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
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
YET TO COME PASCO!
Kim Hamm, Class of 2015
President, Leadership Pasco
Owner - Time Trap Escape Room
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 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@
Amanda Hart '14
Jason Longo '17
J. David Wright '20
(Leadership Pasco class days)
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.
SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER
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,
Youth Leadership Pasco,
Bay to Bay Roofing
Bene's Career Academy
Blackjack Media Group
Clearwater Gas System
Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce
Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce
Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A.
Medical Center of Trinity
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
Saint Leo University
Simpson Environmental Services, Inc.
TECO Energy, Inc.
Time Trap Escape Room
United Way of Pasco County
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
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.
2 SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER
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
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.
Best class photo ever. Thank you J. David for your talents.
4 SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER
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.
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
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!
6 SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER
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
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
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.
8 SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER
Youth Leadership Pasco class members participating in a group activity.
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
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
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.
10 SPRING 2020 NEWSLETTER
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.