Breezin' Magazine Vol. 3

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The Leaders of Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay

A MILITARY COMMUNITY Charity of Choice 2019


INFLUENCERS There is a New Mayor in Town






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elcome to the third annual edition of Breezin’ Magazine. We decided to call this issue “The New Tampa Bay” and you’ll see why after reading the contents inside. This brand new volume of articles and essays is an in-depth look into the exciting projects and developments that have become future staples in the Tampa Bay, St. Pete/Clearwater, and Sarasota areas. Showcasing leading Tampa Bay non-profits, sought after event coordinators, key influencers, and various industry professionals. The growth in Tampa Bay has been immense in all local industries including startup culture, established businesses, real estate, the arts, education, and more. Tampa has long been a major destination city on par with Chicago, San Diego, and Seattle. But now we’re at the early stages of Tampa becoming a city that has begun to draw in both established businesses that are looking to expand their reach with new locations and new startups that are looking to ride the wave of an energetic city on the rise. Volume 3 is designed to give readers a bird’s eye view of the latest in Tampa Bay. With over two years since the inaugural issue of Breezin’ Magazine launched, the face of Tampa has evolved in ways that no one saw coming. The Riverwalk has evolved from a beautiful waterside pathway to a mainline fixture, connecting Armature Works to Sparkman’s Wharf. New talent has emerged in nearly every industry and sector to challenge how things are done, break down old walls, and show us all something new. Take the aforementioned Sparkman’s Wharf for example. Channelside used to be a bustling hub of activity but after attendance plummeted, the area became a ghost town. It wasn’t until after a few of these challenges, the area decided to step up and rehab the environment bringing it to life again. Tampa Bay natives and visitors are embracing these new areas in ways that ensure the longevity of these businesses. None more so than the entertainment sector, which sees bright young talent emerging to showcase their gifts across the various stages, bookings, and entertainment hubs in the area. At this rate, the Tampa Bay business market will increase for the 3rd year in a row.

and entertainers have grown to match our clients’ every need. With over three decades of experience, and bold leadership, the Breezin’ team is now more equipped than ever to meet the emerging entertainment challenges that ebb and flow with each new year. With our combined insights on talent, venue selection, and creativity, Breezin’ Entertainment has a permanent place in the hearts of the people of Tampa Bay. As always, our mission at Breezin’ is to create a powerful impact and generate results for clients and partners. This publication began with this concept as our guiding principle and we continue to let this be our guiding light as our team breaks down boundaries in the entertainment industry. Each issue of Breezin’ Entertainment magazine is designed to bring attention to the artists and creators that are directly influencing culture and trends throughout the Tampa Bay area. Over the last few years, the Breezin’ team has put special focus on the various charitable and non-profit events in the Tampa Bay area. We honored the businesses and leaders who gave their time and energy to give back to our community by highlighting their contributions and will continue to shine a light on members of the community who make Tampa Bay the thriving city that it is. It has been an honor and a pleasure working with the community leaders, artists, officials, creators, and taste-makers for Volume 3 of Breezin’ Magazine’s annual edition. Inside you’ll find stories of creativity, life, love, and work… all located and happening in the city we all love so much. I hope our readers see a little of themselves in this issue. And for those who are just joining the Tampa Bay community, welcome. Build your business, make your art, shop, work, play, and above all… pursue your dreams here. Anything is possible in The New Tampa Bay. Dana Blickensderfer, Editor-in-Chief

Breezin’ Entertainment has grown along with Tampa Bay as well. Our suite of services have expanded dramatically to match the needs of our clients. The shifting landscape has created a deep demand for high-quality entertainment and our stable of artists

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OUR STAFF PUBLISHER Hugo D. Aviles iBoss Ventures EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Dana Blickensderfer ASSISTANT EDITOR Cassandra Farrell DESIGNER Chad Kirby ASSISTANT DESIGNER Michael Benson Aaliyah Pierre STAFF WRITER Cassandra Farrell Claudia Tran James Alexander EVENTS | ENTERTAINMENT ADVISOR Breezin’ Entertainment & Productions CONSULTANT | CONTRIBUTORS Jordan French Santiago C. Corrada Marlowe Moore Anna Coats Monica Wilson Jessie Soplinski CHARITY OF CHOICE 2019 Instruments 4 Life For all media and advertising inquires, please contact Breezin’ Entertainment & Productions @ 813-606-5907

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Breezin’s Half-Century Professional Award:

The Leaders of Tampa Bay By: Jordan French of Grit Daily, Contributing Editor


Tampa Bay has always been an ideal place to live, work and play -- but with its recent expansions in the past few years and the anticipation around what’s next, this underrated territory has truly outdone itself. ————————————————— But don’t just take our word for it. Ac-

cording to a number of top professionals who’ve been here a decade or longer --a diverse economy of tourism, health care, manufacturing, technology and much more makes this region unlike any other. And the weather helps. Smart growth now reaches every corner in each of its cities, and Tampans are working to maintain its beach head -- no pun intended -- in smart-city tech. Tampa Bay just wouldn’t be the same without its dedicated and enthusiastic citizens. This year, Breezin’ is showcasing the Half-Century Professional Award to honor makers and creators

you really ought to know in Tampa Bay. This award recognizes the leaders, innovators, and doers in the Tampa Bay community that have gone beyond the here and now to approach their business, community, politics, education, and the arts in a forward-thinking way. These individuals have been improving this city through their work, contributions, and accomplishments and continue to do so each day. (We know that frequency because we asked.) On to Breezin’s 2019 Half-Century Award winners.

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Andre’ (Andy) G. Brouillard is the Director of Business Development for TPepin’s Hospitality Centre and has been with Pepin Distributing Co. for over 10 years. Andy has been in the hospitality industry for over 50 years.

Community Relations at Caspers Company McDonald’s Restaurants. He is in charge of establishing the company’s credibility and maintaining Caspers “Image of Excellence” through internal and external projects, sponsorships, and events that effectively “Generate Happiness.”





Ann Kulig is the Executive Director of Westshore Alliance, a business-to-business membership organization dedicated to improving Tampa’s Westshore district. Kulig joined the Westshore Alliance in 2002 as a director of marketing. In her current position she develops and promotes initiatives important to Westshore area business and property owners. She also serves on the Boards of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council and Visit Tampa Bay and on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Drew Park Community Redevelopment Agency.

Bonnie Birdsall is the owner of Bonnie’s Tai Chi where she is an instructor and reiki master. Birdsall is certified in Tai Chi and Qi Gong and has been an instructor in the Tampa Bay area for 19 years. She enjoys spreading health and wellness. BRIAN A. FORD





Barbara St. Clair is CEO of Creative Pinellas, the County’s Local Arts Agency. She fully believes in the power of arts and culture to positively change people’s lives and is committed to making high-quality arts experiences accessible to all. BILL YANGER


Bill Yanger is an attorney at law. Yanger has represented many people throughout the Tampa area while providing Pro Bono work with the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. BOB CONIGLIARO


Brian A. Ford is in his 13th year with the Buccaneers after joining the organization in 2006 and in his role, oversees all aspects of the organization’s day-to-day business operations and community involvement. Under his leadership, the Buccaneers have consistently earned top marks among NFL teams for customer service and game day experience. CAROL HAGUE


Carol Hague is the president and CEO of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is also an extremely strong and brave individual who stands up for women’s rights in the workplace. CATHERINE PEEK MCEWEN


Catherine Peek Mcewen is a Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge with the United States bankruptcy court. She graduated from the University of South Florida and later received her Juris Doctor from Stetson University.




Christian Brown approaches his work and his personal life with a unique combination of integrity, passion, and vision. He founded his first company in 1990 at the age 26 and used his success to transition into revitalizing the staffing and software support industries. As the founder and CEO of Harmony Healthcare, Christian tackled the challenges presented by revolutionary changes in healthcare to provide strategic, value-based staffing solutions that help create a smarter healthcare system for us all. CINDY CUCUZ


Cindy Cucuz is the director of marketing and public relations at Memorial Hospital of Tampa. She graduated from Indiana University’s School of Medicine with a bachelor’s in Health Information Administration. CINDY DERVECH


Cindy Dervech is the Founder and CEO of Breezin’ Entertainment & Productions. Cindy has been a top-tier entertainment provider in the Tampa Bay area for almost three decades. Specializing in weddings, corporate events, and social functions, Breezin’ tailors their entertainment services to the occasion. CRISTINA SCARAMUZZI


Cristina Scaramuzzi is the director of catering and events for Locale Market located in St. Petersburg. She is the master of events, food and beverage, catering and managing events with 25 years of experience.


Bob Conigliaro is the Vice President of

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estshore Yacht Club is South Tampa’s Hidden Gem. A beautiful waterfront view over looking the historic Tampa Bay. A perfect place to

have an event on the water that can seat up to 200 guests outdoors to enjoy

the perfect sunset. The dining space indoors that overlooks the water view, is a perfect way to enjoy a chef created menu items from our scratch kitchen that can seat up to 120 guest comfortably.

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Dana Young is the President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. Young leads Florida’s official destination marketing organization in partnership with its Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry. Throughout her distinguished public service career, she served as a Representative in the Florida House and a state Senator.

Debbie Rudolph is the Angel of Grace/ Community Relation Chair of the Grace O’Malley Krewe. Rudolph has lead projects that have raised over $25,000 for the charity. In her professional life, she manages a team that is paving the way for home health in the Tampa Bay Area.

Don Niederpruem is the president and owner of United Landmark Associates. Niederpruem created his advertising and marketing business over 30 years ago and has extensive experience generating sales for his clients.




Debbie Lundberg is an influential figure in the Tampa Bay area who encourages people to be true to themselves as they embrace learning, change and leadership opportunities. She is the Founder and Principal of Presenting Powerfully where her offerings include Keynotes & Talks, Strategy & Facilitation, Teaming & Training, and Executive Presence Coaching. She has authored ten books.




Dr. Dick Puglisi is Professor and director of the Gus A. Stavros Center at the University of South Florida. Dr. Puglisi has been leading the center since 1980 and is impacting K-12 teachers across Tampa Bay by developing and managing educational programs, lectures and workshops. The Stavros Center provides professional development programs for K-12 educators employed by six school districts in the USF region.




Ivy Peterson just became the Director of Sales for Toffee to Go, a home grown gift company that gained national exposure when it was selected as one of Oprahs Favorite Things! Ivy retired from over 39 years in the Audio Visual Industry, where most of that involvement was here in the Tampa Bay Area with AVI-SPL. She has dedicated herself to the growth of the tourism industry in our area through her investment in the meetings and conventions industry and through her tireless involvement in organizations such as Visit Tampa Bay, HCHMA, and MPI.

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Jane Castor is the Mayor of Tampa. Castor was the first female police chief of the Tampa Police Department and is the first LGBTQ Tampa mayor. JIM MCVAY


Jim Mcvay is the president and CEO of the Outback Bowl. He formerly worked for the Buccaneers as a marketing executive and continues to be a leader in Tampa Bay’s sports industry. JOYCE COTTON


Joyce Cotton is the director of marketing and community partnerships with WEDU. Cotton helps create community outreach utilizing PBS documentaries. She uses her knowledge with broadcast media and the non-profit industry to give back to the Tampa community.



Since October 1992, Judy Lisi has been the president and CEO of the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. One of the largest, most prolific performing arts complexes in the country, the Straz Center provides an environment for a wide variety of world-class events. In 1995, Lisi founded Opera Tampa to present grand opera at its grandest, and in 2004 she founded the Patel Conservatory which offers professional training and education in the performing arts.

Lisa Schalk is the owner and vice president of Toffee to Go. Schalk created Toffee to Go with her husband and is devoted to creating handmade, gluten-free, and certified kosher toffee. Toffee To Go has been recognized and loved by Oprah.




Kris Dosal was the former principal of Grady Elementary School in Tampa. She has left a lasting impact on hundreds of students, and under her leadership, made the school an inspiration for all of South Tampa. In 1964, she attended the school in third grade.




Lisa Shaker-Knopp is the owner of Shake it Off. She and her team are helping people all over Tampa Bay learn to live a healthy lifestyle. She is also a licensed health coach and massage therapist. MARIA COOK


Maria Cook is the events manager at Hillsborough County Aviation Authority/ Tampa International Airport. Cook is an experienced event manager who

Creating Styled Events, Customized for Every Client 941.315.8212 •

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has a history of working in the aviation industry. MARY CANNICI


Mary Cannici is a food & beverage professional at Sweet Caroline’s Bakery & Cafe in Palm Harbor. Sweet Caroline’s is making Tampa Bay a little sweeter day by day with an exciting variety of pastries & beautifully decorated cakes. They are also bringing a bit of cheer & great tastes to patients, staff, & visitors at 3 Tampa Bay Medical facilities.” MICHAEL BLICKENSDERFER


Michael Blickensderfer is a former U.S. Marine and is now an Attorney at Law. Mr. Blickensderfer has been practicing law since 1987, and currently runs and operates a personal injury law firm in Tampa Bay called Blick Law Firm. MICHAEL LAMANDO


Michael Lamando is the owner of Amici’s Catered Cuisine. Lamando started his small deli business 36 years ago, 5 days after he graduated college. His catering company is in high demand throughout the Tampa Bay area. MICHAEL TOMOR


Michael Tomor is the Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art. He makes an impact on the Tampa Bay community with a dedication to educate, engage, and inspire the residents of the Tampa Bay region and beyond through diverse exhibitions and programs for all ages and backgrounds. MICHAEL J. VALDES


Michael Valdes is the founder and leader of the Valdes Group at Merrill Lynch. The Valdes Group has been providing wealth management services and tai-

lored strategies to ultra-affluent individuals, families, and businesses for 35 years. In February 2018 and 2019, Forbes named Michael to the “Bestin-State Wealth Advisors” list, ranking #1 in Florida for both years. Michael is involved in a number of community philanthropies including the V Foundation for Cancer Research, The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Cristo Rey Tampa High School, Christ the King Church, Academy of the Holy Names, and Jesuit High School, and Palma Ceia Little League. MONICA WILSON


Monica Wilson is the director at Community Food Pantry. Wilson has a specialization in working with nonprofit organizations. She also makes sure to spread positivity and good work ethic with her volunteers, so that they may get a philanthropic experience. PATTY O’LEARY


Patty O’Leary has been the Executive Director of the Children’s Cancer Center for 10 years. O’Leary grew the nonprofit exponentially allowing them to serve 97% of all families with children diagnosed with childhood cancer in the Tampa Bay Area. She is a visionary that makes an impact on the lives of families with childhood cancer. RICHARD GONZMART


Richard Gonzmart is the president of the Columbia restaurant. Gonzmart continues to honor his family tradition by taking care of their 114 year old restaurant. He has received much recognition and awards for his work, including the highest recognition of the Catholic Church, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.



Rita Lowman is the president of Pilot Bank. Lowman has been recognized as one of the top female bankers in Florida and has published many of her stories on leadership and success. She also gives back to the community by being on the board of many organizations. RON WEAVER


Ron Weaver is an Attorney at Law and Shareholder at Stearns Weaver Miller. Weaver has experience helping Florida landowners about laws and financing. He’s on the board for many organizations that help the Tampa Bay area. SALLY HARRIS


Sally Harris is the owner of Circle C Ranch Academy, which is a pre-school, day care, and summer camp all in one. Her training background in team building and motivation has inspired her to give back to the little ones of Tampa Bay. Sally took those skills along with her financial background and served on the Hillsborough County School board, which led to many changes in our district. SANTIAGO CORRADA


Santiago C. Corrada is President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. Working with a team of skilled destination marketers and nearly 800 local industry partners, he tells the world about the treasures found in the hip, urban heart of Florida’s west coast and builds Hillsborough County’s economy through tourism, which brings more than $6.6 billion a year into the community. STEVE GONZALEZ


Steven Gonzalez Sr. is the owner of

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Catering By The Family, Tampa Bay’s largest full-service caterer. Family owned and operated, CBTF is known for its Chef-Driven menus and solid reputation for delivering exceptional food and service to numerous venues and events in the region. CBTF has proudly been the official caterer of Gasparilla and the Gasparilla Children’s Parade for more than 20 years. SUSANA WEYMOUTH


Susana Weymouth is the Executive Director of Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts, a non-profit that connects businesses within support and deeper engagement with culture and the arts throughout Tampa Bay. TBBCA also fundraises for the Charlie Hounchell Art Stars Scholarships awarded annually in six fine and performing arts disciplines to talented high school students to help defray tuition expenses for higher education in the arts.

and the CEO of MVP Development Divisions in the Southeast. He has made huge accomplishments like completing over $1.2 billion in both public and private projects for a varied base clients all over the nation. TOPHER MORRISON


Topher Morrison is the CEO of Topher Communications. Morrison helps his clients make their public speaking skills from just okay to great! VICTOR FERNANDEZ


Victor Fernandez is the manager of strategic relationships in the Defend Organization at Verizon. He also is actively involved in several charitable and faith based endeavors in the Tampa community. WILLIAM CUMMINGS


William Cummings is the president and partner at Concierge Financial Organi-

zation. Cummings offers his services to help lives in the realm of financials. YANN WEYMOUTH


Yann Weymouth, AIA, is the design director for special projects for Harvard Jolly Architects. Weymouth has designed an extensive portfolio of projects worldwide throughout his 55+ year career as a practicing, registered architect. In the Tampa Bay area, his works include the Dali Museum, the James Museum, the Hazel Hough Wing and Conservatory of the MFA, and the Interdisciplinary Science building at USF.

Congratulations to our Half-Century Professional Award nominees! Tampa Bay is lit.



Suzanne McCormick is the U.S. President at United Way. McCormick just recently earned this position after being the United Way Suncoast leader for five years in Tampa Bay. THOMAS MANTZ


Thomas Mantz is the President and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay. Thomas brings a for-profit background in banking operations to lead a 10-county food bank operation, creating a network of community partners along the way to address the problem of hunger in our community. TIMOTHY VINING


Timothy vining is the national Chief Development Officer for MVP Holdings



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he Opal Sands Resort's inspiring location, imaginative event spaces and stellar service will ensure that your wedding day is nothing short of extraordinary. Choose from stunning ceremony and reception settings, many featuring spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico, to our elegant grand ballroom which seats up to 500 guests.

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There is a


O By: Jessie Soplinski

n her 150th day in her term Tampa’s 59th Mayor Jane Castor, a Tampa Florida native found a few minutes in her extremely demanding schedule to sit down with me for a chat. Walking into the city’s municipal building and into the mayor’s office you are immediately greeted by the new 4-legged furry office manag-

er Desa, short for Alcadesa, a little brown rescue mutt that the mayor adopted from the Humane Society. It’s that first impression of the Mayor’s office and it’s a warm and inviting one. At one point of the interview Desa even hopped on the mayors lap to pose for pictures, She seems to be quite comfortable with her new role with the Mayor.

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Get involved in this community. This community is yours, and this community will be yours in the future. —————————————————

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liever in complete streets, so you can slow the traffic down and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Encourage that type of activity as a norm of transportation. Just turning our neighborhoods back into neighborhoods. Transportation closely followed if not linked with affordable housing. Jessie: When your term ends what do you feel like will be something you want to be remembered for?

The city’s first openly gay mayor was kind, engaged, and excited to talk about the growth Tampa is experiencing and what it means to her when she hears the term “The New Tampa Bay”. As the city’s busiest person, attending multiple events and galas each week, it’s moments like the story she told when she was going from one Gala to the next in a ball gown and stopped at Tampa’s Waterworks Park to greet kids soaking wet and take pictures with them before heading to the next event. It’s moments like those that truly signify that Mayor Castor is a mayor for the people. It and no surprise the night before our chat the Mayor won Creative Loafing’s “Best of the Bay Awards in 3 separate Categories. (Best Local News Story, Best Mayor and Best Local Couple with her longtime Partner Ana Cruz) Jessie: Being a Tampa Native Have you Always dreamed one day that you would be Mayor of This Town? Mayor: Never, I Love this city my heart is here and my family is here. After I retired from the Chief’s position people would ask me, where would I go next? I would Always tell them I would never go be a police chief in any other town. I never had any real political aspirations either. It was the conversations with Pam Iorio and Bob Buckhorn and they

would tell me my name kept coming up as a potential candidate. No one knew the city and the departments like I did, No one knew the neighborhoods like I did and knew the issues within these neighborhoods and the individuals to go to. Being a part of this city and this growth of his city, it was just fascinating to me and that’s really prompted me running for mayor. Jessie: When you hear the phrase “The New Tampa” What does that mean to you? Mayor: It means all the different communities that is created. We are literally creating new communities all over thee city of Tampa. We are creating a New Airport, a New Port, a New Skyline. Jessie: With all the growth the city is experiencing what is one of the main challenges you think that the city is experiencing: Mayor: Transportation. 100% transportation. We need the all for transportation. We don’t lack for good transportation ideas, we lack for the funding. We need to look at Mass transit solutions which includes the bus, street cars, light rail, everything. From the street level we are on a 75 year re-paving schedule. Looking at a comprehensive sidewalk program, I am a huge be-

Mayor: You know it’s funny, we just passed the pipes program which is the largest infrastructure program ever passed in the city’s history. Over 3 billion dollars we are going to replace water waste water pipes that are 80-100 years old. So we kind of joke that I will be remembered as the Waste water mayor. Jessie: What advice would you give younger citizens in the Tampa Bay Area of how to get ore involved in the community? Mayor: That’s the advice I would give them…Get involved in this community. This community is yours, and this community will be yours in the future. The one thing that I always tell everybody is that you get more when you give so volunteer. Get involved someway, whether it’s mentoring a child, I am a Big sister with the Big Brother’s Big Sisters. I have had my little sister for almost 20 years. But if that’s not your thing then get involved if it’s an environmental issue… get involved whatever you can do non-profit. You can’t leave the future of this city to the government. No One entity or person can do it all themselves, so we rely on the citizens to play their part in the community. And that’s the beautiful thing about Tampa when there is an issue we celebrate together and we handle issues when we need to together.

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Going Behind the Exhibitions International attention came knocking at the door of the Tampa Museum of Art. The “LOVE IS CALLING” installation by Yayoi Kusama is one of the many iconic infinity rooms that are unlike any other exhibition in the world of art. Tentacle-shaped, colorful sculptures with black polka-dots spread out in a room of angled mirrors, creating an unbelievable effect that transports viewers beyond the borders of reality. The installation was offered by the Vinik Family Foundation as a loan, and without hesitation, the museum graciously accepted.

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iith Kusama’s work gaining global recognition and becoming the most Instagrammed in the world, director of the Tampa Museum of Art, Michael Tomor, and his team had to prepare for not only the stampede of local and international guests, but also the publicity that came along with the installation. We sat down with Michael for an exclusive interview, where he reveals his experience preparing for the extraordinary “LOVE IS CALLING” exhibit, his next plans for the museum, and more! What was it like to lead such an exciting exhibition in terms of logistics, the preparation, and the publicity that came with it? It was pretty awesome. Even though the exhibit didn’t open until September, we started working on that project immediately. When we had the opportunity, and it was offered, we jumped on it. We typically plan an exhibition in its curation, which is hopefully 1-2 years in advance, but we literally had nine months. What we had to do was anticipate large crowds. We were in the process of rebuilding our website when this offer came to us, and all of a sudden a large piece of that puzzle was how to manage the commerce

piece of selling tickets online with timed tickets and high traffic coming to the website, knowing that other museums that had shown Kusama’s works experienced website crashes. By the time we opened that exhibit in late September, we were ready. I think it went really, really smoothly, and the whole community had a great experience. And what a fabulous opportunity that was! We were the first to do an installation room with Kusama’s work in Florida, which was pretty remarkable. Aside from the hectic preparation from Kusama’s exhibit, what’s a typical day like as the director of the Tampa Museum of Art?

What I would say is, every day here is somewhat of a loose agenda of things I need to accomplish before the end of the day or before the end of the week or month as we plan to do so many different things. I oversee the entire museum. I have six different active divisions. Each of those divisions have groups of people that are within them, and I have a manager or division director for each of those divisions that I meet with—not daily—but standing meetings with those direct reports every other week. So, a typical day may include meeting with my staff, either all at once or individually — one or two meetings a day. I have two different boards, so I’m working with about 53 different professional volunteers in the community that all have special interests in the museum. I also work with the community at large, overseeing the types of programming that best integrate the interests of the community. The Tampa Museum of Art is constantly progressing under Michael’s direction, but a busy schedule at the museum doesn’t stop him from giving back to the Tampa Bay community. Many art institutions slow down in the summer. Michael took a risk and grabbed the opportunity to conduct programming with the museum’s quieter season—something that not many art institutions do, which has surprisingly been a huge success.

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On Tuesday night in June after Memorial Day, one hundred people showed up to the museum for a lecture on abstract expressionism. From art classes to lectures, the Tampa Museum of Art provides programs year-round to people of all ages, backgrounds, and stories. There are even programs for victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse and people who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, and depression. Michael and his staff strive to be all-inclusive for the entire Tampa Bay community, enriching people’s lives with the arts using unique strategies. Now, Michael is making major plans for the future of the museum. Can you give us a sneak peek or any details on what we might see coming in 2019/2020? We’re doing another seasonal connected exhibit program this fall made up of 4 different installations. I did a masterpiece series back when I was working

in El Paso where I featured one or two pieces for an exhibition. We’re going to try and start a series here like that, and we’re launching that with artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to have a conversation about the time period in which these works were created and his experience as an African-American artist growing up in Brooklyn. We’re also doing a much larger exhibition with the work of an African American artist named Purvis Young, who was a self-taught Florida artist, along with another major exhibition of Haitian voodoo flags. I’m also doing some deep dives right now into understanding better if there’s a movement at hand taking place with multimedia immersive programs and to see what we can do to integrate that into an exhibition program schedule. Michael Tomor and the Tampa Museum of Art have huge plans for the local community, and there’s no doubt that Tampa is going to experience major changes in its artistic exposure. The museum’s attendance and programming have been highly active, especially with the showcasing of its renowned exhibitions and dedication to community outreach. This success couldn’t have been achieved without the direction of Michael and his staff going above and for the arts in the Tampa Bay community and beyond.

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Welcome to the

New Tampa Bay


By: Santiago C. Corrada

rom my office in the middle of downtown Tampa, I can see the new Tampa Bay taking shape all around me. On one side of the office, Water Street Tampa is rising from formerly vacant lots surrounding Amalie Arena and Channelside – including a 26-story JW Marriott sheathed in seablue glass. On another, a crane stands in the center of a city block that will become a new Hyatt. On a third side, the roller coasters of Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay tower above the trees in the distance. And from the fourth side, the scenic Tampa Riverwalk brings life every day to the Hillsborough River, connecting downtown’s hotels, parks, museums and the Tampa Convention Center like the gems on a string of pirate treasure. Day or night, it has become a key piece of Tampa Bay’s tourism infrastructure. From the moment the final segment was completed in 2015, the Tampa Riverwalk became a unifying force in the city’s formerly disjointed downtown geography. It’s 2.6-mile stretch of development from one end to the other. As a bonus, the Riverwalk has inspired millions of dollars in new development from one far end to the other. Without the Riverwalk, the rebirth of Tampa Heights would have been

much more difficult. Where once stood an abandoned trolley barn, city public works garages and vast empty tracts of land, we now have a growing and dynamic district where visitors and locals mingle, sharing conversations over craft cocktails and Cuban sandwiches at Heights Public Market inside Armature Works or watching the sun set from Ulele’s expansive turf. Similarly, the Riverwalk has helped bring new life to the Channel District, increasing access to popular tourist attractions such as the Tampa Bay History Center, The Florida Aquarium, and the new Sparkman Wharf. It factored into recent renovations to the Tampa Marriott Water Street, which included redesigning the hotel’s connection to the pathway on its back doorstep. Visitors staying in downtown’s hotels find their way to the Riverwalk to navigate quickly and safely to any of the activities at myriad venues any day of the week. The connection to the Tampa Convention Center and the waterfront expands the reach of meeting attend-

ees whose only impression of Tampa Bay might otherwise be the space between their meeting and their hotel. The Riverwalk was the heart of fan activities during the College Football Playoff first place. It was an important venue for 2019’s NCAA Women’s Final Four, making it possible for more than 2,000 young fans to bounce basketballs from Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to “Tourney Town” at the Tampa Convention Center. The Riverwalk will again play a pivotal role when Super Bowl LV comes to Tampa Bay in 2021, putting the amazing discoveries of downtown front and center for visitors and a global television audience. With connections to Bayshore Boulevard (across the Platt Street bridge) and Ybor City (via the Selmon Greenway and TECO Historic Streetcar Line), the Riverwalk makes navigating the urban core of the destination almost effortless. Coast Bike Share stations along the way give visitors an alternative to walking. Stops for the expanding Pirate Water Taxi service offer

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Photo by ©Amy Pezzicara/Pezz Photo.

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people their first taste of Tampa Bay, often through events, such as Gasparilla Music Festival, where the Tampa Riverwalk plays an important role.

visitors yet another way to get to know Tampa Bay from the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk has helped drive unprecedented residential development in the urban core as well. Projects like the Pearl in Tampa Heights, the massive Riverwalk Place tower, and the residential projects of Water Street and the Channel District, all benefit from their proximity to the Riverwalk and its many amenities. The residential developments, in turn, make Tampa Bay

ever more attractive to young professionals and empty-nesters looking to escape the staid suburbs in favor of vibrant urban living. Plenty of those new residents will have experienced Tampa Bay and the Riverwalk first as visitors, which is one reason Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council have joined forces to market the destination jointly through our Make It Tampa Bay campaign. Tourism gives

Then-Mayor William Poe laid the first wooden planks of the Tampa Riverwalk in 1976 as a public project to mark the Bicentennial of the United States. A succession of mayors each added their piece over the decades until Mayor Bob Buckhorn finished the job with the help of a federal grant. That investment of public dollars over decades brought in billions more in private spending. In the process, the Tampa Riverwalk has helped transform Tampa Bay into an increasingly popular destination for visitors from across the country and around the world. In so many ways, the Tampa Riverwalk has come to represent the spirit of Tampa Bay as it stands today, and what it will become in the future.

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Submersed Experiences of Tampa Bay


aking a dive below the surface of The Florida Aquarium takes bravery, innovative ideas, teamwork and the commitment to give every guest an experience they’ll never forget. Becoming the Vice President of External Relations at The Florida Aquarium was not solely about the penguins, but a passion for the non-profit realm, says Kari Goetz, who took on the position in October of 2018. Kari handles anything related to the public and oversees the guest relations and operations team. “We have one of the strongest customer satisfaction scores in the Aquarium world and we attribute that to not only our incredible animals, but our helpful humans, and our extraordinarily well-run facility,” she says. Kari also gets to dive in with the marketing and communication team and finds new ways to share the aquarium’s conservation message, while working to protect and restore the Blue Planet. Furthermore, she works with the Sales and Events team to make people’s undersea fantasies become a reality as the aquarium can

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host almost any event from weddings to bar mitzvahs, to annual meetings. Being a lifelong Floridian, Kari has seen the challenges that the state has endured due to climate change and population growth. What she’s doing with the Florida Aquarium is life-changing work as she says, “We’re not only working to save and protect our local waters, but the Blue Planet itself. Every time we welcome a guest through our doors we have the opportunity to inspire them to make responsible choices – from limiting their single-use plastic consumption, to recycling, to deciding to join one of our coastal clean ups, or volunteering in our field work with sea turtles, corals or sharks.” She has not only given back to Tampa Bay and the environment as a whole, but has also made huge accomplishments at the aquarium.

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In October of 2018, the aquarium opened its second-largest habitat, Heart of the Sea, which focused on conservation efforts. In February of 2019, they opened their Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center at their Center for Conservation at Apollo Beach. The facility was built in partnership with private donors and the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission). A few weeks after its opening, they welcomed over a dozen cold-stunned turtles and have already rehabilitated and released the majority of those turtles back into Florida waters. They kicked off the summer with their interactive exhibit, Moon Bay, where guests could get up close and touch moon jellyfish. They also had incredible growth in their educational outreach programs and summer camps. As of August 2019, The Florida Aquarium became the first organization to spawn functionally extinct pillar coral in a laboratory. Kari explains, “This critical animal in the Florida Reef

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Tract has seen their population diminish to such a degree that they cannot reproduce in their natural habitat. Our scientists – lead by the brilliant Keri O’Neil – were able to create the right environment to coax this Atlantic coral to spawn in our labs and provide the first glimmer of hope to one day repopulate and save America’s Barrier Reef.” Kari’s Goetz’s success at the aquarium is an extension of her past experiences when she worked with the Tampa International Airport as the Director of Marketing. “My personal leadership journey and experience mirrored the historic expansion of the airport and air service. It was an exciting and ambitious and audacious time to be at TPA. Joe Lopano and Chris Minner were my mentors, and I learned from the best. They really shaped how I approach decisions – using data as my guide – to produce and market world-class events and experiences.” Although it

was hard for her to leave her TPA family, Kari knew she wanted to follow her drive to build and improve the Florida Aquarium. Roger Germann, CEO of The Florida Aquarium, has been her inspiration to join the team and be a part of his vision and leadership for the aquarium. Now, she’s preparing for all the new things the aquarium will provide in the future. “We are really getting excited to share our 25th year anniversary celebrations and events with the community. We have 15 months of celebrations planned and we can’t wait to share more.” Aside from everything she’s achieved with the team thus far, there is lots more that Tampa Bay can expect from the aquarium! With 14,000 animals in their care, The Florida Aquarium provides the full spectrum of conservation, education, entertainment, and diversity like no other aquatic attraction. They have a

groundbreaking commitment and work in conservation, and blend entertainment with education, which makes it one of a kind. Lifelong opportunities for seasonal residents who want to continue learning are also available. Being an aquarium on the water makes a powerful reminder of what they are called to do: protect the Blue Planet. Kari says to be on the lookout for new habitats and more opportunities to do things no one has ever done before. These upcoming additions are only raising the bar for Tampa Bay. “Tampa is a unique city because of the indomitable spirit of so many who did so much to ensure that we have an unparalleled cultural ecosystem,” she says. The Florida Aquarium has been an incredible asset for the Tampa Bay community, and Kari Goetz is just getting started in making lifelong, extraordinary experiences for every guest.

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Development Forecast for


Tampa Bay

oah Breakstone is a man with a plan. As CEO of BTI Partners, Noah is using his expertise and creativity to help the Tampa Bay area surpass its potential. As many of Tampa Bay’s industries are expanding, Noah believes that real estate is playing a crucial role in the cities growth. Acquisitions, strategy, visions, planning, and financing are just a handful of the components that go into Noah’s new development and land-seeking opportunities ambitions. With the sharp increase of people, both moving into and visiting the Tampa Bay area, it’s imperative that Tampa and its surrounding cities satisfy not only this whirlwind of enthusiastic outsiders, but also its natives. Over the years, Noah Breakstone has put together a strong team of sea-

soned professionals to help his vision become reality in markets such as Tampa, Orlando, South Florida and beyond. But despite the company’s rapid growth, he continues to be closely involved in the different aspects of BTI Partners’ developments. Noah is in constant communication with his team members. For instance, the morning commute to work includes short-call briefings on the status of each of BTI Partners’ projects in Florida. Once he’s in the office, he conducts quick check-ins with the head of each department to receive the most recent updates on acquisitions and strategies to drive the company forward. Those discussions include everything from looking at new financing options for projects to what changes are happening in the local market while keeping an eye on future opportunities. Noah’s eyes remain fixed on what’s

next for the company. As a bullish developer in the Tampa Bay area, BTI Partners is behind one of the region’s most high-profile waterfront developments: Westshore Marina District. The 52-acre, master-planned community overlooking one of the largest yacht basins in Tampa Bay is located off Westshore and Gandy Boulevard. This crown jewel will feature beautiful walking trails and parks on the water that connect to the new marina on a 13-acre, deep-water basin. Floating docks that will feature a 150-slip, a full-service marina to accommodate vessels from 40 feet to over 100 feet in length. The marina is being developed in phases, with BTI Partners taking the lead on the experience. BTI Partners attracted seasoned homebuilders to develop high-end rental apartments as well as for-sale townhomes within the mixed-use community. Some of them include the Related Group, WCI Communities and Bainbridge Com-

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panies. BTI Partners retail village tenants are expected to open their doors early next year. Leases have already been signed with Cru Cellars, Crave Spa, Salon Color Bar, Duckweed Urban Market, DRNK coffee + tea and QWENCH juice bar. The main highlight of Westshore Marina District will be Marina Pointe, three luxury-water-inspired condominium towers designed to transform South Tampa’s urban living. BTI Partners has recently commenced site work at Marina Pointe, where the first tower will include 113 luxury condominiums and 7 townhomes with mesmerizing views overlooking Tampa Bay and the St.

Petersburg skyline. The tower is projected to deliver in the 4th quarter of 2021. The developer has also started construction of the project’s 150-slip deep-water marina. Condo owners will enjoy access to Westshore Marina District’s specialty shops, restaurants and scenic miles of waterfront, green space, and open bay. The first tower has already pre-sold over 40 of the 120 condominium residences, with prices ranging from $700,000 to over $2 million. The activity and positive response shows that Noah’s confidence and optimism in this market are right where they need to be; firmly fixed on developing sites

for future projects throughout the Tampa Bay area. “The most exciting aspect of my job is using my creativity to bring developments to life. Every plot of land is a blank canvas, but unlike a painting that can be repainted over and over again, in development, the responsibility of the artist is to create something that will endure for a long time. I treat each of my projects as an opportunity to bring beauty and sophistication to a community. Coming up with a vision for a development is exciting, but more exhilarating is bringing that vision to fruition, and seeing it materialize in front of your eyes.”

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Passionate developers like Noah are part of the reason Tampa Bay is experiencing such radical growth. This drive and artistic eye for planning and executing development projects have always been in Noah’s blood, as he followed the footsteps of his father, Arthur Breakstone. “My father really is an exceptional person and business partner. And, to be honest, my father could not have done it without my mother. He’s very practical and is the planner. On the other hand, my mother was the one saying, ‘Let’s go do it.’ Together, they made a great combination and an incredible team.” Arthur founded the company in the late 1950’s and three decades later, Noah continued the legacy by growing BTI partners into a multimillion-dollar operation. This strong background and support from his family provided Noah with a steady process in nurturing the

company to what it is today. Making parents not only his inspirations but also his business partners. According to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp, there is currently $13 billion in new development underway that will transform this area in the next decade and create a more exciting urban environment. Most of these long-term investments are happening along the waterfront, where land is available for redevelopment, which is something that many major cities don’t have. Waterfront living in Tampa is high on the list of people looking to relocate to the area. “For us, being able to build Westshore Marina District – with hundreds of townhouses and condominiums, as well as restaurants, stores and 1.5 scenic miles of waterfront – was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” Noah says.

When we planned Marina Pointe at Westshore Marina District, part of our strategy, was to offer a lifestyle that locals as well as buyers from the Northeast could not resist. People crave exciting, modern retailers, while newcomers from up north are simply looking for a beautiful place to retire, save taxes, improve their quality of life, and enjoy the great weather. For the first time, Tampa Bay / St. Petersburg is in the top 10 US cities for real estate investment, according to ULI’s 2019 Emerging Trends in Real Estate® survey. Tampa’s booming residential and retail market, especially along the waterfront, are obvious signs of growth. Noah and his team at BTI Partners are more than ready to create a new, vibrant community where people can gather, work, and socialize in a fresh and engaging environment.

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Tampa Bay:

A Military Community

Tampa Bay is a military town, and the men and women of MacDill Air Force Base realize how lucky they are to live in this amazing community. Most Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are stationed on MacDill for only a couple of years, but the support of this community has stood the test of time. ——————————————————————————————————— 36 ———————————————————————————————————

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Throughout MacDill’s 78 years in Tampa Bay, the partnership between the community and the base has remained strong despite many changes. The bay area is rich in military history spanning from the Spanish-American War to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In every instance, the citizens of Tampa Bay have honored and supported the men and women who would go on to fight for our country. That support from the community is crucial to accomplishing the base’s mission. MacDill is unlike any other base in the world. One, if not the most, unique aspect of MacDill is that it hosts two combatant commands, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. Only nine combatant commands exist across the globe, controlling all U.S. military operations in the world. These commands could be located anywhere in the world, yet they call Tampa Bay home. Having two of them at any one base speaks volumes about the base and, especially, the community.

In addition to two combatant commands, 31 additional unique missions call MacDill home. The 6 Air Refueling Wing, the host unit, boasts 24 KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, also known as aerial refuelers that fill the skies of Tampa Bay on a daily basis. They receive significant support from their sister unit, the 927th Air Refueling Wing, to keep those 60 year old aircraft in the sky. The Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE) is another critical mission to the local area and around the world. JCSE members jump from aircraft to establish communications in forward operating bases on the frontlines of conflict. In addition to enabling communication anywhere in the world, they are often called upon during hurricane relief operations. Again, none of this would be possible, without support from this amazing community. “No matter what operational challenges we face, it’s next to impossible not to smile every day and appreci-

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Last year alone, Team MacDill had a 3.18 billion dollar impact on the local economy, and remains the second largest employer in Tampa Bay. —————————————————

ate what an incredible area we live and work in,” said Colonel Stephen Snelson, 6 Air Refueling Wing and MacDill Installation commander. MacDill provides a significant contribution to the community as well. Last year alone, Team MacDill had a 3.18 billion dollar impact on the local economy, and remains the second largest employer in Tampa Bay. The nearly

20,000 employees of MacDill live in your community, their children attend the same schools as your children, and they worship in the same facilities as you. In short, MacDill’s military members have been welcomed with open arms to Tampa Bay. So much so that the entire nation has recognized the support.

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The support from the Tampa Bay community was recognized by several national organizations. In January 2018, this community was recognized with the Great American Defense Communities Award. This program was designed to celebrate communities whose exceptional commitment to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families, as a model for communities nationwide. In June 2018, Tampa Bay was awarded the Pete Taylor Community Partnership

Award. This annual award applauds the outstanding partnerships that exist between military installations and school districts, bringing special recognition to those partnerships that demonstrate the belief that “goodness happens at the local level.” In Dec 2018, the Tampa-MacDill partnership was recognized with the Dick Schram Community Partnership award. This global award sets new standards of excellence by recognizing an airshow that a community played a significant

role in the planning, execution, and rewards of the event. The Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are truly blessed to be part of this remarkable MacDill/Greater Tampa Bay community. The relationship is extraordinary and is a model of citizens and military members working together to strengthen their community, their country, and even their world.

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Leading the Economic Force for Clearwater


learwater is taking extraordinary measures for its local businesses and organizations. The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce are joining forces to help locals thrive in a positive and enriching economic environment. With this unique merging of leaders, Tampa Bay’s sunny, seaside city is positioned to experience incredible new growth. The collaboration between the two chambers has plenty of plans for Clearwater, its community is expected to expand into a new era of business, tourism, advocacy, and economic

development. For more on this story Breezin’ sat down with the president and CEO of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, Amanda Payne; and the Vice President of Tourism, Kristina Alspaw, to discuss hardearned success, important lessons they’ve learned along the way, and how the merger will affect this community.

planning can be discussed, debated and envisioned for the benefit of residents and tourists alike. This year has been all about seeking input from new and different sources, respecting the legacy of leadership that has created this top destination, and planning with these partners for the exciting future that exists for Clearwater.”

What have you learned this year, so far, that will be game-changing in the next year? (Kristina)

What are some leadership principles you have discovered and executed that have contributed to your success? (Amanda)

“Our organization is a convener of a unique cross-section of non-profit, for-profit, and governmental entities. Here, all facets of community

“I am a firm believer in the Golden Rule and was taught from a very young age to make it a daily practice: “doing unto others as I would have them to

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do me”. Treating others with respect and care is always the best recipe for success both personally and professionally. Listening goes along with being respectful of others, but I truly believe that active listening is the key to learning how to best assist those around you. And being a part of something bigger than yourself. Success is always sweeter when shared with teammates and friends. I have never unilaterally accomplished anything in my life. Surround yourself with a good team and tribe, and lift each other up collectively.” What do you both believe will be the impact of this merger? (Amanda and Kristina) “There are so many benefits to our members and the community by coming together as one organization. The idea of unifying these Chambers has been discussed for a number of years as Clearwater & Clearwater Beach are one municipality and are truly one community. It used to be that most tourism assets were specifically located along Clearwater Beach while residential and traditional commercial businesses were on the mainland creating a separation and a need for these two entities. However, with the continued growth of downtown, the plans for the IMAGINE Clearwater, the strong partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the growth of additional pockets of business throughout our community, the lines of division no longer exist, so we are thrilled to unify the efforts of these two organizations. This will result in a clarity of vision, stronger relationships with our partners, and greater effectiveness with advocacy efforts both within the city and around the state.” What advice would you give someone who is going into a leadership position for the first time? (Amanda)

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A: “You’ve got this! If you are being considered for a leadership position, then you have most likely worked hard and are being recognized for your efforts. Continue to work hard, be humble, accepting of constructive criticism, learn from your mistakes, know that difficulty is always temporary, smile – a lot and always find joy in what you are doing.” What advice do you have for businesses to drive long-term growth besides just meeting the needs of their standard operations? (Kristina) “Get involved. What is going on outside of your four walls dramatically affects the future of your business. While focusing on short and long-term plans for your operation is critical for success, understanding forthcoming legislation, regulation and technology is key to keeping those goals on track. Meeting individuals from all industries can lend to sustainability for the future. Building a more livable vibrant community helps with talent, recruitment, and retention. They are all interconnected, and we are here to help guide, connect, and educate.”

15 years, indicated by a number of significant factors such as population statistics and the development of our airports and roadways. So many exciting opportunities lie ahead for all corners of the Bay area. The “New Tampa Bay” to me means managing this growth with skill and an eye on the important quality of life factors that will ensure sustainability such as affordable housing, transportation, and development of our labor force. This will require commitment and cooperation from our residents, government, non-profit, and for-profit businesses alike!”

Tampa Bay is proud to have inspiring leaders like Amanda and Kristina who share a passion for the local community and are open to sharing both their wisdom and their views on leadership, success, and uniting a community through works. Clearwater residents, tourists, and visitors can expect to experience both growth and exciting developments that are already underway. With all of these principles combined, and through the combined effort of our leaders, locals can look forward to waking up to a continually unique, fresh, and upbeat scene—the new Tampa Bay.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader? (Amanda) “I think we all find a variety of ways to grow. I am a firm believer that we always should be growing and learning. It might just be a simple interaction at the grocery store that we learn from. Remaining open to growth and learning both from my personal journey and others’ around me is a daily practice for me.” What does the new Tampa Bay mean to you? (Kristina) “Tampa Bay has seen tremendous growth, particularly over the last

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A New Vision of Architecture in the Bay


blend of history, culture, arts, and backgrounds shape the character of any city. Each aspect contributes to a city’s individuality and ultimately become its strength. And nothing is more key to a cities signature features than its architecture. The structures and buildings across the Tampa Bay area are not just appealing attractions, they represent advancement, technology, and modernism. Tampa Bay is proud to hold up such qualities as a beacon within the state. A talented workforce is drawn to, and prefers to live and work, in a place that is modern and refreshing. That is why architects serve a crucial role – contributing designs that are responsible, relevant, timeless, and most of all, that draw you in. Yann Weymouth, AIA has enjoyed a 55+ year career. His designs include many projects throughout Tampa Bay: The Dali Museum, the Hazel Hough Wing and Conservatory at the Museum of Fine Arts – both in St. Pete, the Interdisciplinary Science building at USF, and many others. Weymouth’s work extends to Europe and Asia. His

career path started in college while attending Harvard as a history major. His roommate’s father was a longtime family friend and architect, and Yann spent weekends with their family in Brookline, Massachusetts. It wasn’t long before Yann dual-enrolled in MIT and, after graduating Harvard, continued at MIT for his architectural degree. “I appreciate my role and enjoy what I do. Every project is unique and special, working with fascinating people across different fields, observing, listening, researching, learning their needs, goals, budget, and site challenges before testing options with the client and team to discover the optimal ways to deliver solutions through architectural design,” Yann says. “Architects are the front line, responsible for creative designs that optimize well-being, energy use, and natural light”. Yann always strives for architecture that is unique, elegant, timeless, and inspirational. His expertise and talents are in evidence with exceptional structures such as the Dali Museum. In many ways this was a unique experience creating one museum dedicat-

ed to the works of a legendary artist. “Working with the city on the new site and the museum on the design was an extremely rewarding collaboration. We explored different solutions and came up with innovative ways to accomplish the goals, highlighting the collection and drawing in and welcoming local residents and visitors from far and wide.” For this project, Yann collaborated closely with Dr. Hank Hine, the Dali’s director, and the museum’s curators. The resulting design is one-of-a-kind and specifically for the museum, the collection, and the location. The specialized waterproof-reinforced-concrete, category 5 hurricane-resistant ‘vault’ protects the priceless art collection within. The structure by NOVUM was the first use in the Americas and beyond. The over one thousand triangular panes of glass, of which no two are the same, and the structure are an engineering feat. The award-winning design has helped The Dali become a catalyst for innovation. Just two blocks from The Dali and The MFA is the new James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art. Art patrons, collectors, and philanthropists, Tom

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and Mary James, entrusted the design to Yann Weymouth in joint venture with Wannemacher Jensen and Harvard Jolly Architecture. The original office building in a prime location at the heart of downtown St. Petersburg has been repurposed and transformed into a modern museum evocative of the American West. The “Mesa” beckons visitors into an “Arroyo” – all of striated limestone carefully curated to evoke a western canyon leading to a dramatic carved black granite waterfall. The architecture is a serene framework that highlights Tom and Mary James’ important and extensive art collection. Now in his late 70’s, Yann’s deep passion for his career and relentless pursuit of excellence is in full evidence. Currently, he serves as design director for special projects with Harvard Jolly Architects, with wide-ranging projects

across Florida. “I am proud to be associated with Harvard Jolly. They are talented and dedicated professionals, and real leaders in our field,” says Yann. “I look forward to continuing to

contribute architectural designs for many years to come from my professional and personal home in Tampa Bay.”

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What International Couples Need to Know About

Hosting a Destination Florida Wedding By: Jessie Soplinski

Congratulations! You’re recently engaged and thinking about planning your destination wedding in beautiful and sunny Florida! We have put together a list of tips that we think all international couples should know to make their planning process much easier.

1. Look into Florida city guides to decide where you should host the wedding. Consider thinking about what exactly you are looking for in terms of activities offered leading up to the big day, and where you want your photos to be taken. Think about a Tampa wedding on the gulf coast with a great view of the bay, a rooftop hotel in Miami overlooking the sunset, or go for a full-on Disney World wedding in Orlando. 2. Pick a city that has an international airport so that it will be much easier for you to be closer to everything you are looking for to enjoy your wedding, and so it can be cheaper than into a regional airport where you will have more layovers which will normally cost more. Tampa has one of the best international airports in the United States because it is very low chaos and is easy to get to numerous beaches and the downtown area from just a short drive. 3. Get a planner to help guide you with picking a venue, helping you with a budget, recommendations on who to use as vendors, going to meetings you can’t be at, and

so much more since they know the in’s and outs of the area. 4. Look for your venues and vendors early as they can book up!! 5. Hurricane season is normally from June to November!!! Definitely think about these months if you are planning to have an outdoor wedding as it will be very hot, and the weather will be very unpredictable. Also, the weather could be so bad and prevent your guests from being able to fly in. Pro tip: April & November normally have the least amount of rain. 6. Don’t forget to make your marriage legal by getting a Florida marriage license. 7. Semi-formal attire tends to be the most popular wedding style, but if you are going with a black tie, think about picking a cooler month so men aren’t having to wear tuxes in August heat. 8. Just because you are getting married in Florida doesn’t mean it has to be on the beach. Only about ¼ of wedding ceremonies in Florida were held on the beach

in 2015. Tampa has some very cool event spaces including the modern-rustic Armature Works, The Orlo which is an elegant house with a large ballroom, or a historic hotel in St. Petersburg called The Vinoy. 9. Book fun things for your guests to do when they are visiting for pre-wedding festivities such as; a sunset boat cruise in Clearwater, fishing off the coast of St. Petersburg, or ride bikes down Bayshore in Tampa. 10. Give your guests Florida inspired party favors such as citrus fruits, mini Cuban sandwiches, some sunscreen, or even local craft beers as well as giving them a local favor from your culture or where you are from. 11. Fly into Florida a few days before the wedding to make sure you leave room in case of flight delays, and to meet with your planner and vendors and so your guests feel welcome when you’re there to greet them.

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Photo by Lifelong Photography

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W By: Anna Coats

ith the expansive growth taking place in Tampa Bay, businesses are flourishing with a variety of new restaurants, bars, hotels, and lifestyle based brands opening every week. However, with competition rising in these categories and customers’ attention getting more difficult to attract, businesses are looking beyond traditional advertising and seeking out more innovative options. Online influencers. You may have thought only makeup and clothing brands seek out this new advertising medium or that online influencers are just comprised of the Kardashians and celebrities. However, beyond the glitz and glam of L.A. and fast-paced Miami scene, Tampa Bay is seeing a rise of micro-influencers who focus on area events and hot spots to share with their predominantly local audiences. “Our list of local influencers is well into the hundreds and continues to grow every month,”

Tampa Bay Influencers founder Anna Coats shared. Coats, who is the area’s biggest wedding influencer, specializes in marketing strategy, and founded Tampa Bay Influencers, which specializes in online influencer relationships and develops an influencer marketing strategy for local businesses. “Too often, I’ve attended influencer events where the business invites us, but doesn’t know what to do with us. There aren’t any ‘Instagram worthy’ photo ops, the marketing message isn’t clear, and there’s little interaction with management,” Coats explained. “Influencers crave a connection with the businesses they’re working with. You can’t just stick us in a room and expect magic to happen. Influencer events need to be strategically organized for maximum return.” While Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube tend to be the most popular social channels to advertise, Coats shares that social media is quickly becoming oversaturated and may soon be overpriced.

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Photo by Laura Martinez Photography

“Instagram is incorporating more ads into the news feed and within Stories, which means that viewers will start becoming more immune to the content,” Coats explains, “Plus national brands are increasing their social ad budgets, which will cause advertising rates to increase for everyone.” According to Forbes, brands spend $27 billion on social media marketing worldwide, which is projected to increase to $37 billion in the next year; last year Pricewaterhouse Coopers published a study stating that social media is the most influential medium for potential customers. “Influencers’ special sauce is that they have a captive, loyal audience. If they recommend a business or product, their

followers are more apt to take action, versus if the same information came from a Facebook ad,” Coats shared. To make your social media content stand out, you actually want it to fit in, meaning selecting authentic photos and captions that evoke emotions. Ads shouldn’t feel like ads, which can be difficult to achieve. This is where influencers really shine. “Aside from exposing you to their audience, an overlooked benefit of working with online influencers is that they create content for you. You can give 10 influencers the same product, and they’ll produce 10 unique photos, quotes, and evoke different emotions that can truly speak to your audience,” Coats explains.

Photo by Nick George

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Influencers proved to us the value in having a solid social media presence.” To be truly successful when working with influencers, Coats stresses incorporating a strategic marketing plan.

Photo by Caroline & Evan Photography

“Influencers are just as much content creators as they are avenues to deliver your marketing message.”

metrics such as demographics, engagement, and photo quality,” Coats added.

Some of the biggest misconceptions businesses have when partnering with influencers is that accounts need to have thousands of followers to be effective. If you focus on influencers who produce quality content and have a loyal following that is your target audience, they can produce the same results as someone else with a following ten times their size.

It’s not just businesses leveraging online influencers reach, but also local community organizations looking to increase attendance for their events.

“Anyone can buy followers. Anyone can buy likes. We look at a variety of

“The Tampa Downtown Partnership’s inaugural influencer event during Winter Village’s 2018 opening night gained our account more followers, likes, and engagement than we have never experienced,” the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Tampa Downtown Partnership shared. “Tampa Bay

Photo by Caroline & Evan Photography

“Working with influencers are just one piece of the marketing puzzle. Hosting an event or implementing a campaign is just the start. Businesses need to have a social plan in place to engage with the new followers the influencers send their way, as well as interacting with the followers who are commenting and liking the influencers’ posts. Putting together an influencer strategy is much more intricate than just posting an “Instagrammable photo.” With Instagram constantly changing their algorithm and decreasing the reach of native posts, Coats predicts a social media shakeup in the future. “Businesses were in a lot of social pain after Facebook stopped delivering their content, and Instagram is well on that path. However social media marketing isn’t going away because that’s where the users are. So to reach them, companies need to prepare to invest more marketing dollars, whether that be through online advertising or influencer campaigns to reach the same audience that was once free.”

Photo by Caroline & Evan Photography

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A Woman for All Seasons: Judy Lisi, Straz Center for the Performing Arts CEO and President


By: Marlowe Moore

n 1992 Judy Lisi left the comforts of New Haven, Connecticut with a very specific mission in mind. In her rearview mirror, New Haven’s famous Shubert Theater enjoyed seasons of prosper and plenty thanks to her creative intuition and sharp eye for programming broadway shows that people would

flock to. As The Shubert’s executive artistic director, Lisi managed to take a struggling theater and turn it into a crown jewel in the crown of New Haven. Now, with Tampa, Florida firmly in her sights, she aims to do the same with the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

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Opera Tampa celebrates its 25th anniversary alongside an impressive opera arts education arm that provides lecture-demonstrations both on-site, in schools, and other community centers. In 2004, the organization opened the Patel Conservatory on its campus. The conservatory is a first for the Tampa Bay area. A full-scale accredited performing arts school that represents a cultural achievement of heroic proportions for Tampa. “The miracle of The Straz, going back to its origins,” says Lisi, “is that the whole point of it was for the citizens and their elected officials to make a bold statement to the world that Tampa was serious about becoming a destination. Demonstrating such a commitment to the cultural life of Tampa was intended to draw investors, families and businesspeople while greatly improving the quality of life for the people already here. When I arrived in Tampa, I believed wholeheartedly in the mission of The Straz to improve people’s lives through the singular, empowering experience of the performing arts either as a viewer or participant.”

Four million dollars in debt, under critical fire from the press and the board for being too ambitious, too big, too inaccessible, too few everyday people attending, TBPAC (renamed the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in 2009) presented the kind of problems Lisi loves to tackle head on. “I took the job as president knowing it wouldn’t be easy, but there were simple solutions. I had relationships in New York already with Broadway producers and agents, so I knew with a little faith and support from the board that we could bring top-level shows to Tampa,” Lisi says. “They were fantastic in supporting my visions and plans. I focused on our programming

foremost, but we also had an edifice complex—the building needed more life, more signage, more attention, so I added small embellishments like neon lights. Signs. In three years, the deficit was gone. We were then able to shift our focus to growing and really getting behind the mission of the performing arts center, which we’ve been doing ever since.” While Lisi dedicated long days, and even longer nights, balancing the budget during the formative years of her presidency, she borrowed pages from her personal playbook that made Shubert’s a success, instituting a resident grand opera company. This season,

“I believe strongly in our commitment to grow the arts and access to the arts in this community. Now, we’re taking programs and forming educational partnerships in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. We have 52 community partners. The reputation of our ballet and dance programs has gone international, drawing students from around the world to our summer intensives. Our Rock School director was on the Warped Tour; our artistic director for ballet was a prized member of New York City Ballet; our popular dance director was a Rockette. We have a jazz instructor who is pioneering jazz composition in Braille and theater teachers who were on tour with Ringling Brothers. All of this expertise

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and talent we brought here so people from every neighborhood in and around Tampa can learn and train with professionals,” Lisi says. “Our annual donors make sure we have scholarship money available for children. Our arts education is not just for professionals or kids who want to go into the arts as a career. We’re here for the mom or dad who wants drum or tap lessons, we’re here for the kids who are talented and need a home to hone their gifts. We’re here for anyone who’s ever wondered what it would be like to study acting. We’re here for the schools that don’t have a budget for performing arts classes.” Under Lisi’s stewardship, The Straz Center for the Performing Arts has course-corrected to a new mission that has led to record-breaking attendance along with enthusiastic public approval. That mission, to provide per-

forming arts experiences, cultural literacy and comprehensive, high-quality performing arts education flourished, is stronger than ever. On of Lisi’s most successful programs has been a series of free outdoor performance series including Live & Local, Arts Legacy REMIX, the Fourth Friday Concert Series, and annual events like Straz LIVE! in the Park along with the Open House Party. Efforts towards inclusion and community engagement have resulted in Straz Salutes, an initiative designed to gather around and honor our local active military, veterans, and their families with several visual art galleries around the campus that feature local, national and international artists. “We’re looking to the future,” Lisi says. “We have a master plan, and if history serves as our guide, we need to be ambitious, bold, and imaginative. We need to understand that Tam-

pa has not only become the destination we dreamed it would be, but it’s a fast-growing metropolitan area bursting with urban excitement. The Patel Conservatory has already outgrown itself, so we’ll need to expand our school. We have to do our best to anticipate needs and set our goals in programming and outreach accordingly. The building of a performing arts center was the catalyst for reaching the dream of a 21st century Tampa. We’re driving $100 million in economic impact each year in addition to the performances and programs we make available. There are still many people who think of us as just the Broadway or opera house, and we want to reach out and make sure those people know we are so much more. This is an exciting time for Tampa, and definitely, one of the most exciting times for the performing arts since I’ve been here.”



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WWW.CLSPACE.COM | (813) 739 - 4856

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Stronger Than Ever By: Monica Wilson

WE ARE 2,000,000 STRONG! What a year it has been! The Community Food Pantry officially reached the 2,000,000-meal mark in February 2019! As a client choice food pantry, we offer supplemental groceries to the food insecure by mimicking the grocery store experience. Those pounds of groceries distributed translate to hearty meals on families’ dinner tables. Our friends at Breezin’ Entertainment helped us reach that number by once again providing turkeys for our “Everything But the Turkey” Thanksgiving meal-fixings event. Not only did they arrive with turkeys, turkeys and more turkeys, but they also stayed to serve the 448 families in need that stopped by. In January, we hit the ground running when the federal shutdown hit. The call went out to help the folks at Tampa International who were furloughed, so we packed up 750 Bags of Hope toiletry bags and sent them down to TIA where Feeding Tampa Bay had set up a distribution center. To help the local

families, we opened our Community Food Pantry doors for special distribution days and evenings just for federal workers and their families. In April, we were blessed to be chosen by Home Goods (TJXX Companies, Inc.) as their neighborhood charity for the Lutz store grand opening. We were able to meet with their employees and share in the ribbon cutting for their

beautiful new store! This grant helps us feed thousands of children, seniors, and families this year. Our Bags of Hope toiletry program was just initiated in the spring of 2018, but has already distributed 6,000+ bags including 1,600 to Meals on Wheels for their client hurricane supplies and the 750 to TPA federal furloughed employees. It’s hard to imagine not being able

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to brush your teeth or wash your face. By offering, at a minimum, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a protein bar along with information on local social services, this mission offers hope and dignity to struggling individuals. For the 8th consecutive year, June, July and August were our Youth Take Over the Pantry months. We filled over 500 volunteer slots with students from 40+ local schools, including the Mayor’s Youth Corp for their 4th year participating and four interns! Having our local youth take charge gives our adult volunteers a summer break and our youth the chance to hone their organizational as well as philanthropic skills. September hosts Hunger Action Month and our biggest fundraiser of the year, Denim and Diamonds Gala at the Carrollwood Country Club. Breezin’ Entertainment continues to hold our hands to help polish and perfect our event. Yes -- it’s their thing! We are blessed by the relationship and kindness of Cindy Dervech and her amazing team and their efforts to support the community.

FUN FACTS: • In 2018 we had enough volunteer hours to equal 10 full-time employees • We reached 2 million meals distributed in February 2019, and could hit 3 million by April 2020 • Only 13% of our clients come monthly – most (47%) only visited us once in the past twelve months! It truly is a hand-up, not a hand-out. • January through July, 2019 • 7,267 families served • 700 new families added • 27,614 people served • 442,673 meals distributed • 11,705 volunteer hours donated • 408 volunteer nurse visits

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RE-BUILDING One Step at a Time


magine having to live your day to day life without having the ability to look down or move your neck. That is what life is like for those with various neurological disorders. However, this does not mean your neck and spinal cord injuries have to keep you from living your life to the best of your ability.

The founders of Stay in Step, husband and wife team Romulo and Gabriela Camargo, remind themselves daily that spinal cord injuries do not have to stop you from living. The organization they founded together in June of 2015 practices a form of long-term physical therapy that is not regularly offered by other healthcare providers. Together, the two have provided critical services for those suffering from spinal cord injuries in the Tampa Bay Area. Stay in Step is unique from other or-

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ganizations because the founders are able to share and understand the experiences of their clients. In 2008, Romulo served in the Afghanistan tour and was injured in combat. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Following Romulo’s injury and recovery process, he and Gabriela knew they had a critical role to support and advocate for those who suffer from neurological injuries. Through trial, error, and a ‘no quit’ attitude, they have developed a program with a focus on providing a unique blend of therapeutic care and “out of the box” thinking, which creates a motivating environment for their clients. They make each client they see a part of the ‘Stay in Step family,’ which creates a comfortable space for those recovering to be supported by others who have been impaired by spinal injuries.


FEEL UNIQUE the simple fact that my husband and I live the same reality. We understand every single aspect of their journey.”

Having gone through it themselves, Romulo and Gabriela both understand the challenges of the lengthy recovery process. Because of their dedication, clients can expect to feel like individuals and do not have to worry about being left behind or forgotten while they are completing their recovery exercises. The Stay in Step organization uses a recovery treatment for their clients that is called activity-based exercise therapy. The program provides “We want to make every cli- two to three therapists at a time ent feel unique,” Gabriela says. and utilizes the body’s natural “They identify with us just from movement to recover.

Since the organization’s inception in 2015, the couple has been able to provide this new form of therapy service in the Tampa Bay area. In the last three years alone, around 100 people have been provided with long-term rehabilitation treatments that hospitals do not provide. Through the program, Romulo and Gabriela have been able to make a difference in the Tampa Bay Area by offering treatment for spinal cord injuries and other variants of injuries concerning neurological disorders, which cause paralysis. Building the foundation from the ground up was not without its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest challenges about getting Stay in Step up and running was

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navigating through the realm of Healthcare insurance. Gabriela states, “It is very difficult and frustrating due to the fact that Medicare and Medicaid rates are so low, and they demand too much information.” This issue has contributed to the amount the organization has spent searching for the time and resources needed to help conduct fundraising events to raise money to sustain the center. Even with difficulty caused by the descending rates, Stay in Step was still able to receive investments from healthcare based on the understanding that Stay in Step can provide services that other health care providers simply cannot, like patience.

covery process; other healthcare professionals are not as capable of providing this trait. The organization also considers family members that are affected by a relative’s disorder. Both Romulo and Gabriela adjusted for their own recovery process and have empathy for their clients and the clients’ families who struggle. By having the first-hand experience from dealing with Romulo’s disorder, they can create a family friendly environment in their facility. “We understand the effect it has on the family. This is not an individual injury; it is a family injury. We are able to provide true testimony and understanding of what the family is going through.”

Long-term rehabilitation requires Gabriela learned a lot about Ropatience for clients to be able to mulo’s injuries while he was goget as far as they can in the re- ing through the recovery process.

Now, she uses that knowledge to help her clients’ recoveries. Gabriela has stated that one powerful motivating aspect comes from listening to numerous testimonies from clients who share their experiences at Stay in Step. “The most rewarding part of my job comes from the people who say how their lives have been changed since the day they started coming to Stay in Step,” Gabriela stated. Stay in Step’s main priority is to help families and others who have retained injuries that have left them partially disabled to recover. The company hopes those families can move forward with their help to have a more healthy and comfortable life, one step at a time.

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Music Nonprofit Strikes a Chord with Bay Area Youth


nstruments 4 Life is a Tampa Baybased nonprofit formed in 2011 by a group of four, lifetime friends. Over the last eight years, this organization has worked with numerous groups to provide not only music lessons and instruments to children, but also to cultivate a passion for creative expression in kids. This work often takes place in underserved communities where access to instruments and music lessons are limited. “We’re trying to make the world more musical,” says one of the co-founders, John Soler. “Life is nothing without art, and we are trying to make sure that kids who may not have had the opportunity now have the chance to experience this.”

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The founders all grew up in Tampa and have played music together for years. “Dane Gilbert and John Soler, two of our co-founders, had a garage band in middle school. I used to go over and just listen,” said David Diaz, one of the other friends who started the nonprofit. “Finally, they let me hold a guitar one day, and I never put it down. They were the ones to teach me about music, and now we are all able to pass that joy along to others.” The group’s mission to make life more musical for Tampa youth has come a long way since its start, expanding from reaching a few kids at a time to serving over 75 kids ages 8 to 18 each week. The organization provides not just music and art lessons, but mentorship as well. “It’s not just about the notes,” says Todd Nanni, another founding member. “Making a connection is important if you want to have a lasting impact with these kids. We’ve stayed longer after lessons to play sports, help with studies, or even just to chat about life. Music is just one way that we can

help kids grow their confidence and grow as a person.” Instruments 4 Life, I4L for short, has partnered with numerous after-school centers, community programs, and group foster homes, including The Children’s Cancer Center, Joshua House, Redefining Refuge, and Prodigy Cultural Arts Program amongst others. They are especially proud of their recent partnership with the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation centers and the Dream Center of Ybor that allows them to bring music into the communities that need it the most. One of the reasons the group sees a particular need for their offerings is because school budgets have been facing downward pressure for years, and art and music education is often negatively affected as a result. These cuts disproportionately affect low-income communities and schools where there is less presence from booster clubs and teacher-parent groups to

offset the impact. As numerous studies have shown, music plays a pivotal role in both the brain development and academic success of students who learn to play an instrument. Everything from math to language to memory and more shows significant improvements when a child is exposed to learning music. “More importantly, these students are showing increased self-esteem, confidence, empathy, and self-worth,” says Brianna Brokaw, another long-time friend who reunited with the group after extensive trips abroad teaching and serving with the Peace Corps. “Every child deserves the opportunity to learn an outlet that can literally save their lives,” she says. “Today’s youth are facing an ever-changing world, with dangers and distractions that are literally in the palm of their hands. We know that if we can place an instrument into their hands instead, statistically they are going to be less likely to abuse drugs, less likely to commit crimes, and more likely to graduate high school. Those are prov-

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en facts. Music is powerful.” The Instruments 4 Life curriculum was specially created by its teachers to focus on getting the students engaged and feeling confident as early as possible. “When we have a kid come in for the first time, they don’t know if they can do it. Sometimes, they don’t even know if they want to do it,” explains Soler. “It looks hard. They don’t want something that looks like more schoolwork or homework. We understand that. We do not teach rigid music theory to start. If we did, we wouldn’t have many kids return the next week,” he says. “Instead, we teach them how to play a song that they will recognize immediately on day one. Once they get that, they are hooked, and we can move on building skills lesson after lesson. It’s really an amazing feeling to see a kid’s face light up when they start to realize ‘Wow, I am actually playing the guitar.’” Guitar is just one of the instruments that these children are able to learn. Ukulele, bass guitar, and keyboard are also taught through the program. The

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lesson plans over the last eight years have also evolved along with the music tastes of a new generation of students. “They were interested in Beyonce’, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga when we first started,” recalls co-founder Dane Gilbert. “They keep us young and on our toes for sure, says Soler. “‘Old Town Road’ is the new big hit today. I had to look it up, because the kids all love it,” he says. “We feel it’s important to learn and teach songs that the kids are interested in because that’s how we all learned,” Soler continues. “When you actually like the music, it is going to make you want to continue to practice and learn more. That being said, we still keep classics from The Beatles, Bob Marley, Metallica, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, and more in the rotation because we can also teach the kids a little history as well.”

Typically, after about 8-10 lessons, students have an opportunity to perform songs in front of friends, family, and the community at special showcase events. Getting kids up on stage and taking them even further out of their comfort zone is another step the organization believes will serve in the kids’ personal development and youth empowerment. Participants in the program also have the opportunity to earn their very own instrument by displaying leadership skills and teamwork while helping the organization teach a new wave of students. The success of this piece of the program speaks for itself: hundreds of instruments have been given away to deserving children since Instruments 4 Life began in 2011. Instruments 4 Life believes strongly in the power of music and the difference it

can make in someone’s life. “It’s something that can be done whether you are young or old, in a group or alone, or whether you are happy or sad,” says Diaz. “There are not many things in this world that can do all of that, but music and art certainly can. These kids deserve an opportunity to experience all of the good and positivity that stems from it, and we will continue trying to make that happen for Tampa Bay. Together, we can make life musical!” Instruments 4 Life is 100% grassroots funded. Just $275 gets a deserving child 8-10 weeks of lessons and an opportunity to earn their own instrument. You can help make the world more musical by connecting with them at or by emailing Your time, talents, or resources are all welcome donations to their cause.


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Across The Bay

Walking the tightrope between event entertainment and building a family legacy


Js, dancers, singers, stilt-walkers. No, it’s not the circus. Nestled in the heart of Tampa Bay is Breezin’ Entertainment & Productions, an events and entertainment agency that has been thrilling audiences, and building a powerhouse brand, for over 30 years. The Breezin’ team, also known as the Ambassadors of Fun, go above and beyond expectations by giving each event a level of care and detail that is rare in our age of fleeting attention. A simple ceremony becomes something special under the guidance of Breezin’s event planning team. Far from an overnight success, Breezin’ has blazed a trail in Tampa by relying on experience in hospitality, entrepreneurial skills, big dreams, and a committed team. Being family-grown and owned since

Photos by Lifelong Photography

day one, Breezin’ Entertainment started life as nothing more than a passionate woman with a black book of contacts. Founder and CEO, Cindy Dervech, started the company without any intention of becoming one of the most sought after event entertainment agencies in town. Unsure of her future, Cindy split her college days working in the food industry at her family’s restaurant, and later on, at Busch Gardens, all while gaining experience and love for customer service. She stumbled upon an opportunity to work as an outside representative at the Lincoln Hotel, now the Westshore Hotel. Moving up a ladder and taking several promotions gave Cindy the experience she needed, but came at a cost of sacrificing time with her family. That’s when she decided to start an entertainment agency in her home to balance her love for hospitality and family bonding. Without

any mentor, strategic direction, or business plan, Cindy began to search for entertainment in a phonebook and contacted a number of hotels who might have needed a booking agent. In less than 24 hours, she was contacting harpists, bands, and a variety of performers to entertain guests for corporate events. Today, Breezin’ Entertainment is a strong, family-run business that is constantly creating memorable experiences that has gone beyond the DJs and dance floors. Breezin’ developed a branch completely dedicated to weddings. Lead by director of events, Jessie Soplinski, Breezin’ weddings provides brides and grooms with premier day-of wedding planning services, guidance, and peace of mind so the happy couple doesn’t have to break a sweat trying to organize it themselves! From

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booking the venue and choosing the wedding theme to working behind the scenes the day of the wedding, Breezin’ is there every step of the way to make sure their clients’ special day goes perfectly, even if it’s a destination wedding. Over the years, Breezin’ has been able to collect a wide and endless array of performers to provide clients with everything and anything they can dream of. This has enabled the company to offer special and unique packages that take events and entertainment to the next level. In early 2019, Breezin’ launched a DJ band combo package to give clients and their attendees an exclusive experience of a DJ and live musicians performing together. This has been a growing trend among many events

across the country, and Breezin’ did not hesitate to contribute to it. Along with this, clients also have access to infinite live music options from solo musicians to full bands. In fact, Breezin’ has its own in-house band known as 813Live. Being an energetic, contemporary, and Tampa-based band, 813Live is adaptable and fits with any occasion or function. At Breezin’, the enthusiasm and fun never ends and infiltrates into the community to those in need even when the lights and music are off. Breezin’ Entertainment is extremely passionate about giving back to the community. This year’s Charity of Choice is Instruments 4 Life. This organization strives to spread the beauty and pleasure of music as much as possible by enriching the lives of children enlisted in free community

programs throughout Tampa Bay, with music lessons and instruments. Music enables children to escape problems they may face at home or in school, while expressing themselves freely and having fun. Instruments 4 Life believes it’s important to make this happen for kids of all races and backgrounds. Breezin’ is more than thrilled to be working with an incredible charity that their clients and entertainers alike can engage with and support happily. Staying in touch with past charities has helped grow Breezin’s borders and continues to strengthen their outreach. Last year’s Volume two edition featured Stay-In-Step as the charity of choice. This organization focuses on helping veterans and civilians who are suffering from spinal cord, brain, and other neurological injuries and disorders

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by providing them with rehabilitation. The founders, Romulo and Gabriela Camargo, started the organization in June 2015 and are continuing to give their clients critical services that are not commonly supplied by other healthcare providers. Volume one, included selected charity Community Food Pantry. The Community Food Pantry strives to end the physical and emotional hunger of families in a dignified manner. Their comprehensive approach to serving clients not only alleviates hunger with nutritional foods but also provides support services such as health screenings, and nutritional education for the whole

person and homeless outreach in the Tampa Bay area. The Breezin’ team also reaches out to students by giving them real-world, enriching internship experiences in the world of entertainment. Cindy Dervech started the program ten years ago with the intention to help young people make their way to a stable, fun-filled, and exciting career. This has helped her expand the Breezin’ family, which is unlike any other. The Breezin’ Entertainment team takes family fun and event entertainment to the next level. As Cindy being the

founder of the company, she’s also recruited her son, Michael Dervech, to join the team. It’s this commitment to family that has helped make Breezin’ the number one events and entertainment agency in Tampa. Cindy, Michael, and the rest of the Breezin’ family are excited about all the new venues and businesses that are emerging throughout Tampa Bay. Breezin’ Entertainment will continue to bring the party to the Tampa Bay community through their dedication to building moments, memories, and an everlasting family legacy.

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The Next Destination in Communication


strong passion for aviation and storytelling combined with over 20 years of experience in communication and program developing lead Danny Cooper to having the ultimate career where he could have the best of both worlds every day. As the Senior Manager of the Marketing Department for the Tampa International Airport, Danny tackles a variety of duties and responsibilities, as no two days are ever the same. Early on in his career, Danny learned that one of his greatest skills as a communicator was listening to details and technical aspects and distilling them down into ordinary terms and explanations that everyone could understand. He served in the Air Force after college for 9 years and chose a non-flying job. For 22 years, he has been a professional communicator and program builder, and the last five years, he has been with TPA. “Our story at TPA and the story of the industries we support can be mind-bending. So I love finding the pieces of the story that help further our brand, our community position, and our business and matching them to an audience and method of outreach to most successfully tell our stakeholders what we’re up to and why it matters to them,” Danny says. His days vary as much as the airports’ guests day in and day out. His work in the marketing department generally involves around the people-to-people parts of the marketing and outreach strategies. He works closely with the Director and EVP of Marketing to get an understanding of the marketing and air service development priorities, as well as any other major airport priorities. He then works with his portion of the marketing team and other airport stakeholders to integrate those priorities into community outreach, airport events, promotional opportunities, speaking engagements, and more. The Tampa Airport system also has three general aviation airports, which consist of Peter O. Knight, Tampa Executive, and Plant City Airports. He also works very closely with the operations team for these airports to promote and develop these lines of businesses. Running a massive organization can be a tough job, and there are bound to be a few obstacles here and there. The marketing department is solely a small piece of the entire Airport team, which Danny says is quite mind-blowing, and it only gets larg-

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er looking up this scale. 700 people are currently working for the Airport, but nearly 12,000 people are earning a living in this industry. Aviation-related business averages around 10% of the GDP both state and nationwide. “In terms of obstacles, I’d say often times the biggest one is focusing in on just what needs to be done and when. Our Board and our CEO, Joe Lopano, have done a masterful job at the highest levels articulating our Airport master plan for the next decade and beyond. But then each of our teams, including marketing and our community partners, have to come to a consensus on just how best to accomplish our individual pieces.” Although Danny’s main focus is the Tampa Airport and its goals, he also takes into consideration the input of others. He says, ”I always like to ask partners, internal and external, ‘How does this align with what you are doing?’ Sometimes you have to know that

if everybody can get say, 90% of what they are hoping to achieve by working together, that’s better than one group getting 100% while the others get nothing.” Both internal and external teamwork is essential for the success of the airport’s marketing operations. Danny has noted some major changes in some of the Tampa airport’s products. During his first four years at the airport, Danny and the team worked on improving passenger and guest experiences by focusing on the first step of their “Master Plan”, which was construction and expansion. “It seemed like every month to make progress, we had to disrupt something else. You add to that the love, pride, and ownership this community takes in ‘their’ Airport, and we had a heavy burden to keep people informed as to why and how we were going about it. At the same time, we had to keep running an Airport.”

This wasn’t an easy project, but after it was completed, the airport now has amazing things to offer. There are 70 brand new food, beverage, and retail options. It provides the most convenient parking of virtually any airport in the country, and it has nonstop connectivity to over 90 domestic and international destinations. The development of this airport doesn’t stop here. Danny and the team are currently working on recruiting more and bigger events to their General Aviation facilities at TPA and the other three airports. The marketing team is also working on releasing several campaigns across Europe to target prospective travelers and inform them of the best airport for their Florida vacation: The Tampa International Airport! They also have local campaigns for Tampa Bay’s citizens telling them there’s never been a better time to book a ticket domesti-

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cally or head out on an international adventure. “Also directly on the horizon, TPA is the host airport for the Airports Council International – North America Annual Conference and Exhibition Sept. 14-18. While we couldn’t be more proud to show off our community’s award-winning airport, it’s really the city of Tampa and the whole Tampa Bay area that are going to shine through. We are thrilled to give more than 2,500 of North America’s senior airport leaders a taste of what we all get live and love every day.” With all that goes on at TPA, Danny says he essentially has one goal: to stay ahead of the growth curve in terms of population and economic development. “We know it’s our responsibility to never be a limiting factor in the growth of tourism, business expansion, and new economic opportunities,” Danny says. Making plans and growing deliberately and smartly is part of his plan to continue to operate and maintain TPA by providing the cleanest, most efficient, and guest-focused experience in the country.

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