Leadership (T)amplified

Greetings! My name is Lance Lansrud, Broker and Owner of Agentry Real Estate. Tampa is home; I grew up in South Tampa, returned a few years after graduating from college, and have been here since. About 17 years ago I left my career in commercial banking to begin one in real estate, and it has been incredibly rewarding. Community service has been of utmost importance to me since I was a kid, and that remains true today. I have been very actively involved in the Tampa Bay Chamber for approximately six years, commencing with my experience as a member of the Leadership Tampa Class of 2015. Following the class year, I immediately became involved with the committee for Community Outreach Day, one of the first program days in the LT year. Subsequently I became Chair for that program day, was extremely involved in the LTA Community Outreach Committee where I ultimately served as Chair, have served on numerous LT class selection committees, and so forth. I have cherished my experiences with LT and LTA, and have met some outstanding people whom I feel extremely fortunate to call friends.
Tell us a little about your experience as the Chair of Leadership Tampa Class of 2020.
Serving as Chair for the Leadership Tampa Class of 2020 was a humbling experience, and I feel honored to have been a part of this extraordinary group of people. As an organization, we strive to take business and industry leaders who are change agents within the community, and broaden their scope so as to help them further their ability to make transformative change within our greater community. Witnessing them, individually and collectively, go through this process was an incredible experience. People connected the dots on countless issues, and they are working both together and within their respective professional institutions to take what they have learned, and do something meaningful with it; big and small. Leading the group through the year was not always easy, but felt in many ways effortless, which I attribute to the enthusiasm of the class and the extremely high-quality programming of the days. The LT20 year ended abruptly and early due to COVID-19, but the class handled the huge disappointment with grace. I am proud of this wonderful collective of people, and feel exceedingly fortunate to count them as new friends.
How would you describe the personality of the group?
Kind, caring, engaged, and ready to embrace challenges. During the opening retreat, I challenged the class to consider themselves to be like a family; we would have times of joy and sorrow over the course of the year, both individually and collectively, and we needed to be there to support each other through those times. The joys are easy of course, but it is the tough times where you really see true colors. Some of our class members did face some serious adversity, and the class as a body rallied behind them. It was beautiful, and the class really emerged as a bonded group, with care and support for each other.
What is the one thing about this year’s class you will never forget?
COVID-19 put an end to the year, as it did for many things as we know it. Our last day of the year, as it came to be, was Healthcare Day. We made a last minute shift away from the planned day so as to include some really frank conversations about COVID-19, and it was fascinating to hear what executives and leaders within our healthcare community had to say. Now, only two months removed from that day, it would be intriguing to hear what they would say, or even if they would have welcomed us into their facilities, hindsight being 20/20.
What was your biggest challenge?
Very personally, my marriage became irretrievably broken as the LT20 year was being created, followed by separation and divorce, all during the LT20 year. I kept that from the class (a few people knew), because it was their year and it was to be about them. Chairing the class takes a huge commitment of time, along with an investment of personal energy and care to help massage the dynamics and keep things moving smoothly. Balancing all of that, with my own personal struggle, was by far my biggest challenge. Witnessing the care, love, and respect the LT20 class members shared for each other and for our community was a tremendous gift to me in what was a personally difficult time, and it gave me strength to keep moving forward.
For you, what separates LT from other business leadership programs?  
The greater leadership body behind the Leadership Tampa program takes the application and selection process very, very seriously. We are very committed to our efforts to assemble a diverse collective of seasoned business leaders, who demonstrate their concern for our community by way of active and sincere community activism and leadership. Continuing to market our organization and pitch it as such is paramount in continuing this legacy, as this facet (beyond our excellent curriculum and content) is in fact one of the major differentiators between LT and other business leadership programs.
Describe how chairing this year’s class has impacted your life or career?  
Relationships with others are something I greatly treasure, and I feel very blessed to have created many wonderful new relationships within the LT20 class.
What is an LT benefit you wish everyone knew about? 
Leadership Tampa Alumni Association, of course! The ongoing work and energies created during the LT year can be continued and developed by way of LTA. There are so many wonderful, like-minded leaders within LTA, and forging new relationships with those folks while providing service to our greater community are one of many benefits to be recognized following your LT commitment.
What advice do you have for the Chair of Leadership Tampa Class of 2021?
Jill Manthey, the Vice-Chair for LT20, will be Chair for LT21. We have become good friends through this process, and I sincerely appreciate her kindness, work, support, and partnership through this process. I encourage Jill to be strong-handed in order to maintain the integrity and quality of the program, softer-handed in letting the year rollout in terms of how the class responds to and engages in the year, and keep laughing through the messy times while keeping it at bay from the class. I would also welcome her to call me for anything.

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

Leadership (T)Amplified

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