In this month’s CREW Tampa Bay Annual Sponsor/Member Spotlight series, we are shining the light on Stearns Weaver Miller. Stearns Weaver Miller is a full-service law firm with offices in Tampa, Tallahassee, and three additional offices in South Florida. The firm has been representing clients globally for over 40 years, offering exceptional client service and solutions with a focus on Real Estate, Real Estate Finance, Commercial Finance and Loan Restructuring/Workouts, Land Development, Land Zoning/Environmental, along with many other multidisciplinary solutions. Stearns Weaver Miller has been the Prestige Sponsor for the CREW Economic Summit since 2020, and they are the CREW 2023 Grand Benefactor Annual Sponsor. At center stage are some amazing CREW members from the Stearns Weaver Miller team:
Elise Batsel. Elise is a shareholder and a member of the firm’s board of directors. She has been with Stearns Weaver Miller since 2018 and is one of the preeminent land use attorneys in the Tampa Bay area handling a variety of entitlement and permitting issues for developers and property owners. In the Real Estate arena, Elise represents property owners and developers in real estate acquisition and dispositions. At age 12, Elise was drawn to a career in real estate law after watching her father, a real estate and land use attorney, in action, representing environmentally responsible developers. She loves working with clients on challenging projects and knows that collaboration and communication are the keys to success. A quote by former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, is one of her favorites, “We should use our opinions to start discussions, not to end them.” Elise truly enjoys working with her firm because of the strong collaborative and team environment. A little-known fact about Elise is that after her parents divorced when she was a child, she and her mom moved to a commune in Asheville, North Carolina. She was the only child living on the commune. She interacted with various free-spirited people and learned many invaluable life skills. She completed her undergraduate studies at University of Colorado and received her law degree from University of Florida. Elise says she is one of the happiest lawyers you will ever meet! She has two children, a daughter, who is a junior at Florida State University, and a son, who is a senior in high school, planning to attend the Culinary Institute of America. Elise loves to travel and is currently planning a trip to Argentina. She is an avid yogi and savors spending time with family and friends. Elise originally became a member of CREW in the early 2000s and is currently serving as the 2023 President of CREW Tampa Bay.
Susan Bennett. Susan is a shareholder and a member of the firm’s board of directors. She has been with Stearns Weaver Miller for over 25 years and is one of the top-performing real estate finance attorneys. Susan has extensive experience in title insurance issues and in advising financial institutions and developers in complex real estate and syndicated real estate loan transactions. She loves working with her firm because of the challenging projects and the many opportunities for professional advancement. Susan grew up in Sarasota. Her father was in banking, and she learned a lot about real estate transactions from him. She received her undergraduate degree from Purdue University and her law degree from the University of Florida. Susan says her best career decision was to go to law school, and her second-best career decision was to join Stearns Weaver Miller. She is inspired by excellence and defines success in her career as having smooth transactions without any wrinkles, resulting in happy clients. She believes that reputation is everything! Susan has one daughter in her thirties with special needs and a gift for artistic projects. Susan’s motto is to, “Always try to do your best.” This motto truly lends to her personal and professional successes. A fun fact about Susan is that when she was vacationing with a client in Athens, Greece, they closed a deal while enjoying the views from the rooftop terrace at the Hotel Grande Bretagne. Susan has a passion for traveling and wants to visit all the continents. Her perfect day would be to wake up in Paris, take in the many sights, visit the Musée d’Orsay, have brunch in a French café, and end the day enjoying the lights of the Eiffel Tower. Susan became a member of CREW Tampa Bay in 1997 and has served in various leadership roles.
Aubrey Burris. Aubrey is a Shareholder in the Real Estate department. She has experience with a wide range of commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition, disposition, development and financing, and creation of property owners’ association and condominium association documentation. She represents developers, homebuilders, property owners, lenders, and borrowers in the acquisition and development of commercial properties and other complex business matters. Aubrey became a member of CREW Tampa Bay in early December.
Samantha “Sam” Decker. Sam is an Associate in the Firm’s Real Estate and Land Development, Zoning & Environmental departments. Her practice focuses on assisting clients with a variety of commercial real estate matters. In this capacity, Sam concentrates on title issues and complex real estate transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, financing, and land development. Sam has been a member of CREW Tampa Bay since 2020 where she currently serves on the Members Only Committee and previously served on the Membership Committee where she helped to implement the chapter’s Member-to-Member Deals program.
Nicole Neugebauer. Nicole is an Associate in the Firm’s Land Development, Zoning and Environmental department. Her practice focuses on advising clients on a wide range of complex land use permitting and entitlement issues, including comprehensive plans and amendments, rezonings, variances, special exceptions, code enforcement, Development of Regional Impact (DRI) review and other related aspects of securing development authorization. In addition to her land use practice, Nicole also represents clients in circuit court and appellate litigation on a variety of land development matters. She has been a member of CREW Tampa Bay since 2021, currently serving on the Economic Summit Committee, and was previously involved in the chapter’s recruitment efforts as part of the Membership committee; she is also involved with the Junior League of Tampa.