LTA Member Profile

Troy Manthey

President and CEO, Yacht StarShip Cruises & Events

Troy Manthey took the helm of the 180-foot, $8-million luxury dining vessel, Yacht Starship, shortly after its construction in 2000 in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Manthey discovered Tampa in January 2001 when Yacht StarShip was chartered for the world-class annual Gasparilla Invasion/Celebration for Superbowl weekend. Shortly afterward, he permanently relocated the Yacht StarShip to Tampa Bay’s vibrant Channelside entertainment district in downtown Tampa.  In May 2007, Yacht Starship opened its 2nd location in Clearwater Beach with the Yacht Starship II and has subsequently added Yacht Starship III (2014) and Yacht Starship IV (2016).  In 2009 Mr. Manthey became the sole owner of Yacht Starship Dining Cruises, LLC, which employees 145 people. February 2016, Yacht Starship opened Pirate Water Taxi, LLC a daily water taxi service with 15 stops and (5) vessels in Downtown Tampa. Most recently (February 2020), Yacht StarShip added a pirate ship, Lost Pearl, to its fleet of dining yachts and water taxis in Downtown Tampa.

Since 2001, Manthey has developed deep roots in Tampa Bay’s civic and business communities. Serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Visit Tampa Bay, Immediate Past Chair of Friends of the Riverwalk (Board), Hillsborough County Hotel Motel Association (Board), Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association -Pinellas Chapter (Board), Port of Tampa Maritime Industries Association (Board) and S.S. American Victory Ship (Board). Manthey is a Leadership Tampa graduate 2003

The Tampa Bay Chamber awarded Yacht StarShip Dining Cruises the 2016 Small Business of the Year in the 51-250 Employee category. Manthey was awarded the Ambassador of the Year for tourism in Hillsborough County in 2017.

Manthey holds a Captain’s license from the United States Coast Guard as Master (inland) and 1st Class Pilot – Any Gross Ton.  Manthey is a 5th generation Passenger Vessel Operator and Captain, who’s family started in the Passenger Steamboat business in 1884. Manthey currently resides in Tampa with his wife Jill and two sons Jack and Patrick, adult daughter Lindsey resides in New Orleans.

LTA Committees

COMMUNITY OUTREACH
The committee is charged with developing volunteer opportunities to reinforce LTA`s mission of “Leaders in Action,” by connecting, promoting, and exposing LTA participants to service organizations and events in the community to further a vibrant Tampa. In 2020, this committee will continue their partnership with Memorial Middle School.
MARKETING 
The committee, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Chamber, is responsible for assisting in the communication and coordination of marketing and successfully communicating to members and prospective members the mission of LTA and opportunities for involvement. This committee also assists LTA social media content development, publication of the monthly newsletter and producing the LTA annual review.
MEMBERSHIP
The committee oversees the annual LTA membership renewal drive and is responsible for the retention and engagement of LTA members as well as the integration of the new Leadership Tampa class.
PROGRAMS
The committee provides personal and professional opportunities via LTA programming that enriches the lives of LTA participants while considering the Chamber’s Leadership Programs journey and the 2026 Vision plan.
SPONSORSHIP
The committee assists in securing annual LTA sponsorships as well as ensuring proper sponsor acknowledgement and recognition throughout the year and at featured events.
If you are interested in joining a committee for 2020, please email LTA@tampabaychamber.com for more information.

2020 LTA Renewals

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This list is for PAID 2020 LTA Dues as of 2/10/20 . If your name is NOT on this list, then you have not paid your 2020 LTA Dues yet.

Abou-Jaoude Daniel 2017
Acosta Jolyon 2018
Adkins Josh 2018
Agliano Stephanie 2009
Akers Dean 1988
Ames Jeffrey 2011
Andersen J. Carter 2006
Anderson Neal 2016
Anderson Roger LEAD Brevard ’19
Androff Katie 2019
Arnhym Rolfe 2013
Arnold Karen 2002
Arnold William 2004
Arthur Douglas 2004
Astrab John 2017
Atlas Troy 2007
August Lindsay 2015
Azzarelli Bret 1996
Bachman Joseph 2012
Bailey Eric 2004
Baldy Anderson 1998
Bare Beatriz 1999
Baskette Patrick 2005
Basurto Mark 2007
Bauman Debra 2005
Becka Aimee 2019
Bercaw Lee 2017
Berman Ceci 2013
Bertram John 2010
Bever J. Andrew 1994
Beveridge Cathy 2000
Biesinger Nancy 1997
Bincarousky Robert 2016
Blasco Michael 2012
Bode David 2013
Bokor Kelsey Honorary
Bomstein Josh 2017
Brandes Karl 1996
Braue Larry 2016
Brenner Hank 1991
Briant Tammy 2014
Bricklemyer Clayton 2013
Brittain Charlotte 2010
Britton Julie 1997
Brock Heather 2018
Brown Dolly 2004
Brown Gregory 2008
Brown Jeanetta 2006
Broyles Edna 2009
Bryant Gregory 1999
Buesing Robert 1994
Bugallo-Muros Mariana 2019
Bullock Josh 2012
Busbee Stephen 2010
Butler Brian 2016
Butler Sean 2004
Byczek John 2001
Callahan Charles 2014
Campbell Amelia 1996
Cannella Joseph 2001
Capece David 2014
Carr Ali 2012
Carrasco Amy 2013
Carroll Jason 2011
Carter Janette 2019
Casey Kimberly 2002
Castellvi Wyatt 2019
Chappell Colleen 1999
Chase-Tozer Kristy 2017
Chernoff Jeff 2016
Christaldi Ronald 2003
Clark James Leadership Jacksonville ’94
Clark Jim Leadership Jacksonville ’94
Clark Jim 1992
Clark Robert 1997
Clark Robert 1979
Clay Martyn 2014
Clinebell Donamae 2004
Collado Lisete 2003
Collins-Garcia Holly 2003
Colvenbach Mark 2012
Combs Sarah 2012
Coniglio Sean 2006
Cooley Thomas 2000
Cotton Tina 2013
Cowan Karen 2017
Cox Linda 2014
Crouch Laura 2015
Currence Jennifer 2015
Danco Sharon 2005
Daniel Jeremy 2015
Davis Janice 1995
Davis Julius 2015
Davis Paul 2004
DeBosier Kim 1993
DeLaVergne John 2015
DeLaVergne Robin 1984
Delgado Ruben 2019
Dempsey Megan 2019
DePiro Adam 2018
DeVaney David 2010
Devine Linda 2010
Dibbs Scott 2007
Dierks Katherine 2015
Dietrich Donald Leadership Toledo ’03
Dixon Deirdre 2005
Domino Tracie 2012
Donlon Katherine 2004
Dugan Brian 2015
duPont Thomas 1984
Eastman Chris 2003
Efaw Stacey 2014
Eichenholtz Marc 2005
Ellison Sam 1998
Erdman Al 2016
Erhardt Bruce 1996
Esquivel Julio 2012
Evans Gina 2019
Farkas Emily 2018
Feeman David 2006
Feinman Rachel 2018
Feldman Bret 2014
Feldman Randy 1989
Fender Brian 2007
Ferguson Irene G.M. 2001
Fluharty Stephen 1982
Ford Jerry 2000
Ford Timothy 2016
Foster Nikki 2018
Fowler Maggie 2016
Frazier Katherine 2003
Freeman Meredith 2017
Freeman Jr. Joseph 2019
Frost Laura Orlando ’87/Leadership Tampa Bay ’04
Fuente Jaret 2014
Fultz Todd 2013
Gardner T. Truett 2010
Germann Roger Insight Tampa ’19
Ghannadian Frank 2009
Gibbons Timothy 1998
Gibertini Cami 2004
Gilner Scott 2015
Glover Christine 2018
Goetz Kari 2018
Gonzalez Cheryl Leadership Jacksonville ’12
Gough Robert 2002
Graham Andrea 1994
Gray Stanley Valley Leadership/Phoenix’97
Green B. Lee 2010
Grieco Steven 2013
Griffin Melanie 2016
Griffin Michael 2004
Grimaldi A.J. 1979
Grinstead Jason 2017
Grinstead Lindsay 2018
Grove Steven 2007
Hackman James 1998
Hahn David 2014
Halpern Joshua 1999
Haney Mark 2010
Haney R. Reid 1996
Hapner Elizabeth 1997
Harding Timothy 2008
Hart Misha 2007
Hartigan Jake 2015
Harvey Felicia 2016
Hawker Nicole 2017
Hendricks Brian 2012
Hendrix David 2017
Hennig Elizabeth 2013
Hero Lorrie Transfer
Higbee R. Alan 1988
Hill Kevin 2012
Hill S. Gordon 2010
Himes Fraser 1985
Hindman Dara 2015
Hintson Michele 2019
Hirst Audrey 2004
Ho Patrick 2009
Hoffman Dale 2018
Holley Suzy 2000
Holmes Miray 2017
Hooker Michael 1990
Ho-Pehling Lilly 2005
Hosmanek Rob 2015
House Mark 1998
Howell George 1989
Huber Robyn 2011
Huckaby Richard 2011
Huszar Paul 2015
Hyde Robert 2015
Iannarelli Juliane 2011
Izzi Barb 2001
Jacob Dianne 1992
Jacob Jim 1997
Jacobson Rebecca Seté 2011
Jarred Scott 2006
Jefferson Kay 2016
Jenkins Andrew 2016
Jennewein Jonathan 2000
Jensen J. Michael 1995
Judd David 2018
Judy James 2013
Kalish William 1986
Kaptzan Alex 2015
Karlo Chris 2010
Keith Kyle 2012
Keller William 2006
Kent Dean 2015
Ketchum Elena 2019
Kinsey-Sallis LaKisha 2018
Koehler Martha Kaye 1993
Kramer Gerri 2016
Kraskow Michael 2010
Krebs Stephanie 2015
Kubal Timothy 2015
Kumar Nagi 2006
Kynes John 2004
Lamoureux John 2007
Lang Susan 1993
Lansrud Lance 2015
LaRocco Jennifer 2018
Latta Bill 1984
Lauderdale Crystal 2015
Law Rhea 1991
Lawson Bryan 2014
Lay Fred 2014
Lay Laura 2016
Lechner David 2019
Ledford Robert 2008
Lee Irvin 2004
Lenker Mark 1983
Leontsinis Nicole 2017
Lester Robin Charlotte’84
Lewis Caleb 2011
Loar Chad 2013
Lokey JoLynn 2014
Long Crawford Leadership Greenville ’02
Loos David 2018
Lopez Liana 2006
Lowman Rita Insight Tampa ’19
Lundberg Debbie 2013
MacInnes Michael 2002
Maher Leslie 2013
Mahoney Mary Decker 1995
Manthey Jill 2010
Manthey Troy 2003
Markham Holly 2019
Marquart Ernest 2008
Marrs Melody 2005
Marshall Amanda 2019
Marshall Drew 2012
Martin Merritt 2013
Martinez Adrian 2013
Martinez-Monfort Luis 2015
Marulanda Richard 2016
Maseda-Sainz Grace 2019
Maurer Susan 2014
Mayts Andrew 2010
McCleland Maggie 2017
McHenry Charlotte 2019
McIntosh Andrew 2011
McLaren Scott 2005
McNamara Patrick 1998
Mendelson Susan 2016
Mendez Janet 2006
Menendez Lauren 2015
Meyer George 2000
Millette Leah 2018
Mintrone C. J. 2013
Monteith April 2010
Montgomery Douglas 2009
Moser Patricia 2008
Moss Jason 2013
Mullen John 2012
Murphy Brian 2005
Murphy Jennifer 2012
Newman Nancy 2000
Nissen Lori 2011
Noble Ronald 2002
Nolan Scott 2016
Norstrem Edward 2017
O’Donnell Todd 2016
Oliva Bert 2010
Oliver Deborah 2015
Olson Linda 2018
O’Malley Keith 2019
Orchard James 2000
Oscher Steven 1982
Osiason Mimi LeadershipFlorida
Palmer Sara 2018
Pariseau Robert 1995
Parker Judson 2010
Parks Penny 2017
Parnell-Longphee Terri 2019
Partlow Eric 2013
Pasteur Dustin 2018
Patel Aakash 2012
Payne Rebecca Leadership Shenango
Pehling John 1998
Pence Scott 2015
Persky Mary 2004
Phillips Christine 2000
Pina Olga 2003
Pittman Stacey 2018
Pless Eric Leadership Ann Arbor ’05
Poff Patrick 2008
Pollack Woodrow 2013
Pond Deborah 2019
Popovich Donna 1992
Porter Jim 1999
Porter Linda 2014
Porto-Duarte Maria 2017
Powell Melissa 2006
Powers Benjamin 2019
Preast Kevin 2018
Prescott Randy 2018
Preston Donald 1989
Quintero Jason 2013
Rabelo Wallrapp Ana 2004
Raines Erik 2019
Razler Lisa 2014
Reid Randall 2014
Remund Lynda 2005
Renshaw Al 2016
Reyes Chris 2014
Reynolds Clara 1999
Richards Darren 2012
Richey Larry 1994
Rief Frank 1973
Rieger Jarett 2012
Ritenour Cherry 2016
Robbins David 2014
Roberts C.J. 2007
Roberts Natalie 2018
Robertson Bridget 2004
Rogers Christopher 2017
Rohrlack Bob Leadership Gainesville ’89
Rollison Dana 2016
Romano Jeanine 2019
Ross Ann McKeel 1982
Ross Wendy 2014
Ruble Randi 2007
Russo Jacalin 2012
Salazar Richard 2015
Sandridge Hala 2006
Sansone Amanda Arnold 2011
Schackne Michael 2019
Schimmel Seth 2005
Schwartz John 2015
Schwartz Kay 2018
Seaberg Danielle Nunez 2010
Seeley Meredith 2017
Segel Mark 2005
Segura Yvette 2016
Serovich Julie 2014
Shahnasarian Michael 1992
Shapiro Ethen 2017
Sharp Shelley 2019
Sharpton Patrick 2016
Shea Erica 2017
Shear Stephen 1997
Shivers Olin 1997
Shouppe Clint 2016
Shukur Kevin 1996
Shumate Brown Tamara 1996
Siling Jane 1997
Silvest Melissa 2016
Simmons Bemetra 2013
Sims Kelley 2012
Sladek Ryan 2016
Smith Brian 2004
Smith Norwood 2009
Spratling Kareem 2012
Stanford Steven 2011
Stefany David 1995
Stevenson Deborah 2000
Stewart Eric 2018
Stockon Chase 1999
Stone Deborah 2009
Suarez Jankes Jennifer 2019
Sullivan Joanne 1991
Sullivan Timon 1991
Sutton Kevin 2006
Sweeney Eileen 2014
Swenson Scott 2011
Tagliarini Deborah 1994
Tamargo Ted 2016
Taylor Wayne 2015
Terrill Lucy 2015
Thomas Adam 2019
Thomas Gregg 1984
Thomas Natalie 2014
Thompson John 2017
Thompson Susan 2018
Tiernan Chuck 2018
Timmel John 1991
Tindale Steven 1985
Tomaino Joe 1980
Tomashot Nick Tempe Leadership ’16
Tomlin Holly 2005
Tremonti Yvette 2009
Tucker Marshall 2018
Turner Christine 2007
Turner James 1991
Tyson Roaya 2008
Uliano Amanda 2013
Urofsky JoAnn 2000
Ursini Louis 2012
Valiente Jose 1998
Valiente Lauren 2016
Vaughn Renée 1993
Vaughn Ronald Central Illinois-Peoria1979
Vazquez Eli 2018
Veit Ginny 2018
Visot Cynthia 2005
Vostrejs Caroline 2018
Wainman Jennifer 2015
Walden Scott 2017
Walker Toi 2017
Wallace Terri Leadership Broward ’06
Walters R. Kenneth 2000
Ward Eric 2016
Warren Jeffrey 1973
Wartenberg Philip 2009
Wertz Monnie 2019
Whelihan Jennifer 2018
Whitaker Allison 2005
White Dierdre 2016
Whiting Monica Leadership Jacksonville ’13
Whyte W. Don 1988
Williams Calvin 2017
Williams Jennifer 2002
Williams Kimberley 2016
Wilson Kiana 2018
Wirth Steven 2019
Witecki Jill 2014
Witte India Waller 2012
Wolfe John 2008
Wolfson Mark 2000
Wood Andrew 2019
Wood Thomas 2001
Woodroffe Enrique 1990
Woods Randall 2017
Woody Jason 2014
Woollard Kim 2014
Wynn Ocea 2016
Yadley Gregory 1988
Yarborough Brian 2016
Yeagley Jenn 2018
Yepez Fabian 2019
Yunger Adele 2011
Zabak Elizabeth 2013
Zarate Rene 1992
Zarzycki-Andrews Kelly 2015
Zelman Andrea 2010
Zimmerman Glenn 2017
Zinober Peter 1981

Leadership (T)Amplified

The Vault filled with so many people April 23 the crowd began to spill out on to Franklin Street. Inside the event venue, balloons bounced off ankles, people posed for photos and dance hits filled the air. Folks readily fulfilled Earth, Wind & Fire’s musical request, Let’s Groove Tonight. For most, the festivities represented a monumental moment for Tampa: the election of a new mayor. For Leadership Tampa Alumni, however, the victory party for Jane Castor held special meaning. When the former Tampa Police chief defeated David Straz, she became the first Leadership Tampa Alumnus to hold the city’s highest office. 
One of our leaders now leads us all.
The significance wasn’t lost on Castor, winner of the 2016 LTA 2016 Parke Wright III Award. In the glow of the win, while still trying to catch her breath, she reflected on the role her Leadership Tampa experience played in helping her earn the trust and confidence needed to become the city’s 59th mayor.
A lot of LTA folks are taking great pride in your election. Are we right to think your LT experience contributed and will continue to contribute to your new role? 
There is no doubt that my Leadership Tampa experience helped guide me into the Office of the Mayor. I have never hesitated to tell everyone that Leadership Tampa is the best experience that I had while at the police department. From the amazing things I learned about my hometown (was surprised there was so much that I was unaware of), to the networking opportunities – it was all great.
I attended LT’00, greatest class ever! The connections and friendships made during my LT experience are still alive and well after almost 20 years. It really is an incredible program that benefits individuals, businesses and our community on a number of levels.
What’s the biggest thing you learned in LTA? 
Best lesson learned from LT was that Tampa is, at the same time, a large metropolitan city and a small town. We have the amenities and cultural experiences of the larger American cities and the friendliness and charm of a small town. My vision is to grow the city without losing our identity.
Were there LTA members who supported your campaign (a few attended the victory party)? What did that support mean to you? 
Just about everyone from my LT class supported me as the chief and during my campaign for mayor. Our class has remained very close – supporting each other’s causes (my two Humane Society rescue dogs stand as proof of my support for Nancy Newman LT’00), business, socializing, being there in times of need and just staying in touch.
As a point of position, now that I am “honorable,” I would like to make public the fact that Rudy Fernandez (LT’00) owes me big time. He personally held just under 100 mayoral debates/forums (may be a slight exaggeration) and I attended them all! Having the support of my LT classmates means the world to me. The personal and professional diversity of each class means that there is always someone to call upon no matter the need. I have advocated for LT since graduation and will continue to do so in any fashion they need.
Leadership Tampa is the best program that I have been involved with and the experience has continued to pay dividends both personally and professionally. Not sure if I mentioned that LT’00 was the best class ever.
Ernest Hooper, LT’03
2018 Newsletter/Annual Review Chair
Editor and Columnist, Tampa Bay Times
Follow him @hoop4you

Leadership (T)Amplified

The red and white striped pinafore dress gave birth to Denise Young’s desire to serve oh so many years ago. The first time she walked into Miami’s Mercy Hospital as a 14-year-old candy striper, she started developing a heart for helping, and that drive continues today for the Leadership Tampa Class of 2003 class champion.
So, when Young made up her mind to help a new nonprofit, you knew it had to be special. Year Up is a national bridge program for young adults that recently expanded to St. Petersburg. They work to close the occupational divide between people 18-24 who long to work but don’t necessarily have the training and businesses that struggle to find viable candidates for jobs that pay a livable wage.
Year Up’s students are trained for IT and business jobs with a focus on professional etiquette. They’re asked to come each day professionally dressed, and the program launched a clothing drive to help outfit its newest participants. When Denise learned of the drive, she flew into action and asked if I could meet her and some of the program’s leaders at Hawkers in St. Petersburg. How could I tell my LT ’03 classmate no?
The next thing I know, I’m literally writing a column in between bites of food. The Year Up officials said the column did indeed spark interest in the clothing drive, and Denise herself got several companies she works with as a construction business consultant to contribute. And, I ended up giving a presentation to the latest cohort about the power of writing and the need to avoid pitfalls as they rise up.
I can’t say I’m surprised. When Denise reaches out, guided by that heartfelt longing to make a difference she first developed at Mercy Hospital, I always answer the call. It’s an approach that should typify Leadership Tampa Alumni. We need to lean on each other to elevate goals and achieve missions that mean the most to us.
We shouldn’t just remember the good times from years gone by, we should answer the call and strengthen the bonds that united us at the beginning.
That’s all I’m saying.
hoop
Ernest Hooper, LT’03
2018 Newsletter/Annual Review Chair
Editor and Columnist, Tampa Bay Times
Follow him @hoop4you

Leadership (T)Amplified

TAMPLIFIED FOR TEACHERS
By Ernest Hooper
The Hillsborough Education Foundation and Hillsborough County Public Schools partner every year to celebrate “Excellence in Education” and recognize some of the school district’s most deserving employees.

 

The event annually celebrates outstanding teachers, school diversity contributors and instructional support personnel. It draws thousands to the David A. Straz Center.

 

Yet what all those people don’t know is the event has doubled as a Leadership Tampa 2003 reunion.

 

For the past four years, I’ve had the honor of hosting the event. Bruce Faulmann, the Tampa Bay Times’ vice president of advertising/marketing, has watched from the audience for each of those award celebrations as a member of the education foundation. For the past three years, Suncoast Credit Union vice president Gary Vien has joined me on stage as the presenter for the instructional support award finalists. The credit union serves as the event’s primary sponsor.

 

Bruce, Gary and I spent a magical year together as members of the Leadership Tampa 2003 class. Everyone in LTA insists their class was the best, and we’re no different. We spent days immersed in various aspects of city dynamics, and evenings in debriefings, debating everything from politics to sports.

 

At the time, Bruce worked for the Times’ rival, the Tampa Tribune, and Gary toiled for Busch Gardens. Now Bruce is with the Times and Gary works for Suncoast. Of course, we’re still the same guys, albeit a little older and wiser. We’re always excited to see each other at the event, and excited to help the foundation.

 

As a HEF board member for many years, I see firsthand HEF’s impact on the school district, its teachers and students through their many programs from the Teaching Tools Store to scholarship and mentoring,” Bruce told me after the event. “But absolutely my favorite is our celebration of Hillsborough County’s best teachers and staff at our annual Excellence in Education awards.”

 

This year, the theme was “A Night in Paris,” so I donned a beret. Truth be told I looked more like Rerun from What’s Happening and little like a French gentleman. That’s okay. If humbling myself by resembling a 1980s sitcom star leads to honoring teachers, I’m all for it.

 

It’s always an inspiring evening with many moving moments the ceremony always produces. A student escort introduces each of the finalists, and the kids frequently offer cute but poignant tributes. The teachers gush and blush and the winners never fail to bring emotion to the podium.

 

“The evening warms your heart and takes you from laughter to tears,” Bruce said. “The kids can sell! You’re rooting for them all.

 

“Adding to awesomeness of the evening is watching my talented LT ’03 classmates. Hoop, aka Rerun, as the ever-charming emcee, and Gary, as the presenting sponsor, representing Suncoast Credit Union. Both could stand-in for Pat Sajak or Alex Trebek if either needed a night off.”

 

This year, when the Ida S. Baker Diversity Award winner, Newsome High’s Sandra Misciasci, heard her name called she sobbed and offered a long list of tearful thank yous. Gary and I could only look at each other and think, “This is what this event is all about. This is why we show up every year.”
“Never could I imagine back in 2003 while at Leadership Tampa, that I would be presenting at the 2019 Excellence in Education awards with others from our Leadership Tampa Class. Being able to congratulate 678 nominees and the 13 finalists is very heartwarming.”

“This is Tampa. This is why we continue to give back. What a fantastic journey and one that continues to give back as much as you put in to a city focused on the future.”

As Leadership Tampa Alumni looks to create a partnership with the district, I think it would be thrilling to have a larger contingent of LTA members at this event next year. We can come to not only show our support for the current education system, but to embrace the concept of paying it forward and thanking the teachers who helped change the trajectory of our own lives.

 

It would be great if I could look out from that stage next year and thank LTA for its support and recognize more than just Bruce and Gary.

 

That’s all I’m saying.

Ernest Hooper, LT’03
2018 Newsletter/Annual Review Chair
Editor and Columnist, Tampa Bay Times
Follow him @hoop4you

Leadership (T)Amplified

Mark House hasn’t jumped out of a plane since leaving the U.S. Army in 1985, but not a day goes by he doesn’t refer to the experience or his days as a West Point cadet.
“West Point gave me my foundation,” said House, the managing director and director of strategic projects for the Beck Group, an architectural, engineering and construction firm.
“My parents first and foremost, but West Point really gave me a lot of the core values, professional values that I use every day.”
House often calls on the leadership qualities instilled in him by his mother, Sue House, and his father, the late Army colonel and fellow West Point graduate, Joe House. And those qualities have served him well as a businessman and a community leader.
He’s twice served as chair of the Hillsborough County Economic Development Corporation, is a board member at ZooTampa, guided the Leadership Tampa Class of 2013 as its chair, and currently holds a spot on the West Point Association of Graduates Board.
His work recently led to him winning the prestigious Leadership Tampa Alumni Parke Wright III Leadership Award. House spoke to Ernest Hooper about winning the award, leadership and what LTA means to him.
How surprised were you?
I was completely shocked. I borrowed a coat to come. There was a guy in the office who does work for us. Someone said you’ve got to go to this luncheon because we’re giving an award to one of our subcontractor partners. They said you need to be there for that. This is 30 minutes before the luncheon. There’s a young man in the lobby that does a lot of work for us. He’s a consultant. I didn’t have a sport coat. I looked at him. He’s my size. I said, “What are you doing today at lunchtime? I need to borrow your coat.” I got to the luncheon and sat down and it wasn’t until I turned and saw my wife standing by the wall and realized something was up.
They came in just a little bit too early.
Yeah. Then, I was reflecting on it and every time I went to one, somebody gave a great, big long nice speech. I thought, I’m screwed. Then, I started trying to put some things together. My legs were shaking. My calves were twitching.
That’s surprising to see a leader like you a bit unnerved.
Well, it was about me. It’s usually about everybody else. You’re very, very honored, but you’re going, “This is about me and I’m about everybody else. I love everybody else.” It was very humbling, especially when you have the people speaking in the video. To hear the things they said really choked me up. You see everybody very frequently and people don’t say emotional things to each other.
We don’t say I love you enough.
That’s one thing about I love you – man, woman, whatever – you talk to people I work with and I tell them I love them. They’re my family as much as my real family. So, I got pretty emotional.
You support a lot of causes. Which one are you most passionate about?
It has changed a little bit. Right now, I’m on the board of advisors for West Point. That’s my current passion. But in 2008, when the recession came, it was devastating for our industry. Unemployment in Tampa went from about 4 percent, and our industry it was less than that. But by 2010-2012, in the architecture, engineering, construction industry, it was in the 40 percent range. It was devastating. Our annual revenue dropped by 70 percent. We dropped our total employee base by 70 percent, from 140 local employees down to 25. During that time, nobody did anything wrong. People were working as hard as they could. There just wasn’t any work. If you don’t have any work, you can’t build anything. Some people changed industries. They moved out of town. I felt like the only thing I could do was lead the way by trying to create work.
So you decided to move into Tampa Heights?
We put a stake in the ground. We needed to be in a place where we designed and built a cool building and we needed to be in a place where we could make an impact, try to give back and be the first people out there. We weren’t the very first, but we were pretty close to it. So, I got very involved in the EDC, which was part of the Chamber’s old Committee of 100. I chaired that for a couple of years and did everything I possibly could to try to get companies to come to town. If a company would come to town, it didn’t necessarily mean we would build anything for them, but it created this kind of a pyramid you know, they came and trickle down happened.
What did you learn?
I learned more and more about the city. I thought I knew a lot about the city. I thought I knew a lot about people. But during that time, it was, “Hey man, we gotta all lock arms together and figure out ways in which we can help our community grow and get out of this recession.” I got some great friends out of that. You know, in hard times when people bond together, you end up having some really, really good friends.
I always say Tampa is the biggest small town in America. Do you agree with that?
Yes, I do. In my job now, I’m responsible for our strategic projects throughout the company: our healthcare business, our life science business, which is the pharmaceutical business and I travel around to all our different offices. We have offices in Denver, Fort Worth, Dallas, our headquarters, Austin, Charlotte, Atlanta and Mexico City. I’m biased, but this is the place that I want to be. We’re not a small city anymore. We’re competing on the stage and we’re starting to act like that. It used to be the best kept secret in America. It’s not a secret anymore. People go, “Oh, you’re from Tampa.” They know about Tampa.
What’s been the biggest benefit of Leadership Tampa and Leadership Tampa Alumni?
When I went through Leadership Tampa, it was the hook that said look at all this stuff that Tampa does. There’s so much more about Tampa than you could ever know. In Leadership Tampa, you had 55 classmates that you became really good friends with. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t see somebody who was a classmate. It’s probably the single best organizational experience that you can have in in Tampa. And if you call a Leadership Tampa classmate or an alum, they’ll pick up the phone. That’s something that’s very important.

Ernest Hooper, LT’03
2018 Newsletter/Annual Review Chair
Editor and Columnist, Tampa Bay Times
Follow him @hoop4you