Leadership Pasco Newsletter - Spring 2020


The Leadership Pasco Newsletter is published quarterly. SINCE 1991, THE MISSION OF LEADERSHIP PASCO is to identify and recruit current or potential leaders of Pasco County, facilitate the development and interaction of those leaders, and to foster an issues-oriented learning environment for these leaders and the citizens of Pasco County in order to encourage an ex-change of ideas and generate enthusiasm for community growth and development.


Spring 2020

Leaders United

Class Bonds are Forged in Fire

To Our Leadership Pasco Family,

With due regard to the health and

safety of our community, the Leadership

Pasco Board of Directors has made

the difficult decision to cancel the

Leadership Pasco program for the 2021

class year. The Board felt this was the

best course of action to take with the

information available.

While we are extremely disappointed to make this unprecedented decision,

we also recognize this time as an unforeseen opportunity. It is our

goal to provide the best possible experience to every class participant

every year. Over the next twelve months, we plan to continue to improve

program content, develop new relationships and pilot some new and

exciting ideas. Please be sure to follow us on social media for current happenings.

As always, your participation and feedback is welcomed.

We truly appreciate the tremendous work done by the Board, Class,

Alumni, Program Day Leaders, Community Partners and so many others

to make our program an amazing and valuable experience for all involved.

We are proud to be a part of such a caring and generous community and

are grateful to all of our first responders, local government, elected officials

and essential workers for their leadership and dedication during

this time of uncertainty,

Stay safe, stay grateful and we hope to see everyone soon. THE BEST IS



Kim Hamm, Class of 2015

President, Leadership Pasco

Owner - Time Trap Escape Room





PASCO is to identify and recruit current or

potential leaders of Pasco County, facilitate

the development and interaction of those leaders,

and to foster an issues-oriented learning

environment for these leaders and the citizens

of Pasco County in order to encourage an exchange

of ideas and generate enthusiasm for

community growth and development.

The Leadership Pasco Newsletter is published

quarterly. Please direct correspondence about

this publication to Leadership Pasco, P.O. Box

695, Elfers, FL, 34680. Readers also may reach

staff by sending an email to administration@


Editorial Staff

Amanda Hart '14


Jason Longo '17


Photo Credits

J. David Wright '20

(Leadership Pasco class days)

Board Members

Kim Hamm '15, President

Don Anderson '16, President Elect

Brendan Gorman '18, Secretary

Manny Long '16, Treasurer

Nichole "Nikki" Alvarez-Sowles '13

Carla Armstrong '14

Stefanie Ambrosio Pontlitz '13

Tom Celotto '11

Angel Cook '18

Heather Grimes '11

Amanda Hart '14

Crystal Lazar '13

James Mallo '12

Tara O'Connor '16

Leah Peake '19

Joseph Poblick '14

Laura Raposa '19

John Willis '15

© Leadership Pasco. All rights reserved.




2 4 9










Infrastructure and Growth Day

Leadership in Action Day


Class Officer Updates

An Update from Becky Bennett '07

Class Officer Updates

Youth Leadership Pasco,

Student Perspective

Youth Leadership Pasco,



Bay to Bay Roofing

Bene's Career Academy

Blackjack Media Group

Centennial Bank

Clearwater Gas System

Duke Energy

Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce

Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce

Jarrett Ford

Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A.

Medical Center of Trinity

Micro Solutions

O'Connor Law Group, P.A.

Oliver & Fox PA

Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

Pontlitz Asset Advisors

Ralph the Lawyer

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point

Ron's Bar-B-Que

Saint Leo University

Simpson Environmental Services, Inc.

TECO Energy, Inc.

Time Trap Escape Room

United Way of Pasco County

Leadership Pasco



Infrastructure and

Growth Day

by Robert Marin ’19

Our tour began with a pleasant greeting and introduction

amid the beautiful grandfather oaks of

4G Ranch. After listening to a brief and welcoming

speech, we were guided into a grand dining area

for lunch. Inside was a smorgasbord of delicious

treats and options for everyone. Our bellies full,

we were ready for the tour. The staff and hosts

were beyond accommodating and informative. It

felt less like a guided tour and more like greeting

old friends.

It was time for the tour! We boarded the “swamp

buggies” for the tour of the wetlands and reclaimed

facilities. Our guides were informative

and took the time to explain everything in detail.

The weather was picture perfect. During the tour

we learned that the wetland/reservoir project spans

across 100+ acres of man-made wetland habitat and

a 500-million-gallon water reservoir to stabilize the

wet weather season and dry weather strains placed

on the wetlands. Assisting in protecting water

quality through natural biological treatment. It was

interesting and reassuring to learn that entities so

different in nature and purpose could come together

and work towards the benefit of the environment

and vitality of the future. With the immense

amount of growth in our county and state, water

is crucial to the sustainment of all life, human and

creature alike; as well as sustaining the habitat

amidst the immense amount of development. It is

pleasing to know that something this magnificent is

happening in our county.


Leadership in

Action Day

by Patrick Bene ’17 and Vicki Bene

This year's class had a wonderful day discussing

Leadership principles and implementing them

in our workplaces. Class members spent a little

bit of time discussing the theory behind the Peak

Leader Model and the differences between being

a manager or a leader. Leaders motivate, inspire

and set the direction, while managers plan, budget

organize and carry out the vision.

We watched a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, “How

great Leaders inspire action” and the meaning of

Why and the Golden Circle. Are we working on

the business or working in the business?

Everyone took a DISC assessment test, a personal

profile system to delineate your leadership

characteristics. As we sifted the room into four

corners, everyone got to stand in a similar group

of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness

and found that their actions and reactions

were very similar in the workplace.

Vicki Bene was a wonderful hostess and kept

the group fed and caffeinated. She picked up

lunch from Publix and kept the group happy with

coffee and energy drinks.

In the afternoon, we talked about Angela

Duckworth’s book. “Grit” and the inherent characteristics

of a gritty person. We also referenced

Annie Duke’s “Thinking in bets”, making decisions

without all of the information.

After a short refresher on Jim Collins’ book

“Good to Great”, we applied those principles to the

non-profit industry using a primer called “Good

to Great and the Social Sectors”.

We wrapped up the day looking at the same

leadership principles and how they are illustrated

in a family business and the need to have long vision

even if you are operational involved in day to

day activities.

A final presentation on goal setting and incorporating

those principles into your life was illustrated

by some photos of racing and challenges

that I have faced running a 100 mile race. Some

key elements included the mental strength to set

goals, achieve those goals, utilize your grittiest

self, and create success.

Leadership Pasco



Best class photo ever. Thank you J. David for your talents.


The class "read the book" but society still had some casualties.


Heather Grimes '11

In January, the Class of 2020 had an amazing experience at the beautiful Florida FFA Leadership

Training Center in Haines City, Florida for SIMSOC. As you can see from this newsletter's cover and

the photos on this spread, the class and alumni volunteers were all smiles even in SIMSOC death.

I can't thank the alumni volunteers and sponsors enough for making the weekend a success! The

class had many great comments this year, including "Wow! The work of the volunteers behind the

scenes to make this exercise go was just amazing and really appreciated." Another wrote, " This project

is simply fantastic! Fun, frustrating, satisfying and a great understanding of HOW society really

works. The decisions of one affect all. I hope my classmates actually realized and learned as much as I

did. Thank you for this great experience."

The weekend activities were full, but the class still had opportunities to also enjoy the natural setting.

Leadership Pasco



Class Officer Message

by Thomas O'Connor Bruno and Kera Arnone ’20

The Class of 2020 appreciates all the support

that the community has showed to our Class and

to the Leadership Pasco program as we continue

to navigate social distancing and sheltering in

place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The

Board has been beyond supportive during this

unknown time

The Class of 2020 is grateful for this experience

and will continue to support the Suncoast Voices

for Children class project even without a physical

fundraiser. Thank you so much for the time,

effort, and attention that it takes for a Class to

exist and to support allowing each class member

to truly find what makes them a good leader.

Better days are ahead. Stay well!


A Message from

Becky Bennett '07

I am a proud Leadership Pasco Alumni from

the Class of 2007 "Oh Thank Heaven for 2007." I

started working in Pasco County in 2004 to work

in administration at Hernando Pasco Hospice

and moved to New Port Richey from Clearwater

permanently in 2005. I was fortunate to have

a few mentors including Evie Parks and Sandy

Barley who were alumni and suggested that the

best way to become involved in this county were

to join a Rotary Club and Leadership Pasco. After

a couple of years, I was able to do both and truly

believe that they were the best decisions I have

made both professionally and personally. From

the start with the eye-opening bus tour with

Harold Sample to SIMSOC (yellow team with Jeff

Lucas) to Graduation, there is a camaraderie with

classmates and other alumni that is like no other.

Thirteen years later, I am still close with many

of my classmates such as Jamie Mick, Julie Best,

Matt Murphy and Jim Simms.

Our class project was renovating a Hudson office

donated by Pasco County to Pasco Kids First

for their Healthy Families Pasco Program. After

learning about the tremendous impact the program

had on at-risk children and families from

classmate Jennifer Beldotti, literally changing

generations of abuse and poverty, I knew I had to

be a part of it. I became the Program Manager of

the Healthy Families Program in May 2007 and

have worked with Pasco Kids First ever since.

Pasco Kids First has been serving kids and families

in Pasco County for 30 years through child

abuse prevention, assessment and treatment

services. Last year, our county had over 8,000

child abuse reports and Pasco Kids First's Children's

Advocacy Center reviewed 6,600 of them

serving 1,500 kids with child abuse assessments

or therapy services.

Leadership Pasco (and Leadership Hernando

Class of 2008) have been a key part of my journey

teaching the importance of relationship building,

connecting with community leaders and being

an active part of our county by staying educated

about the current and future needs and giving

back through service. I encourage everyone,

whether they are new to Pasco County or lived

here for 25 years, to attend Leadership Pasco and

I promise they will also become an advocate in

the future.

Becky Bennett '07

Director of Development

Pasco Kids First, Inc.

“...there is a camaraderie with

classmates and other alumni

that is like no other. Thirteen

years later, I am still close

with many of my classmates

such as Jamie Mick, Julie

Best, Matt Murphy and Jim


Leadership Pasco



Education Day

by Laura Raposa ’19

On February 20, the Leadership Pasco Class

of 2020 participated in Education Day. The class

started their day at Pasco-Hernando State College’s

Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch and was

welcomed by campus Provost, Dr. Kevin O’Farrell.

After a brief introduction and tour of the campus,

the group set off on a bus tour of Central

and Eastern Pasco County schools. The first stop

was Sanders Memorial Elementary School. The

group met by Principal, Jason Petry, his staff and

students and got to see a 5th grade pod in action.

The next stop was Land O’ Lakes High School

where the class met with Principal, Ric Mellin

and enjoyed lunch prepared by the students at

the Academy of Culinary Arts. The last stop was

Cypress Creek Middle/High School where the

group was met by Kurt Browning, Superintendent

of Pasco County Schools. They also met with Tim

Light, principal of CCMS and toured their engineering

academy and criminal justice academies.

On the bus to and from stops, the group learned

more about Pasco County Schools planning, after

school enrichment programs, and communications.

Finally, the day wrapped up with information

from PACE Center for Girls, Pasco Pathways

and a Kahoot! to review all the information.

Here are a few quotes from the Class of 2020

about Education Day:

“Loved the tours of the different schools”

“Loved the Kahoot wrap up. Enjoyed the tours

of the facilities and am excited for the future of

education in Pasco. Loved touring the Criminal

Justice program. Passionate educators and students”

“Loved the culinary arts lunch. Just wonderful

seeing the kids learning those skills in action”

Thank you to our Education Day sponsors:

O’Connor Law Group, Pasco Education Foundation

and Pasco-Hernando State College.


Youth Leadership Pasco class members participating in a group activity.

Youth Leadership

Pasco, Student


by Bertell Butler ’20

“The program has motivated

me to encourage others to

stay in Pasco and to advance

its mission of building a

prosperous, lively community.”

Youth Leadership Pasco

provided me with an exceptional


The program actively

promotes the philosophy of

networking, and lived up to

that philosophy in introducing

me to many community

and business leaders. I

learned first-hand from speakers in the community

of the qualities associated with leadership.

The originality and character of these speakers

made the experience all the more engaging. From

Sheriff Nocco to the Superintendent of Schools,

each influential community member we met had

a story to share and a lesson to learn from. Youth

Leadership Pasco connected me to other youth

from different schools and diverse backgrounds,

offering us an opportunity to build our networking

circles through valuable friendships. By the

end of the program, we were not clustered among

familiar faces or sitting with our school groups;

we were intermingled, sharing stories, collaborating,

and taking in the depth of Youth Leadership

Pasco’s insightful lessons as a team. Our

eyes have been opened to all that Pasco has to offer.

The program has motivated me to encourage

others to stay in Pasco and to advance its mission

of building a prosperous, lively community.

Through Youth Leadership Pasco, I have made

friends, met leaders from around the county, and

have learned how to put my leadership into use.

The experience was worth every moment.


Hudson Rotary Club

O'Connor Law Group, P.A.

Rotary Club of Dade City Noon

Rotary Club of Holiday

Rotary Club of New Port Richey

Rotary Club of Port Richey

Rotary Club of Seven Springs

Rotary Club of West Pasco Sunset

Rotary Wesley Chapel Noon

Rotary Club of Trinity

Leadership Pasco



Youth Leadership

Pasco Graduation

by Rob Aguis ’01 and Barbara De Simone ’96

The Youth Leadership Pasco Class of 2020

graduates include: Dylan Acosta, Isabelle Blasdel,

Geoffrey Brown, Bertell Butler IV, Hailee Byrne,

Christina Care, Ava Caudle, Victoria Davis,

Mackenzie Dice, Yazmin El Oufir, Jacob Farmer,

Colson Gantt, Liliana Gonzalez, Elliana Gorecki,

Claire Haiber, Luke Hobbs, Omar Juarez, Ashleigh

Lacey, Lizzette Lianos, Krysten Manley, Olivia

March, Giovanni Mourino, Anisa Nanavati,

Camille Penick, Callie Rhodes, Reagan Stinnett,

Devin Taylor, Veronica Vallecillo, Parker Wallace,

Olivia Walters, and Nathan Wilford. Participants

included students from high schools throughout

Pasco County.

The Youth Leadership Pasco program, under the

leadership of Rob Aguis, Barbara De Simone, Ben

Diel, and Carla Armstrong, is designed to inform,

motivate and increase participants’ awareness of

Pasco County through issue-oriented seminars and

interaction with community leaders.


See you before the holidays at ...

Class of 2020 Graduation and our next mixer.

Our leadership is creating additional

opportunities to connect

as a part of our mission in 2020-2021.


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