Save the Date: Leigh Anne Tuohy is November Speaker

Women in black and white clothing - Leigh Anne Tuohy sitting on porchLeigh Anne Tuohy is an American businesswoman and interior designer and the adoptive mother of Michael Oher — who played football in the NFL. Their story was featured in the 2006 book "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" and the 2009 feature film adaptation for which actress Sandra Bullock won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne.

When: Tuesday, November 14, 2023, 11 AM
Where: Simpkins Fine Arts Center
EFSC Cocoa Campus, 1519 Clearlake Drive

Mark your calendar to attend this free event, which is open to the public. Learn more about Leigh Anne in her biography in the accordion below.

The Simpkins Speaker Series is named after Bernard Simpkins, a highly successful entrepreneur and Brevard County business leader who established the sessions that have brought some of the nation’s top business innovators to EFSC.

All presentations are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. The series also includes the presentation of the Bernie W. Simpkins Scholarship to EFSC students with an entrepreneurial focus. For questions about the series and Simpkins scholarship, call 321-433-7055. 


Leigh Anne Tuohy's Biography

Dubbed a “warrior princess” by author Michael Lewis in his best-selling book "The Blind Side," Leigh Anne is the inspirational matriarch of the Tuohy family. She graduated from Ole Miss and while there met her husband, Sean Tuohy. Both were ambitious college students: Leigh Anne was a cheerleader and an active member of her sorority, Kappa Delta and Sean became a record-breaking SEC basketball champion (and still holds that record today!). They are the proud parents of daughter, Collins, and sons, Michael Oher and Sean, Jr. Leigh Anne and Sean just celebrated their 40 year wedding anniversary.

Leigh Anne is a motivational speaker and an interior designer by trade. Her work has been featured on numerous TV shows including HGTV, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Designing on a Dime, and Family Addition in addition has been in countless publications. She has designed for clients from athletes such as Peyton Manning, Scottie Pippen and Isaac Bruce to CEOs, Universities, commercial establishments and residential clients.

She is a New York Times best-selling author of "In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving." Another book authored by Leigh Anne, "Turn Around," is a five-day-per-week devotional that uses scripture as a springboard to reconsider what it means to give sacrificially, generously, and immediately. 

After "The Blind Side" was released the response was overwhelming and as a result Sean and Leigh Anne established their charity, The Making it Happen Foundation, which promotes awareness, provides hope, and improves standards of living for all the children fighting to survive in the invisible cracks in society.

She makes appearances on various broadcasts in the national media, including Fox and Friends, Good Morning America, 20/20, The Today Show, Sean Hannity, CNN, Huffington Post Live and HLN, to name a few. Leigh Anne is a sought after motivational speaker represented by GTN, a United Talent Agency Company.

Through all of their projects, Leigh Anne and her family continue their mission to uplift, inspire hope, promote kindness, ignite generosity, and make it happen for those who are valued so incorrectly but are so deserving, but most importantly the overlooked and underserved youth. They truly believe that everyone has the ability to make a difference.

Learn More About the Simpkins Speaker Series

The Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Entrepreneur Bernard W. Simpkins to teach the fundamentals and success of entrepreneurship. The free one-hour seminars, held on the campuses of Eastern Florida State College or online, bring entrepreneurs to Brevard County to speak about their challenges and triumphs along their journey to economic success through innovative ideas. They also offer insight into today’s economic trends.

Since its inception, the lectures, which are held each spring and fall, have become a popular event for faculty, students, and business owners in Brevard County and surrounding areas. The seminars allow entrepreneurs to share how they started, what prompted them to become an entrepreneur, the characteristics and traits of an entrepreneur, and important decisions that enable entrepreneurs to have success.

Mr. Simpkins was an entrepreneur who worked in the petroleum business with convenience stores and owned a Toyota automobile dealership, a Goodyear tire distributorship, and a Thrifty franchise car rental. Until his death in October 2020, Mr. Simpkins owned S & S Enterprises, Inc., based in Cocoa, Florida.

Bernie Simpkins once said, “Entrepreneurship is an open road to success for those who chose to invest hard work and determination. Saving what you earn to establish a beginning is a key to success."

His life embodied that philosophy, and Mr. Simpkins' generosity to Eastern Florida State College throughout his life is greatly appreciated.

In March 2000, Mr. Simpkins donated $250,000 to the college to establish an endowment known as the Business Seminar for Entrepreneurial Development. In 2007, Mr. Simpkins became the college’s first $1 million donor for the development of an entrepreneurial curriculum program.

Past Speakers

The Simpkins Speaker Series has included a who's who of the business world, beginning with Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy when the series began in November 2001.

Here's the list of those who has shared their wisdom through the series, beginning with the most recent speakers. When available, the speaker's name is linked to a news story about the event.

Bill Rancic, Entrepreneur, best-selling author, restaurateur, and the first winner of NBC's "The Apprentice."

Pegine, Business Leadership Expert and Author

Winston E. Scott, Astronaut & U.S. Navy Captain (Retired)

Harris Rosen, President & COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts

Daymond John, Founder/CEO of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Star of ABC's Shark Tank and CEO of The Shark Group.

Hyatt Brown, Chairman, Brown & Brown, Inc.

Suneera Madhani, Founder, Stax by Fattmerchant

Charles Clark, Motivational Speaker & World-Class Athlete

Albert Manero, Co-Founder & President, Limbitless Solutions

Wes Henderson, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Angel’s Envy

Dr. Delicia Haynes, Founder & CEO, Family First Health Center

Chris and Elaine Larsen, Founders, Larsen Motorsports, Inc.

Chris Gilpin, Founder & CEO, SignalVault

Brant Menswar, Leadership Speaker, Author, Performance Coach

Jim Stovall, Motivational Speaker, Author, Movie Producer

Danny McKnight, U.S. Army (Ret.), Decorated Army Range

F. Scott Moody, Co-founder & CEO, K4Connect

Mike Curb, Former Lieutenant Governor of California

Joseph Duda, Former CEO & President, DUDA Corp

David W. Anderson, Founder, Famous Dave's of America

Carol Craig, Founder & CEO, Craig Technologies

Andy Smith, Founder & President, Houlihan Capital

Heidi Ganahl, Founder, Camp Bow Wow

Cameron Johnson, Author You Call the Shots

Warren Brown, Founder, Cake Love

Jeffrey C. Piersall, President & Co-Founder, Space Coast Magazine

John L. Herman Jr., Author The Innkeeper TalesHermanisms

Mary E. Davis, Author The Entrepreneurial Mom

Don Shula, Miami Dolphins Coach & Founder, Don Shula Steakhouse

Gale Lemerand, Founder, Gale Industries

Pat Williams, Senior Vice President, Orlando Magic

Cynthia Kersey, President, Unstoppable Enterprises

Wally Amos, Founder, Famous Amos Cookies

Toni Jennings, Former Florida Lieutenant Governor

Joe R. Lee, Former Chairman of the Board, Darden Restaurants

Charles Clemente, CEO, Redgate/America Online

Al Neuharth, Founder, USA Today

Steadman Graham, Chairman & CEO, S. Grahamn & Associates

Howard Bo Callaway, Founder, Callaway Gardens

Truett Cathy, Founder & CEO, Chick-Fil-A

Speaker Series Founder

Bernie Simpkins, Entrepreneur

Bernie SimpkinsThe Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Bernie Simpkins to highlight the fundamentals and successes of entrepreneurship. Our condolences to the family and friends of series founder Bernie Simpkins, who passed away on October 16, 2020.

Event Sponsored By:

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