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Ten individuals and two businesses were honored Thursday at the W Fort Lauderdale hotel for fostering growth and success among young professionals as well as for their contributions to their organizations and community. 

The Top Workplaces for People on the Move awards recognized leaders in a wide range of industries, including banking, medical and public relations. A panel of six executives from the private and nonprofit sector judged the nominees and selected the winners for the annual awards presented by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. 

"For the past six months we have been searching for South Floridas top employers and young professionals who stand out in their industry and who work to improve our community," Howard Greenberg, publisher of the South Florida Sun Sentinel said during opening remarks at Thursdays event attended by more than 100 people. "It wasnt an easy task but they narrowed down more than 100 applications to the top 10 individuals and top two businesses, an impressive group which you will meet shortly." 

Duree Ross, president and founder of Duree & Company Inc., a media relations firm in Cooper City, described the recognition as "the icing on the cake." 

"Its overwhelming, in a good way," said Ross, who founded the company in 1999. "Im really honored." 

Helping her staff get to the next level — either by enrolling them in writing classes, webinars or buying handbooks — is not only rewarding for them, but also an investment in her own company, she said. The Davie resident employs fewer than 10 people. 

This was the second year the awards were handed out. The corporate honorees were Modernizing Medicine, small business winner, and Holy Cross Hospital, large business winner. 

Claudia Kirk Barto, president of the nonprofit Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast, was one of the judges. 

The winners "just stood out, went above and beyond the other applicants," she said. "It was glaringly different what they had done in the community." 

Marc Trajan, director of operations at Holy Cross Medical Group and Orthopedic Institute, also said he was honored to be among the winners. "Its great to be recognized as a rising leader within the community," Trajan said. 


Benjamin Sturgell, West Palm Beach
Title/position: Director and Counsel
Company: Kaplan, Inc., a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Kaplan serves students of all ages through a wide array of offerings.

Marc Trajan, MBA, Wellington
Title/position: Director of Operations
Company: Holy Cross Medical Group and Orthopedic Institute 

Nate Ernest-Jones, Fort Lauderdale 

Title/position: President, founder 

Company: The Ernest-Jones Group Inc., a family-owned, multi-disciplinary firm that focuses on land planning and engineering in the real estate sector, and financing for renewable energy projects in the U.S. and Europe. 

Nicky Tesser
Title/position: Director of Marketing & Public Relations , Boynton Beach
Company: Covelli Enterprises/Panera Bread. Covelli is the largest franchisee of Panera, LLC. It operates more than 250 Panera Bread bakery-cafes. 

Sarah Martin, Lake Worth
Title/position: Director of Marketing and Development
Company: ELEV|8 Sports Institute, an elite, multi-sport, athletic-training company. 

Kenneth Stiles, Fort Lauderdale
Title/position: Executive Vice President
Company: Stiles Corporation, one of the areas top property management and real estate development firms. 

Drew Saito
Title/position: Senior Vice President, Commercial Market Executive
Company: CNLBank, which has grown from two offices in Central Florida to operating 16 full-service banking offices throughout the state, with total assets growing from more than $100 million to $1.2 billion. 

Durée Ross, Davie
Title/position: President/Founder
Company: Durée & Company Inc., which specializes in public relations, social media, marketing, advertising, special events, and radio promotions and outreach. 

Mary Sol Gonzalez, Boca Raton
Title/position: President
Company: Image360-Boca Raton, a graphics company specializing in signage and designs for many applications. 

Wes Bonner, Delray Beach
Title/position: Resident Chef, Publix Aprons Cooking School. The school is a unique and fun way to learn how to cook, focusing on certain cuisines and cooking techniques, dessert preparation and more.
Company: Publix Corporate 


Large Business(more than 250) winner: Holy Cross Hospital 

Small Business (less than 250 employees) winner: Modernizing Medicine 

Staff writer Cindy Kent contributed to this report. mvalverde@tribune.com, 954-356-4526, Twitter @MiriamValverde

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