Born, raised and living his entire life in Bradenton, Barnebey has dedicated himself to giving back to his hometown. With a Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree and a Law Degree all from Florida State University, it’s fair to say that Mark Barnebey is a true Floridian. Currently a partner with the Blalock Walters Law Firm where he’s been for the past ten years, Barnebey started his law career as the Chief Assistant County Attorney of Manatee County. He served with the County for 13 years before moving on to the Kirk Pinkerton law firm where he stayed for another 13 years and became a partner. While working with the County Attorney’s Office, Barnebey was the senior land use attorney, watching the development of one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. “I was heavily involved in the drafting of the county’s award-winning comprehensive plan from 1986-1989, which largely remains in effect today,” he says. “However, I was also involved in some unusual matters, including preparing the County Public Nudity Ordinance and the County Exotic Animal Ordinance.” Barnebey has had a busy land use and government private practice. On the land use side, he’s been instrumental in obtaining the approvals for a 5,000 acre agrihood new town development, a power plant, an sports arena, and many residential and commercial development projects. On the local government side, he served as City Attorney for Palmetto for the last 14 years and previously served as School Board Attorney for Manatee County, as well as serving as general and special counsel for various other cities, counties and special districts. Shirley Groover Bryant, Mayor of Palmetto has known Barnebey for the past 18-20 years and considers him to be a great friend and an outstanding attorney for Palmetto. “He’s just an upstanding and honest person,” she says. “Palmetto is lucky to have him as he’s a true asset.”

“I enjoy land use practice as it provides an opportunity to assist clients to develop resources that are needed in our community,” states Barneby. “One can see the projects develop from the ground up going from an empty field to, in some cases, a thriving town or neighborhood.” Barnebey has not gone unrecognized for his professional work. He has been named a Florida Super Lawyer, a Florida Trend Legal Elite Attorney and one of The Best Lawyers in America by US News and World Reports on numerous occasions. “Professionally Mark is dedicated to serving and advocating for local governments, and personally he is extremely generous with his time, financial resources and talents for all of the charitable organizations lucky enough to be associated with him,” says Scott Rudacille, partner at Blalock Walters. Firm President, Matthew R. Plummer adds “Regardless of how busy Mark is, he always makes time to give back to his community, a true inspiration for us all.” This humble passion to give back is what has earned Barneby the SRQ Good Hero title.

Approximately ten years ago, Barnebey joined the board of Take Stock in Children for Manatee County, an organization that sends low-income students to college through mentorship and scholarships, and was Chair of the Board from 2019-2021. “We have a 97% high school graduation rate with our students,’’ he says. “Donations for scholarships are matched by the state of Florida because of the importance of the program. In many cases they are matched again through great organizations such as the Bishop and Patterson Foundations and the Flanzer Trust.” During his term as Chair of the Board, Barnebey worked with the Board and Executive Director to get the organization on much firmer financial ground and to expand scholarship opportunities from 25-35 students each year to 50-60 students. “We could have funded more scholarships this past year, but elected to be conservative given the ongoing challenges for our program related to Covid-19,” he says. “Our current goal is to enroll at least 100 students and we are very close to being able to do so.”

In addition to Take Stock in Children, Barnebey works with a variety of important organizations to help serve the needs of the community. He currently serves on the board of directors for The Manatee Chamber of Commerce, the Girls’ Club Foundation of Manatee County, the Manatee River Fair Association, the Gold Star Club, and the Seminole Club of Manatee County. He is the past Chair of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, Manatee County Library Foundation, the Manatee Historical Commission, and the Girls’ Club Foundation. Additionally, he and his wife Marianne (also a native of Bradenton who is currently serving on the Bradenton City Council) are the proud benefactors of the Barnebey Planning Studio at the Urban and Regional Planning Department at Florida State University. The Studio provides urban planning students with real life experience through planning projects working with public agencies and private developments throughout the state.

A father of three children, Barnebey shares words of wisdom with young people starting out. “Work hard, challenge yourself to do new things from time to time,” he says. “And always be true to your own convictions because peer pressure and bullying exists your entire life unfortunately. Enjoy the great things about your life, family, friends and community.”  SRQ   Mark Barnebey was honored as one of SRQ Magazine’s Good Heroes this past December.