Don Slesnick installed as president and chair of Orange Bowl Committee

Michael Chavies, immediate past president and chair, (right) hands off the ceremonial gavel to Don Slesnick, newly installed president and chair.

Michael Chavies, immediate past president and chair, (right) hands off the ceremonial gavel to Don Slesnick, newly installed president and chair.

Don Slesnick was installed recently as the Orange Bowl Committee’s 79th president and chair at Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables. Slesnick has been a member of the Orange Bowl Committee (OBC) since 1997 and succeeds immediate past president and chair Michael Chavies.

Slesnick will oversee the committee’s continued commitment to the South Florida community, including a full slate of events, highlighted by the 84th Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.

The Orange Bowl invests nearly $1 million in the South Florida community on an annual basis, funding a variety of community events, academic programs, scholarships and youth sports programs and initiatives, including the Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by MetroPCS, and the “Drive for Excellence” girls’ golf program in conjunction with the First Tee Miami.

The Orange Bowl’s fourth legacy project, Orange Bowl Field at Harris Field Park in Homestead also is scheduled to open during Slesnick’s tenure.

Upon completion, the OBC legacy gift projects combined will have provided more than $12 million worth of improvements toward the beautification of the South Florida community and recreational park activities for residents and their families.

I am truly honored to serve as president and chair of the Orange Bowl Committee — an organization of community leaders whose work I have admired since my youth,” Slesnick said. “We will remain dedicated to a mission of enhancing South Florida’s image while providing activities that inspire young persons to set and achieve high standards of performance both academically and athletically.

At the same time, the committee will use its premier event, the Capital One Orange Bowl post-season college football game, to enhance the area’s economy. It is both humbling and an extreme privilege to have been chosen to lead this venerable organization that does so much for so many throughout the region,” he added.

The mayor of Coral Gables from 2001 to 2011, Slesnick is the managing partner for the Law Offices of Slesnick & Casey LLP. He has been in private practice since 1976, representing public sector employee organizations.

Prior to opening his private practice, he held labor relations management positions with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Miami-Dade County Police Department. Slesnick also is a Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Army advisor to NATO forces in Germany, retiring from the military with the rank of Lt. Colonel. Slesnick received a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, a JD from the University of Florida and a MPA from Florida International University.

Slesnick is active in numerous civic and business organizations, which include the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (founding chair of that organization’s award-winning program for Ethics in Business & Government), and served two terms as chair of the Coral Gables Community Foundation.

Don and his wife of 48 years, Jeannett — a Coral Gables city commissioner — have two children: Don III, who is an Orange Bowl Committee member, and Kathleen Slesnick Kauffman, immediate past president of the Junior Orange Bowl Committee. Don and Jeannett have four grandchildren.

Sean Pittman moves into Slesnick’s former role as president-elect and chair-elect and will serve as the 80th president and chair during the 2018-19 year. José C. Romano will serve as the first vice chair and will become president and chair in 2019-20. Eric Poms enters his 12th year as the CEO and marks his 24th year with the Orange Bowl Committee.

For more information on the 2017-18 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, visit

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