LT’18 Government and Transportation Day

Jennifer LaRocco, GrayRobinson, P.A.

From the County Commission Chambers to the streets and sidewalks of Tampa, Government and Transportation Day gave our class in-depth (and hands on) perspectives on both the obstacles and the opportunities facing Tampa Bay as our local governments grapple with one of the area’s most stubborn challenges – transportation.  To round the day out, our friends from LT ’17 brought us goats…

The day began at the Chamber with presentations from Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman (Chair, District 1) and Tampa City Council Member Luis Viera (District 7).  Commissioner Murman began by putting today’s transportation discussion into historical context; Hillsborough County has more than 50 transportation plans in the last 25 years.  For current plans to have a chance, we will need to overcome the biggest challenges facing any plan, where to find funding and how to convince constituents to buy in.  Commissioner Murman’s approach is to focus on phased implementation building on achievable goals, from expanding ridership on existing modes of transportation like HART to building feeder connections like a link between USF and downtown.  Property tax revenues alone simply will not be enough to get Tampa Bay the transportation system it wants. For that, we will need business investment and taxpayer buy-in.  Meeting those challenges is crucial because a functional transportation system is a key component to economic development for the region.

Council Member Viera focused on the role that local government plays in our lives, not only in transportation but in a host of challenges and opportunities.  As the most accessible level of government, local governments can be more responsive to the individual needs of their communities.  From funding local rec centers to bringing the Warrior Games to Tampa, he described ways that local governments can respond to what their constituents tell them is important.  As he put it, “if you put ideas out, people will listen.”

Heading over to the Hillsborough County Center, we got a chance to see the funding problem for ourselves. In an informal class poll by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on transportation goals, we promptly voted in favor of improvements carrying a $9 billion price tag – well in excess of our $500 million budget.

We also heard about another aspect of the transportation problem – safety.  Florida leads the country in traffic deaths, with Hillsborough County often leading the state.  We learned about Vision Zero, a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a transportation system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.  Here in Hillsborough County, Vision Zero is focusing on low-cost, quick-to-implement projects developed as neighborhood-based solutions  to tackle this problem.  Next, we heard from WalkWise, which provides pedestrian safety education to citizens, and we all took the WalkWise pledge to be safe and to share what we  learned with others.  (This pledge would soon be tested when we got to the goats, but we didn’t know that just yet…)

Next up was lunch at the University Club, where Dr. Susan MacManus of USF spoke to us about how local government works and how we interact with it.  Two out of three people say government is “not functional”, and more than 70% say it is “the worst ever.”  But while respondents in these polls were likely thinking about dysfunction at the federal level when they gave those answers, it is local governments that provide the most daily services to citizens. Despite that daily presence, local government receives the least focus in civics education, which can result in citizens not knowing how to interact with the level of government that impacts them the most.  Education is important for another reason, Florida is now more representative of overall U.S. demographics than any other state.  Contrary to the state’s snowbird and retiree reputation, millennials and Gen X’ers combined now make up more than half of all registered voters, and 27% of those voters are registered as NPA or independent.  All of this gives Floridians, particularly along the Tampa-Orlando corridor, considerable political clout and makes it that much more important that Tampa voters and taxpayers understand exactly how government works and how projects get funded.

After lunch, we heard from our transportation panel, which included representatives from HART, the Hillsborough County MPO, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) and FDOT.  Almost all of the panelists pointed once again to funding as one of the main challenges facing any transportation plan.  Other common themes included the need for regional solutions and cooperation, a focus on transit being about moving people (not necessarily cars) and implementation of new technologies.  The panel also called on businesses, which are largely impacted by transportation problems, to be louder voices in the transportation debate and to foster greater education within the business community regarding available solutions.  The panelists noted that the discussion about transportation is not a “postcard argument”, it isn’t simple, and there is no single fix. is a great resource to find out more about the current plans and to find ways to get educated and get involved.

And then came the goats.  From the hallowed heights of the University Club, we hit the streets in The Amazing Race – Tampa Edition.  Challenged to visit pit stops, including Ybor City, Harbour Island and UT (who knew there were two cannons?!), each team had to use at least seven different modes of transportation during the race. We walked, biked, taxied, Uber’ed, and hopped on buses, trolleys, water taxis and Tampa’s own Downtowner enjoying the fun and feeling the frustration that the different modes had to offer.  While we couldn’t all win, we did all gain an appreciation for new and different ways of getting around our own City of Tampa.  That, and we got to hug goats.  All in a day’s work for LT ’18!


LT’18 Health Care Day

Jennifer Yeagley, M.A., Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services

It’s not every day that you step into an air shower before touring a mouse clinic, but at Leadership Tampa, anything can happen.

Leadership Tampa ‘18’s Health Care Day began with a trip to Moffitt Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the state of Florida. Moffitt, which is also ranked the #6 cancer hospital in the nation by US News World & Report, sees sixty thousand patients per year who travel from across the globe to receive its top-notch services and benefit from its research.

Our class not only learned about Moffitt’s wide reach and the $2.1B impact it has on our state’s economy, but also heard from a panel of experts discussing the future of healthcare. The consensus of the panel, which included leaders from CIGNA, Florida Blue, BayCare and Tampa General Hospital, was that data and technology will drive the more patient-centered approach to which the healthcare industry is – by necessity – shifting. Technology is often viewed as a barrier to meaningful engagement, but in the healthcare industry, the opposite is true. Technology solutions can help drive more information on trends in population health, cut healthcare costs over the long run, improve physician engagement and allow patients to become more proactive in management of their healthcare needs. The panel also stressed the importance of considering social determinants in determining and implementing healthcare solutions for diverse populations: technology alone cannot solve the structural and behavioral challenges that many patients face in accessing quality care.

Next up: air showers.

Following the panel discussion, the class of 2018 descended underground for a tour of the Moffitt Vivarium, or “mouse clinic,” as tour guide and Director of Comparative Medicine, Robert Engelman, called it. To enter the clinic, we first pulled booties over our feet and paper lab coats over our clothing, after which we were sealed in a small glass chamber and doused with air. This readied us to enter the vivarium, where we got a crash course in how studying the molecular genomics of mice translates to much of the cutting-edge research done upstairs at Moffitt.

We spent the afternoon at the Center for Advanced Medical Learning & Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa. Adjacent to the planned site for University of South Florida’s (USF) new medical school campus, CAMLS is a state-of-the-art simulation training center, using the latest advances in healthcare to train tomorrow’s medical practitioners. At CAMLS, we heard from the CEO of Tampa General Hospital, John Couris, who spoke to the importance of the Hospital’s role as a teaching center affiliated with USF’s medical and nursing schools and its pivotal position as an institution serving those with financial and other barriers to accessing care. Tampa General Hospital provides 50% of the free medical care received in the state of Florida.

While at CAMLS, we also learned from Dr. Charles Lockwood, the Dean of USF Health, about the exciting opportunities that the new USF medical school campus, part of the Water Street development project, will bring to both the school and to the downtown area. The tour of CAMLS was both fascinating and surreal as we saw life-sized, fully computerized mannequins move in response to medical intervention, like wrapping a tourniquet around an injured leg.

Perhaps the most moving part of our day, however, was hearing from Dr. Debbie Rinde-Hoffman, director of Tampa General Hospital’s cardiac transplantation team, and a panel of three heart transplant recipients. These individuals are what drove everything else we learned over the course of the day home: in the end, healthcare is about the people on the receiving end. It’s about the sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and friends who are in need of care, understanding and support. Behind all of the data, technology, research, theory, learning, positioning, financial planning and strategy are patients. People. And in the case of the panel we heard from, people who were days, if not hours, away from death who are now thriving because other people cared for them at a critical time in the best possible way. Without people’s capacity for compassion and empathy, the business of healthcare would neither be possible nor would matter. Of all the fascinating takeaways of the day, this reminder of the power of compassion and care was maybe the most poignant.

LT’18 Media Day

By Lindsay Grinstead, Tonic Consulting

“The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being” – Thomas Jefferson

As our country’s founding fathers recognized, the power and importance of the press is a critical corner stone for our society.  Media drives awareness which leads to knowledge; empowering all citizens to be informed and educated about our local & national issues.  As technology advances, how we consume media may have changed. However, one truth remains the same; people want information from trusted sources.

On a day with front-page, headline-worthy news, our LT ’18 class experienced that first hand by meeting with a number of those trusted sources in the Tampa media.  While many of our LT days focus on Tampa-specific challenges, Media Day was unique in that many of the challenges and issues the media face are global and industry-wide.  We got a peak behind the curtain at how Tampa media outlets are addressing and embracing those changes and challenges.

Industry-wide, two challenges appeared multiple times over the course of Media Day: Technology & Fake News. From the Tampa Bay Times to WFLA, we learned how technology has changed our behaviors and the way we consume media and how the media is evolving to address that shift. The question isn’t: will the public consume media.  The question is: HOW will the public will consume media and how will the media adjust and evolve to reach consumers as their consumption habits change.

Similarly, fake news was top of mind and clearly a daily struggle for all outlets in the media.  Although it has almost become a self-parody and ‘fake’ is more a euphemism for something that doesn’t conform to one’s beliefs, it is still a daily struggle.  Today, anyone with a computer and internet can be a journalist or a news source, so fake news has highlighted the importance of verification, vetting, and a relationship of trust that must be earned with consumers.

“There is a terrific disadvantage in not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily. Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn’t write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn’t any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.” – John F. Kennedy

Our day began at the Tampa Bay Times Printing Press where we learned that it truly is “our newspaper” as it is one of the only independent and locally owned papers in the country.  Delivering over 200,000 papers a day, the Tampa Bay Times is a “daily miracle”.  While there is a public perception that newspapers are dying, the media plays a large role in facilitating the misconception that the industry is falling off a cliff.  From their perspective, the Tampa Bay Times must equate to truth, high caliber journalism, and provide high quality, local news to remain relevant.

In an interesting dichotomy of perspectives, we also heard from David Capece, the Founder and CEO of Sparxoo, a digital marketing agency.  Digital marketing is the fastest growing part of the media industry and is constantly evolving.  In 2017, digital will overtake television in terms of overall media spend, and brands must keep up!  While digital has become incredibly more sophisticated and targeted, at the end of the day humans still rule.

We see this across all elements of the media industry: as things change, what stays the same?  The basics: customer acquisition and retention (awareness and engagement).  How we reach them has changed and the platforms continue to evolve, but the need for content, the need for brand awareness remains the same.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom – and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech” – Benjamin Franklin

For lunch, we traveled to iHeart Media and learned about the power, influence and reach of the radio industry.  As a whole, we spend 31% more time in our cars since 2003, and radio is able to reach more adults than leading broadcast television shows.  “Radio likes a good traffic jam” and with the average commute in Tampa at 30 minutes, the Tampa radio market is large and ranked #18 in the country with iHeart Media owning 11 stations locally. iHeart Media owns over 850 radio stations nationally, but they also have an incredibly large digital platform and have relationships with many of the world’s largest artists and events.  They are evolving as technology evolves and are keeping a pulse on what is relevant in this ever-changing media landscape.

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington

Our final stop on Media Day was at WFLA, the local NBC station.  NBC News ‘On Your Side’ aims to bring stories and news that matter the most to the people of Tampa, which is the 13th largest market in the country.  While TV viewership is up, the audience is much more fragmented with so many options to choose from making it more difficult to reach and retain an audience.  Echoing what we heard throughout the day, for WFLA, creating trust with their audience and being known as a reputable news outlet is of the upmost importance.  We had the privilege of touring the station and getting a better understanding of the different roles and responsibilities involved with making the news!

In 2017, information moves at lightning speed.  On a daily basis, every media outlet we visited is responsible for vetting, researching, and reporting accurate news in the fastest way possible.  At the same time, they are trying to stay one step ahead, not just from a news perspective but from a technology perspective.  There is a convergence of media with overlap and duplication of content. So how does each media outlet ensure they are still relevant and still being consumed, regardless of platform?  This isn’t just a challenge locally but globally, and the ones who will continue to thrive will be those who are trusted, innovative, and daring.




LT’18 Education Day

Sarah Ham, AACSB International

What’s in your backpack?

Books? Check. Bass guitar? Check. Chef’s knife…? CHECK.

When most people think of education, a traditional learning environment often comes to mind: an inspiring teacher, desks, computers, overstuffed lockers, composition books and cafeteria pizza. However, getting ready for a “regular” school day is anything but routine for thousands of students pursuing all forms of education, students free of the idea that learning is limited to what’s in the books.

Books aren’t just about reading, writing and arithmetic, or the core skills required to complete a college-prep program like the young men and women at Academy Prep Center of Tampa are pursuing. Their 11-hour days start with a handshake from the principal and they are then consumed by creative thinking, teamwork, friendly competition and sincere appreciation for their classmates’ talents through art, music and even gardening. There’s a unique energy on Academy Prep’s campus where students encourage each other to succeed while remaining accountable for their actions in the process, something that cannot be taught by turning pages but is critical to success. At Academy Prep, students embrace their right to pursue happiness no matter what their background or where they come from, and education is a core component of that right.

Performing arts students at Blake High School pursue another form of happiness by packing pages of sheet music between homework assignments thanks to Blake offering more advanced placement classes than any other school in the district. An entirely immersive experience, academics make room for sheet music, guiding students through rests, rhythms, pitches, and chords, igniting their creativity into music that lingers long after the applause. Books can’t teach students to “feel” their music, nor do they need to. Blake students possess an innate talent that lets them lose track of time through a form of universal communication with the power to evoke emotions that defy modern language. It’s easy to forget how young these talented students are as they all demonstrate the musical maturity of seasoned performers.

While students at Blake are performing on stage, the world’s next greatest chefs are sharpening their knives and pulling recipes from cookbooks for a culinary performance in the kitchens at Chamberlain High School’s Culinary Operations Academy. An art form unto itself, cooking offers students the freedom to create delicious art for the plate while learning in what can be a stressful and chaotic environment of heat, fire, sharp knives, and deadlines. Once again, education finds its way off the pages of a textbook and into the proper way to filet a steak and infuse new forms of French cooking into tender vegetables all while teaching students how to work together towards a common goal as a cohesive team.

Education isn’t just about the books weighing down a backpack, it’s the recipe coming together in a young chef’s mind as they slice a fresh tomato while a team of other chefs work together to prepare the rest of the meal. It’s the melody a talented jazz musician carries in their heart and hums over and over until they connect with their band mates, and their instrument, to give that feeling a sound, a life. Education goes beyond the binding of a textbook and teaches us the ultimate value of teamwork, respect, accountability, leadership, and balance. Education is anything and everything that keeps us curious and inspired, keeps us growing and discovering with each question asked, each lesson learned – no matter what tools we carry. Education sparks an energy in all of us to wonder and to explore. And just as we set off to school, education slips a note in our backpack that says, “Don’t worry about being the smartest person in the room. Be the one most willing to learn.”

LT’18 Arts & Culture Day

Natalie Roberts, Flagship Law, PLLC 

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make


She told me
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us”


So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays


And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make


Typically, when considering the impact of the arts on a community, one thinks of the emotional response and personal growth inspired in each individual by a play, a painting, a poem or a musical piece. Business persons and community leaders, however, often focus as well on the economic impacts of the venues that bring art to a city or region. Apparently, there are several options as to methodology for measuring the economic impact of arts and culture in a community in a way that can be converted into monetary values.[ii] “Spending-measure techniques” examine actual spending by organizations, audiences and artists, together with the effects of that spending on the economy. “Valuation techniques” attempt to quantify the wider benefits people gain from culture, even if no money were to change hands.[iii] Receiving a crash course in both kinds of valuation, the Leadership Tampa Class of 2018 (LT’18) learned from arts and culture directors, together with their sponsors, benefactors and key business leaders, how and to what extent Tampa’s local arts and culture organizations impact the community. The significant economic benefits of the arts and culture, as well as the (more difficult to quantify) social benefits to the community, were clearly articulated and demonstrated to the class.

Jeff Gibson (of MacFarlane Ferguson) and Jim Porter (of Adams and Reese) sponsored Arts & Culture     Day, demonstrating their personal devotion and commitment to the arts in Tampa.

The class first visited the Institute for Research in Art’s Graphic Studio at USF, where Margaret Miller, Director, delayed a trip to NYC in order to share her passion for the organization and pride in its accomplishments. The Institute encompasses four programs: Contemporary Art on Campus; Public Art and Social Practice; Art in Health; and the Graphics Studio. Contemporary Art on Campus houses USF’s art collection, which is composed of 5,000 works, many of which are by internationally acclaimed artists. This program puts on temporary exhibitions, designed to keep students and the community abreast of current cultural trends, while promoting dialogue in the international arts community. The Public Art program collaborates on public space projects, working with some of the nation’s most prominent public artists. The Social Engagement piece of the program recently collaborated on a project called The Music Box: Tampa Bay, an interactive public artwork by visiting artists that married architecture, engineering, history and music-making. Director Miller informed the class the Art in Health program currently has programs for enhancing the observational skills of future health professionals and working with traumatically injured aphasia patients. The Graphics Studio hosts carefully-selected artist- in-residence and collaborates on long-term projects using graphics media, including lithographs, cyanotype print (blueprints) and photogravure. The staff was able to show the class how these pieces are engineered and created, sometimes layer by layer, which fascinated and enlightened class members who had never been exposed to such processes.

Next, the LT’18 class was treated to a tour of the Straz Center, which houses five theaters, three restaurants and a teaching conservatory, all under one roof. Mark Breckwald was our host. This extremely popular, non-profit venue derives most of its revenues from its Broadway series, which allows the Straz to host less profitable programs, such as the opera. The economic impact of the Straz includes filling hotel rooms with patrons and cast members, who then spend money in Tampa, making the Straz a sizeable economic driver. The largest performing arts center in the Southeast, the Straz boasts between the third and the fifth most high attendance in the country. The Straz is now looking at how to better serve those in the community who cannot afford tickets.

At the Tampa Museum of Art, the class was treated to a lovely outdoor luncheon, followed by the opportunity to briefly tour the museum’s current exhibits. During lunch, Jeff Gibson spoke to the class, advising that he has been Chairman of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, funded by the public schools and the county, which “brings arts into schools and schools into art.” In Hillsborough County, he said, the arts fund 15,000 jobs.

Surprise speaker Mary Ann Ferenc, Chair of Visit Florida and owner of Mise en Place Restaurant, revealed that traveling for art and history has become a growing phenomenon in national and international tourism. Visit Florida, the Official Tourism Marketing Corporation for the State of Florida, is working to align restaurants, bars, cultural institutions, historical centers and the arts, marketing them together to tourists. Tourism, Ms. Ferenc said, leads growth, such as the airport expansion, a job creator, while paying 25% of Florida’s sales tax every year. Dr. Michael Tomor, Executive Director of the Museum of Art, speaking to the class, confirmed that arts and culture is a big business. Touring exhibitions come to the museum, as well as local and regional artists, bringing patronage and accompanying expenditures to local hotels, restaurants and other amenities. The Museum also holds 12-14 arts and education programs per year, which are free to the public, in order to make them available to the underserved.

The Museum has partnered with the sports authority, an economic driver, to increase its visibility and publicize Tampa as a venue for conventions. By linking with businesses, the Museum not only promotes itself as a venue for private parties but assists businesses in other ways to meet people and build social capital, find employees and collaborate with the Museum on projects such as financial literacy.  Dr. Tomor warned that Tampa must continue to keep up with other major cities if it wants to continue to attract people. The community is growing faster than the Museum facility. He expressed support for the clustering of cultural institutions. In Tampa, nine of them are close together downtown, which enhances opportunities for all.

At the Henry B. Plant Museum, Cynthia Gandee Zinober, Executive Director, advised that the Museum opened in 1933; the original Tampa Bay Hotel, however, opened in 1891, during the “Gilded Age.” The Museum is a “lifestyle” museum, in which the original furnishings are out in the open. Many of the items are over 125 years old! Ms. Zinober (LT class of 2011) created, curates and runs the museum. As the class sat in what used to be the Hotel’s music room, Ms. Zinober described how dancers would slide in and out of the open doorways on a beautiful evening, while the “unescorted women” sat in the balconies and watched over the decorative railings. At the time, the hotel had a staff of 300. The Museum determined to focus on these staff, collecting stories, photos and diaries from family members and others, in order to create an exhibit about the Hotel employees. Sponsored by the Hillsborough Arts Council, the Museum created a series of vignettes, with seven actors playing separate roles, performances of which are held on Sunday afternoons. The class enjoyed a mesmerizing monologue by a laundress who worked seven days a week at the hotel to support her 12 children, meeting Sarah Bernhardt and Anna Pavlova, the Buffalo Soldiers and Babe Ruth. Everyone was moved by the performance, appreciating the actor’s talent and the story she told.

At Stageworks Theatre, Karla Hartley, Producing Artistic Director, introduced the class to a venue many had never heard about. Stageworks was incorporated in 1983, so next year is the 35th Anniversary, making it the longest running theater in Tampa. The three arms of the theater are producing, education and serving the underserved in the community. The Theatre reaches out to youth in juvenile detention, kids in foster care, the homeless, mentally ill children and low-income schools. The goal is simply to use the performing arts to make their lives better.

Vicky Daniel, an actress, is the entire cast of the soon-to-be performed play, The Year of Magical Thinking, based on Joan Dideon’s book of the same name. Ms. Daniel performed a scene from the play, describing the circumstances of the death of her character’s husband and the emotional experience of that tragedy. She talked about the “hard sweet wisdom of the last,” a lesson for survival. Stageworks puts on controversial plays, dealing with uncomfortable subjects, as well as more conventional productions. According to Ms. Hartley, the plays are selected with a vision in mind: to tell a story from another person’s perspective, in order to generate thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit.

The class’s last venue was the Tampa Theater, where John Bell, President and CEO provided a detailed history of the building and its historical and artistic importance, as well as its current restoration project. The theater was designed by John Eberson, who was quite popular at the time, because the owners saw that audiences responded to his design style, which was called “atmospheric theater.” These theaters did not emulate European opera houses, but instead tried to create the experience of a Mediterranean garden at night, with a starry sky overhead. The facility survived until the 1970s, when it became commercially obsolete. When a plan emerged to demolish the theater, the City got involved. Mayor Poe wanted to send a message that downtown Tampa was not going to be abandoned. The Tampa Theatre is operated by a non-profit, Tampa Theatre, Inc., not the City of Tampa.

A sizeable restoration project is underway, with a view to returning the theater as closely as possible to its original appearance. Evergreen, the restoration group, has scraped through layers of paint to discover original colors, and poured over photographs of the theater in its heyday, in order to return it to its original state to the extent possible, while meeting the needs of today’s theater goers. The stately, elaborately decorated organ on the stage moves up and down through a trap door, and is original to the 1920s, if not to Tampa Theatre entirely. The restoration will include new seats, carpeting, a new curtain and new paint to the lobby. The concession stand will be replaced, as it was not original.

After visiting these amazing establishments, LT’18 came away with a more informed idea of the cultural venues existing in Tampa, their costs and offsetting economic benefits to the community, and the impressive extent of the social services and outreach these organizations undertake to help the underserved.  “That is why they need us.”


[i]Audition (The Fools Who Dream) is a song from the film La La Land (2016). The music of the song was composed by Justin Hurwitz while the lyrics were provided by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.[1] In the film, the song is performed by Emma Stone. It received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 89th Academy Awards.

[ii] Measuring the Economic Benefits of Arts and Culture, Arts Council England (May 2012)

[iii] Id

LT’18 Law Enforcement Day

By: Ginny Veit, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch tells his daughter, led-1.jpgScout, in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Leadership Tampa Class of 2018 spent Law Enforcement Day climbing into and walking around in the skin of local law enforcement.

The day started at the Orient Road Jail, which is run by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Richard Grammatica, President & CEO of Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, Law Enforcement Day sponsor, addressed the class emphasizing the importance of law enforcement in our community.

Colonel Michael Perotti, who leads the Department of Detention Services then gave an overview of the department’s responsibilities and led a question and answer session with the class. His department is responsible for the housing, custody, and care of people incarcerated in Hillsborough County. The Orient Road Jail is the primary receiving facility for law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County.

Col. Perotti explained that people in his department’s custody, (i.e. “in jail”) are there for one of two reasons:

  1. The person has been arrested, but not yet convicted of a crime. The person is either not being allowed bond or is not able to afford to bond out, or
  2. The person has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to one year or less. Conversely, people in prison have been convicted of a crime and have been sentenced to more than one year.

Because the ratio inmates to officers is 1:72 in the housing pods, the mix of inmates is carefully considered for each pod. Each pod has a mix of people with various backgrounds. People arrested for white collar crime will be mixed with those accused of violent crime.

According to Col. Perotti, the majority of the people taken into custody suffer from some type of mental health issue. Additionally, the inmates must receive medical care. The budget for these services in the detention system is staggering.

LT’18 divided into 4 groups led by jail staff for tours of the facility, which included central booking, the command center, a typical pod, and an isolation unit. A person taken into custody is received in central booking, where they are searched. Each person must be evaluated for medical and mental health issues. The command center is a room full of video screens where the jail is monitored. Should any issue arise for a deputy in any part of the jail, the command center can get help there almost immediately. A typical pod at the Orient Road Jail has up to 72 inmates and one deputy with them. Isolation units are used for those inmates that are a danger to others or who would be in danger among the other inmates.

LT’18 gained an understanding from top brass down that the humane treatment of inmates with dignity and respect is the duty of the staff at the Orient Road Jail. The philosophy has changed from the past when jail inmates were kept in cage-like cells and treated like animals. “When people are treated like animals, they act like animals,” Col. Perotti explained. The goal here is to treat them as people.

Sgt. Wanda Johnson explained that they have care and custody for people who have not yet been convicted of a crime. Therefore, they must be considered innocent until proven guilty. Her attitude reiterated the overriding theme at Orient Road Jail that people are to be treated with dignity and respect.

LT’18 was treated to lunch in the staff cafeteria at the Orient Road Jail. Each table had a local law enforcement leader with 3 or 4 members of the LT’18 class. The food was (surprisingly) good, but getting to know these leaders on a personal level was a highlight of the day.

LED 2After lunch the class went to the Tampa Police Department Training Facility. Interim Chief Brian Dugan welcomed the group. He shared that he was treated for prostate cancer last year. He said that if someone told him he would be serving as Interim Chief then, he would never have believed it.

Major Lee Bercaw (LT Class of 2017) followed with TPD statistics and strategies. Starting with Stephen Hogue’s appointment as Chief in 2003, TPD has taken a proactive business mentality to policing to ensure that Tampa is a great place to live and work. TPD implemented a “Focus on 4” strategy to aggressively target burglary, robbery, auto burglary, and theft. This strategy paid off. The statistics show that Tampa had 25,000 fewer crimes reported in 2016 than it did in 1996.

The class split into four groups for tours of the facility. They had explored equipment and led-3.jpgmet with members of the bomb squad, the TPD and HSCO SWAT teams, and the TPD marine unit. On the driving course, LT’18 had the opportunity to ride along with Cpl. Jared Douds to experience a J turn, which is used when an officer needs to quickly evade a situation in his car (Google it  – it was a thrill!). They also experienced a car chase on the driving track where Cpl. Douds used his car to execute a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver to cause the car expertly driven by Range Master Steve Smith to abruptly turn the evading car sideways to stop it.

Using a projected simulation and various simulation weapons, LT’18 sampled the training that officers receive in handling realistic situations in the field. Trainees interact with subjects by talking to them on the screen while the training officer selects the subjects’ reactions. Volunteers from the class had to make decision about whether and when to use a Taser when faced with a belligerent bar patron, a school shooter, and a homeless person sleeping in a doorway. This provided the class members with perspective about the use of deadly force against suspects and how quickly those decisions must be made.

led-4.jpgTPD officers are required to be trained in Taser use. They are required to experience being tased only if they choose to carry a Taser in the field. LT’18 members were given the option to experience what it is like to be tased. Surprisingly, several members of the class took Training Specialist Russell Marcotrigiano up on his offer to tase them. Tased class members described the feeling as a “paralyzing muscle cramp in my back” and “the longest 5 seconds of my life.”

Together with police ride-alongs prior to Law Enforcement Day, the class had the led-5.jpgopportunity to get as close as possible to walking in the skin of a police officer. A classmate noted how officers not only risk their lives, they actually give up something intangible. They see the worst of humanity and it takes something from them changing way they see people and the world. However, they must maintain an impartiality that allows them to not rush to judgement in a situation. Rachel Feinman pointed out the officers’ knowledge and respect for the law. LT’18 members noted the compassion and respect the officers show to victims and suspects alike. Every member of LT’18 came away with a new level of understanding for the issues law enforcement in our community face each day. Truly it was an outstanding day. Thanks again to Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union for sponsoring it.LED 6

LT’18 Community Outreach Day

Goodwill Bookworks

Dr. Alberto Vázquez, HCPS

What an inspiring visit to see Goodwill be able to promote literacy in early childhood through their Bookworks program.  It was impressive to see that this program is now impacting eight counties in Florida and nearly 20,000 children annually.  Additionally, this program depends on volunteers who will visit Head Start centers and read to children.  Ideally, this creates a partnership and an investment from the community to support the efforts of Bookworks.

The opportunity to visit a Head Start center where the majority of its student population is at or below poverty level and interacting with the children by reading to them was both inspiring and rewarding.  The appreciation the students demonstrated was humbling as they enjoyed all four books read aloud to them. Most importantly, the children went home with a book donated by individuals who believe in this program and believe that early childhood literacy starts the road to student success.


Junior Achievement BizTown

Ginny Veit, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Members of LT’18 visited Junior Achievement’s BizTown on Community Outreach day. BizTown is a simulated city that gives Hillsborough county’s 5th grade students an opportunity to experience the business world. BizTown is sponsored by local businesses that each have storefronts in the city. The students spend time prior to their visit preparing for the visit, interviewing  for their jobs which include salespeople, CEOs, CFOs, medical professionals, DJs, reporters, government workers and even a chance to work at McDonalds’s.

On the day of the visit, each student learns about his or her job responsibilities from a guide for that role. CFO’s cut paychecks, pay bills and receive payments for goods and services. The students experience receiving and depositing a paycheck and making decisions about how to spend and save their money. They also get insight into how businesses operate and make money. Each business begins by taking a loan and the goal of the business is to be able to make enough money to repay it at the end.

Five LT’18 members served as volunteers in various businesses as well as in the town hall helping guide the students through their roles. Most questions were easily answered by referring back to the guides for each student’s role. The volunteers were impressed with the level of depth and detail and by how organized the JA team is. The kids have fun doing their jobs while they learn so much about how the business world works. This organization is a great teaching tool and asset to our community.


Dress for Success Tampa Bay

Jessica Burns Fugate, the Crisis Center

Dress for Success has been serving the Tampa Bay community since 1998 and was the first affiliate in the state. More than 1 million women have received assistance since its inception across the entire organization.  We learned that “the suit is actually just the beginning” in the life-changing services provided as Dress for Success works with a variety of agencies throughout the county that make referrals to connect unemployed women for assistance with the interview process. Services are not income eligible and clients include women who are homeless to PhDs.

Upon arriving, women meet with a volunteer to select a professional outfit and accessories for the interview in a boutique-like setting. Once they are hired, clients select six pieces to jumpstart their work wardrobe. Other services include First Impressions (an assessment of resume writing and job search strategies), Moving Forward (a six-week course preparing for interview essentials) and Professional Women’s Group (a networking group once hired).

Dress for Success is able to do what they do through generous community support including a computer lab equipped with computers, printers and ink supplied by Macy’s and Tech Data, a part-time employee sponsored by AARP, 107 volunteers that do everything from meeting with clients to organizing donations and stocking the floor, and so many others. When asked how we could help the most, Katie McGill, Executive Director, said to let others know that they do more than just give out suits. They are truly changing women’s lives!


Meals on Wheels

Kiana Wilson, A Sharper U

Meals on Wheels (M.O.W.) currently has over 600 volunteers in the Tampa Bay area. These volunteers deliver to approximately 750 homes per day (5 days a week) primarily to individuals who are home-bound due to some type of mobility issue. Fresh and nutritionally balanced meals are prepared daily at the Tampa facility between 5:30 – 6:30am by Chef Antonio. With an average recipient age of late 70s, Meals on Wheels may be the only meal and/or interaction these individuals receive. For many, this gives them a reason to get up and get going each day in anticipation of the volunteer’s arrival.

The primary goals of the Meals on Wheels program are to (1) Nourish the body; (2) Enrich the spirit and; (3) Strengthen the community. Keeping in mind that recipients comprise of former bankers, teachers, musicians and others whom have helped to build our community and now need some assistance with maintaining their independence, volunteers are proud to be of service and give back. Monroe E., a paid driver for M.O.W., says the most rewarding part of his job is to see the smiles on recipient faces!

Lastly, Meals on Wheels has approximately 66 partner corporations, small businesses, groups and clubs through their Adopt-a-Route program. Partners provide delivery of meals along a designated route, depending on their availability. This program serves as a great team-building experience while also increasing public awareness and emphasizing social responsibility.

  • Every year on the recipient’s birthday, they receive a homemade birthday cake.
  • Every year during the holidays, recipients receive a holiday bag packed with goodies.
  • Youngest recipient is 20 years old.


YMCA Reads!

Adrienne Morgan, Sparxoo

The YMCA is integrated two-fold with Sulphur Springs Elementary School for youth development—first through the YMCA Community Learning Center and the YMCA Reads! program. Both are focused on working with the students of Sulphur Springs Elementary School to close the gap between low-income students and middle/high-income students.

The Sulphur Springs YMCA Community Learning Center has both an after-school program and a summer camp. This after-school program is focused on providing year-round support to students enrolled in grades K-5th grade. The program includes self-guided academic curriculum, and group and individual tutoring. The YMCA employees work with teachers to identify areas for development and opportunities for improvement for the students. They also work together to relay that information to the parents. The summer camp is focused on avoiding the summer learning loss.

The second YMCA integration is YMCA Reads!, a program focused on enhancing literacy with 1st through 3rd graders. Through this program, the Y strives to ensure the children are ready to read by kindergarten, and ready to learn by 3rd grade.

Ms. Megan runs the Community Learning Center and Mr. Brown runs the YMCA Reads! program. Through interaction with the energetic students, it is apparent there are various levels of ability and understanding. The students work on their letters and words through a variety of books, card exercises, word games and so forth.  By visiting Sulphur Springs YMCA, one thing is apparent—it isn’t individuals running the program, its students’ success.


Quantum Leap Farms

Stacey Pittman, BT Wealth Advisors

On the morning of Community Outreach Day, one of the LT ‘18 groups traveled to Quantum Leap Farms, located on the outskirts of Tampa in Odessa, Florida. Founded by Edie Dopking, PhD, Quantum Leap Farm provides equine-assisted therapy for children and adults with special needs, military service members and veterans. Using horses as therapy partners, Quantum’s staff provides a variety of equine activities to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Upon rounding the gravel road that leads to Quantum Leap Farm, it’s clear why this special place serves as a place of healing and calm for those who visit. The facility is located on a serene 20-acre pasture surrounded by a 1,700-acre environmentally sensitive land preserve owned by Hillsborough County. The farm is home to not only 14 horses, but also donkeys, goats, and chickens.

After spending time with Edie Dopkin and Sarah Page, Donor Relations and Community Manager, learning about the history and mission of Quantum Leap Farms, the group was given the opportunity to “side walk” with some of the participants and their therapists. Some of the therapists focused on daily activities such as dressing while others focused on speech therapy – all while sitting atop the horses!  The therapists explained that equine therapy helps to relax participants, which makes therapy even more effective. Additionally, the horse’s natural gait is very similar to the natural sway of the pelvis during walking. Horse riding serves as a training activity for the body of the individual to move in the right way. The horse gait and rocking motion also help in developing muscle tone and coordination to effectively help the patient in standing and walking.

One of Quantum Leap’s newest programs is called Warrior Mission: At Ease, a five-day retreat for veterans and family members.  It is designed to help those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, mild traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma.  Participants come from across the country, with the farm covering the cost of air travel, hotel and other expenses.  Edie’s dream is to secure enough funding to build a dormitory on site so that participants can enjoy the serenity of the farm during the entire stay, rather than traveling to local hotels.

Our group was so grateful for the opportunity to travel to the magical place that is Quantum Leap Farm to participate in the amazing work that is done and the many lives that are changed every day.


Frameworks Tampa Bay

Sarah Ham, AACSB International

Can emotional intelligence be taught with an ice cream cone? If you visit Broward Elementary School, you will find an educator who is teaching kids how to give (and receive) complements through the creative methodologies of the Frameworks program. Each scoop of ice cream represented a complement the class paid to the student of the day, while the cone represented a trait the student admired about himself- a visual example that demonstrated a foundation of self-worth (the cone) with the appreciation of their traits by others (the ice cream.)

While seated in a circle on a brightly colored rug, students complemented the young boy in a way many adults find difficult to do. How would you react if someone recognized you as “a great scholar?” Would you be able to see that trait in someone else? The young boy’s smile stretched ear-to-ear as his teacher drew an ice cream cone on construction paper, and wrote ‘great scholar’ in the scoop at the top – a powerful moment that might not have happened without Frameworks, which provides social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for youth in grades preK-12. SEL encompasses everything from self-awareness to relationship skills and responsible decision-making – skills you won’t find spelled out in textbooks, but are critical to navigating every stage of life. Don’t be afraid to give yourself some ice cream – and share a scoop with a colleague as well.


RICH House

Rolfe Thompson, GTE Financial

The Resources In Community Hope (RICH) house works to enhance neighborhood safety through collaboration between police and residents in high-crime areas.  The program offers impoverished children a safe atmosphere in which to grow, learn, and play as an alternative to being idle on the streets after school and during the summer.  The recent donation of two passenger vans allows the RICH house kids to go on field trips in the area including recent visits to the Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens, and the FWC fish hatchery.  The RICH house, which is funded by the Tampa Police Department and private donations, is truly enRICHing the lives of its kids.


Refugee Experience & Metro Wellness

Katie Malloy, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

– Mother Teresa. 

The Leadership Tampa Community Outreach Day was an unforgettable experience, surrounded by the beautiful smiles of both those that give daily to our community and those that receive the benefit of their service. The morning started with a visit to the Lutheran Services Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists refugees entering the United States – from ensuring there are smiling faces welcoming the refugees at the airport, to locating housing and stocking their fridges with culturally appropriate items to make them feel more at home. The Foundation’s refugee services are available to individuals who are forced to flee their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. They are funded by the Department of Children and Family Services, but are in need of local connections to assist with housing.

The Foundation also partners with CARIBE, an adult education project that helps refugees and immigrants study and learn English. One of the most moving parts of the experience was meeting the students at CARIBE and seeing their smiling faces. Despite the horrific circumstances that caused the refugees to leave their countries, their smiles were bright.

The second half of the day was spent with another set of smiling faces at Metro Wellness, a non-profit organization in Ybor City that provides health and wellness services in an inclusive atmosphere for all individuals. Metro Wellness specializes in providing services to LGBTQ+ youth and adults, including primary care, medical testing, and counseling services. By sharing their stories – and their beautiful smiling faces – Metro Wellness helps educate and serve the community and bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community. It was a gift to spend the day with each of these amazing groups.


Meals on Wheels

David Loos, Beaux Arts Group

For our Community Day, my team was blessed to experience Meals on Wheels Tampa. We arrived to a warm reception and the smell of something delicious in air. We had an opportunity to speak to Executive Director Steve King whose personality radiates love for life and giving back to those less fortunate. His passion for the organization gleamed as he told us the history of Meals on Wheels.

Established in 1975, the program feeds 750 homebound individuals daily Monday through Friday. That is homebound not homeless. The majority of the individuals in the program pay $4.25 per meal where few are subsidized. The meals are made fresh everyday by Chef Tony and his crew who have the practice down to a science. There are never leftovers and you know what? You can have it your way. Chef Tony does cater to special dietary needs for those that it’s necessary. On holidays or special circumstances, Chef will prepare and freeze a meal that can be heated over the weekend. For some this daily meal is the only thing they will have to eat all day.

The mission is to NOURISH – ENRICH – STRENGTHEN the lives of the homebound community, and that was a mission we were ready to accept. As we received our marching orders, Lauren Vance, Director of Community Relations, and Steve wanted to give us the dos and don’ts plus some insight on what to expect. They stressed how some of their patrons get little to no interaction with other human beings all day so when that doorbell rings, it’s a special and exciting moment for them.

With Kay whipping around corners, David Ferreira doing navigation, me on logistics and Marshall telling us more about the program (he’s a board member), we started making our drops. The majority of the houses were surprised to see 4 people dropping off one meal, but hey, that’s how we roll (pun intended)! As we approached one of our last stops we were asked to come in. Not wanting to overwhelm the owner we decided to have just two of us go in. We sat with Lilly for about 10 minutes talking about nothing in particular and then it was time to go. It was noticeable Lilly’s longing for conversation no matter the topic, as long as you don’t bring up her Italian accent!


MacDonald Training Center

Heather Brock, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

Over 50 years ago, the MacDonald Training Center was one of the first preschools for children with disabilities.  Its mission has grown and its goal is now full inclusion and endless possibility for individuals with disabilities. The Center helps with employment services, residential support, and vocational skills training. The Center is working to empower with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live their very highest and best lives.

As a group, we were impressed by how the Center has focused on equipping its constituency with marketable job skills.  We all enjoyed working with folks to assess affinities to identify good matches for employment, and then conducting mock job interviews.  How can LT ’18 help?  Spread the word that the Center has an amazing business within it called e-Quality Recycling.  The Center provides secure data destruction, equipment collection and pick up for qualified businesses, and responsible recycling of old electronics.  In addition to providing Center constituents with work to do, the donor gets tax credits for the donation.  Please donate old computers, servers, hard drives, circuit boards, cable boxes, satellite receivers, routers, cell phones, cable and wire, and gaming systems to the Center to help it fulfill its mission!