Insights from business accelerator program lead and chair


By Ernest Hooper

The impending developments and booming business spurs excite the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s LaKendria Robinson.

And it’s Robinson who will play a relatively small but critical role in fueling what comes down the pipeline. As director of the chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator program, Robinson works to help the chamber make the most of Tampa Bay’s changing demographics.

As it seeks new cohort participants, Robinson aims to boost the profile of minority-owned businesses which traditionally can be hampered by limited access to capital, resources and key decision makers.

She recently shared her passion about the program as it moves into its second year, and explained how Leadership Tampa Alumni members can play a key role.

Entering year two, what have you learned from year one?
In year two, we’re going to really focus on the growth of the companies. For us, that really means paying special attention to each of their individual situations, each of their individual growth stages within their businesses and tailoring various parts of the program to fit their specific needs, versus a one-size-fits-all bandage approach.

So, it’s not just a one-year program. You’re continuing to help the businesses you brought in last year.
The official course of the program is two years. The first year is the most time intensive. We ask that they spend at least 16 hours a month engaging in programming activities. I will tell you, this particular cohort has gone well above that. They probably spend 20-25 hours a month. Next year, it’ll tailor off to eight hours a month. Even beyond that two years, we will continue to track their progress in terms of their business growth for an additional three years. We know all the wonderful things that will happen, as a result of the program, will not be in the first two years. It’ll likely carry on for a couple of years afterwards.

What was the biggest surprise in the first year?
The biggest surprise, honestly, is the current cohort participants want to spend more time strategically planning for their businesses. There’s this misconception that minority and small companies don’t like to plan for their businesses. There are resources out there and they don’t want to take advantage of them. We were expecting that a little bit, but to our surprise, they want more. Even the sessions that we do on a monthly basis, they’re five hours and at the end of the sessions, they don’t want to leave. They’re constantly asking questions, they are looking to meet with the program facilitators of those courses. They’re taking the information they’ve learned back to their business advisers and continuing to talk about it. They are really looking for more engagement.

Is it a thirst for success that drives that?
Yes. They see it now. They see others that look like them, that started where they started, being more successful. They now know there are resources available for them in the community. They have additional people that want to help them be successful. They definitely want to take advantage of that.

Why is the chamber investing in the minority business accelerator program?
The chamber actually started looking at an accelerator program before I joined the chamber. They really took a hard look at the changing demographics in Hillsborough County versus the demographics of the chamber. Historically, the chamber’s membership has included certain industries, certain types of people with a certain level of success. With the changing demographics in Hillsborough County, they decided to strategically focus on engaging the minority business community and align themselves with the changes that were happening within the community. So, they looked at a couple of different chambers that had accelerator programs and realized that not only was it successful for the chambers for diversifying their memberships, but it also had this huge economic impact on the community as a whole. It created more jobs, made minority businesses more successful and got them to a point where they could create wealth for their families and the families of their employees.

If I’m not a minority-business owner, why should I care about this program? How does it benefit the overall chamber effort?
It helps the pie expand so everyone can reap the benefits of minority businesses growing. It also gives non-minority individuals that are looking to engage with minority companies a clear understanding of who those companies are, what they do, and showing with a little support and help, they can be successful. When I talk to non-minority individuals, they tend to thirst, almost, to give their time and resources and expertise to help those who really need it.

How important is networking for people in the accelerator program?
We spend a lot of time teaching them not only how to network but also how to work a room in a way they never have before. When you walk into a networking event it’s extremely intimidating because you have to try to make a connection. We teach them a lot of things they can do on the front end before they even step foot into that event to set them up for success. We teach them those type of skills because after they leave the program, we’re expecting them to keep those things up. Also, being a part of civic organizations, philanthropic organizations, educational institutions — seeking board appointments — helps expand their network, and it also layers in that professional development piece that a lot of these organizations have.

Leadership Tampa Alumni members constantly focus on networking. What would be your message to LTA members interested in networking with participants in the minority accelerator program?
My message to them would be regardless of what their job is or what their expertise is, there’s always a company or a person that could use their experience. We find a lot of times with the facilitators we have, they not only share their expertise, they also share their stories of success. It could be a dabble in entrepreneurship or it could be a dabble in climbing the corporate ladder. There are always similarities. I have one cohort participant that often says, “We all have the same problems. We just have a different phone number and a different address.” For the LTA members who want to learn more, I would definitely encourage them to do so because we could always use them.

While LaKendria Robinson leads the chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator Program, the program also benefits from the guidance of chair Bemetra Simmons, who also works as senior vice president for Wells Fargo Private Bank/Wealth Management. We asked Bemetra to share some thoughts about the program and its impact.

Please detail your role with the minority business accelerator program and tell me how much that role excites you.
Essentially my role as Chair of the MBA program is to be an advocate within the chamber and the broader Tampa business community by with providing program recommendations, evaluating the ROI of the accelerator, and assisting in recruiting efforts of program participants, volunteers, and funders.

How much can the minority business accelerator program broaden the chamber’s impact and appeal?
Tremendously, the MBA can assist with the Chamber’s 2026 Vision plan and commitment to diversity and inclusion. By assisting Black and Hispanic owned companies with growth, the Chamber not only has an opportunity to diversify its membership base but more importantly to help the Tampa business community to have sustainable minority companies.

As chair, what has impressed you about the first year of the program?
How quickly the companies have achieved results.  We knew that the companies would be positively impacted (from a quantitative standpoint) but I never dreamed we would see such fantastic tangible results within the first 6 months

How has LaKendria Robinson contributed to the success of the program?
The chamber could not have hired a better person to lead these efforts.  LaKendria not only takes personal time and attention to each of the cohort companies, but she also spends time with potential companies for future classes. The most valuable asset that she brings is the time she spends with our funding sponsors to not only ensure that they are getting the most for the sponsorship dollars but also to assist and position the existing cohort companies to do business with the sponsorship organizations.

LaKendria can be reached at 813-276-9408 or


Robin DeLaVergne leads with an everlasting passion for Tampa

Robin DeLaVergne

Robin DeLaVergne, Executive Director of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation and Senior Vice President of Tampa General Hospital and the 2018 recipient of the LTA’s Parke Wright III Award.

Robin DeLaVergne doesn’t really like award-winning recognition. Fortunately, no one told Leadership Tampa Alumni. Or the Junior League of Tampa. Or the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Or the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. In recent years, all of those organizations have recognized DeLaVergne, executive director of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation and a TGH senior vice president, as one of the area’s top leaders. Leadership Tampa Alumni became the latest group to bestow honors on DeLaVergne, naming her the 2017 recipient of the Parke Wright III Award on Jan. 23.


Yet DeLaVergne humbly says the feel-good vibe that comes from helping others means more than trophies and plaques. While she accepts the acknowledgement with pride, some of her biggest rewards come from helping lead the hospital.

“Everybody would have to admit no job is perfect. Some days, things go bad,” DeLaVergne explained. “But when I’m not having a great day, I can go talk to a patient who just had a heart transplant, or someone who’s waiting for a heart transplant, and then I say, ‘Okay, my day is not so bad.’”

DeLaVergne recently spoke to Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper about growing up on Davis Islands with a life intertwined with Tampa General, being one of only a handful of women who have chaired the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (2014), and what the future holds for the city and the hospital.

You’ve won so many awards. What’s the emotion when peers and colleagues recognize you?

My father was a physician, but he chaired the United Way. He was president of the medical association and worked real hard with Dick Greco and some others, and he would sit me in the room to watch what he was doing. My mother volunteered at Tampa General every week. She was a Girl Scout leader. It’s the way I was brought up. To me, especially since both of my parents are no longer with us, I feel like I did what my dad wanted me to do. And I’ve watched what my children do, and I’ve been an example to them. My older son used to do river clean ups in North Carolina, and my younger son is now on the board of the Salvation Army and he’s very involved in a lot of homeless projects, and I think it’s from what he saw me and his dad do to give back to the community. The fact that people recognize that I’m doing what my parents raised me to do means a lot to me.

Tell me about your job. Why does Tampa’s largest hospital need a foundation?

Tampa General is a tertiary, quaternary, academic medical center, we’re a safety net hospital for this area. If you think about it, there are about 300 hospitals in Florida. Ten percent are safety net hospitals, but those 10 percent provide over 50 percent of uncompensated care.


So we’re taking care of a lot of patients that don’t have any money. It costs just as much to take care of that patient as somebody with insurance. There’s a lot of money that goes to operations and running the hospital, and with technology the way it is today and new equipment needs, that’s really what we raise the money for, the things that aren’t covered by someone paying to have surgery.

There’s also start-up programs that don’t have a lot of revenue. We raise money for our integrative arts in medicine program which is something patients aren’t charged for. So there are a lot of things we’re able to provide to patients that they don’t get charged for.

What’s the biggest challenge of your position?

I think that Tampa General is a jewel in our city but it’s still something a lot of people don’t know about. I would say, especially as new people move into town, it’s just making sure people know who we are and what we do; that they know we’re one of the busiest transplant hospitals in the country, that we’re in the top 50 according to U.S. News & World Report in six different specialties. And we’ve got great physician partners both in the community and through the university.

We’re more than just a hospital. We really are taking care of patients even when they’re not in the hospital. It’s more about coordinating care and helping them understand how we can do that.

You chaired the chamber in 2014, becoming one of only a handful of women to even hold that prestigious position. What did it mean to you?

For me, when I was in the meetings, I didn’t necessarily see the difference between the men and women. They treated me like an equal. But I’ve also been very involved in Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay’s mentor/protege program because if you’ve been given responsibility, it’s important to pay it back and help bring up the future leaders.

You’ve been one of the people in a leadership role. What do you think has been among the city’s most significant accomplishments?

I go back to (Congressman) Sam Gibbons and when they brought the university (USF) to Tampa. That really began to change the fabric. There wasn’t an interstate out to USF when USF was built. The people who have moved here because of the university, and all the work being done to keep USF graduates here — I think it’s become a magnet. I would say the university and now the revitalization of downtown, especially if you look at the medical school moving downtown and what that’s doing.

The obvious follow-up is has Tampa fulfilled its potential

No. I don’t think anyone ever fulfills their potential, but if you look at what’s going on not just with Water Street Tampa, but the revitalization of West Tampa and Julian B. Lane Park, it’s great. But affordable housing is not very affordable in Tampa. That’s a potential we need to work on. With transportation — I can remember growing up on Davis Islands, we rode the public bus downtown to go to the movies — we have to make it easier for kids to get around and for young people who don’t want to own a car. I think we have some real opportunities. I look at the tech companies that are moving here — the incubators and the startups — the work being done by Linda Olsen at Tampa Bay Wave, and the innovation hub Jeff Vinik is launching at Channelside — and there are a lot of synergies.

Do you think we’ll get there?

I do. I’m confident we’ll get there.

This article was originally published in the Tampa Bay Times February 2, 2018 and is reprinted with permission.

Ernest Hooper LT ‘03
2018 Newsletter/Annual Review Co-Chair
Editor and Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

Leadership Tampa Alumni Honors Robin DeLaVergne with Parke Wright III Award

Robin DeLaVergne, Executive Director of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation and Senior Vice President of Tampa General Hospital received the 2017 Parke Wright III Award from Leadership Tampa Alumni at the group’s annual meeting on January 23. Established in 2002, the award is presented annually to a member of Leadership Tampa Alumni who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made a significant difference in the Tampa Bay community.

Robin is a member of USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, Tampa General Hospital Foundation Women’s Leadership Council, The Bank of Tampa Women Connected Advisory Board, Leadership Tampa Alumni and the Philanthropy Leadership Council of the Advisory Board. She has served as an Honorary Commander for the 6th Air Mobility Group at MacDill Air Force Base. She is a past Chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, past President of the Junior League of Tampa, past Chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership’s CEO Direct Program, and a past member of the Board of Directors for Metropolitan Ministries and the United Way. She serves on the Downtown Partnership Board of Directors, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Junior League of Tampa Community Advisory Board. She received the 2012 Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, the 2017 Woman of Influence Award from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the 2017 Sustainer of the Year from the Junior League of Tampa.

For more information on Leadership Tampa Alumni, please visit


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Reid, Randall LT’14
Reid, Shannon LT’11
Reinhardt, William C. LT’11
Remund, Lynda LT’05
Renshaw, Al LT’16
Rettig, Julia LT’02
Reyes, Chris M. LT’14
Reynolds, Clara LT’99
Reynolds, Lynette Leadership Orlando ’06
Richards, Darren LT’12
Richey, Larry D. LT’94
Rief, Frank J., III LT’73
Rieger, Jarett LT’12
Ritenour, Cherry L. LT’16
Robbins, David LT’14
Robbins, R. James, Jr., Esq. LT’91
Roberts, C.J. LT’07
Robertson, Bridget LT’04
Rogero, Dennis R. LT’14
Rogers, Christopher LT’17
Rohrlack, Bob Leadership Gainesville ’89
Rollison, Dana E., PhD LT’16
Rorrer, Steven M. LT’09
Rose, Scott LT’14
Ross, Ann McKeel LT’82
Ross, Wendy LT’14
Russo, Jacalin LT’12
Rustin, Dean LT’17
Ryals, Karen E. LT’98
Salazar, Richard LT’15
Sandridge, Hala A. LT’06
Sansone, Amanda Arnold LT’11
Saxena, Jay LT’10
Scanlan, Katie K. LT’04
Schimmel, Seth LT’05
Schubert, Nancy LT’86
Schwartz, Erin LT’13
Schwartz, John LT’15
Scott, Deborah L. Leadership Collier 2015
Seaberg, Danielle Nunez LT’10
Seeley, Meredith LT’17
Segel, Mark LT’05
Segura, Yvette LT’16
Serocki, Bel LT’17
Serovich, Julianne LT’14
Shahnasarian, Michael LT’92
Shaler, Ann LT’06
Shannon, Jeffrey C. LT’95
Shapiro, Ethen R. LT’17
Sharpton, Patrick LT’16
Shea, Erica M. LT’17
Shell, Greg LT’99
Shivers, Olin G. LT’97
Shouppe, Clint LT’16
Shukur, Kevin LT’96
Shumate Brown, Tamara LT’96
Siling, Jane F. LT’97
Silvest, Melissa LT’16
Simmons, Bemetra L. LT’13
Simon Jr., William H LT’83
Simon, Dara M. LT’06
Sladek, Ryan LT’16
Smith, Brian S. LT’04
Smith, Norwood C. LT’09
Smith, Randy LT’15
Sparks, Brian C. LT’02
Spenceley, Edward LT’14
Spencer, Marc A. LT’11
Spratling, Kareem J. LT’12
Ruble, Randi LT’07
Stanford, Marva Transfer
Stanford, Steven C. LT’11
Stefany, David J. LT’95
Stern, Robert G LT’03
Stevenson, Deborah H. LT’00
Stewart, Tewabech Genet Leadership Lakeland ’16
Stinson, Teresa H. LT’01
Stockon, Chase C. LT’99
Stone, Deborah G. LT’09
Sullivan, Joanne B. LT’91
Sullivan, Timon LT’91
Sutton, Kevin H. LT’06
Sweeney, Eileen LT’14
Swenson, Scott B. LT’11
Tagliarini, Deborah Kerr LT’94
Tamargo, Ted R. LT’16
Terrill, Lucy LT’15
Thomas, Gregg D. LT’84
Thomas, Natalie LT’14
Thompson, John LT’17
Thompson, Larry M. LT’14
Thompson, Sarah A. ‘Sally’ LT’98
Thornton, Shelley LT’17
Timmel, John C. LT’91
Tindale, Steven A. LT’85
Tomaino, Joe M. LT’80
Tomlin, Holly B. LT’05
Toth, Ryan J. LT’08
Townsend, David L. LT’82
Tremonti, Yvette L. LT’09
Turner, Christine M. LT’07
Turner, James A. LT’91
Tyson, Roaya N. LT’08
Uliano, Amanda M. LT’13
Urofsky, JoAnn LT’00
Ursini III, Louis M LT’12
Vaca, Maria LT’17
Valenti, Mark C. LT’04
Valiente, Jose E. LT’98
Valiente, Lauren L.,  Esq. LT’16
Vaughn, Renée W. LT’93
Vaughn, Ronald Central Illinois/Peoria ’79
Vietas, Jay LT’14
Waggoner, Dennis LT’96
Wainman, Jennifer C. LT’15
Walden, Scott LT’17
Walker, Toi LT’17
Walters, R. Kenneth LT’00
Ward Jr., Esq., David E LT’76
Ward, Eric LT’16
Warhola, Kelly LT’17
Wartenberg, Philip S. LT’09
Wax, Jon LT’04
Werdine, Fred S. LT’08
Wheat, Nealy LT’13
Whitaker, Allison LT’05
White, Dierdre K. LT’16
White, Herma V. LT’90
White, Lara LT’05
Whyte, W. Don LT’88
Wilder, Larry LT’95
Williams, Calvin LT’17
Williams, Kimberley LT’16
Witecki, Jill LT’14
Witte, India Waller LT’12
Wolf, Robert M. LT’92
Wolfe, John M. LT’08
Wolfson, Mark J., Esq. LT’82
Wong, Ray A. LT’17
Wood, Thomas M. LT’01
Woodard, Laura D. LT’10
Woodroffe, Enrique A. LT’90
Woods, Randall LT’17
Woody, Jason K. LT’14
Woollard, Kim LT’14
Wright, John Parke, IV LT’82
Yadley, Gregory C. LT’88
Yang, Grace H. LT’11
Young, Katherine S. LT’05
Yunger, Adele G. LT’11
Zabak, Elizabeth B. LT’13
Zant, Barb LT’15
Zarzycki-Andrews, Kelly LT’15
Zelman, Andrea E. LT’10
Zimmerman, Glenn LT’17
Zinober, Peter W. LT’81


Conversations with Influence

Conv with Influence 2017-10 eflier

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Thursday, October 26, 2017
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Florida Aquarium – Mosaic Center

Who’s going from your class?

Karen Arnold LT’02 Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
William Arnold LT’04 BB&T Bank
Bret Azzarelli LT’96 Elements, LLC
Beatriz Bare LT’99 Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.
Michael Blasco LT’12 Tampa Bay Food Trucks
Dolly Brown LT’04 Extravaganza Productions, Inc
Evan Brownstein LT’10 Wipro
Joshua Bullock LT’12 Tampa Bay Rays
Charles Callahan LT’14 Hill Ward Henderson, PA
Jason Carroll LT’11 Friends of the Riverwalk, Inc.
Colleen Chappell LT’99 ChappellRoberts
John DeLaVergne LT’15 DeLaVergne & Company
Randy Feldman LT’89 Blue Wave Orthodontics Blue Wave Dental Group
Irene Ferguson LT’01 Seacoast Bank
Todd Fultz LT’13 Manhattan Construction (of Florida) Inc.
Ryan Garlow LT’17 MacDill Air Force Base
Tyler Gordon Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
R. Reid Haney LT’96 Hill Ward Henderson, PA
Brian Hanrahan LT’14 Aon Risk Solutions
Elizabeth (Betsey) Hapner LT’97 Hapner Law
S. Gordon Hill LT’10 Hill Ward Henderson, PA
Dara Hindman LT’15 Yacht StarShip
Keith Hodgdon LT’13 Hyde Park Capital Partners, LLC
Robyn Huber LT’11 Cutler Associates, Inc.
Paul Huszar LT’15 VetCor LLC
James Jacob LT’97 Jacob Real Estate Services, Inc.
Christopher Karlo LT’10 Mercury New Media
John Kynes LT’04 Hillsborough County Bar Association
Lance Lansrud LT’15 Agentry Real Estate
Bill Latta LT’84 Focus on Performance, LLC
Julia Mandell LT’15 Carlton Fields
Troy Manthey LT’03 Yacht StarShip
Jill Manthey LT’10 Yacht StarShip
Melody Marrs LT’05 Goodwill Industries-Suncoast Inc.
Drew Marshall LT’12 CI Group
Mike Mashke LT’03 First National Bank of Pasco
Andrew Mayts LT’10 GrayRobinson, P.A.
Lauren Menendez LT’15 CI Group
C.J. Mintrone LT’13 PNC Bank
John Mullen LT’12 Phelps Dunbar LLP
Danielle Nunez- Seaberg LT’10 Grand Events of Florida, LLC
Aakash Patel LT’12 Elevate, Inc.
Lisa Patterson LT’14 St. Joseph’s Hospital
Dawn Philips LT’14 Tampa Bay Times
Ana Rabelo Wallrapp LT’04 Wallrapp Architecture & Interior Design
Chris Reyes LT’14 VetCor LLC
Lynette Reynolds LT’06 Orange Legal
Scott Rose LT’14 Tourism Insights, LLC
John Schwartz LT’15 MacDill Air Force Base – 927th ARW
Mark Segel LT’05 Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.
Bel Serocki LT’17 MacDill Air Force Base – SOCOM
Ethen Shapiro LT’17 Hill Ward Henderson, PA
Erica Shea LT’17 Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLPh
Deborah Stevenson LT’00 City of Tampa
Joanne Sullivan LT’91 University of South Florida (USF)
Deborah Kerr Tagliarini LT’94 Tomlin St. Cyr Real Estate Services
Christine Turner LT’07 ChappellRoberts
Amanda Uliano LT’13 Law Office of Amanda M. Uliano, P.A.
Bob Warchola Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Carrie Werdine Warren Averett, LLC
Fred Werdine LT’08 Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
Enrique Woodroffe LT’89 Woodroffe Corporation Architects
Greg Yadley LT’88 Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Andrea Zelman LT’10 Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
Glenn Zimmerman LT’17 Mad Bear Productions

2017 LTA Reunion


Who’s going from your class?

Ronald Vaughn Leadership Central Illinois-Peoria ’79
Susan Brennan Leadership Grand Rapids ’93
Joe tomaino LT’80
Renée Vaughn LT’93
Machelle Maner LT’95
Reid Haney LT’96
Jane Castor LT’00
Suzy Holley LT’00
Nancy Newman LT’00
Deborah Stevenson LT’00
Karen Arnold LT’02
Ronald Noble LT’02
William Arnold LT’04
Ana Rabelo Wallrapp LT’04
Mark Valenti LT’04
Sharon Danco LT’05
Melody Marrs LT’05
Seth Schimmel LT’05
Mark Segel LT’05
Lynette Reynolds Leadership Orlando ’06
Christine Turner LT’07
John Wolfe LT’08
Mark Haney LT’10
Christopher Karlo LT’10
Jill Manthey LT’10
Andrew Mayts LT’10
Caleb Lewis LT’11
Steven Stanford LT’11
Michael Blasco LT’12
Stephanie Koch LT’12
Drew Marshall LT’12
Darren Richards LT’12
Jennifer Roeper LT’12
Tina Cotton LT’13
Debbie Lundberg LT’13
Bemetra Simmons LT’13
Amanda Uliano LT’13
Nealy Wheat LT’13
Linda Cox LT’14
Bret Feldman LT’14
Lorrie Hero LT’14
Bryan Lawson LT’14
Susan Maurer LT’14
Lisa Patterson LT’14
Randall Reid LT’14
Wendy Ross LT’14
Eileen Sweeney LT’14
Natalie Thomas LT’14
Rob Catoe LT’15
John DeLaVergne LT’15
Paul Huszar LT’15
Stephanie Krebs LT’15
Crystal Lauderdale LT’15
Laren Menendez LT’15
Neal Anderson LT’16
Susan Mendelson LT’16
Yvette Segura LT’16
Lauren Valiente LT’16
Josh Bomstein LT’17
Andrea Cichon LT’17
Casey Coy LT’17
Michael Ferrone LT’17
Ryan Garlow LT’17
Jason Grinstead LT’17
Nicole Leontsinus LT’17
Julia Ruddock LT’17
Meredith Seeley LT’17
Ethan Shapiro LT’17
Erica Shea LT’17
John Thompson LT’17
Kelly Warhola LT’17
Randall Woods LT’17
Glenn Zimmerman LT’17

Leadership Tampa Alumni Establishes Thom Stork Memorial Hospitality Scholarship

Today, Leadership Tampa Alumni announced the establishment of the Thom Stork Memorial Hospitality Scholarship.  Stork was President and CEO of the Florida Aquarium until his passing earlier this year.  Prior to his work at the Aquarium, he served in many leadership roles with Busch Gardens and Sea World.  For many years, he served as the Chair of Tourism Day for Leadership Tampa and was an advocate for the participation of tourism leaders in the program.  The scholarship will be open to applicants who work in the tourism industry and have a demonstrated history of volunteerism. 

Members of Leadership Tampa are business/professional people who hold leadership positions within their companies or organizations. Additionally, they have demonstrated a concern for community issues and volunteered their time with service and professional organizations. The selection process is rigorous and competitive for each of the 50 seats available in each class.  

The Leadership Tampa year begins in September and runs through May with members meeting every other week for briefings, seminars and hands-on experiences. Each Leadership Tampa program brings in top-level business, civic and government leaders for panel discussions and question and answer sessions. Topics covered include healthcare, education, law enforcement, the environment, economic development, government and other important community issues.  Applications are currently being accepted for the Class of 2018, the deadline is May 5.

For the specific criteria of the Thom Stork Memorial Hospitality Scholarship or more information about Leadership Tampa, please contact MaryBeth Williams at (813) 276-9445 or at