The opportunity to get to know other leaders helps each of us become force multipliers. We can plug in (to each other) individually or as a group, to meet community needs. 

Q. Every Leadership Venice class commits to a community project. Tell me about that. 

PC. We are planning a public space for the original fire station flagpole. It is a nice, low-impact way to preserve a piece of (Venice) history. 

Q. What is your greatest wish for Venice moving forward?

PC. I think we all wanted to live in Venice because it is a beautiful community. As it continues to grow, I'd like us to maintain the high quality of life that we all enjoy.

Lieutenant Louis White

Venice Police Department

As Lieutenant for Special Operations for the Venice Police Department, Louis White manages the Marine Unit, Traffic Unit, and Canine Unit: he also coordinates special events, emergency operations and fleet management.  The 33-year-old is married with one child, plus he and wife Alicia are expecting twins! 

Q. What made you go ahead and apply to Leadership Venice? 

LW. Essentially, ‘your network is your net worth,’ and a lot of my duties with special events involves interacting with community business leaders and outreach coordinators.

Q. How does networking with community leaders help you do your job?

LW. One of our class members is (setting up) an outreach program for Dioceses of Venice, so when we come across a homeless person or, post hurricane, if people need to find housing or food, he's one more member to get on a blast chain email, or conference call, to help us get them the services they need. 

Q. What are some of the top takeaways from the program so far?

LW. Gaining the resources to help my team do their jobs better. If my guys are working behind the scenes to help a traffic problem, having the business card of the person who can help fix a traffic light makes the situation easier to correct. 

Q. And your greatest wish for Venice today?

LW. Ultimately, zero traffic fatalities in the city and better mitigation efforts with roadway design to handle an increased population. 

  • Asst. Chief Kyle Hartley, Venice Fire and Rescue
  • Chief Frank Giddens, Venice Fire and Rescue
  • Lieutenant Louis White, Venice Police Department
  • Lieutenant Paul Cernansky, Sarasota County Sheriff
  • Our 4 First Responders with Venice City Lifestyle Publisher Charmaine Tincher (center).