Congratulations Class of 2017!

The Tampa Connection class of 2016-2017 celebrated the conclusion of their year at a memorable Graduation program on Tuesday May 9, 2017 at F.I.V.E. Labs in the Westshore Business district.  The program began with an inaugural “Chair’s Reception” sponsored by Greenberg Traurig and Cherry Bekaert where class members mingled with board members, non-profit agency representatives, company sponsors, and special Keynote Speaker Gary Sasso from the law firm Carlton Fields.

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When the ceremony commenced, the class was greeted with more impressive “jokes” from Chair Woody Pollack, who first announced Tampa Connection’s new logo!


Then Gary Sasso was introduced as the Keynote Speaker.  Mr. Sasso spoke eloquently about the importance of Leadership and Community Service in his 10 minute address.  He emphasized the importance of “raising your hand” when the opportunity presents itself and to make sure that one checks their motives to be sure you are doing the right thing for the right reason.


Following his talk, the program moved to the class presentations portion where each team had representatives present to the class the achievements their team had accomplished over the course of the class year.  The class gave tremendous presentations ranging from moving videos to binders created for a new Young Leadership Board.  This year, in between each presentation, Chair Pollack walked the class down memory lane with a slideshow of pictures and recap of each program from Opening Retreat to Philanthropy Engagement Day.

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After this, Chair Pollack introduced this year’s Betty Tribble Award Winner, Dave Burton who gave a moving thank you speech where he stressed the importance of giving back to the community.  Then came the big moment: presentation of graduation certificates.  Despite mis-pronouncing multiple names and even skipping a Blue team member, Chair-Elect David Pearlman called the names and Pollack presented the certificates.  Team members of the year were announced as follows:

Blue-Steve Edinger

Red-Bianca Mieses

Green-Adam Zaki

Purple-Rachel Grannan

Orange- Ilana Goldenberg



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After presentation of certificates, a standing ovation was given to Woody Pollack for his leadership over the course of the class year.  Then a presentation was given by the Tampa Connection Alumni Committee members Richard Burns and Dave Arndt on the importance of staying involved in the Tampa Connection family through the Alumni Committee.

Prior to concluding, Pollack thanked those board members rolling off for their service-Chris Rux, C.J. Mintrone, Richard Helme, Anthony Derby, and Joanna Cheshire .  The evening was then concluded with a well-attended reception in the lobby of host, F.I.V.E. Labs.  Congratulations to the Tampa Connection Class of 2016-2017!



2017 Graduates by Team
Creative Clay – Red Team

Liaisons: Nate Cocco, Rick Garrett, Daniel Sykes

Sterling Birdsong, USAmeribank Neil Khant, NRK Real Estate Advisors
Joshua Casselman, Roghu, Inc Jordan Maniscalco, The Beck Group
Thomas Curran, Jr., Shumaker Bianca Mieses, CI Group
Cori Godeke, Masonite Nicholas Ptacek, Aldi
Amy Harris, Deloitte & Touche Julie Redcay, Hills. County Community College
Cristina Howell, United Healthcare Alexandra Smith, King Engineering
Logan Kanai, Aon Risk Solutions

PERFECT ATTENDANCE – Sterling Birdson, Bianca Mieses


Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay – Blue Team

Liaisons: Chris DeCort, Adriana Williams, Cecile Bare, Chris Toye

Kiersten Adams, WellCare Health Plans, Inc. Tiffany Love McElheran, Bush Ross
Julia Bortan, Christopher, Smith & Leonard Natalya Muncuff, Ali Specialties
Steve Edinger, Catalina Marketing Kenji Plennert, Tampa Electric
Bradley Knudsen, Cherry Bekaert Danielle Poritz, PWC
Michael Labbee, Quarles & Brady Thomas Seeko, Westshore Financial Group
Dario Loayza, USAmeribank Robert Shield, Merrill Lynch


After School All-Stars of Tampa Bay – Orange Team

Liaisons:  Erin McKenney, Joanna Cheshire, Niti Shah

Brooke Bauerle, Rivero, Gordimer & Company Lauren Hobby, ProMedica
Rebeccah Cagno, The Bank of Tampa, Janet Marnatti, Hills. County Public Library
Kevin Chambers, Charter Communications R. Clay Matthews, Smolker, Bartlett
Patrick Duffey, Holland & Knight, Lauren Taylor, Shutts & Bowen
Ilana Goldenberg, Tampa International Airport Jimmy Terpening, Shutts & Bowen
Stephani Heirshberg, Workrite Ergonomics John Weatherford, Sunshine Bank
Michael Hilder, Cherry Bekaert


1Voice Foundation – Purple Team

Liaisons: Gretchen Lehman, Brian Holliday, Richard Helme, Amanda Malinowski

Valeen Arena, GrayRobinson Jonathan Leoniff, PNC Bank
Jessica Byrn, Syniverse Courtney Long, Dominion Payroll Services
Carmen Campise, Jr., Fifth Third Bank Greg Mitro, Raymond James & Associates
Chely Cantrell, Hills. County Public Library Katie Peluso, Holland & Knight
Rachel Grannan, The Goal Jennifer Pemble, Warren Averett
Matthew Hale, Stichter, Riedel Jennifer Rabon, HUB International Florida
Nicholas Horner, Foley & Lardner

PERFECT ATTENDANCE – Rachel Grannan, Nicholas Horner, Jonathan Leoniff, Jennifer Pemble


Great Explorations – Green Team

Liaisons:  Melissa Fields, David Pearlman, Hethre Strickland

Carolina Blanco, Hill Ward Henderson Hillary Griffin, PWC
Lori Brightwell, Hills. County Library Services Stephanie Kane, Bradley
Alicia Brown, CBIZ MHM Jonathan Oliver, Pineywoods Capital
Aubrey Burris, Foley & Lardner Nick Plott, Tampa Electric
Hendrik Cloete, Deloitte Sara Sheffield, Buckenheimer & Bulnes
Joseph Eagleton, Brannock & Humphries Adam Zaki, Thomas Financial
Lissette Garcia, AXA Advisors

PERFECT ATTENDANCE –Sara Sheffield, Adam Zaki


2016 – 2017 Board Members

Woody Pollack Chair, Greenberg Traurig

David Pearlman Vice-Chair, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC

Brian Holliday Treasurer, Fifth Third Bank

Chris Toye Secretary, Morgan Stanley.

Chris Rux Immediate Past Chair, Cherry Bekaert LLP



Cecile Bare – The Bank of Tampa

Joanna Cheshire – Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

Nate Cocco – State Farm

Chris DeCort – Johnson & Cassidy, PA

Anthony Derby – Brew Bus USA

Amanda Edwards – PayChex

Melissa Fields – Bank of America

Liana Fuente – Fuente Companies

Rick Garrett – Garrett Roofing

Richard Helme – Deloitte & Touche

Gretchen Lehman – Ogletree Deakins,

Amanda Malinowski – PIP Printing & Marketing Services

Erin McKenney, Avesta

CJ Mintrone – PNC Bank

Niti Shah – University of Tampa

Hethre Strickland – Coalesse

Daniel Sykes – Panther International, LLC

Adriana Williams – SunTrust Bank


Administrator: Natalie Raymer

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