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!

Chamber Announces Leadership Tampa 2018 Class

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces the members of the 2018 Leadership Tampa Class.   Established by the Chamber in 1970, Leadership Tampa is the third oldest leadership program in the nation and strives to identify, guide and enhance the skills and opportunities of current leaders in Tampa and Hillsborough County. The Class Chair is Josh Bullock, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Vice Chair is Julie Serovich, University of South Florida.

The members of Leadership Tampa 2018 include:

Jolyon Acosta, Bush Ross, P.A.
Chris Adkins, Tampa Marriott Waterside
Josh Adkins, Moffitt Cancer Center
Robbie Artz, Tampa Bay Rays
Lee Behensky, The Florida Aquarium
Heather Brock, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
Nick Buchanan, Keller Williams
Ernest Coney, Jr., Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc.
Adam DePiro, Visit Tampa Bay
Emily Farkas, MacDill Airforce Base
Craig Federer, Raymond James Financial
Rachel Feinman, Hill Ward Henderson, P.A.
David Ferreira, Warren Averett
Nikki Foster, Mosaic
Jessica Fugate, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
Christine Glover, City of Tampa
Kari Goetz, Tampa International Airport
Leslene Gordon, Florida Department of Health – Hillsborough County
Lindsay Grinstead, Tonic Consulting Group
Sarah Ham, AACSB International
Dale Hoffman, Hillsborough County Tax Collector
David Judd, III, Wehr Constructors, Inc.
LaKisha Kinsey-Sallis, Johnson Jackson, LLC
David Loos, Beaux-Arts Group
Jennifer LaRocco, GrayRobinson, P.A.
Leah Millette, BayCare
Katie Molloy, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
Adrienne Morgan, Sparxoo
Linda Olson, Tampa Bay WaVE, Inc.
Sara Palmer, USAmeriBank
Dustin Pasteur, IV, Tampa General Hospital
Stacey Pittman, Bank of Tampa
Kevin Preast, Tampa Bay Lightning
Randy Prescott, KCI Technologies, Inc.
Ryan Reynolds, Cushman & Wakefield
Natalie Roberts, Flagship Law, PLLC
Kay Schwartz, USAA
Matthew Serynek, RS&H, Inc.
Eric Stewart, Synovus Bank
Rolfe Thompson, GTE Financial
Susan Thompson, CS&L CPAs
Charles Tiernan, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
Marshall Tucker, TECO
Alberto Vazquez, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Elias Vazquez, City of Tampa Police Department
Virginia Veit, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
Caroline Vostrejs, The Beck Group
Jennifer Whelihan, Hillsborough County Economic Development
Kiana Wilson, A Sharper U, LLC
Jennifer Yeagley, Community Tampa Bay

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

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

LT 2017: Tourism Day


By: Maria Porto-Duarte

The final day for Leadership Tampa Class of 2017 – G.O.A.T. had come! I could hardly believe that this day had arrived; Tourism Day was here. The day started, as usual, at the crack of dawn. As I was driving over the Howard Frankland Bridge watching the sunrise over the Tampa skyline, I was excited for what the day would bring. I had been a tourist to the Tampa Bay area for a number of years prior to moving to the United States of America and I was looking forward to the behind the scenes look at the impact of Tourism on Tampa Bay.

Thanks to Randall Woods and Toi Walker, our G.O.A.T. shirt sponsors, and to our fearless leader, Susan Maurer, we were able to wear our G.O.A.T. shirts for the day. After a quick change in Bibiana Gomez’s darkly tinted car, I was ready to get on the bus with my bus buddy Derek Kantaskas and head to our first stop, Busch Gardens!

After our security pat down we went through a beautiful tree-like arch. Wait, did that tree arch move?? Tourism Blog 1

Once we passed the moving trees we headed to breakfast and were greeted by none other than the Sesame Street cast!

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While we had a delicious breakfast sponsored by Busch Gardens, we heard from Tim Harding, a representative from the University of Tampa, our sponsor for Tourism Day, about the impact that UT has on tourism through the Henry Plant Museum, Bailey Arts Studio Theatre, the national conferences that UT hosts and the international students from 110 different countries that attend UT. When conference attendees, students and their families come to Tampa they not only come to UT they also visit the beaches, Busch Gardens and the other many attractions Tampa has to offer.

We also heard from Troy Manthey of Yacht StarShip who shared with us that it was a bittersweet day as it was the first time that the late Thom Stork was not present for Tourism Day. Thom Stork was the President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium and was known as the Godfather of Tourism in Florida and Tampa. Manthey went on to announce the formation of the Thom Stork Hospitality Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will sponsor a seat in Leadership Tampa for a person working in the hospitality industry in Tampa for years to come.

Stewart Clark, President of Busch Gardens, welcomed us to Busch Gardens and, after teasing Jamie Johnson, LT’17 G.O.A.T, shared how Busch Gardens did not start as a theme park but as a bird park for employees of Anheuser-Busch 58 years ago. Busch Gardens is not only a theme park, it is also recognized for its zoological expertise and is rated among the world’s best working zoos with over 12,000 animals. Clark stated that their key philosophy is to have a park that is safe and clean with amazing guest service that inspires visitors every day. Busch Gardens generates over $20 million in sales and use taxes and $3 million in property taxes. When asked about the greatest limiting factor for Busch Gardens he stated that it is the lack of public transportation in Tampa. This did not surprise us as transportation has come up numerous times in LT’17 as a limiting factor to growth and as a class we experienced it first hand during Transportation day.

We then got a chance to hear from Roger Dow, President and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, and Ken Lawson, CEO of Visit Florida, about the economic impact of tourism both in Florida and nationally. It is amazing to think that for every 85 visitors to the state, one tourism job is sponsored. This equates to more than 1.2 million Floridian’s employed in the tourism industry! Further, tourism is the single biggest reason why Florida residents do not pay state taxes since tourism raises over $5.3 billion in sales and use tax in the state.

And so with our tummies full of breakfast and our minds full of how much tourism saves us in tax dollars, we walked to our first Busch Gardens attraction, the safari ride! On the walk there we got a close up look at an alligator, the cheetah enclosure and a chance for the compulsory group photo outside the Serengeti Overlook.

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We split into groups and hopped aboard the open-aired vehicles for our wild and wonderful tour of the Serengeti Plain with our personal tour guide who shared stories of the habitat and the wildlife that inhabits it.  We also made some friends along the way as there was a giraffe or two that followed us for a while.

After we disembarked from our safari vehicles we headed to another wild ride of a different variety: Cobra’s Curse! Fortunately we had some fellow LT’17 GOATS who were kind enough to hold our belongings as some of us crazies went on the ride.

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We have still not fathomed what Jose and Casey were discussing as we braced ourselves for the ride!Tourism Blog 7

By the time we finished this ride we were behind schedule and we half-walked, half-ran to our behind-the-scenes look at Iceploration, Busch Gardens‘ 30-minute ice skating show that explores the four corners of Earth. Our big screen introduction to the show was none other than a larger-than-life Jamie Johnson who shared how he and his team strive to create guest experiences that matter.

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He certainly did not disappoint as we were privileged to see how the incredible scene changes occur backstage, how it takes two people on 14 inch drywall stilts to operate the large elephant character and saw firsthand how live animals bring a certain unpredictability to the show. We were also treated to a live presentation of Alex and Allison in action on the ice and our jaws dropped as we saw how close Allison’s head came to the ice during their presentation!

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After this amazing experience we ran back to our bus, searched for our bus buddies and headed off to our next stop, Lowry Park Zoo!

We were welcomed to Lowry Park Zoo by Elizabeth Henning, Chief Financial Officer. She shared that the zoo relies on gate revenues and fundraising to supplement the dwindling state and local grant revenues to continue to deliver their life-sustaining rehabilitative work with manatees and other wildlife. We then proceeded to our first stop at the zoo, the newly launched Dino’s Alive exhibition. While we learned several very interesting facts about the dinosaur era, the one that stood out most in my mind was that chickens are mini T-Rexes!  Who would have thought? On a serious note, we also heard that vultures are under threat of extinction due to the use of pesticides and that zoos exist to support and sustain wildlife that are under threat of extinction, like Aya, the clouded leopard cub. Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to support the conservation of select wildlife at risk of extinction. These facts were shared with us by Joe Couceiro, CEO of Lowry Park Zoo, during lunch at Reilly’s Reserve, sponsored by Lowry Park Zoo.

Another speaker was Jason Carroll, Executive Director of Friends of the Riverwalk, who shared the impact of the Riverwalk on bringing Tampa residents and national events to downtown Tampa. The Riverwalk was center stage during the 2017 College Football Championship Game where fans were able to get just about everywhere by foot.  One of the features of the Tampa Riverwalk is the Historic Monument Trail which displays 26 bronze busts of prominent people in Tampa’s history. A little known fact of the busts is that they are at the actual height of the person depicted.

Our lunch panel discussion closed with Don Barnes, Executive Director of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, who shared that the Gasparilla Children’s Parade is the largest children’s parade in the U.S.A. and that the Gasparilla events have a $22 million direct economic impact on the local economy.

Then, instead of hopping on board the bus for our next stop, we took the Pirate Water Taxi to the Convention Center and walked to our next stop, the Florida Aquarium. The Pirate Water Taxi ride was a welcome change to the traffic on the Interstate and it was a beautiful and relaxing ride. One G.O.A.T. got to reenact a scene from the Titanic!

Before our behind-the-scenes tour of the Florida Aquarium, we heard that the Florida Aquarium building was an old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant that was donated to the City of Tampa and that the Aquarium has been the catalyst for development in the area. This was followed by a panel discussion with Ron McAnaugh, GM, Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina and Eric Blanc, Director of Sales, Tampa Convention Center. They shared how the Convention Center attracts national and international conferences to Tampa by hosting over 200 events a year and is active for over 330 event days. These events generate over 304,000 room nights at local hotels.

During our behind-the-scenes tour, we learned about the incredible work that the Florida Aquarium does with sea turtles and coral and that they seek to inspire people to care about sea life.

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We departed the Florida Aquarium via the Streetcar and headed back to the Tampa Convention Center where we were welcomed by Rick Hamilton, the Convention Center and Tourism Director. Our final panel discussion for the day was with David Downing, Executive Director for Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater and JoLynn Lokey, Chief Operating Officer, Visit Tampa Bay. They stressed the importance of tourism at the local level, that it brings over 22 million visitors Hillsborough County alone and that one in 19 jobs in Hillsborough County is tourism-related.

We then headed to the grand finale for the day: a ride back to Channelside on board the Yacht StarShip II. Little did we know as we boarded the Yacht StarShip that there was another surprise waiting for us: Josh Bullock, our vice chair, had arranged for our significant others join us for our final ride of Leadership Tampa, Class of 2017, the GREATEST OF ALL TIME!

What an amazing experience this has been! Friendships have been forged for life and we are now equipped with the knowledge to continue to support this community we are lucky to call home!

Thank you Susan, MaryBeth, Josh and Hannah for your tireless dedication to making this the most enjoyable and informative experience ever!

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Chamber Celebrates Leadership Tampa Graduates

Leadership Tampa, a program of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, celebrated the graduation of 50 members of the class of 2017 on April 26th, 2017 at Embassy Suites in Tampa, FL.  The 2017 class marks the 46th class to graduate from the nationally recognized leadership program established in 1971.

Members of Leadership Tampa are local business people who hold to mid-to upper-level management positions within their companies or organizations.  They represent a wide variety of industries across Tampa and Hillsborough County, and are accepted into the program following a selective application process.

The 2017 Leadership Tampa class was led by Class Chair Susan Maurer of Atlantic Coast Bank, a 2014 Leadership Tampa graduate; and Vice Chair Josh Bullock of the Tampa Bay Rays, a 2012 Leadership Tampa graduate.

LT'17 Graduation

Leadership Tampa Class of 2017 graduating class members:

Daniel Abou-Jaoude, Skanska USA Building, Inc.
Charlesetta Amos-Coles, Amica Mutual Insurance Company
John Astrab, PNC Bank
Lee Bercaw, City of Tampa Police Department
Josh Bomstein, Creative Contractors, Inc.
Kristy Chase-Tozer, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Brenden Chiaramonte, Hillsborough County Tax Collector
Andrea Cichon, Tampa General Hospital
Karen Cowan, USAA
Casey Coy, The Florida Aquarium
Chris Farkas, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Michael Ferrone, Cigna
Jose Fourquet, Merrill Lynch
Meredith Freeman, Shutts and Bowen, LLP
Ryan Garlow, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AFB
Bibiana Gomez, Regions Bank
Matthew Gomez, Gerdau
Todd Gregory, GTE Financial
Jason Grinstead, Tonic Consulting Group
Nicole Hawker, Vistra Communications
David Hendrix, GrayRobinson, P.A.
Miray Holmes, City of Tampa
Jamie Johnson, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay
Derek Kantaskas, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt PA
Man Le, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority
Nicole Leontsinis, Sypris Electronics, LLC
Connor Lewis, Ryan Companies US, Inc.
Dennis Manelli, Hendry Marine Industries, Inc.
Maggie McCleland, Academy Prep Center of Tampa
Edward Norstrem, Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Penny Parks, Links Financial, LLC
Travis Pelleymounter, Tampa Bay Lightning
Maria Porto-Duarte, AMIKids
Christopher Rogers, Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated
Julia Ruddock, The University of Tampa
Dean Rustin, Bisk Education, Inc.
Meredith Seeley, 927th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill AFB
Maribel Serocki, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB
Ethen R. Shapiro, Hill Ward Henderson, PA
Erica M. Shea, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
John Thompson, Wilder Architecture, Inc.
Shelley Thornton, Mosaic
Maria Vaca, Cristo Rey Tampa High School
Scott Walden, VetCor, LLC
Toi Walker, BayCare Health System
Kelly Warhola, AACSB International
Calvin Williams, University of South Florida
Ray A. Wong, Gresham, Smith and Partners
Randall Woods, Florida Blue
Glenn Zimmerman, Mad Bear Productions

Applications for the 2018 Leadership Tampa class are available online at The deadline for application submission is May 5, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.  For more information on Leadership Tampa, please contact MaryBeth Williams at (813) 276-9445 or at