Creative Contractors, Inc. has been awarded a “Top Workplaces 2021” honor by the Tampa Bay Times. Florida Polytechnic University entrepreneurial team of students earned funding for the development of an innovative gesture-control device for electric longboards. Hub International insurance brokerage can help your business be organizationally resilient. Memorial Hospital of Tampa announces the appointment of Chris Conn, as its new Chief Financial Officer. Port Tampa Bay and the Propeller Club of Tampa Bay are proud to be the presenting sponsor of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s inaugural event, The Great Port Cleanup. Stonehill Innovation‘s Doug Pace and CROOW’s David Capece have announced the publishing of Level Up, a book that serves as a primer on how to grow a professional services firm, including organizational structure, tools, metrics and an operational checklist.
April 20, 2021: Chat with a Career Coach April 21, 2021: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Career Transition April 26, 2021: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers April 27, 2021: Substance Abuse/Mental Health from the Perspective of Children’s Protective Services and Working with Youths from the Perspective of Public Schools April 27, 2021: Virtual Supplier Diversity Outreach Day April 28, 2021: Tools to Launch a Winning Job Search April 29-May 2, 2021: Valspar Championship PGA Tour April 30, 2021: Homebrew Hillsborough with Embarc Collective May 1, 2021: Skeets & Geeks Clay Shoot May 1, 2021: White Sands Treatment Center & KO Addiction Fight Night (813-680-8668 for tickets) May 8, 2021: Courage & Grace Ignite Your Confidence 2021 Brunch May 11, 2021: Suicide Prevention and Awareness and Benefits of Partnership Between Law Enforcement and Mental Health Professionals May 15, 2021: Hippie Dash 2021 July 14, 2021: Virtual Buyer-Supplier Town Hall
Tell us, why LTA? I was involved in many organizations prior to going through LT but I felt something was missing. The others were for very specific purposes such as All Children’s Hospital Foundation, American Institute of Architects, Ronald McDonald House Charities, etc. and I held leadership positions in all of them. Leadership Tampa connected me to a very broad spectrum of people in Tampa.
For you, what separates LTA from other business leadership programs? LTA is a forum to strengthen and to build upon the relationships which began during LT and then to use the power of the organization to expand your personal and business network. We also continue to work for the charitable organizations in Tampa.
Describe a time when the LTA experience impacted your life or career? I am an architect and I design primarily corporate offices. A few years ago, one of my LT classmates, Mike Griffin, referred me to a Fortune 500 company moving to Tampa that was looking for a local firm to design their new headquarters. Mike was familiar with my work (we did the renovations to Tropicana Field including Stu Sternberg’s private suite and The Rays Club) and knew we would do a good job. Wallrapp Architecture & Interior Design did the project and the client is very pleased with the results. All thanks to LT connections.
What is an LTA benefit you wish everyone knew about? I meet someone new at every event I attend and staying involved is key to maintaining the friendships and the connections. Being Programs Chair during Covid-19 brought unexpected challenges but I was able to reach out to fellow LT grads to arrange our tour of the Midtown construction site. Even now, 17 years after our graduation, I know if I need help with something, I can call a fellow member and they will be able to help or know of someone that can.
Describe how the leadership journey will continue to shape you? The leadership skills I developed in LTA are invaluable. Working on programs and projects with other LTA members has taught me how to get results by cooperating with others and by building upon my relationships, both in LTA and in the community. Continuing my involvement in the leadership of LTA will continue to mold me into a better leader, a better businessperson and a better member of the Tampa Bay community.
MAGIC BEANS – DEBBIE AND MICHAEL LUNDBERG GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE
Before I go any further, I have a disclaimer:
I’ve had a front row seat to this story, and by front row, I mean a sweaty, out-of-breath, “sprint to the trash can,” watch the sunrise, run a 5K on Bayshore every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 a.m., and Sunday at 7:30 a.m., seat to this story.
I am one of the lucky few to call myself Debbie Lundberg’s (LT ‘13) Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday running buddy. It is one of the most rewarding and cherished rituals in my life. For the last six months, I have been breathless (literally and figuratively) as this story unfolded and this incredible woman pushed herself, with grit and determination from an 11:38 mile to a 8:25 mile.
But this story is not about speed, it’s about inspiration, resolve, and hope.
110,000. That’s the number of people in the U.S. on a transplant waiting list for a new kidney. According to Living Kidney, “The wait for a deceased donor could be 5 years, and in some states, it is closer to 10 years. On average, receiving a kidney transplant can double someone’s life expectancy.” Living donors can provide faster life-saving transplants, especially if a compatible donor is recruited by the recipient.
Enter the living donor. An altruistic person, who by relation or otherwise, voluntarily provides one of their kidneys to someone in need. The opportunity to, “share you spare,” and become a living donor is not without risk and a challenging recovery. Most people are attached to their organs, even ones that might serve as an “extra,” such as a kidney. It takes a special kind of person to decide to undertake such an operation.
The technology is not new, the first living kidney donor was in 1954, in Boston. Ronald Herrick donated a kidney to his twin brother, Richard, who had chronic kidney failure. Both lived healthy lives far longer than Richard could have expected and without complications for Ronald. Since then, tens of thousands of live donor kidney transplants have occurred in the United States.
But who are these folks? Who willingly gives a kidney and how exactly does that happen?
Enter Debbie and Michael Lundberg.
Finding a Match
Finding a living donor match can be tricky. Often family members are a match, but not always. Recipients have found new ways to bring awareness through social media and networking groups dedicated to finding a living match. That was the case for Debra Palmer, a Seffner resident and CFO in the construction industry? Palmer posted on Facebook on a page about her chronic kidney issues and need for a transplant, and shared that page. Debbie Lundberg, who had met Debra about five years previously at one of her speaking engagements, saw the post.
Debbie knew she was a match. “It was strange, almost unsettling and calming all at once, after having my blood drawn, with no results provided, I phoned my husband and said that while I could not explain it, I had a feeling I was Debra’s match. Michael said you’re not usually wrong about these things, and we both, somewhat quietly even in our own home, started to plan what we already accepted, planning for the donation of one of my kidneys – even if Debra, and Tampa General Hospital didn’t know it yet!”
This is where I have to jump in and say that I have seen Debbie speak countless times. I’ve read her books (shameless plug for Remote Work Rockstar that got me through the pandemic), I read her morning Lundbergisms on Instagram, and I’ve turned to her for career coaching. I am not at all surprised about two things:
That Debbie would donate a kidney to someone she barely knows
That even Debbie’s blood type is positive (A+ to be exact)
It takes more than just a matching blood type and the desire to donate. Dozens of tests are required to assess the viability of the organ and the risk to the donor. Debbie is a high-achiever, she passed all her tests without issue. On August 6, Debbie gave her kidney to Debra and the “Two Debs” were forever connected.
Debbie has had time to look back on her experience and see how life has changed for the recipient, “At more than seven months post kidney donation, it is exhilarating to know Debra and her kidney (I told her pre-surgery that the kidney would forever be hers, and promised to never call it ‘my old kidney’) are doing exceedingly well.
“She looks and feels like someone I’d never known…and in many ways, she is. We were not friends, had never had a one-on-one until this journey, and now, we are what we call ‘kidney cousins’. Being different in generations, interests and other things, we both love our Tampa Bay community and give back, so we still do in our own ways.”
As for Debbie’s “return” to her athletic and professional activities, “I have been thrilled to have been able to get in 26 miles each week, mostly running, with the exception of the two weeks following the surgery, as that was all walking, on my one bean. We joke that since they took my right kidney, my golf swing, as a right-handed player, has a bit more turn now! I will always have scars, and occasionally a pang of reminder of the incision and missing organ, and other than that, it’s full steam ahead…especially on Bayshore Boulevard!”
Mark Twain said, “Write what you know,” and as a motivational speaker and writer, Debbie has done just that. Her experience will be published in the book LIVING KINDLY this year. She was approached by the collaborator almost immediately after hearing of Debbie’s quick action to aid a community member. She has also become a featured athlete, active member, and mentor for Kidney Donor Athlete (KDA). As the name would suggest, selfless athletes support and encourage becoming live donors. At last count, Debbie has 8 potential donors that she is mentoring. Some live as far away as Colorado and North Carolina and all are in the process of becoming live donors. Debbie shares her story, her experience, her recovery, and her enthusiasm. It’s effective. Just ask her husband, Michael Lundberg. Michael and Debbie are both competitive…so much so that for the past 12 years of their 16 year marriage, whomever lost on the golf course that week had to mow the lawn! The tally list is a close record of wins and losses!
This is where I have to add another personal editorial: The Lundbergs’ are one of the best-looking couples I know. I have pictures of them from events. I could frame one of these photos, but people would just assume it’s the photo that came with the frame. They’re that good looking.
I remember when Debbie told me, on a run, that Michael was considering donating. As the Division Credit Manager for CED (Consolidated Electrical Distributors), Michael has always been a respected business leader, a loving supporter of all-things-Debbie, proud dog dad to Lexi and Daisy, and a pretty darn good golfer. It was incredible news. I remember thinking it didn’t even seem real. Each week I would gain new insight into the process, the tests, and the green light for Michael’s operation. Before long, he had one kidney and his own story to tell.
Michael took a pragmatic approach, “After going through the process with Debbie, I was astonished, and saddened to learn that 13 people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant. First I thought I’d donate immediately upon retiring, and then, with the pandemic, it seemed like there was no reason not to do it now. After all, travel curtailed dramatically for work, and those thirteen people were weighing on my mind. I couldn’t save all of them, but I figured I could save one!”
Unlike Debbie, who knew her recipient, Michael chose to give his kidney without knowing who would receive it. On February 24, someone got a new chance at life, because of Michael Lundberg. Because of Debbie Lundberg. Because good people do good things.
Still recovering, it will be a while before Michael is back on the golf course. He’s managing walks around the neighborhood, wearing the surgical support wrap that helps his body adjust to the extra space left by his donated kidney (his left kidney, which is most common). He’s receiving follow up care but has had no concerning complications and will be back-to-normal in a few months. On day 16 he was released to drive. That was likely similar to when he got his first driver’s license…a sense of new-found freedom from Debbie chauffeuring him around.
Michael finds the awkwardness of not getting comfortable for very long, and the restriction of not lifting anything over 10 pounds for 6 weeks well worth the outcome for whomever got their new kidney! Plus, there must be an ounce of joy for Michael watching Debbie now mow the grass every week for a couple of months as he did for her. They’ll be back on the links soon to restart their unique contest on the course!
Two Beans Between Them
Donating a kidney is challenging under any circumstances, but during a pandemic it has presented its own issues. Visits were not allowed for Debbie and discouraged for Michael, cards have been abundant. Scores of friends signed up for Meal Trains to catch a glimpse and offer well wishes in the quick drop off of food. Soon, as things begin to go back to the “Before Times,” we will no doubt see Debbie and Michael return to the social and philanthropic world. They will be donating their time, supporting their friends and worthy causes, and inspiring others. These “one beaners” as Debbie calls them, will mentor others and continue to ensure the gift of life. Their story is unique, one of just four couples in the world I could find at time of this article, who have both been kidney donors to non-family members. They started this pandemic with four kidneys, but now four people can say their lives have been forever changed.
That’s four people, with four working kidneys among them, making Tampa better.
In a year of so much loss, it is important to focus on what has been gained.
One of the key initiatives of the Chamber’s Workforce Development Committee is to engage the business community and advocate for innovative workforce development initiatives.
The Future Career Academy is proud to present the 2021Future Career Fair for its students and local businesses. This year, it will happen virtually, in conjunction withCareerSource Tampa Bay, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22.
Theaward-winningFuture Career Academy (FCA) that began at Plant City High School has become so successful it now includes seniors in all Hillsborough County public high schools. The program teaches non-college-bound students, who opt into the program, how to prepare for and find meaningful work, training, certifications, internships and jobs with lifelong growth potential right out of high school. Businesses gain prepared, competent young workers who remain in the county and contribute to building industries and the area’s economic wellbeing. This year’s Future Career Fair will also serve adult members of our community with a two-hour event. The majority of the day, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., will be dedicated to student job searchers, while 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. will be reserved for members of the general public.
Very similar to a face-to-face job fair, where people walk up to each booth, gather brochures and ask questions, at this virtual event, seekers will be able to search the online-event site (by industry, location, minority- and women-owned businesses), view videos and visit websites.
Shumaker Advisors Florida, LLC announced today that former Hillsborough County Commissioners Lesley “Les” Miller, Jr. and Sandra “Sandy” Murman will be joining the firm. Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Workplaces in Tampa by the Tampa Bay Times for the eighth consecutive year.
April 6, 2021: Skanska Virtual Pre-Bid Session Event Announcement for Moffitt Cancer Center, Faculty Office Building Renovations (Floors 1-3) April 13, 2021: Peer Programs for Criminal Justice and Social Work Careers and Practices April 27, 2021: Substance Abuse/Mental Health from the Perspective of Children’s Protective Services and Working with Youths from the Perspective of Public Schools April 29-May 2, 2021: Valspar Championship PGA Tour April 30, 2021: Homebrew Hillsborough with Embarc Collective May 1, 2021: Skeets & Geeks Clay Shoot May 11, 2021: Suicide Prevention and Awareness and Benefits of Partnership Between Law Enforcement and Mental Health Professionals May 15, 2021: Hippie Dash 2021
We have all heard the phrase “small businesses are the backbone of the community.” The truth of this statement was never more evident to me and my colleagues at Hill Ward Henderson than during our presentation to the Tampa Bay Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) Program. Our law firm has had a long and dynamic relationship with the Tampa Bay Chamber. Thus, the opportunity to engage with the MBA program as subject matter experts was a natural extension of our relationship, and in-line with the firm’s core value surrounding diversity and inclusion.
Hill Ward Henderson has made increased and improved diversity & inclusion a part of our strategic plan. As the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Shareholder, I help lead the execution of our D&I initiatives. This includes impacting not only our firm’s internal diversity and inclusion, but also our engagement with diverse businesses and organizations in the Tampa Bay community. Our participation with the MBA program as subject matter experts is a perfect example of the firm’s commitment to the development of diverse and inclusive community partners.
We first learned of the MBA program from my partner (and fellow presenter) Nicholas Outman. As part of his corporate practice focus, Nick often provides counsel to small and start-up businesses, and had done so as a contributor to the Tampa Bay Chamber prior to the MBA program. Of course, we were very intrigued by the opportunity to work with the Chamber on this project, and grew even more excited once we learned more about the program from its biggest advocate, Program Director Avril Stinson. Avril informed us that the businesses are thoroughly vetted by the Chamber for the competitive MBA program. Once selected, the “Cohorts” are provided developmental and growth information and training from subject matter experts and on-going counseling from business mentors. As subject matter experts, we were privileged to host the Cohort on March 12, 2021 for a presentation on corporate structure, employer/employee relations and business liability.
Prior to starting the presentation, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to talk with several of the MBA Cohort members and the MBA Cohort Chairs. In addition to learning more about the companies, we also learned some of the drivers for creating the MBA program. For instance, we learned that while approximately 50% of small businesses are minority owned, they account for just 5% of GDP growth. So, the question becomes, “how do you equip these small businesses for stronger growth and greater economic impact?” It was our hope that our presentation would provide another set of “tools” to better equip the Cohort members in reaching this goal.
We began with Nick’s presentation on corporate structure and other corporate governance issues. Following Nick, my partner Jeff Wilcox (one of our employment law gurus) “presented” on employment issues facing many small businesses, such as medical leave, discrimination claims, and wage and hour disputes. I put presented in quotes because Jeff only got to his second PowerPoint slide when he began fielding a number of questions from members of the Cohort. It was apparent that Jeff’s presentation was timely, as we learned that many of the Cohort members were faced with certain employment matters in real time.
I was joined by my colleague Nicole Walsh for the final presentation on premises liability. Once again, the Cohort members were engaged, allowing for a more interactive presentation. Nicole and I were joined by our colleague Sherilee Samuel during a lively Q&A session following our presentation. Throughout the program, I was really impressed by the range of diverse businesses areas represented by the Cohort (catering, construction, automotive, staffing, etc.) and by the common thread among them – a sincere and all-out commitment to the health and viability of their business. It was a great honor to share our firm’s commitment to them!
Memorial Hospital of Tampa Ribbon Cutting on March 24th
Memorial Hospital of Tampa opened 32 new beds in a major behavioral health expansion last week. This is phase 1 of its expansion of behavioral health services, bringing the bed total to 68. Phase 1 also includes construction of an eight-bed dedicated Psychiatric Emergency Department, opening in May. Once the full project is completed, Tampa Community Hospital will be the largest and most comprehensive adult Behavioral Health Program in Hillsborough County. Read the full press release here.
On Wednesday, March 10, the Leadership Tampa class of 2021 continued a very busy March with an exploration of the Agriculture & Port industries of Tampa Bay. The journey took them from the strawberry fields of Plant City to the heart of the Port in an eye-opening view of some of the untold stories around Tampa Bay economics including family, tradition, and the fuel behind the waterfront.
These stories involve a couple of family owned and operated businesses in Plant City, an annual festival threated to be shut down by Covid and thousands of jobs that literally fuel Tampa Bay. Ultimately, it is the people behind the industry that make it work. Whether that’s the 150 workers a day that farm the fields or the over 3,000 shipyard workers, there is always a story.
The theme of family was so obvious as the class stepped off the bus onto Fancy Farms ground. Father, son due Carl and Dustin Grooms shared the trials and tribulations of being a farmer fighting weather, labor concerns and just wondering if they will make enough to do it all again next year. While they sell their product at their farm stand in some delicious forms of milkshakes, cookies, jams and breads, ultimately, they turn their product over to another locally owned and operated family business in Wish Farms which started in New York City in 1922 before relocating to Florida in 1937. Since then, four generations have found new and innovative ways to evolve and grow the business including an all-new state of the art facility in Plant City.
Tradition, when threatened, stands tall. Key players in the community came together in the face of hardship to persevere and ultimately affect the next generation. This is best illustrated through the stories of Strawberry Festival leadership and how they fought to keep the tradition alive by spending over $600,000 in Covid related expenses to simply host the festival. With an economic impact of over $28 million, the investment is worth it. But not just financially. The impact of the agriculture programs for youth that are displayed and even sold at the festival gives young students the opportunity to develop a love for an industry and a passion to launch their own careers.
Both family and tradition fuel the heart of Tampa Bay economics literally and figurately. But as the LT class learned, over 40% of all the fuel for the state of Florida goes through the Tampa ports emphasizing that the over 3000 shipyard workers literally fuel our city and state. From the dry docks to shipping containers and eventually the regrowth of the cruise lines and the tourism business, Florida’s largest and most cargo diverse port continues to grow and support the ever-changing Tampa Bay economy.
As the day wrapped around the Tampa Bay setting sun on the Yacht Star Ship, the themes of the day; family, tradition and the waterfront were even more prevalent because the class of LT ’21 will set out to share their new knowledge of these industries and work together to create effective change in the Tampa Bay community and start new traditions that continue to bring people together.