The Future 5 Awards are presented to five area young professionals that are presently growing and excelling in their respective ﬁelds and will continue to positively inﬂuence the growth, prosperity and quality of life in the Tallahassee community well into the future.
2023 Future 5 Recipients
Cyrus C. Calhoun III is a native of Tallahassee, Florida. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science/International Relations from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and a Master of Science degree in Applied American Politics & Policy from The Florida State University. He is a proud Third Generation FAMU graduate.
Cyrus has studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa, and Cuba. His research topics included the Malaria epidemic in West Africa and steps to eliminate its spread, and the Afro-Cuban community and the U.S. blockade on Cuba’s economy, respectively. While in each of the countries, he took up learning the languages of Spanish and Twi, the dialect of the Akan language in Ghana.
Upon graduating from FAMU, he served in the Florida Legislature for five years as both a District Legislative Assistant and District Senior Executive Secretary in the St. Petersburg/Tampa-Bay area for House District 70, and the Tallahassee-Big Bend area for House District 8. Working in this field, he was responsible for coordinating legislative town halls, assisting legislators in securing millions of dollars in state funding to provide to state-run facilities and not-for-profit organizations, and even assisted the legislator in passing legislation that expanded opportunities for black farmers to obtain cultivation licenses in alternative medicine.
He later served as the Corporate Communications Specialist for one of the largest alternative medicine companies in the nation, Trulieve. During this time, he served as a key individual in delivering internal and external communications and partnered with staff across multiple departments on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee, and the Environmental, Social & Governance committee.
Cyrus has had the opportunity to speak on podcasts such as Poppin Policies Podcast with R. Jordan Davis where he discussed the legislative process and how citizens could be more involved in their communities. This segment was the most listened to podcast during its series.
Mr. Calhoun serves as the Marketing & Business Development Associate at Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs where he manages content creation, proposal writing, professional development services, social media management, and corporate communications. He also serves as the firm representative for the Classroom Connection program in partnership with the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and John G. Riley Elementary School. Cyrus also participates in the BEACON program within Access Tallahassee, which enables young professionals to assist high school juniors and graduating seniors in applying for scholarship opportunities and FAFSA.
Cyrus’ community affiliations: New Leaders Council of Tallahassee, a Florida Politics’ Rising Stars 30 Under 30 Honoree, Knight Creative Communities Institute of Tallahassee (KCCI) Catalyst, TCC Take Stock In Children, The Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, The Florida State University Black Alumni Association, The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce-Access Tallahassee, and an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the Gamma Mu Lambda Chapter.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Ben moved to Tallahassee in 2011 to attend Florida State University and study accounting and finance. During his time at FSU, Ben met his wife Jessica. They both fell in love with all Tallahassee has to offer (can you say NO TRAFFIC!?) and decided to stay there after graduation.
It was through this decision that Ben found James Moore and Company. He began his career with the firm in 2015 through an accounting internship program. Now as a senior manager, he oversees audits and other attestation and consulting engagements from start to finish. Ben is involved in all aspects of the work, from planning through fieldwork and preparation of final deliverables. He has also worked in the firm’s tax department.
Ben focuses primarily on clients in the government, nonprofit and higher education industries. He also works extensively with workforce board clients. He has in-depth knowledge of Uniform Guidance and other federal and state audit guidelines.
In addition to his client work, Ben’s passion is to serve as a mentor to new James Moore team members and train and develop other employees. He is a proud member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 40 (Fiercest Class Ever) and loves to find ways to serve his community. Currently he serves as the board secretary for the Omega Lamplighters, an organization that seeks to empower area youth by training them in the life skills needed to succeed. Ben is passionate about bridging gaps that exist in our community and believes organizations like the Lamplighters can be a unique and powerful vehicle to achieve that mission.
Erin McCarty is a Financial Advisor and Director of Operations with Cypress Capital. She began working in the finance and insurance industry in 2015 while studying Finance at Florida State University.
She majored in Finance and holds a Bachelor of Science from Florida State University. She also holds her Series 7 securities license held through LPL Financial and Series 66 securities license held through both Cypress Capital and LPL, and insurance licenses for Variable Life, Variable Annuities, Fixed Life and Fixed Annuities.
Erin takes great pride in her client’s service experience. She strives to convey her thoughts and processes in the most understandable and efficient ways. She helps clients pursue their financial goals and truly enjoys what she does and who she serves.She lives in Tallahassee with her husband, Connor, and two rescue dogs. She loves being outdoors, either running or spending time in thesun or on the water.
Erin takes pleasure in being a part of the Tallahassee community. She started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend and has been matched with her little sister, whom she can’t imagine life without, since 2017.
Chirag Shah is the Founder & CEO of The Current Agency and Made Equal Clothing Co., his digital and creative ad agency and clothing brand startup. Through 15+ years of experience, Chirag specializes in community relations, social media, search engine optimization, and website development, which allows him to ultimately improve his client’s bottom line by crafting creative solutions to their business problems. Chirag holds a Master of Arts in Creative Business Leadership from the Savannah College of Art and Design and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the Florida State University. Chirag is inspired daily by his employees, parents, and four older sisters. Chirag travels, bar-hops, goes to the movies, plays basketball, and volunteers with local and regional organizations in his free time.
Erin grew up in Tallahassee, and knows first-hand how special the people in our community truly are. She discovered early on in her professional career her passion for working with people and creating enjoyable environments for diverse audiences. After attending Gilchrist, RAA and Lincoln, she went on to receive her AA Degree from TCC, and graduated with both a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre and a Certification in Event Management from FSU. Erin is currently the Development Director with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, and has been with the agency for the past 5 years. Erin also works part-time at her local gym, assistant instructing kickboxing and self defense classes. When she is not working, she enjoys spending her time with her son Theodore and their family pets, working out, kickboxing, dancing, discovering new music and creating art. Erin believes that people are influenced by first impressions and deeply wants ones first impression of her, in her job, to be that she is enjoying her work, and in turn, that others will enjoy working with her, and recommend her work to many others.
2022 Future 5 Recipients
Brielle Crooms is a proud Tallahassee native, who currently serves as the Academic Coordinator in the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost at Tallahassee Community College (TCC), named by the Aspen Institute as a top 10 community college in the nation. In this role, she is constantly working to fulfill her vision of maintaining a congenial culture for students willing to navigate through college and solidify individualized personal success based on defining and achieving set goals and aspirations.
Crooms’ involvement in different youth, volunteer, and engagement opportunities in the Big Bend area continues to rise. As a product of influential mentorship, Crooms gives back by volunteering to mentorship organizations for young girls and women in the Tallahassee area. She currently serves on the steering committee for the TCC Sister to Sister program, an organization that has tripled in membership over a two-year time frame due to her leadership in advancing social and volunteer opportunities. She is also a mentor in Cultivating Queens, an organization designed for middle and high school girls to promote encouragement in individual strengths and development of life skills.
She currently serves as the Special Events & Fundraising Chair for the Emerging Leaders United, a group within the United Way of the Big Bend that cultivates young professionals with community partnerships and outreach opportunities. Through the 2021-2022 campaign year, she led efforts to fundraise over $17,000 through an annual event including various community leaders.
Crooms professional and community efforts has prompted awards and involvement recognitions. These recognitions include: completion of the 2020-2021 TCC President’s Leadership Institute; the 2020-2021 League Excellence Award for commitment to community college teaching and leadership; and The MLK Foundation of Florida, Inc. Black History Month Community Humanitarian Award due to her role as Co-Chair of the TCC African-American History Calendar committee.
Through her collegiate journey, Crooms earned her Associate of Arts degree from TCC, Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Florida A&M University, and is currently enrolled in the Social and Sustainable Enterprises Master’s degree program at Florida State University within the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship.
Hannah is a California native who became passionate about educating herself regarding the strengths and weaknesses of rural communities after marrying her husband and moving to Fort Braden in 2019. Hannah began using her professional network and background in Public Relations to advocate for the Fort Braden Community by engaging residents, connecting resources and teaching others how to better love their community.
Most recently, Hannah joined the Hammerhead Communications agency, under the leadership of Skip Foster, as an Account Executive bringing strategic communications experience in the private and public sectors. Hannah previously worked with the state of Florida’s Department of Management Services, managing stakeholder engagement and strategic communications for multi-million-dollar construction projects statewide.
Hannah earned her degree in Strategic Communications, with a minor in Marketing from Flagler College. As a Tallahassee transplant, Hannah has made her home over the past six years with her husband, two stepsons, and their dog Tuck on Lake Talquin. More than anything, Hannah believes in creating stronger businesses, organizations, and communities through positive and strategic relationships.
Jason Frimmel is a Tallahassee native, who has seen this amazing city grow from a small town in the early/mid 90s to the medium sized city that it is today. His career began as a sandwich artist at Subway, which is where the passion for working in restaurants and the hospitality industry was confirmed. Rising through the ranks after working all restaurant positions, Jason has since opened several restaurants as a manager, yet most recently opened World of Beer as a franchisee. Jason also has been a licensed real estate agent since 2015 and handles both residential and commercial transactions. Currently, Jason is working to develop more World of Beer locations, expanding into Jacksonville with 2 more locations, opening May 2022 and Fall/Winter 2022. Outside of work, Jason enjoys being active in the community and giving back. As a board member of Capital City Youth Services and as a board member for Grow Tallahassee, Jason commits time to help others in our community. In his free time, Jason enjoys spending time with his girlfriend Laicy, and dogs Bruce and Dandy, along with the occasional golf outing.
Dr. Inika Williams
Dr. Inika Pierre Williams is the Statewide Director of Pre-Collegiate Programs with the Florida Department of Education in Tallahassee, FL. She manages $132 million in state appropriations for programs that seek to prepare economically disadvantaged students for postsecondary education. Projects under her guidance include the College Reach-Out Program, the Florida Partnership for Minority and Under Represented Students, Take Stock in Children, and other state-funded mentoring and student assistance initiatives.
A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Williams’s professional career has focused substantially on improving lifelong outcomes for disadvantaged youth through education. Prior to her current role, she served as the Director of Pre-Collegiate Programs at Florida State University where she led pre-collegiate programming operations for the Upward Bound and College Reach-Out Program to increase college enrollment for students attending Title I schools across north Florida. In 2020, she single-handedly secured $1.3 million in federal funds to implement a Talent Search program in Bay, Holmes, Franklin, and Leon County. Under her leadership, the university created four university-school partnerships to strengthen the pipeline from local Title I schools to Florida State University.
Williams’s professional efforts have resulted in awards and recognition. Most notably, Williams was recognized as one of the “25 Women to Know in Tallahassee” by the Tallahassee Democrat in 2021 and selected to participate in Leadership Tallahassee, Class 39. She was awarded the distinguished Faculty and Staff Seminole Award from the FSU Division of Student Affairs for major contributions to the university through service to students.
Williams serves on the board for the Big Bend Habitat for Humanity, Guardian Ad Litem, and the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Williams is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in counseling from Florida State University, and a doctorate in education from Florida State University.
Katie Britt Williams
Katie is a 7th generation Floridian from Winter Haven Florida, where she grew up fishing and paddling on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes and Peace River. She received an undergraduate degree from The Florida State University in Environmental Science in 2014 and a Master’s of Science in Forestry and Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Florida. Out of school, she worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Transportation doing water quality restoration and environmental assessment projects. She is a certified Florida Master Naturalist and graduate of the UF IFAS led Natural Resource Leadership Institute.
Currently, she is a Marine Scientist and Project Manager for Cummins Cederberg, Coastal and Marine Engineering where she supports clients on applying for resiliency grants and does environmental permitting for waterfront development. She is the Junior League of Tallahassee President and is a Big for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend. She serves on the Commission of the Status of Women and Girls and is on the Kappa Delta Alumni Board. Recently, Katie was recognized as one of the “25 Women to Know in Tallahassee” by the Tallahassee Democrat in 2022. She loves having lunch with her grandmother in town and walking her dog, Morris, at Pedrick Park with her husband, Jared Williams.