LT’21 Law Enforcement Day

Leadership Tampa ’21 – Law Enforcement Day 5/5/2021

Program Article by Dee Garcia

Tampa Firefighters Museum –  we started our day at the museum, filled with a treasure trove of historic mementos, photos and equipment – bringing out the kid in everyone – what a great place to host a party, whether a wedding reception or a 5 year-old’s birthday.  After time to view the exhibits, the topics turned serious, with introductions and emceed by Asst. Chief Ruben Delgado for (1) an in-depth jail presentation by Col. Melissa Moore of the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s office, which provided a number of insights about how the county’s two jails (on Faulkenberg and Orient roads) handled transitioning for COVID to ensure the safety of their 2,700 inmates plus the officers/staff manning the jails.  She discussed a range of topics, from caring for physical health, legal and mental health issues to the logistics of running these facilities.  (2) Then Sgt. Duane Benton and Lauren Alston of the Sherriff’s office discussed how the community approach to mental health has changed from an institutional approach (asylums and sanitariums) prior to the 1960’s to a community model thanks to a 1963 act that assumed families would take on the care of the mentally needy with treatment supported via an outpatient basis, but that has resulted in the current fractured, “spider-web” like support network, leaving law enforcement to become the “shield”.  He noted that Hillsborough County has adopted a co-responder model, with 6 clinicians available to help with diagnostic and case management needs, which is advanced-thinking but still insufficient to adequately handle the more than 20,000 annual calls. (3) This was followed by a panel discussion with: TPD Chief Brian Dugan, Sherriff Chad Chronister, Public Defender Julianne Holt, Criminal Judge Samantha Ward and State’s Attorney Andrew Warren.  Impressive was how respective they were of one another and how closely they said they work together to take a holistic approach to restore the arrested back to their community.  Several investments have been made and a new civil citation for juveniles for misdemeanors has been successfully implemented.  The best preventative is early mentorship.  Violence is up across the country, with family violence especially on the rise and gun violence way up, including for low dollar marijuana deals gone astray.  A lot of support has been incorporated to assist veterans with conflict and anger management.  The Sherriff is strongly recommending mental health counselors in schools to help curb violence and build coping skills.  He believes in developing public trust through transparency (body cams, social media, reporting, etc.) (4) Our last speaker was Chief Barbara Tripp of Tampa Fire Rescue, who gave an interesting report on how after only 5 months in her new role, she has been working to bring updated technology to the fire department to improve dispatch, tracking, and medical equipment as well as reduce injuries.  She is also working on improving diversity, equity and inclusion.

Tampa Police Department Training Academy – After lunch, it was short bus ride over to the 34th Street joint police and fire Training Center, where the group was split into three cohorts to: (1) chat with a bomb unit, (2) meet a canine unit, (3) visit with the marine unit, (4) engage in a virtual confrontation training session to test our reactions and quick decision-making, (5) squeal around in old cop cars making high speed J-turns and car chases with sirens blaring, ending with a (6) watching a SWAT team demonstration, performing for us and the newly graduated officer class.  Very exciting! And hot!

Lowry Park Zoo – returning to the brand new pavilion at Lowry Park Zoo for a Cinco de Mayo themed “debrief” was delightful.  The food and beverages were yummy but the hit of the evening were the adorable animals, including: Felicia the Sloth who true to her nature, remained hanging upside down in her carrier, Max and Ray the macaw, buddies, plus the most adorable female porcupine, who would raise her head when prompted by a wand that looked like a red lollipop, with the less adorable red snakes closing the evening.

LT’21 Sports Day

Written by Cameron O’Connell, ZooTampa

The Leadership Tampa Class of 2021 had the distinct pleasure of experiencing Champa Bay in-depth via a tremendous agenda organized by Travis Pelleymounter & Sheri Anderson (Vinik Sports Group),with the Sports Day being sponsored by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning & Tampa Bay Rays.

Champa Bay & the Golden Heroes ‘run on Dunkin’, so we were treated to breakfast & coffee before loading on the buses for the trip across the bridge to Al Lang Stadium. 

We arrived at Al Lang Stadium built in 1947 (refurbished to soccer-specific in 2011) with a beautiful backdrop of the St. Pete waterfront.  We heard from Lee Cohen (President) & Neill Collins (Head Coach) on the rich history & current success of the Tampa Bay Rowdies organization.  Of note, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired the team in 2018, and they have adopted a similar strategy with payroll management influencing roster decisions.  As well, their current head coach was a Tampa Bay Rowdies player prior to converting to the coaching ranks, and he had to bench his roommate his 1st year in that capacity.  Recently, the organization hired a mental performance coach, as they place a significant emphasis on that aspect of the game.  It was also interesting to see the Team was implementing outdoor locker rooms on the concourse, due to the pandemic.

Next, we had the opportunity to engage with Brian Auld (President) with the Tampa Bay Rays.  He mentioned the goal of energizing the Tampa Bay Community via Rays Baseball & Rowdies Soccer given the recent acquisition.  A unique example of this strategy was adding the brother of Randy Arozarena (Raiko) to the Rowdies roster to create connectivity between the 2 organizations.  We also heard about the continued efforts to ‘sell’ the sister city concept with Montreal to our Community with Ybor City representing the most viable site to build a new intimate stadium.  The justification for this proposed plan is the need to draw 30,000 fans per night to compete financially with baseball organizations in other markets, which is not feasible in Tampa based on their experience.  To wrap up the morning, we were treated to a VIP shopping experience at the Tropicana Field Team Store in time for the Home Opener.

We headed back across the bay to join Ben Milsom (Chief Ticketing Officer) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for lunch.  He shared his personal career journey starting with the Tampa Bay Lightning, before eventually coming back to Tampa to join the Bucs.  The best soundbite from his presentation was when he shared he had told a Ticketmaster representative to ‘build a bigger pipe’ to meet the demand for tickets upon announcing the Tom Brady signing.  It was also great to hear the influence that Bruce Arians continues to have on the organization via the example he is setting with his diverse coaching staff.

After lunch, we had the chance to connect with Claire Lessinger (Vice President of Events) with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission & Eric Hart (President/CEO) with the Tampa Sports Authority.  We learned about the depth & variety of sporting events that the TBSC is working to draw to our Community, along with the significant outcomes & success of the Super Bowl Host Committee.  There was excitement about the upcoming Wrestlemania event, along with continued efforts to increase capacity at area venues in a safe, effective manner in conjunction with local/state government

From there, Ron Christaldi (Partner) with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick talked to us about his involvement with Tampa Bay Rays 2020.  It was impressive to hear about the grassroots effort to identify & create solutions for the stadium issue.  They had garnered tremendous community support, including raising significant new guaranteed revenue for the Team.  Hopefully, their efforts will assist in securing the Tampa Bay Rays long-term future in our Community.

We were then treated to an Amalie Arena Tour, including a rare photo opportunity with the Tampa Bay Lightning Organ.  The surprise of the day was the appearance by the Lombardi Trophy on the concourse, which allowed our Leadership Tampa class the opportunity to take individual & group photos. 

Our host with Vinik Sports Group, Steve Griggs (CEO) then talked us thru the efforts that the Tampa Bay Lightning took during the pandemic to continue impacting the Community thru VSG Cares & VSG Connect, while continuing the Community Hero program throughout the run to the Stanley Cup.  We also learned about the successful marketing campaigns that were deployed during the past year, including Distant Thunder & Bud Lightning!

Our last session of the day was a panel with Dr. Michelle Harrolle, Dr. Janelle Wells (USF) & Teresa Resch (VP, Basketball Operations) with the Toronto Raptors.  We learned more about the inequalities for women in sports at all levels of sport.  We were also challenged to consider women for leadership positions in all organizations in non-traditional roles.  In all cases, these speakers were able to turn their passion for sport via their athletic backgrounds into successful careers.

We were then treated to one last surprise, when we were invited onto the Raptors court to take a free throw & group photo.  From there, we visited the Team Store for a VIP shopping experience, before enjoying the Cigar City Taproom to end the day.

LT’21 Community Outreach Day

Sara Dodds

On a historic week in Tampa as the Buccaneers head to the Superbowl, LT’21 embarked on their week 2 program day focused on community outreach. The morning kicked off at Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School. In 2020, the high school had its first graduating class, delivering on their mission to provide underserved students the knowledge, character, and skills to transform their lives through a distinctive approach to inner-city education.  

Tampa is plentiful in organizations that exist to serve needs in our community. After some inspirational presentations which set the stage for the day of having a servant’s heart, small groups set out to visit nine of those sites, including the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the United Way which both have ties to this year’s class.

The Crisis Center of Tampa serves the community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by connecting those struggling with a variety of difficult situations with support. Jennifer Moore, Vice President of Development at the Crisis Center, and member of the LT’21 class adds that “The mission of the Crisis Center is to ensure no one in our community has to go through crisis alone. A crisis is simply a life’s problem that needs a solution. We are the community’s gateway to support through 2-1-1.” The group learned that the center creates a personalized experience for each caller, by communicating in various ways, and hiring a diverse workforce to meet unique needs.

The United Way serves five counties and works to provide leadership and programming that improves lives and creates lasting community change. The visiting classmates also got a taste of the ALICE Report, a biannual report that is the basis of United Way’s work. Daniel Mineo, Senior Manager of Grant Development and Management Resource Development for the United Way, and a member of the LT’21 class, says “The ALICE Report is a tool we use to define a survival budget for families in our community who live above the federal poverty line and are still struggling just to afford basic needs.”

The afternoon brought four additional experiences including a visit to Quantum Leap Farm and a thought-provoking food desert project. Quantum Leap Farm exists to improve quality of life through equine-assisted therapies. The group was able to witness a therapy session in progress and learn about the tremendous progress that the therapy has brought for that 14-year-old client. With a waiting list of over one year long and limited access to funding, the farm continues to work through barriers and opportunities to provide this alternative therapy to the community in need.

The food desert activity took part of the class to the United Way Suncoast’s Sulphur Springs Resource Center.  Sulphur Springs is an area where affordable good-quality fresh food is not always accessible. In partnership with the YMCA, and only a $100 budget to feed a family of four for a week, LT’21 classmates had to get creative and make difficult decisions while putting themselves in the shoes of others.

In closing, a key takeaway was that the community is everyone. In order to improve the challenges Tampa faces, local leaders are urged to give back and become a part of the solutions that drive change. The class left empowered to make a difference.

LT’21 listening to Dr. Chloe Coney, community leader and Parke Wright III award recipient.
LT’21 classmate Daniel spending time with “Luther”, a therapy horse at Quantum Leap Farm
LT’21 classmates Josh, Jamie, Nikki, Katrina, and Simon after their food dessert shopping experience.