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.

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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.

Wow.

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.

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

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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 www.ltalumni.org.

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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
Kyle Keith LT’12 IBERIABANK
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

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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 mwilliams@tampachamber.com.

Pedals for a Purpose

by Kerry O’Reilly, LT ‘15

lta-on-bikes          lta-tamplified-pic

lta-tom-larossiWe sat down with Tom Iarossi (LT’15) Area Manager at the Tampa Commercial Division of Wharton-Smith, Inc. and board member with Onbikes, a Tampa-based nonprofit that delivers new bicycles to at-risk and foster children in our community. Tom told us all about the inspiration for this unique local charity.

I understand you and some friends got the organization going. How did that happen?

Onbikes started in 2011 when a small group of friends got together and went on a bike ride. Everyone had a great time as the experience immediately sent us back to our youth and served as a reminder of the significance something as simple as a bike can have on the psyche of a child. Bikes provide a sense of freedom, responsibility, and self-reliance all while also promoting health and wellness. So we basically took that experience and decided it was important enough to share with everyone. We started organizing community bike rides, and as participation grew we directed the fundraising efforts toward our cause and from there Winter Wonder Ride was born.

Tell us about Winter Wonder Ride?

The Winter Wonder Ride is our biggest fundraiser of the year and took place in December. We had more than 2,500 participating in the ride down Bayshore before the after-hour celebration took over. The ride takes place shortly after our annual bike build at Amalie Arena where we assemble all the bikes purchased for eventual distribution to the kids. This past build saw more than 700 people including city officials, community volunteers and corporate sponsors come together to assemble 800 bicycles!

What would you suggest to someone thinking of starting a non-profit?

From my experience, I would suggest picking a purpose or cause that you’re passionate about and just stick with it. Charity and nonprofit work can certainly be challenging at times. It takes a lot of determination and hard work, and there isn’t always a thank you waiting on the other end to help justify your efforts. But the reward for us is truly embedded in the task and seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces quickly makes it all worthwhile. We like to say: “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a kid a bike, and that’s pretty close.”

Any upcoming events where someone could get involved?

In conjunction with one of our community partners, The Tampa Police Department, we plan on hosting a number of bike rodeos throughout the year to promote bicycle safety and awareness. We expect the first will be sometime in Q1 of 2017. Please monitor the website onbikes.org or Facebook for updates. You can also email us at info@onbikes.org. Donations and volunteer sign-ups can be made throughout the year on our website.

Kerry O’Reilly, Leadership Tampa ’15, is the Marketing Director for the Tampa Bay Times and Politifact.