Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

Tampa Connection Class of 2018-19

Congratulations Class of 2018-2019!

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The Tampa Connection class of 2018-2019 celebrated the conclusion of their year at a memorable graduation program on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at F.I.V.E. Labs.    Before the official start of graduation, class members mingled at the Chair’s Reception with Directors of the Board, nonprofit agency representatives, company sponsors, and special Keynote Speaker, Suzanne McCormick, President & CEO of United Way Suncoast.

After the reception, this year’s Chair, Erin McKenney, kicked off graduation with a description of Tampa Connection, including its mission, vision, and its impact in the community.  Ms. McKenney expressed gratitude for her time as the Chair and thanked all of the class members, sponsors, and nonprofits for their dedication to Tampa Connection.

Following Erin’s introduction, our Keynote Speaker, Suzanne McCormick spoke about her journey to becoming the President and CEO of United Way Suncoast.  Ms. McCormick provided six pieces of advice to the class on how to make sure they are living out their purpose and creating a better world: (1) accept the invitation; (2) channel your younger self; (3) find opportunities in the nonprofit arena that can give you that “I’m doing my dream job” feeling; (4) don’t play Santa Clause while volunteering – dig in and solve issues; (5) embrace responsibility and hold yourself accountable for what you do and don’t do; and (6) leave a legacy – write your memoir in six words.

After Ms. McCormick’s inspiring guidance, each team presented the team’s deliverables produced for their nonprofit agencies.  The class deliverables for this year’s nonprofits ranged from five-year business plans to digital marketing campaigns for their nonprofits.  This year, in between each presentation, as has become the tradition, Chair Erin McKenney walked the class down memory lane with a recap of the monthly programs along with examples of how Tampa Connection focused on building relationships, enhancing leadership skills, and giving back to the community.  Members from the Tampa Connection Alumni Committee, Jeff Burns, Cristina Howell, and Steve Edinger, also provided a sneak peek into ways to stay involved with Tampa Connection after graduation, including Alumni Committee events and monthly alumni socials.

Following the class presentations and recap of the year, Ms. McKenney introduced this year’s Betty Tribble Award Winner, Robert Buesing! Mr. Buesing is an alumnus of the Tampa Connection Class of 1989-90.  He is a Shareholder at Trenam Law and truly exemplifies the qualities required for our Betty Tribble award recipients. Mr. Buesing is very dedicated to the community, especially organizations that develop our youth.  For example, Mr. Buesing is involved in the Tampa Metro YMCA, serving for 25+ years in various capacities, including three years as Board Chair.  In addition to his work with the YMCA, Mr. Buesing has been on the Early Learning Coalition board since 2005 and is currently on their Executive Committee.  He has also served on the board of The Children’s Forum since 2003. Mr. Buesing was very moved by the award and spoke to the class about his experience in Tampa Connection.  He urged the graduates to maintain their relationships and provided examples of how Tampa Connection class members have helped him over the years.  He also encouraged the class to be intentional about their nonprofit engagements and provided guidance on how to use Tampa Connection as a springboard for additional leadership opportunities in the community

After presenting the Betty Tribble Award, it was time for the main event: Graduation!  Each class member was called up to receive their graduation certificates.  Team members of the year were announced as follows:

Blue- Devon Long

Red- Robyn Hurrell

Green- Eric De Campos

Purple- Trevor Williams

Orange- Michelle Caicedo

After the presentation of graduation certificates, the current Tampa Connection Board of Directors thanked the six board members rolling off the Board for their service to Tampa Connection: David Pearlman, Christopher Toye, Daniel Sykes, Cecile Barre, Liana Fuente, and Adam Zaki.

The incoming Tampa Connection Board Members were also announced: Cristina Howell, Devon Long, Oliviana Catrone, Robyn Hurrell, Sara Accardi, and Tiffany McElheran,

Closing remarks were then given by Erin McKenney.  Ms. McKenney took Suzanne McCormick’s challenge to come up with a six-word memoir for Tampa Connection.  To Ms. McKenney, the six words that describe Tampa Connection are: Build relationships. Give back. Develop yourself.

After closing remarks, the evening was concluded with a well-attended reception in the lobby of host, F.I.V.E. Labs.  Congratulations to the Tampa Connection Class of 2018-2019!

2017-18 Nonprofits and Class Graduates:

OnBikes – Blue Team

The Blue Team assisted OnBikes with creating a “program in a box” to provide third parties with a step-by-step guide to reference in planning a fundraising event naming OnBikes as the beneficiary. The Blue Team’s “program in a box” will help organizations support OnBikes year-round and create more awareness of the importance of OnBikes’ mission.

OnBikes – Blue Team

MentorsColin Cook, Adriana Williams, Adam Zaki

Chris Trappy– Prida, Guida & Perez, P.A

Denney Holloway– CBIZ MHM, LLC

Dennis Paleveda– Rivero, Gordimer and Company

Devon Long– Fifth Third Bank

Hunter Williams– M.E Wilson Company, LLC.

Jacquelyn Colina– Hillsborough County

Jaran Day– Opinicus Capital

Laura Hurd– PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Megan Young– Elevate, Inc.

Michael Maguire– True Partners Consulting LLC

Spencer Jackson– InvestRes

Tyler Moore– Health Insurance Innovations


Exalted Warrior – Red Team

The Red Team helped Exalted Warrior on several fronts: (i) the creation of an adaptive yoga book, including a digital version, for veterans to cultivate a home yoga practice using the best practices already identified by the foundation; (ii) production of marketing materials for the new yoga book resulting in increased overall awareness of the foundation’s programs; and (iii) the creation of a platform to help Exalted Warrior increase its volunteer base, including the possible development of an advisory board.

MentorsCécile Bare, Eric Cruz, Djeneé Dunn, Sara Sheffield

Carter Helling – Valley Bank

Chris Monfort – Founders Professional

Daniel Hess – Prudential Retirement

David Diaz – Guaranteed Rate

Kasey Feltner – Smolker, Bartlett, Loeb, Hinds & Thompson, P.A.

Michalis Galanis – Hillsborough County

Michelle Hamilton – Florida Blue

Nathan Paulich – Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing, P.A.

Nigel Holder – Nextech Solutions

Ricardo Padro – Padro Construction

Robyn Hurrell – Colliers International

Sara Accardi – Quarles & Brady LLP

Todd Gelbaugh – CenterState Bank


Starting Right, Now (SRN) – Green Team

The Green Team assisted Starting Right Now (SRN) in its creation of a 5-year strategic plan for its organization, including its social enterprise and growth plan.  The team helped identify best practices to expand the program into new markets and created collateral materials and communication strategies for infiltrating the new markets.

Amanda Porupski – CBIZ MHM, LLC

Austin Schonbrun – Northwestern Mutual

Courtney Turnquist – Nelson Law Group

Eric De Campos – WellCare Health Plans

Kendall Wilson – Holland & Knight LLP

Lauren Humphries – Banker Lopez Gassler PA

Marino Zeller – Baker Barrios Architects

Mary Charles – Cherry Bekaert LLP

Matt Corley – RSM US LLP

Michelle Aihe – Romark,LC

Paul Martinez – The Beck Group

Stephanie Markese – NextPath Career Partners


Stay in Step Recovery – Orange Team

The Orange Team assisted Stay in Step by enhancing its network through the creation of a digital media marketing campaign to reach key strategic partners, along with the creation of a business plan and road map for long-term sustainability.

MentorsGreg Mitro, Danielle Portiz, Daniel Sykes

Andrew Abrams – Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co.

Austin Toscano – BBVA Compass

Cyrus Alipour – Refresco

Edward Carey – CiftonLarsonAllen LLP

Luy Teitelroit – ITSupportGuys Inc

Mark Edgerton – Analgesic Healthcare, Inc.

Matt Lastinger – Holland & Knight LLP

Michael Schwartz – Trenam Law

Michelle Caicedo – The Bank of Tampa

Nicholas Andrews – FordHarrison, PA

Nicole DiBlasi – IST Discover-E

Sergio Perez – ARU Cpa & Wealth Managament


Meals on Wheels- Purple Team

The Purple Team worked with Meals on Wheels to revise the Meals on Wheels of Tampa 5K and Fun Run into an annual, signature event. In addition to making the 5K a yearly event, the Purple Team assisted with marketing efforts to expand the footprint of the 5k for both attendees and community sponsors.

MentorsCarol Crofton, Chris DeCort, Liana Fuente, Brad Knudsen

Ailen Cruz – Wiand Guerra King P.A.

Alison LaPointe – The Bank of Tampa

Cameron Diehl – Raymond James

David Wright – Carlton Fields

Elizabeth (Libby) Joyce – The Florida Aquarium

Hannah Becker – GrayRobinson, P.A.

James Young – Suffolk Construction

Jeffrey Fabian – Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP

Kathleen DiSanto – Bush Ross, P.A.

Paige Crane – Refresco

Trevor Williams – Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners


2018-19 Board Members

Erin McKenney Chair, InvestRes

Chris Toye Vice-Chair, Morgan Stanley

Brad Knudsen Treasurer,Cherry Bekaert LLP

Rick Garrett Secretary, Garrett Roofing, Inc.

David Pearlman Immediate Past Chair, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC

Natalie RaymerAdministrator, M.Silver, LLC

Cécile Bare – The Bank of Tampa

Colin Cook – Tampa Bay Lightening

Carol Crofton – First Citrus Bank

Eric Cruz– Bivins & Hemenway P.A.

Chris DeCort – Johnson & Cassidy, PA

Djeneé Dunn – D.TAMU

Melissa Fields – Bank of America

Liana Fuente –Fuente Companies

Rachel Grannan – Hays

Traci Koster – Nelson Law Group

Gretchen Lehman– Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Bianca Mieses– CI Group

Greg Mieses– Raymond James

Danielle Poritz– PWC

Niti Shah – Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences

Sara Sheffield –Jackson Dental

Daniel Sykes – Awesome Concepts

Adriana Williams – Suntrust Private Wealth

Adam Zaki – PWC

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