Randall Robertson Takes Over Winter Park Institute

Winter Park Institute to Find New Home at the Library-Events Center

by Anne Mooney / June 29, 2021

Effective July 1, Randall B. Robertson will become owner and executive director of the popular Winter Park Institute (WPI). WPI, the speaker series that has brought many celebrities to Winter Park, was created by Rollins College in 2007. WPI hosted speakers such as Maya Angelou, Ken Burns, David McCullough, Jane Pauley, Itzhak Perlman, Gloria Steinem and Winter Park’s very own 2-term U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

The Institute ceased operation last year when the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to live events. In order to keep the program alive, Winter Park Publishing Company (WPPC), owner of Winter Park Magazine, took over the Institute’s operation during lockdown.

WPPC conducted two virtual events during 2020, with the goal in mind of finding community partners as the pandemic receded and live events could return. At the top of the list of possible partners was Randall Robertson, who for the past 12 years has operated Gladdening Light, a Winter Park-based non-profit that sponsored an annual symposium that drew speakers and attendees from all over the U.S.

“The more I talked to Mr. Robertson, the more it became obvious that to ensure the continuity of WPI in a way that honors its tradition and delivers what Winter Park residents expect, he should be the person to run it,” said Winter Park Magazine editor and publisher Randy Noles. “Happily for everyone, he was at once committed and enthusiastic.”

Robertson said he is a long-time fan of WPI because it provided a forum for citizens “to hear from thought leaders in the public square, challenging us to stretch our thinking.”

“We want to continue attracting visionaries and extraordinary people from the arts and humanities, the sciences and literature, to advance public themes in education, society, the economy and politics,” said Robertson.

Robertson, himself a WPI speaker in 2012, said the new Winter Park Public Library and Events Center will be WPI’s official home, and that most of its events will be in one of the venues at the complex. “The Institute represents a beautiful opportunity to showcase Winter Park to the world,” he said.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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