FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum in Tampa

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Narayan Murthy, Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri and Shabana Azmi along with Indian CEO delegation to participate in FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum in Tampa

6th April, 2014 – The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) is globally recognized for promotion of businesses opportunities, trade relations and cinema opportunities between India and the IIFA’s host nation. Keeping in line with this, a joint initiative of IIFA and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry – the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum is scheduled to take place at the Tampa Convention Center on April 24-25 during the 15th Videocon D2H IIFA Weekend.

With the trade relationship between India and America at its acme, the theme for the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum will see business delegates discuss Indo-U.S. Partnership: A Catalyst for Economic Growth”.  The effort is being led by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), University of South Florida College of Business, Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd, and the Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council. Other notable partners include Enterprise Florida, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Visit Tampa Bay Visit Florida, USIBC and TIE.. The forum will stand witness to the coming together of some of the biggest change drivers and opinion leaders and business leaders from top brands and business houses to engage in dialogue and explore new and promising commercial possibilities.

Some of the visionaries include Dr RK Pachauri, who spearheads the Nobel prize winning UN Intergovernmental panel on Climate change; NR Narayanmurthy, Executive Chairman and Founder of Infosys, Ron Somers, President USIBC, Dr Didar Singh, Secretary General FICCI, Consul General of India – Ajit Kumar, and Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

Some of the prominent women leaders addressing the business forum include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Nisha Desai Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Shabana Azmi, renowned activist and Indian actor, Judy Genshaft, President, University of South Florida and Renu Khator, President of University of Houston.

Business icons leading discussions include Bharat Desai, Chairman, Syntel, Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja-Neotia group, Ranjit Yadav, President Tata Motors, Vivek Lall, President  & CEO, Reliance Industries, Mukesh Aghi, CEO, L&T Infotech.

Among the renowned guests who will grace the forum are over 100 business leaders and policy makers. These eminent personalities will share their precious insights on and examine the copious benefits of a partnership between the two economies.

Today, the Indian-American community has been at the forefront of innovation, knowledge-based services, and entrepreneurship, creating jobs and contributing to the U.S. economy. Two-way trade in goods between India and the U.S. crossed the $60 billion mark in 2012, but there is potential for reaching the $100 billion mark. The Indian economy has grown to be the10th largest in the world, and experts project India will become one of the top five economic powers by 2050.

The 2-day long forum will convene a galaxy of prominent personalities representing industry, government, academia and intelligentsia. Sectors that power Trade, Commerce & Investment, along with promising areas of cooperation between India and America such as Media & Entertainment, Education, Tourism and Environment & Clean Technology will come under the scanner.

To register for the FICCI IIFA Global Business Forum, head on to or

This is the 10th edition of the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum, which is an integral highlight of the Videocon d2h IIFA Weekend powered by LAVA Mobile, which commences from April 23 in Tampa Bay Florida and ends with the pinnacle of Indian entertainment, The Tata Motors IIFA Awards.

Some of the key partners of the IIFA US celebrations are: Videocon d2h, Tata Motors, Freedom Health Insurance, Lava Mobiles, Visit Tampa Bay Visitors and Convention Bureau, Visit Florida, Hillsborough County Commission, Jammu & Kashmir Tourism, Vishal Fashions, UST Global and Intuit.

Other support partners include Mosaic Company, Tampa Steel Erecting Company, and Patina Solutions.

Our Experience at Leadership Tampa’s Tallahassee Retreat

Brian CummingsBrian Cummings

Attorney – Greenspoon Marder, P.A.

Leadership Tampa Class of 2014

Leadership Tampa’s Class of 2014 solidified its legacy as the Best Class Ever during the recent Tallahassee Retreat, a two-day tour of Florida’s capital city that many consider a highlight of the Leadership Tampa experience.  It was definitely a great experience for our class.  We enjoyed an inside glimpse of our state government, featuring private meetings with leaders of each branch of government; we observed the Legislature in action and we toured the Governor’s Mansion.

LT 14 arrived in Tallahassee for the first day of the Retreat around noon, ready to tackle a daunting schedule packed with meetings and events following a refreshing five-and-a-half hour bus ride.  We started off with a luncheon featuring political consultants Steve Schale and Sarah Bascom.  Schale, a Democrat, and Bascom, a Republican, discussed the current and future political landscape of Florida, sharing their own personal experiences managing campaigns in the ultimate swing state.  Schale, a sought-after Democratic consultant who served as director of Obama Florida, is now a top strategist for the gubernatorial campaign of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.  Bascom, a long-time Republican consultant, very recently served as spokesperson and communications director for the successful congressional campaign of David Jolly against former Florida CFO Alex Sink Campaign.

Following lunch, our class walked over to the Florida Supreme Court where we were given a private tour of the High Court’s courtroom, including a chance to pose for photographs on the bench or at the podium.  We were then afforded a private audience with Justice Peggy A. Quince.  Quince discussed the role and duties of Supreme Court, and she related her first-hand experience being a member of the Court during its high-profile decisions involving the 2000 presidential election.  Justice Quince also shared with LT 14 her own personal experiences as an attorney and judge, becoming the first African American woman to be appointed to one of Florida district courts of appeal and to the Florida Supreme Court, and to serve as Florida Chief Justice.

After visiting the judicial branch, we crossed Duval Street to legislative branch, meeting some of our local legislators in the Old Capitol Building.  In an upstairs meeting hall with very antiquated acoustics, we were addressed by Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa, Rep. Jake Raburn of Valrico, Rep. Dana Young of Tampa, Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, and Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg.  Each of them shared their own perspective and experiences with the legislative process, and then answered the class members’ always interesting questions.  While we were certainly impressed with the leadership skills of our local elect representatives, some class members were surprised by their relative youth, which is reflective of the entire legislature as a result of terms limits.  In fact, nearly one-third of the 120 representatives are under 40 years old, including seven under the age of 30, and House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel is only 34 years old.  Only 24 members of the Florida House are over the age of 60, which sort of blows away my pre-conceived image of the legislature as a bunch of gray-haired old guys.

Following our meeting at the old Capitol building, LT 14 returned to our hotel for a Legislative Reception and short program in recognition of the Tallahassee Retreat’s program Sponsors, Adams and Reese LLP and Moffitt Cancer Center.   Other Tampa area legislators and state officials joined the class for drinks and hors d’oeuvres, including Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Secretary of the Department of Business & Professional Regulation Ken Lawson, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Lee Moffitt, Sens. Arthenia Joyner & Jeff Brandes, Reps. Janet Cruz & Mark Danish of Tampa.

After the reception, class members fanned out in groups to Tallahassee’s finest restaurants (better than Arby’s!) for dinner, and then headed out for a night on the town.  Nearly everyone ended up at a downtown karaoke bar, Club Mint, for a memorable night of entertainment and fun.  Certainly, for me anyway, a fun moment of Tallahassee Retreat LT 14’s trip was watching a dozen or so classmates on stage singing the B-52s 1989 hit “Love Shack.”  Many more talents were showcased, and LT 14 out-karaoke’ed a group of FSU students jockeying for the stage.

Notwithstanding the late night for some class members, everyone made it to the Capitol the next morning for visits to the House Gallery, where we watched the legislature in action.  Actually, there wasn’t much action: our time at the House coincided with the 2014 Legislative Reunion, so we mostly just watched the current the House honor past members who had served over the last six decades.  We did witness as few moments of legislative action before departing for our next meeting, including consideration of a bill to rename Edison State College in Fort Myers as “Florida SouthWestern,” which passed after a probing question about the capitalization of the “W” in SouthWestern.

From the House Gallery, LT 14 was shepherded to the Cabinet Room, where we received a private audience with a living legend from the Tampa area and Florida Legislature: H. Lee Moffitt, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and founder of his namesake Moffitt Cancer Center.  Moffitt took time to address the class and answer questions, before and after an appearance by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera for a photo-op with the class.  Moffitt shared how he was inspired to push for a full-service cancer center in Tampa after witnessing several close friends diagnosed with cancer having to travel to distant cities for quality treatment.  Moffitt described his lengthy efforts over many years to get legislative support for starting a top-tier cancer center in Tampa, despite opposition from the medical community, and later a veto by Gov. Bob Graham.  Ultimately, once Moffitt became Speaker of the Florida House, he was able to secure Gov. Graham’s support for a law that created the Moffitt Cancer Center.  Moffitt noted that he would never have been able to foster creation of one of the world’s foremost cancer centers in Tampa if he had been restricted by term limits, as legislators are today.

After our meeting with Moffitt, LT 14 boarded buses for a final, undisclosed “special destination.”  We didn’t have to go far for our secret destination – the Governor’s Mansion, which is located a mere ten blocks from the Capitol.  While it was unclear whether or not Gov. Rick Scott was home, our class enjoyed a private tour of the “public” portion of the Greek Revival mansion, which abounds in Florida artwork, historical artifacts, and antique furnishings, including a Steinway piano on which class member Edward Spenceley surprised us with his skills.

After our private tour of the Governor’s Mansion, LT 14 returned to our buses for the long ride home.  There’s nothing like being confined to a bus for multiple hours to build class camaraderie, although the trip back to Tampa was much quieter than the ride to Tallahassee.  All in all, the Tallahassee Retreat was an interesting glimpse into our state’s government, as well as our class’s singing ability, and I think all of us had a very memorable and enjoyable experience.

A special recognition and thanks for putting together this fantastic program is due to our Day Chairs Merritt Martin of Moffitt Cancer Center, Mike Griffin of Vertical Integration, and Karen McFarland of Adams and Reese LLP, as well as our Sponsors Adams and Reese LLP and Moffitt Cancer Center.

Emerge Tampa Bay Announces 2014 Protégé Program Participants

Emerge Tampa Bay and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce are proud to announce the pairings of the 2014 Protégé Program. The Protégé Program kicked off in 2006 and has paired nearly 175 young professionals with experienced mentors and business professionals throughout the Tampa Bay area. The pairs will meet once each month to discuss topics including leadership, career development, communication skills, networking and influencing/negotiating.

The 2014 Protégé Program pairings are (mentor first):

  1. Ron Weaver (Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A.) with Aakash Patel (Elevate, Inc.)
  2. Jonathan Moore (InVision Advisors) with Adam Green (Crosstown Land Development)
  3. Christine Turner (ChappellRoberts) with Adrienne Drew (Grow Financial)
  4. David Capece (Sparxoo Agency) with Alex Sandkuhl (EXMO)
  5. Jessica Muroff (Frameworks of Tampa Bay) with Amanda Fisherman (Ad2 Tampa Bay)
  6. Stephanie Agliano (Agliano Utility Solutions) with Amber Kukulya (SDII Global)
  7. Nealy Wheat (Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce) with Andrea Gallagher (Tampa Bay History Center)
  8. Susan Maurer (C1 Bank) with Audra Milligan
  9. Santino Provenzano (The Mosaic Company) with Berit Hallberg (Hill & Knowlton Strategies)
  10. Josh Bullock (Tampa Bay Rays) with Brandy Waltzer (Carlton Fields Jorden Bert)
  11. Betsy Hapner (Law Office of Elizabeth L. Hapner) with Caitlin Weber (Tampa General Hospital Foundation)
  12. Kerri-Lyn Francis (KLynergy Massage and Wellness) with Caitlin Doyle (InPlace Marketing)
  13. Brian Butler (Vistra Communications) with Casey Hewins (Stahl & Associates Insurance Inc.)
  14. Lori Baggett (Carlton Fields Jorden Bert) with Cassandra Griggs-Frierson (Compass Education Center)
  15. Doug Arnold (Douglas Arnold, LLC) with Chris Brown (Everest University)
  16. Randi Ruble (Sun Equities) with Dory Estrada (Ambrosia Global)
  17. Chris Karlo (Mercry New Media) with Edayat Shahrani (ES Consulting)
  18. Brian Hanrahan (Mercer Health & Benefits) with Elspeth Spransy (Mortgage Contracting Services)
  19. Rick Gallegos (Dale Carnegie) with James Blake (Bridgestone)
  20. Michael Lundberg (Presenting Powerfully) with Jeff Chernoff (IAT, Inc.)
  21. Gwen Harmon (Metropolitan Ministries) with Jenna Civitello (The Sustany Foundation)
  22. JoAnn Urofsky (WUSF Public Media) with Jocelyn Carpenter (Community Foundation of Tampa Bay)
  23. Jill Manthey (Yacht Starship) with Jody Anderson (Busch Gardens & Adventure Island)
  24. Gail Holtzman (Kass Shuler, P.A.) with Jonathon Northington (Adams & Reese)
  25. Wendy Bowman (Florida Blue) with Karlin Strube (Alltrust Insurance)
  26. Mandelyn Cloninger (Metropolitan Ministries) with Keosha Poole (MIT Computers)
  27. Mary Fran Mullan (Lanier Upshaw) with Kiana Bell (City of Tampa)
  28. Joanne Sullivan (The University of Tampa) with Kristin Collins (All Children’s Hospital Foundation)
  29. Natalie Thomas (Holland & Knight LLP) with Lance Morley (Law Offices of Daniel C. Consuegra)
  30. Morgan Watson (Florida Institute of CPAs) with Lindsay O’Bryan (Masonite)
  31. Virginia McGrath (Hillsborough Education Foundation) with Lindsey Parks (Tampa Bay Partnership)
  32. Amanda Uliano (Law Office of Amanda M. Uliano, P.A.) with Marisa Brasile (McKibbon Hotel Management)
  33. Gretchen Mitchell (Cadence Bank) with Matt Pierson (Willis)
  34. John Newman (Tampa Police Department) with Michael Shorter (Shorter Services Corp)
  35. Mark Kiser (Trenam Kemker) with Michael Hart (Bouchard Insurance, Inc.)
  36. Marty Lanahan (Regions Bank) with Nicholas Glover (Gas South)
  37. Fred Lay (Construction Services, Inc. of Tampa) with Pejman Mahmoudi (McBride Kelly and Associates Realty)
  38. Clint Babcock (Sandler Training) with Philip Dalimonte (Direct Mail Systems)
  39. Vince Cassidy (Majesty Title Services) with Richard Rippy (Synvous Bank of Florida)
  40. Debbie Lundberg (Presenting Powerfully) with RJ Huebert (WellCare)
  41. Bemetra Simmons (BB&T) with Stephanie Newton (Synergy Health)
  42. Henry Gonzalez (Platinum Bank) with Troy Carnrite (Glenn Rasmussen, P.A.)
  43. Jill Witecki (Tampa Theatre) with Yolande Northington (HCP Assocaites)
  44. Renee Vaughn (The Williams Consulting Group) with Ashton Connell (Feeding America Tampa Bay)

Area Chambers Oppose Public Records Bills

Tampa, FL – The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Beaches and Tampa Bay Partnership oppose House Bill 1151 and Senate Bill 1648 (passed by the Senate). These bills aim to create transparency in government, but instead have the unintended consequence of making public the records of each chamber of commerce, economic development organization and any other organization that have public agencies of any kind that are members.

There are two major impacts that HB 1151 and SB 1648 will have on membership organizations: the opening of records, including documents related to membership business and financial records; and some membership organizations may have to drop public partners in order to protect members and employees from records requests. That includes losing partners like airports, seaports and transportation authorities. These public organizations are dues-paying members and sponsors of chambers of commerce and economic development organizations because those groups have the responsibility of promoting that municipality or region for economic development. This provides the public organizations that are members an avenue to reduce their expenses for promoting their communities because the cost of advocacy and promotion are then shared by the business community through the Chambers and EDOs, allowing for greater impact.

Current state law requires public agencies to disclose their expenditures and information related to membership organizations. The burden of record keeping should remain there, not membership organizations.


Leadership Tampa’s Government Day

Brian CummingsBrian Cummings
Attorney – Greenspoon Marder, P.A.
Leadership Tampa Class of 2014

The top elected officials from the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County took their hands off the levers of power momentarily to spend time with Leadership Tampa’s Class of 2014 during Government Day, sharing with the Class what they do to make Hillsborough County and Tampa such dynamic places to live and work. Starting with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a dozen local government leaders visited LT 14 at the offices of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. They discussed the responsibilities of their respective offices and the challenges facing local government, then fielded the always-engaging questions of the Best Class Ever.

Mayor Buckhorn painted a compelling picture of Tampa as a city at a unique moment in its history, poised to become a great American city. He touted the city’s success in hosting the Republican Convention in 2012, and, more recently, in attracting the International Indian Film Academy Weekend & Awards, as evidence of the city’s growing prestige. The “Bollywood Oscars,” scheduled in Tampa for April 23-26, 2014, is expected to draw 800 million television viewers, compared to about 120 million television viewers for the 2014 Super Bowl, he said.

The Mayor encouraged class members, as future leaders of the city, to “not settle for mediocrity” but to build upon Tampa’s current successes and engage in creating a strong economic climate to attract quality employment opportunities. Otherwise, he warned, our children will move to cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, or Nashville after completing their education. To ensure that doesn’t happen, Tampa needs to draw upon and market its existing strengths: a diverse and well-educated population, a hospitable climate, and an diverse economic base including tourism, agriculture, construction, finance, health care, government, technology, and the Port of Tampa, a distribution gateway to Southeast.

Mayor Buckhorn, as well as other local leaders, uniformly agreed that for Tampa Bay area to fully succeed, it must address its transportation issues, particularly the congested roadways and lack of transit alternatives. Apart from Detroit, Tampa Bay is the only major metropolitan area in the United States lacking a rail transit system of any sort. While all roadways appears to be at full capacity, Hillsborough County has completed or commenced all major road expansion plans, and there is no major projects or funding for them in the works, according to Hillsborough County Commissioner and Vice Chair Sandra L. Murman Cmsr., who addressed LT 14 along with Hillsborough County Chief Financial Officer Bonnie Wise and Deputy County Administrator Hillsborough County Lucia Garsys. Murman, Wise, and Garsys conducted a joint presentation providing LT 14 with an overview of services furnished by Hillsborough County’s wide-range of departments, including transportation projects, fire rescue, animal services, code enforcement, the medical examiner’s office, and parks, recreation and conservation.

LT 14 also heard from each of Hillsborough County’s constitutional officers: Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer; Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden; Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez; and Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank. After getting a better understanding of responsibilities and challenges of coordinating all elections in the county, collecting and appraising taxes in the county, and keeping the county’s court system operating smoothly, LT 14 enjoyed lunch and an entertaining presentation by Kathy Barcena Betancourt, a proud USF alum and former city official who has served as a lobbyist for her alma mater for the past seventeen years. Ms. Betancourt candidly discussed the inner-workings of state government gleaned from her experience as a lobbyist, and demonstrated her lively sense of humor and gregariousness that she said has been a necessity for success as a lobbyist.

Controversy and partisan politics were refreshingly absent from Government Day, which illustrated the commonly-cited phrase “all politics is local.” Local government certainly encapsulates the principal underlying that phrase – that a politician’s success depends upon his ability to understand and address the issues of importance to his or her constituents, usually the mundane and everyday concerns like fixing potholes rather than big and intangible politically divisive issues. Tampa City Council Member and Chair Pro Tem Harry Cohen, whose district includes South Tampa, understands the importance of those mundane and everyday concerns to his constituents. Responding to constituents calls about seemingly trivial issues is the very substance of local government, and Cohen’s office regularly fields constituent calls. If you want to test his office’s phone lines, try leaving an orange cone on the bridge to Davis Island.

However, politics does have a place in local government. By a remarkable coincidence, every seat on the Tampa City Council was vacant on Government Day, so ten members of LT 14 volunteered (some involuntarily) to run for office. Each of them delivered impressive stump speeches punctuated with compelling reasons why he or she should be elected, and they employed various tactics. David Capece found that campaign promises go over better after plying the voters with shots of champagne (rumor has it he was the top vote-getter). Robert Teachey pledged to do exactly that the voters decided he should do. And, Jonathan Moore vastly out-spent his opponents, staging an all-out media blitz and trouncing the grass-roots campaigns of the lesser-funded candidates. Despite reports of duplicative ballots, ghost-voting and other improprieties, LT 14 elected a full city council, including the aforementioned class members as well as Debra Delise, Dawn Phillips, Rick Houston and Kerri-Lyn Francis.

After the election, LT 14 walked over to Old City Hall to take the city council for a test drive: conducting a public hearing on an actual ordinance. First, however, LT 14 stopped by the office of City Clerk Shirley Foxx-Knowles, who discussed the role and duties of her office; Tampa’s Chief Financial Officer Sonya Little also addressed the class. Then, after some explanation from Councilman Cohen on how the city council operates, the new LT 14 Counsel Members were installed and conducted a public hearing on an ordinance to regulate and restrict certain after-hour sales of alcohol. The rest of the class participated in the hearing as proponents and opponents of the ordinance. Pairs of class members made presentations in favor of the ordinance on behalf of neighborhood associations or against the ordinance on behalf of businesses and business associations. The rest of us interrupted the proceedings and acted rowdy (as instructed). Class member John Newman stole the show, putting on an award-winning performance as a disgruntled citizen angrily and loudly airing his complaints to the newly-installed city council. However, it was not entirely clear whether or not he was supporting the ordinance, which was tabled, and then voted down, by the council in their one and only act as a legislative body.

All in all, Government Day was a very interesting and rewarding experience, and the election/public hearing activity was a fun first-hand experience with government in action. The Day provided the Class with valuable insight into the many services and responsibilities provided by our local governments that make Tampa Bay such a dynamic place to live and work. A special “thank you” is owed to our Day Chairs Julie Harris (LT 02) of Grow Federal Credit Union, Kareem Spratling (LT 12) of Bryant Miller Olive, and Stephanie Agliano (LT 09) of Agliano Utility Solutions, and to our Sponsors Julie Harris and Jason Moss (LT 13) of Grow Financial.

Emerge Tampa Bay: How to Get Involved with the Chamber’s Legislative Priorities

Get Involved in the Chamber’s New Legislative Priorities for 2014

Keeping up with all that’s going on inside the world of local and statewide politics is a fulltime job – and then some. To help prioritize key issues, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce leverages the expertise of its Policy Council members. The council is composed of individuals who are at the forefront of innovation and progress in our region, state and nation. As a group, the members are responsible for identifying issues of high importance to the business community as an essential piece of the Chamber’s mission to communicate our region’s needs to our elected policy makers.

As an emerging leader, you too can help support the Chamber’s strategies to help make our community a better place to live, work and play. Use the following steps as a guide to help shape the future.

1. Educate yourself on priorities

Each year, the Chamber sets its strategic legislative priorities based upon insight from its Policy Council. On February 25, the council invited Emerge Tampa Bay members to its Legislative Kickoff event so we could learn about the Chamber’s priorities for 2014 while meeting members of the Florida Legislature and business community. Here are the top three priorities you need to learn more about:

Top Priorities

• Support a Florida-specific solution to health care reform of the Affordable Care Act, including a health care expansion plan that covers the low income, non-elderly adult Floridians.

• Support state investment in Tampa International Airport’s Master Plan, including the construction of a rental car center and an automated people mover.

• Support legislation to waive the residency requirement for veterans and their family members attending state colleges and universities.

Follow the buzz around these priorities by following #GTCCPolicy and downloading the Chamber’s full 2014 Legislative Agenda

2. Join VOICE
Voice is one of Emerge Tampa Bay’s four main segments that members can join. This group holds monthly meetings to help cultivate interest and involvement among young professionals on issues and policies affecting the Greater Tampa Bay community. The group also hosts several events each year to provide young professionals with access to community leaders. Interested in joining VOICE? We’d love to see you at our next meeting! Contact us

3. Take advocacy online
The Chamber recently launched Votility, a new online-based advocacy program, to amp up its ability to serve its members and the business community. It allows you log on and check out what bills the Chamber is tracking in Tallahassee and Washington. When action from you is needed, Votility allows you to contact your legislators with the click of a button with no need to search each member’s website for email addresses or to look up phone numbers. Votility also provides summaries and talking points on the bills, so you can quickly understand the importance of the bill to the Tampa business community.

Votility is a tool available to all Chamber members, free of charge. To get started, click here.

“Hope” – Leadership Tampa’s Health Sciences Day

By Jill Witecki, Tampa TheatreWitecki, Jill

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all
- Emily Dickinson

We hadn’t been with our M2Gen tour guide for five minutes when I knew that I was in over my head. What was I thinking, having volunteered to write the Health Sciences Day blog post? As our guide described the process of mapping genomes as casually as one might describe last night’s dinner plans, I frantically scribbled notes, spelling most of the medical terms phonetically in hopes that I might be able to look them up (and understand them better) later.

What is “fluorescence in situ hybridization” again?
And as we moved through the morning – me with an high school-level understanding of basic biology and a few seasons of “House” on Netflix; our presenters with their PhDs and plans to cure cancer with science some of which hadn’t even been invented yet when I was in school – I worried about how I was going to make any sense of the experience on paper.
But then we broke into groups at Moffitt Cancer Center, and chance saw fit to sort me into the “Arts in Medicine” group. Picking up a watercolor brush sparked for me the figurative brush strokes with which Health Sciences Day needed to be painted: what was important wasn’t so much the science as it was this group of people who have dedicated themselves to being the patient’s best hope.

“We’re in the information business,” said Dr. William Dalton, the founder of Moffitt Cancer Center’s M2Gen and one of the nation’s leaders in personalized medicine, explaining that information leads to knowledge, which leads to a better life. It’s the philosophy behind Moffitt’s “Total Cancer Care” pledge and the strategy behind M2Gen’s bio-repository of 100,000+ patients, whose information and tissue samples have helped define cancer not as one disease, but thousands, each of which has a unique blueprint that can be mapped and addressed accordingly: “the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.”

“That’s why we’re here – to take care of people,” our guide said as he wrapped up the morning’s tour. “That’s the bottom line.”
For Cheryl Belanger, taking care of people expands beyond their body to their mind, their heart and their soul. As Moffitt’s Arts In Medicine Coordinator, she sees the creative arts as playing a vital role in promoting healing for cancer patients and well-being for their family members, caregivers and hospital staff. Her team of six artists-in-residence include painters, poets, textile artists and musicians who offer opportunities to create, experience and appreciate art in the hospital’s open studio, as well as patients’ bedsides and in Moffitt’s common areas.

“[Art] treats the part of the person that isn’t being treated out there,” Belanger said, encouraging us to pick up our paint brushes and create an image from the random pattern of lines in front of us. The comfort that comes from creative freedom and its measurable effect on health indicators, she said, is what has kept the Arts program going strong for 12 years in a day and age where such a “feel-good” program might ordinarily have been cut from the budget.

Considering what we’d seen that morning, then, Dr. Johnathan Lancaster’s question over lunch seemed easy to answer: “Why are we as good as we are?” He is the president of the Moffitt Medical Group, the largest multi-disciplinary oncology practice in the State of Florida, and he repeated some of the same accolades as the hospital’s Executive Vice President Jack Kolosky had shared with us when we arrived: that Moffitt is designated as a National Cancer Institute, and one of only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country. But what truly makes Moffitt as good as they are, Lancaster said, is the team-based approach, which allows his doctors to be experts in particular types of cancer and encourages them to explore and discuss a variety of integrative, patient-specific treatment options.
But Moffitt’s innovative ideas about Total Cancer Care are only one part of what Tampa General Hospital President & CEO Jim Burkhart called a “Clinically Integrated Delivery Network” that cares for patients literally from cradle to grave: a cooperation of caregivers that seeks to treat patients at the appropriate level – be it a walk-in clinic, the emergency room or an in-patient hospital bed – as efficiently as possible. By using the system’s limited resources effectively, Burkhart explained, we can address many of the looming questions about America’s health care system’s costs and accessibility.

The system’s strengths were further highlighted by Dr. Harry van Loveren, USF’s Chair of Neurosurgery and interim dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, whose dry wit and lively videos punctuated a presentation on TGH’s status as a Level 1 trauma center and the region’s only safety net hospital and quaternary care facility. Its weaknesses were brought to bear by former state and US Representative Jim Davis, who shared his take on the Affordable Care Act and the Chamber’s position on expanding Medicaid, and State Legislative Affairs Coordinator Clint Shouppe, whose role-playing exercise made all of us think about the issue from a different angle, and made Rick Houston our Governor, if only for a few minutes.

But the system’s true value was brought home by a woman named – appropriately – Hope. Hope received not one but two heart transplants at TGH in her 20s, and went on to become the hospital’s first woman to give birth after such a surgery. “I don’t know who it was harder on – her or me!” joked her surgeon, Dr. Debbie Rinde-Hoffman, who is the medical director of TGH’s Cardiac Transplant Program. And as Hope shared her story in a voice quavering with emotion and showed us the photos of her miracle birthday girl, the real lesson of Health Sciences Day – and the hope behind the science – was clear.