Elevate and Elevar Magazines, as well as Ocala Magazine, made the News and Events in Business and Industry section of the Ocala StarBanner! I cannot say how proud I am to share this honor with my staff at Elevate Magazine: Conan Segrest (Chief Photographer), Joe Deleon (Creative Director) and not pictured but should have been, my brother Alexander Sotomayor (Senior Graphic Designer). Without Alex, both magazines could not have been finished. My brother saved my dream, and made it a reality. I share this honor with all others who contributed to Elevate and Elevar, including: Cristina Curbelo (Spanish Translator and Contributing Editor), Nicole Gomez (Copy Editor), Amber Lynne Laudicina (Graphic Designer/Photographer), Ashley Burdeshaw (Graphic Designer), Crystal Jewell-Maksou (Communications and Outreach Director), Tai Burleson DeMaris (Social Media & Marketing Manager), and our contributing writers: Michelle Clark, Karla Phillips Grimsley, Trisha Sutton Hiatt, Jarod Kintz, Rosey Moreno-Jones, Jessica Thurow, Pastor Joshua Luis Sarmiento, and Pastor Doris Patterson. It is also an honor to share the stage with my colleagues at Ocala Magazine, in particular: Linda Marks (Publisher), Lisa McGinnes (Editor-in-Chief), and Joe Altizer (VP/Business Manager). I would be remiss not to mention Elle Tomaszewski (former Creative Director of Ocala Magazine) who I did not have the pleasure to work with, but whose design work is the reason Ocala Magazine won the Charlie for Best New Redesign. While I have had some basic freelance writer experience beforehand, it was Ocala Magazine that gave be my first big shot. It was while as a freelancer for Ocala Magazine that I won my first three awards at the Florida Magazine Association Charlie Awards in 2007 (two silver and a bronze — one silver and the bronze for same category: Best Public Service Coverage). Since then, I have worked for numerous magazines and newspapers throughout North Central and Central Florida, and earned numerous other awards from three major media organizations, including my first Charlie in 2016 for Best Public Service Coverage while employed with Akers Media. It has been a fantastic journey for this regular guy, who started as a freelance writer with nothing more than willpower and a dream, who rose to executive editor of a major magazine, then publisher of his own start up magazines. I cannot express enough how much joy and accomplishment I felt when I hear the names of the magazines I created from scratch in 2016 (only two weeks after earning my first Charlie) called as the first and second place winners of the Best Digital Only Magazines in the state of Florida. I had counted myself out long ago after incompletion of law school then working as a paralegal with tons of debt. But I reinvented myself with another career more suited to who I am in media. I share this with anyone who may be struggling with their decisions. Follow your heart. Be True to yourself. Never give up. You will find a turning point. I did.
Link requests a subscription to the newspaper. If you don’t have one, so cannot read the business brief, it reads: “Magazine Earns Honors – Elevate Magazine and Sotomayor Media Creations LLC announces that the Florida Press Club recently awarded work published in Ocala Christian Advocate, the prototype magazine to Elevate Magazine, with first place in religion writing and second place in community news. The city of Ocala’s REACH committee presented Elevate Magazine the 2017 Mary Sue Rich Diversity Award in October.”