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.
Name: Christopher “Pappy” Collins, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret), USAF LT Class Year: 2019 (eLiTe ’19) Company Name: US Air Force; MacDill AFB By Laura Frost
1. Tell us, why LTA?
As military, I’ve spent 30 years moving from place to place every 3+ years. Meaning, I’ve been in 20 homes since 1990! LT was a rare opportunity to finally learn and become immersed in my community which was impossible to do anywhere else I’ve lived. To actually meet and become friends with my community was unheard of for me. Meeting well-versed and entrenched community leaders allowed me to learn not just from the program AND for my peers.
2. For you, what separates LTA from other business leadership programs?
Since I’m military, direct civilian comparison is difficult. But what I see now, as an alumnus, is a deep, purposeful attempt at revealing inter-connectedness of all things within Tampa. Really driving home our touch points, both obvious and not so obvious. Presenting to us how the bonds of industry play as much a part as the bonds of people. A leader has wisdom by virtue of experience; LT creates a repository of experience in its participants, members, and associates all interacting, who help bring the “knowledge” to others to be leveraged in their own professional lives.
3. Describe a time when the LTA experience impacted your life or career?
Right now! As of the writing of these answers, I am now a military “retiree”; having served 30 years total… first as an enlisted Marine for 10 years, and Air Force officer for 20 years. I am on the hunt for my new career, and new purpose. I’ve chosen Tampa to be my home. Not only have my peers from LTA been a source of information and connection, they have been advisors, mentors, and teachers to me. They are inoculating me as a new civilian Tampanian and newcomer to the business world. Their time and efforts are selfless. They help guide my path as I seek an opportunity to lead within banking and finance, my current targeted industry.
And even more so, LTA helped connect me with the right people for my daughter and son-in-law because they have now moved to Tampa since my wife and I are staying here. LT connections helped lead both of them to new careers in Tampa.
How are these connections not priceless? Imagine all that ability to make a difference for others!
4. What is an LTA benefit you wish everyone knew about?
After LT, you immediately see the obvious; a larger “network”. But it is more than a network and not meant to be the takeaway here. The relationships you develop, based on shared experience, learning and belonging, create two things, 1) a never-ending path of learning and improvement, and 2) you are literally at the threshold of being a major, positive influencer for your community. Gone are the days where all you can say is, “I might know someone who may be able to help”. YOU are now one of those people, someone who can help; helping your business, another business or organization, an individual, a family, a neighborhood, and more. Your leadership ability brings you into the program; your experience connecting you to the community and its people makes you an influencer. What will you do with such a gift?
5. Tell us about LT as a member of the military and how did Parke Wright IV play a role?
Great question! So,why choose a military member for LT? We eventually leave, right? When I was nominated by my squadron commander, amongst my officer peers, and selected as the ideal representative, I was then vetted at our Group (a Group is several squadrons; 3-8 depending) competing with other squadrons. After being selected again from the Group, I had to be vetted one more time at the Wing with all other nominated officers from the other Groups (we have 4 Groups at MacDill). Receiving the Wing nomination, I was then able to apply and interview with the Chamber for LT ‘19. The Wing wishes very much to select an officer for more than whether we represent ourselves and the Air Force well; but also, if we will be a faithful advocate to our new friends, if we will bring the lessons back to our warrior brothers and sisters, and if we would be an asset to the community-at-large. It is considered whether the officer is likely to one day return to Tampa and call it home.
Every military LT member I know from the last 6 classes either has made Tampa home (like me), or is doing so once their military commitments elsewhere have concluded. This means we, as a city and program, are incentivizing and attracting career-long officers to stay or return to Tampa; to add to its core, a unique perspective of experience that will not only help us grow, but presumably add our collective experience to the fold.
Once I was selected, I was the very fortunate recipient of a military scholarship provided by Parke Wright IV; covering the LT tuition costs. Mr. Wright has close ties to MacDill, as his father, Parke Wright III, flew B-17 Flying Fortresses here in Tampa at Drew Field (where most of Busch Gardens now resides), and flew in WWII over the skies of Germany. Mr Wright IV is generous in nurturing relationships with our local military and played a role in my decision to stay and work for Tampa.
6. Describe how the leadership journey will continue to shape you?
It will continue during my current path of seeking a new career, and beyond; and more importantly, how I will then utilize my own influence to help individuals, organizations, businesses and the community at large as I seek paths, as a newly born civilian and Tampanian, to give what I can to our home and individuals. What LT and the community have done for me, I wish to do, as best I can, in return. So, I’d like to announce I will be replacing Tom Brady as QB for the Tampa Bay Bucs! Super Bowl LVI !!!!! Okay, maybe I’m not doing that.
7. Why are you called “Pappy”… tell us that story.
I’m glad you asked. Air Force call signs are given at naming ceremonies, and are usually based on how badly you’ve screwed something up, a play on your name, your personality, or just the whims of the drunken mob of pilots. Call signs have many purposes. For example, security over the radio to protect a person’s name. In debriefs, it “remove rank” from aviators so they can speak to each other as equals when reviewing the completed mission. At debriefs, egos and rank must be left at the door so we can discuss freely what we did wrong, what we screwed up, what we did right. Debriefings are learning exercises to ensure safety in the air during training and during combat.
There are many other traditions to how we get the names, keep the names, have those names changed, etc. When a call sign is given for reasons with stories, the story, traditionally, only needs to be 10% true for a name to stick. I was lucky to have two independent reasons; situational, AND a story. The sincere situation was, I was “named” after Brigadier General Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. A Marine Corps pilot in WWII and commander of the infamous VMF-214, the “Black Sheep”. “Pappy” Boyington was about 35 years old then. He commanded pilots that were average 21 years old. His pilots referred to him as “Old Man, Grandpa, Gramps, Grandpappy”. And that evolved to “Pappy” and stuck.
He was “old”, a Marine, and a pilot. When I attended the US Air Force Weapons School, we received call signs upon graduation. I was “old” (38 in comparison to the other 25 year old pilots), a prior-enlisted Marine, and a pilot.
But you see, that name was “too cool” to give me. Pappy Boyington was a Medal of Honor recipient, a former POW, and fighter ace. So, the second reason I got Pappy….. it involves Vegas, a sheep costume, and cow bell. And you’re not getting any more than that!
Ron Christaldi, 2020 Parke Wright III Award Recipient By Kari Goetz
You’ve been involved in the Chamber for quite a while now, can you remember your first Chamber meeting?
My first Chamber meeting was in joining the Water Policy task force in the late 1990s. I think Ike Tribble was the chair at the time. During that time, there was a lot of litigation in the region over water resources and the Chamber was taking a leadership role to try to bring order to that situation. For my part, I just wanted to help find a solution. It was a wonderful experience, and the region ultimately came together in the formation of what is now Tampa Bay Water.
I will also mention that I distinctly remember attending the annual meeting in 2003 when Deanne Roberts took over the chair from Sandy Mackinnon. Both were such dynamic leaders and Deanne’s speech that year about her vision inspired me to want to someday chair the chamber and 12 years later I did!
You’ve held numerous leadership positions with the Chamber and LTA, what has been the most rewarding project that you lead or moment you experienced in that time?
When I was chair elect, I served as chair of the nominating committee, which selects the executive committee and officers. In looking at the pool of people to choose from, I felt that we could do better from a diversity perspective. In that moment, the minority business accelerator was born and though the hard work and determination of Bob and many other staff and board members the vision I had of enriching the diversity of the Chamber became a reality.
You are the Parke Wright III recipient this year. In years past, the recipient is surprised, with the pandemic, it’s harder to keep a secret, did you know or were you really surprised?
Although I knew I was nominated, I didn’t think I had a chance to win given the caliber of past winners and the typical pool of nominees. I had no idea that my kids had participated in making that video. As the lunch started, I noticed my long-time mentor and friend, David de la Parte, in the room, which caused me for the first time to wonder if I had won.
What were your first thoughts when you found out you were being honored?
I will admit, seeing my kids in the video was shocking to me and brought me to tears. My first thoughts were how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to lead and to be recognized. The warm words of my friends, colleagues and family in the video filled me with emotion. It is such an honor to be counted among the past winners, and the video presentation will stay in my heart forever.
Have you had a chance to go back and watch the announcement video again? What is your favorite part?
I watched it so many times! Not to hear about myself, but to watch my kids and friends. I am so proud of how poised and well-spoken my kids were. Seeing my mentor David de la Parte brought to mind so many memories of the lessons I have learned from him and a realization of the immense gratitude I have for him. Watching my fellow past Chamber chairs Mike Griffin and Guy King reminded me of the great leadership they have demonstrated and steadfast friendship that have given me. Seeing Bemetra Simmons always inspires me in how visionary she is while at the same time being very humble and grounded. Seeing my friend Mayor Castor conjured up great memories together but more importantly the great respect I have for her lifelong public service to all of us in this Tampa Bay Community. It made me realize that the Parke Wright III award is not about me, it is about this wonderful place called Tampa Bay.
Your Parke Wright III video demonstrates that you are not only an incredible leader and community advocate, but also a devoted dad. How do you balance time with your family and all of your other obligations?
On word: Integration. My kids, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my charity work and volunteer projects, my firm and my clients are a continuum of the same thing. Work and play are intertwined. My kids help me on the charity projects I undertake like chairing the LLS Light the night walk, the Lions Eye Institute Heart Ball or the American Heart Association Heart Ball. I am never too busy for my kids. We are always working and we are always playing. We seize every moment of every day and make the most of it. That’s the reason I always have this suit and tie on!
You were recently named the Managing Partner for Shumaker, in addition to being the CEO of Shumaker Advisors Florida. How has your role and your leadership had to adapt to the work-from-home environment and other challenges facing the legal system in a pandemic?
2020 was a challenging and transformational year in many ways. As lawyers and public policy advisors, we have a responsibility to navigate our clients and the community through the challenges of uncertain and changing times. At Shumaker, we quickly established a 24 hour a day Covid related helpline to assist clients and the community with the myriad of challenges facing them in the early days of the pandemic in Tampa Bay. At Shumaker, we were considered an essential service and remained open in our physical locations, but the health and safety of our workforce was of paramount importance so we quickly deployed safety measures for those on site and remote work capabilities so many could work from the safety of their homes. Our staff and IT professionals did a fantastic job and I have spent more time on video conferences in the last year than in my entire life before that!
I know you like to travel with your kids, when the pandemic is over – what is top on your list for places to visit?
We have been to NYC, Chicago, San Fran, Las Vegas, Breckenridge, Phila, NJ beaches, NC mountains, Minnesota lakes, London, Italy etc. I had planned to take them to Ireland before Covid, and I think getting that trip back on track will be top of the list once the pandemic subsides. In the meantime, we are having a lot of fun at home!
Ring, Ring, Ring…LTA On the Line! The Renew&You&You 2021 Campaign Continues Renew for 2021 here: Sign Me Up for 2021!
Hello…are you there? It’s LTA’s Membership Committee on the line checking on you! In our ongoing efforts to bring our LTA family back together in 2021 after a tough year, we launched a call-a-thon last month to randomly check on past LTA members and say “hello.” We had the chance to laugh, catch up, and touch bases with many of our LTA members. We also learned through that process (and other feedback from members) that you have questions regarding membership and we are here to answer them! In this edition of the newsletter, you will find questions to frequently asked membership questions. If you have a question that’s not answered here, I invite you to contact me…I welcome the opportunity to connect with you, you, and you!
Q: I’ve received emails regarding renewing since October 2020. Is that for 2020 or 2021? A: It was for 2021. The renewal campaign for 2021 started October 1, 2020.
Q. I paid LTA dues in the third quarter of 2020. Was that dues payment for 2020 or 2021? A. Those dues were for 2020. If you pay your dues now, you will be active for 2021.
Q. What is the deadline to pay dues every year? A: There is no set deadline to pay but in order to continue to receive LTA content, you must be renewed by March 31st. Currently, the renewal cycle starts October 1st of every year.
Q. Many LTA members have been impacted by COVID. Did you consider reducing or suspending dues to be responsive to that impact? A. Last year, LTA did offer a reduced dues structure and suspended its membership renewal campaign to be responsive to the pandemic. This year, to directly assist our members who continue to be financially impacted by COVID, LTA has developed a grant program to cover 100% of their dues. Information about the grant program can be found here: LTA Cares Grant Application & Information. Apply today!
Q: What do my membership dues cover? A: LTA membership dues support the continued leadership programming LTA provides but also helps to help build up our future leaders in our Tampa Bay community by providing scholarships to the Leadership Tampa and Emerging Leaders programs.
Q: How are we doing with our March 31st renewal goal of 496 renewed members?A: We are slow moving but the Membership Committee is working hard to bring our LTA family back bigger and stronger in 2021. We are currently at 308 renewed members, with LT Classes ’20 (54%),’18 (39%),’16 (38%), ‘19 (38%), ’17 (38%), and ’15 (37%) leading the way. Will you join us in your efforts? Join today! Renew for 2021 here: Sign Me Up for 2021!
Q: How can I become more involved in LTA? A: We’re glad you asked! Join a Committee! Contact Michelle Ciudad Real for more information.
If you live in Tampa you have likely heard the name of Jose Gaspar. Each winter the “Gasparilla Season” kicks off. There’s the children’s parade, Invasion, Knight parade, a music festival, a movie festival, and a distance classic for runners and walkers, all bearing his likeness and some derivation of the name, “Gasparilla.”
For the first time in 19 years the Gasparilla Invasion has been postponed until April 2021, as a result of COVID. What does this mean for our community, and why do we continue to celebrate Gasparilla, (besides the obvious fun component)? According to Don Barnes, the Executive Officer of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (the first Krewe to observe Gasparilla), there are substantial economic impacts and reasons to host these events.
“The Gasparilla Invasion, Children’s Parade and Parade of Pirates generate upward of $40 million in revenue for local hotels, restaurants, bars, other service-related industries.These Gasparilla events are viewed by over a half million spectators each year, with over 50% visiting from out of the local area. Those out of town visitors get to see Tampa and the rich/diverse culture we have to offer.
Gasparilla also demonstrates the City of Tampa’s ability to efficiently, safely and professionally host major events on an annual basis. Every year, Police Chiefs and Event Organizers attend Gasparilla to watch how Tampa pulls off these events without significant incident. They walk away knowing Tampa can host world-class events and add our City to their list of major event options. That’s why Tampa has been host to: Four (soon to be five) Super Bowls; the NCAA College Football National Championship, Basketball Final Fours, Hockey Frozen Fours, NHL All Star Games, The Indian International Film Academy Awards (Bollywood), Republican National Convention.
Gasparilla provides Tampa with a “Signature Event”. New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Nashville has Country, New York has New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Orlando has Disney World. Tampa has “Gasparilla”, the world’s largest pirate invasion and street celebration.”
Delays are not unprecedented, there is a history of delays and postponements to the Gasparilla season. Don Barnes shared a history of Gasparilla as it relates to the causes and results of suspending the celebrations.
Gasparilla was first celebrated back in 1904 and continued until 1906 without delays. The 1st postponement occurred from 1907 – 1909, when no spring Festivals were held in Tampa[KG3] during this period of time. Gasparilla was postponed again from 1918 – 1919 in observance of World War I[KG4] (and the correspondence of the Spanish Flu Outbreak), and again from 1942 – 1946 in observance of World War II. Since then, the dates have moved to incorporate large events coming to Tampa. Most notable was Superbowl XXXV, when both events occurred on the same weekend. Superbowl XXV caused the most well known postponement, when the National Football League and the City of Tampa put pressure to admit non-white members to Krewes (for more information check out “Pirates back for Gasparilla invasion” – The Lakeland Ledger, Feb. 1, 1992. Since 1992 Gasparilla has been held every year since.
What impact could this year’s postponement have on the community both economically and socially? We asked a few members of the LTA Cabinet who are all members of Ye Mystic Krewe.
John De La Vergne LTA Sponsorship Chair “Yes and no. I believe the participation may be up slightly from a normal year given it will be spring time and the weather should hopefully be better. I also think it will be up depending on where we are with the COVID virus as people will have a lot of pent up energy to get out and participate. I also think it might have been down a little this year simply due to the Super Bowl being in town as well.”
LTA Chair Luis Martinez-Monfort “I think delaying Gasparilla was a good decision. I believe, if conditions improve as we all hope, a delayed Gasparilla in April will see an increase in participation because people will be more than ready to go out in public and safely celebrate together.”
Don Barnes “We believe postponing Gasparilla to April 2021 will have a positive impact on event attendance. Currently, COVID numbers are high and vaccine distribution is still in the infant stages. Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the City of Tampa would NOT want to risk hosting any event with the potential to become a super-spreader. Our sole focus is to promote free, fun, professional Gasparilla events that are safe and meet (or exceed) all current/potential safety and health standards. Moving the start of Gasparilla season to April allows the vaccine distribution to continue/improve, and we expect to see a drop in new COVID cases. We will use the 80 – 90 day pause to continue to assess the current situation, along with our partners at the City, Tampa General Hospital Infectious Disease experts, and University of South Florida Health Officials.”
The jury is still out as to what impact, if any, the postponement will have, and Tampa is taking the prudent action in the delay. It’s the hope of everyone: the Krewes, City of Tampa Officials, and the attendees by delaying Gasparilla until April 2021 delay will provide a safer and even more popular Invasion and we will see everyone Arrrrrrrghound April!
Name: Christine Turner LT Class Year: 2007 LTA (Chair 2017) Company Name: Chappell Roberts
Tell us, why LTA? Leadership Tampa Alumni is the single best place to expand business relationships outside of your own work, clients and colleagues. Those business relationships have helped me grow our business. It’s equally important to me to note that the personal benefits of true friendship and genuine good times make LTA so valuable.
For you, what separates LTA from other business leadership programs? I think all programs aim to provide a fraternity/sorority of connections among leaders. What I think LTA adds in addition to that is the diversity of connections. Unlike other programs, it’s diversity of industry, diversity of function, diversity of backgrounds and diversity of demographic makeup.
Describe a time when the LTA experience impacted your life or career?Our advertising agency has been given great opportunities to do business with wonderful companies as a direct result of my time in LTA. Conversely, we make decisions about who we do business with based on the LTA directory, and I’ve never been disappointed.
What is a LTA benefit you wish everyone knew about? Lisa Razler and I deliver the most inspiring sponsor remarks of the year at the holiday party.
Describe how the leadership journey will continue to shape you? The impact of LTA goes beyond an individual value. LTA is shaping and growing our business community as a whole, and that’s critical for all of us doing business here.
If you have graduated from Leadership Tampa within the last sixteen years, chances are you know Kari Goetz. Either as a classmate (LT ’18, Gr8teen), or as the person who led the name game ice breaker at the Leadership Tampa Retreat each year since 2004. If you graduated from LT prior to then, maybe you know Kari for her various roles on Tampa stages, most memorably as “Sylvia the Dog,” at Stageworks Theatre. If you don’t know, Kari has been an active member of the Tampa Bay Community working in a variety of companies and environments, and with some of the greatest leaders in Tampa Bay in both the for profit and not for profit world. Her resume reads like a checklist of a Tampa Bay Economic Development Scavenger Hunt: Tampa Bay Chamber (when it was the Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100), Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa International Airport,The Florida Aquarium, and most recently United Way Suncoast. Kari finds there to be quite a few similarities between the for profit and not for profit world with one notable exception: talent acquisition. “The biggest challenge is often being able to identify talent and acquire it quickly. In the private sector you can find someone with talent and create a role for them. In the non-profit world there are leaner budgets, and flatter org charts. It’s about employee retention in the non-profit space.” Kari has had the opportunity to work for several dynamic people who have one thing in common: impatient visionaries who desire revolutionary change. Her list of supervisors includes Robin De La Vergne, Judy Lisi, Joe Lopano, Roger Germann, and most recently Jessica Muroff. In fact, it was working for Jessica which brought her to the United Way Suncoast., but it seems like her entire career had been building to this opportunity.
“My connection to the United Way begins with my job at the Chamber. I worked for Kim Sheeler (Greater Tampa Bay Chamber CEO) and he came from United Way Hillsborough. When I was working at Tampa International Airport, I created the 5K on the Runway and 100% of proceeds go to United Way Suncoast. Jessica made an immediate impact naming Bemetra Simmons as COO three months prior. It’s a profoundly cool place to go to work every day!” When most people hear of United Way, they often think of the organization as a pathway or simply overseeing a corporate campaign. Kari says there is so much more to this organization. “We have real boots on the ground initiatives including three community centers (Sulphur Springs, Campbell Park, and North Greenwood). At these centers we provide wrap around services from food distribution to, financial assistance, and employment services. We partner with schools and community centers across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, DeSoto and Manatee counties to provide early childhood development programs including kindergarten readiness and grade level reading. United Way Suncoast is committed to financial well being for the communities we serve. The Volunteer Initiative Tax Assessment (VITA is a free tax filing service for those who make less than $66,000 a year. We provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax free services resulting in millions of dollars in tax returns. These are United Way led initiatives and a lot of people just don’t know about them. They still think of United Way as a funding source for other nonprofits, and while we do that and it’s a big part of our organization, it’s not all we do.”
What is also unique about the United Way Suncoast is their ability to respond to a crisis facing our community. “With the pandemic, there is about to be a housing crisis in terms of evictions, and there are a series of different groups and organizations trying to keep our neighbors in their home.” Kari brought up a frightening statistic in this regard: “If you go to court due to an eviction notice with an attorney present you have an 80% chance of being able to be able to stay in your home. Without an attorney, this number falls to 6%.” United Way partners with Bay Area Legal Services and Community Law Program (in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties) and Legal Aid Manasota in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties.
As a member of LTA, there are several things you can do to help your community through United Way Suncoast including having a campaign at your workplace or volunteer as a company if you don’t want to give a financial contribution and would rather provide some sweat equity. For Kari, the why you should help is just as important as the how you can help. “In our region, United Way is the best use of your dollar and of your time. We are a convener. We have the best, the brightest, and the most effective strategic community partners and initiatives to solve the community’s most pressing issues. Our ability to react to crisis, while still working to solve the underlying issues of systemic poverty makes us a regional leader. It’s a perfect fit for what LTA is and stands for according to Kari, “LTA members invest in the human capital and the infrastructure of our community. It goes beyond networking. LTA convenes around what makes things better and solving problems in the community. That’s exactly what United Way Suncoast strives for everyday.”
What do you see as the biggest change in Leadership Tampa since 2002?
The Leadership Tampa program has not only increased in depth and quality over the years, it has become highly competitive. The knowledge and community engagement required for consideration to be accepted to the program is significantly higher. The resulting benefits to the community are greatly enhanced, which is exactly the vision of Parke Wright, III when he founded the program in 1971.
What’s new with Rhea Law?
I continue to serve as Chair, Florida Offices for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. Since our merger we have doubled the size of our Government Relations practice in Tallahassee and are seeking significant growth in South Florida. In addition, I have become the Chair of the Florida Council of 100, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of business leaders, which exists to promote the economic growth of Florida and improve the economic well-being and quality of life of its citizenry. The Council serves as a liaison with the Governor and Legislature on public policy issues for the State of Florida.
What would you like to see happen in the future with Leadership Tampa?
Leadership Tampa is a significant program that helps educate our future leaders on the economic engines driving our region. I would like to see continued growth and recognition of this program as a premier leadership program with expanded opportunities for LT Alumni to continue development of the relations formed to foster deeper involvement in the issues of the community.
Rhea Law Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney | Fowler White Boggs 813-222-1179