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Synapse CEO Brian Kornfeld to step down

Veronica Brezina



Synapse Chief Strategy Officer Lauren Prager (left) and CEO Brian Kornfeld at the main stage during the 2022 Synapse Summit. All photos provided.

Synapse Florida co-founder and CEO Brian Kornfeld, who has provided the framework for connecting the region’s innovators, is stepping down from the top post. 

“The last six years have been incredible to start, build and grow this organization from the ground up. I will still support Synapse in a smaller capacity through a new venture,” Kornfeld told the St. Pete Catalyst. He didn’t disclose further details about the planned venture. 

Chief Strategy Officer Lauren Prager will become the new CEO starting May 1. The announcement comes after the board unanimously voted for Prager as the next leader. Kornfeld will remain a key part of the Synapse community as a member of the board of directors and the impact board.

Prager has served the organization since 2018, starting as a volunteer. 

In a news release, Prager said, “It has been a privilege to serve the talented leaders across our state through Synapse’s mission to connect and catalyze our tech and innovation communities. I look forward to continuing to create opportunities to accelerate growth for our businesses, deepen collaborations, and demonstrate that, as we say, ‘Innovation Lives Here.'”

Synapse CEO Brian Kornfeld (left) and the new incoming CEO Lauren Prager.  

As a statewide non-profit organization, Synapse collaborates with partners to advocate for and promote innovation across the state. Synapse has hosted 11 large-scale events across the state, hosting more than 30,000 attendees, over 2,000 exhibiting companies and 2,300 speakers.

Although she will be claiming the new title, Kornfeld said she’s always been the mastermind, cultivating relationships and working to host the inaugural Synapse Summit event, Florida’s premier tech event that brings thousands of entrepreneurs and investors to downtown Tampa.

“Prager is beyond prepared for this role. Prager has always done a lot when it comes to our mission and strategy. This role will add certain key factors to that such as assuring our team and new hires and prepared and our long-term success,” Kornfeld said. 

“I remember in our first summit I was looking out from the main stage, and I had this feeling that everything was about to change. It was one of those moments that has stuck with me. We hear stories from entrepreneurs that through the summits, they find a key investor or new hire. Tampa Bay has matured in many ways, but we still have a long way to go,” he said.

Kornfeld also recalled the creation of Synapse’s impact board in 2019. 

“We invited everybody to the table – Tampa Bay Wave founder Linda Olson and Embarc Collective CEO Lakshmi Shenoy. We are all about community building and continue to host monthly happy hours and events. The goal is to have everyone running in the same direction, amplifying each other. We all offer something unique,” he said.

While the region competes with peer markets and hubs such as Research Triangle in North Carolina and Silicon Valley, home to Apple Inc. among other tech giants, Kornfeld said, “We are not them and we aren’t going to be them, but if we continue all these efforts, we are going to make something better here.”

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