Leadership Pasco Newsletter - Fall 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.

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.


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<strong>Newsletter</strong><br />

<strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

The Zoom Issue<br />

Conversations with Our Alumni

unprecedented<br />

adjective<br />

Never done or known before.<br />

To Our <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Family,<br />

As president of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> in these<br />

unprecedented times, despite extensive leadership<br />

experience facing difficult challenges,<br />

I was shaken, felt inadequate, and even<br />

scared, at the prospect of being in charge. Feeling uncertain, as to how to proceed<br />

in my leadership role, I felt compelled to share my apprehension with my peers on<br />

the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board. The result was a resounding affirmation of my feelings<br />

of apprehension and fear. Hearing others, whom I respect and admire, share the<br />

same feelings gave me comfort I was longing for in these unprecedented times.<br />

As a leader, and an alumnus of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>, I encourage you to reach out to<br />

your classmates and share your fears and concerns in your leadership roles. And, I<br />

assure you, you will find the same support and comradery I discovered amongst our<br />

Board of Directors. The challenges and decisions we face are made surmountable<br />

when we honestly and sincerely share our fears. I am blessed to have a Board of<br />

Directors that chose not to judge, but instead shared their feelings of apprehension.<br />

Welcome to our Zoom issue, and please know our Board has been safely meeting<br />

online since April, and the attendance and participation has been fantastic. On<br />

October 8, we had our very first virtual alumni social and <strong>Pasco</strong> County trivia game<br />

which was organized by Laura Raposa '19 and Angie Gardner '11. It was a great opportunity<br />

to bring our alumni and even a few applicants for Class of 2022 together<br />

in a safe and comfortable way. In fact we have twelve applicants for the next class<br />

and have begun engagement with other interested leaders. Before the end of the<br />

calendar year, we will really start building an amazing group of diverse applicants<br />

to kick-off the next program year.<br />

Many thanks to Amanda Hart '14 and Angel Cook '18 who have organized an in<br />

person Class of <strong>2020</strong> graduation for December 1. The event is planned to be a safe<br />

and fun event, with use of a large space at Spartan Manor, social distancing, and<br />

other safety measures. Look for an official email about the event around November<br />

12.<br />

Thank you for your patience and encouragement, as we re-group, plan, and continue<br />

to support and expand our mission.<br />

Don Anderson, Class of 2016<br />

President, <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

CEO, Coalition for the Homeless of <strong>Pasco</strong> County, Inc.<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong><br />

<strong>Pasco</strong><br />

<strong>Newsletter</strong><br />


PASCO is to identify and recruit current or potential<br />

leaders of <strong>Pasco</strong> County, facilitate the development<br />

and interaction of those leaders, and to foster<br />

an issues-oriented learning environment for these<br />

leaders and the citizens of <strong>Pasco</strong> County in order to<br />

encourage an exchange of ideas and generate enthusiasm<br />

for community growth and development.<br />

The <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> <strong>Newsletter</strong> is published quarterly.<br />

Please direct correspondence about this publication<br />

to <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>, P.O. Box 695, Elfers, FL,<br />

34680. Readers also may reach staff by sending an<br />

email to administration@leadershippasco.com.<br />

Editorial Staff<br />

Amanda Hart '14<br />

Editor<br />

Jason Longo '17<br />

Design<br />

Photo Credits<br />

J. David Wright '20<br />

(<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> class days)<br />

Board Members<br />

Don Anderson '16, President<br />

Manny Long '16, President Elect<br />

Tara O'Connor '16, Secretary<br />

Chuck Anderson '20<br />

Nichole "Nikki" Alvarez-Sowles '13<br />

Carla Armstrong '14<br />

Stefanie Ambrosio Pontlitz '13<br />

Angel Cook '18<br />

Angie Gardner '11<br />

Brendan Gorman '18<br />

Kim Hamm '15, Immediate Past President<br />

Amanda Hart '14<br />

Crystal Lazar '13<br />

James Mallo '12<br />

Tara O'Connor '16<br />

Thomas O'Connor Bruno '20<br />

Leah Peake '19<br />

Joseph Poblick '14<br />

Laura Raposa '19<br />

Kim Rymanowski '19<br />

James Walters '15<br />

John Willis '15<br />

© <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. All rights reserved.<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

4<br />

8<br />

2 6 12<br />

Features<br />

2<br />

4<br />

6<br />

8<br />

10<br />

12<br />

Nikki Alvarez-Sowles '13<br />

Thomas O'Connor Bruno '20 and Kera<br />

Arnone '20<br />

Craig Laporte '06 and Captain James<br />

Mallo '12<br />

Stefanie Pontlitz '13<br />

Kim Rymanowski '19<br />

Kurt Conover '92<br />

Sponsors<br />

Bay to Bay Roofing<br />

Bene's Career Academy<br />

Blackjack Media Group<br />

Centennial Bank<br />

Clearwater Gas System<br />

Duke Energy<br />

Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce<br />

Greater <strong>Pasco</strong> Chamber of Commerce<br />

Jarrett Ford<br />

Land O' Lakes High School Culinary Arts Program<br />

Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A.<br />

Medical Center of Trinity<br />

Micro Solutions<br />

O'Connor Law Group, P.A.<br />

Oliver & Fox PA<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> County Clerk & Comptroller<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> Economic Development Council<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> Education Foundation<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> County Sheriff's Office<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> Hernando State College<br />

Pontlitz Asset Advisors<br />

Ralph the Lawyer<br />

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point<br />

Ron's Bar-B-Que<br />

Saint Leo University<br />

Simpson Environmental Services, Inc.<br />

TECO Energy, Inc.<br />

Time Trap Escape Room<br />

United Way of <strong>Pasco</strong> County<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



Catching Up with Nikki Alvarez-Sowles '13, <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County Clerk and Comptroller<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

You mentioned the community aspect. What was your<br />

class project?<br />

Our project was helping NAMI, the National Alliance<br />

on Mental Illness. This was right after the Sandy Hook<br />

Elementary School shootings. It was very upsetting, and<br />

it stemmed from a mental illness. My class wanted to<br />

help NAMI and get the word out about the organization<br />

and its local impact.<br />

When you went through the program, what was your<br />

position in the <strong>Pasco</strong> County Clerk of Courts Office?<br />

I was the Chief Operations Officer.<br />

What stood out for you in your <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> experience<br />

when you were a class member?<br />

In <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> you learning about <strong>Pasco</strong> County.<br />

You get to know the industries in <strong>Pasco</strong> County from<br />

governments to small businesses to big businesses, and<br />

you get a really good lay of the land. That's great. But in<br />

addition to that, what I got out of it was connecting with<br />

the people in my class and creating lifelong relationships.<br />

That is priceless. My class was very small. I think<br />

'13 had 26 people all together, but we bonded very well,<br />

and we will remember this experience for the rest of our<br />

lives, which really means a lot to me. And as a group,<br />

we worked on something that helped our community. It<br />

was a lot of work, and through overcoming challenges<br />

together, we formed great relationships while giving back<br />

to our community. And it's giving- back that meant a great<br />

deal to me. I did not want the experience to end. I wanted<br />

more. So, I joined the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board and have<br />

been a board member ever since.<br />

You had worked closely with your predecessor Paula<br />

O’Neill. I’m sure she was a wonderful model for the<br />

job, but did her success make you feel even more under<br />

the lens? If so, how long did that last?<br />

I was hired by Jed Pittman in 2007, and then Paula<br />

became Clerk in 2009. After she became Clerk, she<br />

promoted me to the criminal director position. Not long<br />

after, in 2010, she promoted me to Chief Operations Officer,<br />

which I held until I became Clerk last summer. As<br />

COO, I oversaw every aspect of the Office. Since 2010, I<br />

had the opportunity to gain experience about everything<br />

this Office does. That prepared me to take over and lead<br />

the Office. On day one, I never felt under the lens; I felt<br />

prepared. I think part of Paula's plan was to make sure<br />

she had someone able and willing to hand the reins over<br />

to. I believe that's what ended up happening.<br />

Did she give you any memorable advice, or what did<br />

you observe that you also model?<br />

When I think about Paula, I think about grace under pressure.<br />

I think about connecting with the community and I<br />

think about service with compassion. Paula and I worked<br />

very well together because I try to live my life by those<br />

tenets and she was just a great example of that.<br />

When I began practicing law -- this was in the early<br />

2000s -- I was good at what I was doing, but it wasn't<br />

making me happy. It didn't fill my cup up. I felt like there<br />

was so much more that I could do rather than litigate<br />

cases. Something was missing. I really thought long and<br />

hard, about, "How can I use my law degree to fill my<br />

2 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

cup in a way that feels more satisfying?" The law firm was<br />

great in that I could do a lot of community work. Through<br />

that work, I found that I like to help make things better<br />

in my community. I realized in local government you can<br />

have an impact in your community. So that's what I did. I<br />

got into local government in 2006, then I was hired in 2007<br />

here, and every day I get to make an impact on our community.<br />

I feel so privileged to be able to do that. Our Office<br />

provides public safety and human services to our community.<br />

It's very important. I get to touch people's lives every<br />

day utilizing my education and my experience. Being able<br />

to have grace under pressure and serving with compassion<br />

and connecting with community -- that's where it is for me.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

They're amazing. The kids are the loves of our lives. I love<br />

my family. My husband, Kevin, and I met when I was 19.<br />

We dated for a long time and got married when I was 26.<br />

We celebrated 20 years this year. It's been so great, and I<br />

gave away my age here! That's okay.<br />

Who is in your former position?<br />

Another <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> alumna, Kim Thompson. Kim<br />

has a lot of experience in the clerk's world. She came<br />

from the Palm Beach Clerk's Office, and I think she's has<br />

close to 20-years of experience in the clerk's office. She's<br />

fantastic.<br />

What is the philosophy of how the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

program is important to employees of the clerk's office?<br />

That's a great question. It's the kind of the thing that everybody<br />

wants to do in my office. Every year we figure out<br />

who's been here the longest now and try to give everyone<br />

an opportunity to be in <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. The connections<br />

you get from each class are amazing. It expands our network<br />

to reach the people we serve. Learning about <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County from the ground up and from the Green Swamp<br />

to the Gulf Coast -- that's invaluable. It's also important to<br />

involve yourself in something bigger than yourself. The<br />

class project was so rewarding in that capacity.<br />

How has your office changed since COVID?<br />

Our office never closed during the pandemic. The courts<br />

did close for a bit, but not our office. Gov. DeSantis declared<br />

Clerk's offices to be providers of essential services,<br />

and our team totally agreed. We must remain open for<br />

public safety and human services, but we also had to make<br />

sure our team was safe. We had several needs to address.<br />

Those with compromised immune systems or who were<br />

taking care of someone with a compromised immune<br />

system needed to work outside the office. The second thing<br />

was allowing the parents who had school-aged children<br />

to be able to telework so that they could take care of their<br />

children and attend to their schooling. Third, we needed to<br />

get as many people out of the office so that we could properly<br />

social distance. We worked to have overall 50% of the<br />

office teleworking so we could social distance our team in<br />

the office. Even if you're not in your usual area, you can<br />

work from a desk nearby, and everyone is safe.<br />

The early days were hectic. For our teammates coming in,<br />

we had to acquire PPEs, develop a mask protocol, set up<br />

Plexiglas screens at our customer windows, and make sure<br />

we had plenty of no-touch thermometers so teammates<br />

could check for fevers. We weren't prepared with any sort<br />

of platform or any sort of connectivity for remote work<br />

Within two weeks, we had to figure all that out. In addition<br />

to staying on top of everything we do -- which is about a<br />

thousand duties assigned by statute, regulation, and court<br />

order -- we had to sort out what can be done virtually and<br />

what absolutely must happen in our six <strong>Pasco</strong> locations.<br />

Then we had to figure out, for every employee, how much<br />

of what they do can be done virtually, and how much<br />

has to be done in the office. It was a big feat. Lots of late<br />

nights. Lots of no sleep trying to plan it out, but we got all<br />

of that accomplished and still today we are teleworking.<br />

We wanted to make sure our customers knew that they<br />

wouldn't see a blip in our service.<br />

Is there anything that we didn't talk about that you<br />

want to share?<br />

I just want you to know that it's a blessing to be able to<br />

lead the clerk's office and to be trusted to provide our services<br />

to the community. It's just a great feeling to be able<br />

to give back to the community and to know that the community<br />

feels that I'm the right person for the job. I do not<br />

take it for granted. I am honored to be able to be a public<br />

servant and to give back to the people of <strong>Pasco</strong>, expanding<br />

on the lessons of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>.<br />

I thank you for this opportunity to have a great conversation<br />

about it.<br />

Nikki Alvarez-Sowles '13 with <strong>Pasco</strong> government leadership and<br />

the Class of 2019 at Government Day.<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



Thomas O'Connor Bruno '20 and Kera Arnone '20<br />

- Exceptional Fundraising During Difficult Times<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

tive director because the idea was to make that space<br />

decorated and more kid-friendly as a part of our sweat<br />

equity project. When we saw the shower situation, we<br />

decided that we would make that our priority.<br />

[Kera] Then we started talking about what happens with<br />

the clothes that come in and the towels; and that's when<br />

we decided to pursue a washer and dryer for the location<br />

as well. Because our class has a lot of contacts, we felt<br />

that we could get a discounted renovation for the shower<br />

and the appliances donated.<br />

[Thomas] Basically the day that everything started shutting<br />

down was the day that I had electricians and plumbers<br />

going out there to start to start pricing what the project<br />

was going to be. And that's when a lot of companies<br />

said "we're not comfortable going into places." So it all<br />

went on hold. We have been in contact with Andrew, and<br />

Kera saw him last week. That's when we got the award.<br />

Tell us about your Class of <strong>2020</strong> project?<br />

[Thomas] For our project, we are supporting Suncoast<br />

Voices for Children. They help to bring children out of<br />

bad home situations where there is abuse or neglect.<br />

Sometimes they house them overnight on location until a<br />

family member or other caregiver can take care of them.<br />

Suncoast Voices provides the equipment needed for those<br />

caregivers or extended family who may not have beds,<br />

cribs, or car seats or anything like that, so that they can<br />

transport and house the children. They are on location in<br />

the <strong>Pasco</strong> Sheriff's Office on Little Road; the Child Protection<br />

Division.<br />

[Kera] They have an intake room that wasn't the most<br />

comfy. It was very industrial. There are toys there, a<br />

couch, but not a lot of organization to it. It's tough to stay<br />

there overnight. So our project was to redesign that area<br />

and to add a shower in their unit at the CP office. They do<br />

have access to a male and female bathroom.<br />

[Thomas] As they didn't have access to a shower, they<br />

would use the sinks to help wash the children who may<br />

have come with lice or who needed to be cleaned up. So<br />

when we went on a tour with Andrew Maurin, their execu-<br />

[Kera, showing the award on Zoom] It says the Suncoast<br />

Voices for Children awarded the Voice of the Year to the<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Class of <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

[Thomas] For part of our sweat equity, we knew that<br />

they had some deliveries from some other donations. So,<br />

some of us came down to Pinellas to help load a trailer of<br />

diapers and wipes that was stored at the Salvation Army<br />

here. And, Kera, I think you were on that end right?<br />

We loaded here in Pinellas and then Carol, one of our<br />

classmates, drove it up to <strong>Pasco</strong> and dropped it off so that<br />

they would have access to it. It was, again, a great cause,<br />

and I'm just happy to be even a part of a group that could<br />

raise this much money in this kind of situation.<br />

So you raised about $20,000 for Suncoast Voices for<br />

Children, and without a Taste of <strong>Pasco</strong>. How?<br />

[Thomas] Yeah. Our goal was $20,000. Originally I had<br />

met with Chuck Anderson and Tim Hanavan and we<br />

looked at budgeting and how much we thought we could<br />

bring in with the event. We had ideas that we were going<br />

to shatter everybody's donation record. I mean, we were<br />

going to pit class against class to see who could donate<br />

the most money. We had all these grand schemes of<br />

4 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

inging in funds. We got sponsors. We got vendors and<br />

we started to book everything and then business day we<br />

had to have a very frank conversation about if we could<br />

host Taste of <strong>Pasco</strong> in May. Now it looks silly to even have<br />

considered it, but we had a conversation with the whole<br />

class and decided to pull everything. We didn't know.<br />

[Kera] At that point, we had about $7,000. Maybe $10,000<br />

through sponsors. The issue there was once the marketing<br />

for their agencies went away, several of them did pull out<br />

completely. Some were still able to support us in part and it<br />

dropped us down to five or six thousand.<br />

[Thomas] But then the Rotary Clubs really stepped up. The<br />

Rotary Club of Seven Springs usually has several charities<br />

they support annually, but this year they dedicated the<br />

entire amount to us and so that was a huge boost at $7,500.<br />

Rotary Club of New Port Richey donated over $5,000. So<br />

between those two Rotary Clubs we had over $12,000. We<br />

sold six or seven tickets to Taste of <strong>Pasco</strong> and everyone<br />

that bought a ticket told us to keep the money. So this may<br />

be the least amount of tickets ever sold by a class.<br />

Thomas, how has COVID-19 affected your work at<br />

Coalition for the Homeless?<br />

[Thomas] It's been good and bad. The bad was that we<br />

had to close down because we had offered showers to the<br />

homeless and couldn't figure out the way to provide emergency<br />

services while keeping everyone safe. Because we<br />

are not the lead agency and many of our staff are an older<br />

population, it was easy and necessary to make the switch<br />

to working from home. Luckily in <strong>Pasco</strong>, COVID has not<br />

affected the homeless population as much as in other areas.<br />

We've only known three or four cases of homeless persons<br />

who have tested positive. The other good news is that<br />

there are overwhelming amounts of funding coming down<br />

through the federal government, the CARES Act Provider<br />

Relief Fund. There's a lot of funds for homeless services<br />

and through the emergency solutions grant, which is a<br />

federal funding stream through the county and through the<br />

Department of Children and Families. So much funding,<br />

but it's so tied up in government regulations and such that<br />

we're just now getting access to it. This was funding that<br />

we knew about in May and we're just now getting to it.<br />

Kera, how has real estate changed since COVID-19?<br />

[Kera] Real Estate changed a little bit when COVID hit,<br />

people are afraid to allow people in their homes for showings,<br />

so we've had to get better at wearing masks and better<br />

with sanitation. People leave lights and stuff on for us<br />

before we show the home, which is fine. The good thing<br />

is that the market is so hot. We can't find homes to sell<br />

and they're selling for top dollar and it's mind blowing at<br />

how fast they are selling. Another thing is that people have<br />

realized they don't need to be in the city where they work,<br />

everyone is leaving those dreary cities and are moving to<br />

our happy Sunshine State. So it's good. There is a lot of out<br />

of state buyers.<br />

What brought each of you to apply for the Class of<br />

<strong>2020</strong>?<br />

[Thomas] I had heard about it when I was with the County.<br />

Never pursued it, but then Don Anderson came onboard<br />

and really pushed me to do it. I had applied for Class<br />

of 2019 and was accepted, but I was not available to do<br />

the bus tour due to a previously scheduled vacation to<br />

Sonoma, California. I had talked to Don and Stefanie [Pontlitz]<br />

about it, and they said that I really would miss out, if<br />

I couldn't do bus tour. So I applied for the Class of <strong>2020</strong><br />

and was re-accepted.<br />

[Kera] I only moved here in July of 2018 and in 2019<br />

Stefanie [Pontlitz] came and spoke about <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

to my Rotary Club meeting and everyone in my club said,<br />

"Kera, you should do this. It would be a great thing for you<br />

to do." Julie Rockwell and Tara O'Connor are also in my<br />

Rotary Club, so there was a lot of suggestions to apply.<br />

<strong>2020</strong> Class Project Sponsors<br />

Cornelison Engineering & Design, Inc.<br />

Duke Energy<br />

Gulfside Healthcare Services<br />

Master Title<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> County Schools - Jeans Day Fundraiser<br />

People Places, LLC<br />

Rotary Club of New Port Richey<br />

Rotary Club of Seven Springs<br />

The Bank of Tampa<br />

Time Trap Escape Room<br />

Wells Fargo<br />

Withlacoochie River Electric<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



A Conversation with Craig Laporte '06 and<br />

Captain James Mallo '12 - The Team Behind<br />

Criminal Justice Day<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

enced that as well. So then I got Brian Mulligan to do it,<br />

and then of course Franny (Frances Werner-Watkins), and<br />

then Brendan (Gorman) being in the latest iteration of our<br />

group. <strong>Pasco</strong> Sheriff's Office does it too. HCA, Progress<br />

Energy, the Clerk's office - there are a lot of organizations<br />

that make it a point to have an applicant every year.<br />

James, what was your inspiration to continue on from<br />

the Class of 2012 to the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> board?<br />

[James] I enjoyed my time as a classmember and liked<br />

meeting and working with groups of people from different<br />

parts of the county and with different backgrounds.<br />

The common ground was <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. I got<br />

involved with Criminal Justice Day even before joining<br />

the Class of 2012 and to this day, my goal is to continue<br />

to make Criminal Justice Day the best day that it can be.<br />

There are very few days where, as Craig said, the Sheriff<br />

sets aside a full day, and I'm happy to be a part of that.<br />

Nick Walsh '20, Craig Laporte '06, and Captain James Mallo '12 at<br />

Criminal Justice Day - October 2019.<br />

Craig, do you remember how you came to be a member<br />

of the class of 2006?<br />

[Craig] I don't remember who it was who first told me<br />

about <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. It was a long time ago. Captain<br />

Joe Frontz was in the Sheriff's Office and was actually<br />

running Criminal Justice Day. There were a number of<br />

people that I knew and, being involved in the community<br />

and doing a lot of different charity work, I learned<br />

about it. I thought it would be beneficial. Even though I<br />

worked the whole county as a deputy, I thought it would<br />

be helpful to learn more about the county and, of course I<br />

was practicing law. I'd been practicing law at that point in<br />

2006 for 23 years. I wanted to get out there and meet more<br />

people, so that's what prompted me to join.<br />

Craig, all of your colleagues at Laporte, Mulligan and<br />

Werner-Watkins, P.A. have also gone through the program.<br />

How did that become a tradition?<br />

[Craig] I thought it was such a great experience that I felt<br />

it was important that all the lawyers in my office experi-<br />

Criminal Justice Day gets very high marks on all<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> class evaluations. How do you keep<br />

improving the program?<br />

[Craig] Well, I can tell you that Criminal Justice Day has<br />

evolved since I went through it. At that time, the big deal<br />

was to take a walking tour through the jail and then a lot<br />

of other classroom stuff which was interesting. It was<br />

good, but what it needed was a boost. When Bob White<br />

was Sheriff, he supported the day but not to the extent<br />

that Chris Nocco, when he became Sheriff. I will never<br />

forget that got a phone call from Chris and he said "Hey,<br />

I want to set a meeting and talk to you about Criminal<br />

Justice Day." He said "I want to meet with you to brainstorm<br />

to make the day better." I've never had a Sheriff do<br />

that for us. I went to his office and was shocked when I<br />

went into the conference room and the entire command<br />

staff was there. He set aside an hour just to discuss Criminal<br />

Justice Day for us and basically pledged his support<br />

to anything we wanted to do to make it a success. He<br />

thought it was very important and every year since then<br />

he calls me three to five months in advance and says,<br />

"Alright, let's get together." And again, his entire command<br />

staff is a part of that meeting, and as you've seen<br />

they are all dedicated to being a part of our day. The two<br />

6 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

things that have carried on from the past have been the<br />

panel discussion with the judges, state attorney, the public<br />

defender, some law enforcement, and the Sheriff; and the<br />

walking tour of the jail. But everything else has changed.<br />

It's far more interactive and exciting.<br />

Do you remember your project from 2006?<br />

[Craig] Our project was and it's still out there is the Missing<br />

and Abducted Children's Command Center for the<br />

Sheriff's Office. It started out as a community project.<br />

That was when Bob White decided he did not want to go<br />

through the bid process to use government money for that<br />

command center, so he went out to the community and<br />

started raising money that way. Also, he could keep the<br />

construction with a local company and not have to bid<br />

it out over a large statewide area. So our class decided<br />

we were going to raise money, which we did. We raised<br />

money through fundraising and then we were able to get a<br />

matching grant. We raised about $20,000 with the help of<br />

that. Our ongoing commitment was that our class would be<br />

on call in the event of a missing child and that the Sheriff's<br />

Office had our numbers and would call us out to assist in<br />

the ground search.<br />

What are some innovations at <strong>Pasco</strong> County Sheriff's<br />

Office that the Class of 2021 would have learned about,<br />

if we didn't have to postpone?<br />

[Craig] I do know that for years they planned on a jail<br />

expansion because of overcrowding. They're adding either<br />

another wing or another floor. I'm not sure. The other thing<br />

they're doing is building basically a school there and it was<br />

going to involve a great deal of forensics, but it was going<br />

to be a national academy with people coming from all over<br />

the country and it was related to the rubble pile that this<br />

last year's class got to see.<br />

[James] We now have two, and are building one more<br />

rubble pile which are all helpful to training first responders<br />

on dealing with a mass casualty event such as a terrorist<br />

attack. We will also have more drone technology to share.<br />

Just the other day we helped locate a missing person on<br />

the trails with a drone and the fire department assisted with<br />

ATVs. Another great thing that we would have presented is<br />

The Future Operations Division and the Behavioral Health<br />

Intervention Team (BHIT). [From the <strong>Pasco</strong> Sheriff's Office]<br />

"The mission of the Future Operations Division is to<br />

help the Sheriff’s Office strategically meet the law enforcement<br />

related needs of our rapidly changing community.<br />

Comprised of both civilian and law enforcement members,<br />

the division works to provide comprehensive assessments<br />

and recommendations to improve department efficiencies<br />

by focusing on strategic planning, forward thinking, and<br />

innovative ideas. The division will also track the future development<br />

of <strong>Pasco</strong> County and the impact this will have<br />

on law enforcement and its capacity to meet the needs of<br />

our growing county." The BHIT make contact with people<br />

suffering from mental health, and try to get those people<br />

help before a crime is committed.<br />

How can citizens be more supportive to <strong>Pasco</strong> County<br />

Sheriff's Office and Law Enforcement at this time?<br />

[Craig] Well, you know, one of the things that I've been<br />

involved for the last seven or eight years is trying to get a<br />

permanent memorial built for our fallen, law enforcement<br />

officers. We're the only county in Florida, that doesn't have<br />

a memorial. This year was tough, because due to COVID<br />

we ended up canceling our Law Enforcement Family<br />

Fun day this year, so we lost a lot of fundraising for the<br />

memorial. We were very fortunate that our county commissioners<br />

went out there and started helping us raise money.<br />

We are now hoping that by March of next year, we're<br />

actually going to have a permanent memorial built over at<br />

the historic courthouse in Dade City. There's about eight<br />

of us on board that started this project. It is going to cost<br />

upwards of $300,000 and we've actually got the statue not<br />

only ordered, but I think it's already been cast. It's waiting<br />

in Minneapolis for us to be able to actually build the base<br />

to put the statue on. It's a statue of a fallen <strong>Pasco</strong> County<br />

Sheriff's deputy who is being lifted skyward by an angel<br />

under the arms. We're excited about finally getting that<br />

done and honoring our fallen officers. Learn More.<br />

[James] Saying hello and "thank you for what you do" to a<br />

law enforcement officer is something that means so much<br />

and helps us to feel positive the entire day.<br />

Monica Anderson '20, Sheriff Chris Nocco, and Patricia Howard<br />

'20 at Criminal Justice Day - October 2019.<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



Stefanie Pontlitz '13, our <strong>2020</strong> Judith Rochelle<br />

Award Winner and Program Day Chair<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

I'll say it again; the best part of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> is that<br />

everyone who's involved is so dedicated. To be "the most<br />

dedicated" and put that in quotation marks, is crazy to<br />

me, because it's such a high bar. It's an incredible honor<br />

for leaders to consider me worthy of that, and I'm super<br />

appreciative of that. What I've been involved in up to<br />

the point of joining <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> has really led me<br />

to that, but <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> has probably been what<br />

has allowed me to take my leadership skills to the next<br />

level. If you're not doing what you say you are going to<br />

do and hitting all your points and deadlines – this board<br />

knows because you're the only one not doing it. So to be<br />

involved with a board and group like <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

definitely challenges you to be the best you can be.<br />

You’ve been a class member, an alumnus, a board<br />

member, board president. But you also have the distinction<br />

of being the Judith Rochelle Award winner for<br />

<strong>2020</strong>. That is <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>’s highest honor. I think<br />

you hit the mark in every area of the award criteria,<br />

but most visibly there is a lot of dedication and leadership.<br />

You seem to be involved in more causes than I’m<br />

even aware of. Let’s talk about that.<br />

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to be involved in<br />

a lot of great groups, including being a Past President of<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>, Rotary Club of Trinity, Junior Service<br />

League and a few others. What I try to do as a leader is<br />

just be kind and be fair and open-minded and I think that<br />

is a lot of what helps people understand me and for me to<br />

understand them. My leadership style is non-aggressive.<br />

I like to have other people's input. I've said it before, but<br />

Congratulations. Tell us about your non-traditional<br />

Judith Rochelle Award surprise “ceremony”?<br />

With COVID, we haven’t had graduation yet, which<br />

is where we traditionally present this award. I knew<br />

that I was nominated because I'm on the Past President<br />

Council, and they are the ones who make the decision. I<br />

didn't go to the meeting because I was nominated. I have<br />

been nominated in the past, and I knew others who were<br />

nominated before, and they were probably re-nominated<br />

too. They are all incredible people. So I didn't think<br />

much about it at that point. Well Lisa Shippy-Gonzalez<br />

scheduled a couple's dinner with us, but we had to cancel<br />

as my mother-in-law had broken her wrist that evening.<br />

It took six to eight weeks to reschedule, but now I know<br />

that she was trying to work around the schedules of a<br />

bunch of people. At board meetings it would come up<br />

and someone would ask how the award presentation was<br />

going, and Angel would say "we're working on it." So<br />

I kind of had it in my head that maybe something is up.<br />

But when we finally did meet for dinner, I was surprised.<br />

Angel [Cook] did a great job and it was nice to have<br />

Tina [Shelton] come back and present the award. She<br />

had trained me to be Program Chair and had pretty much<br />

trained me to do everything that I had done. And of<br />

course Lisa was there, and also Evie Parks who has really<br />

been a big part of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. So it was really, really<br />

nice and super sweet. So I was surprised but I had an<br />

inkling by the time we got around to round two.<br />

8 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

Congratulations on your new position. Tell us about<br />

your career move.<br />

I'm very excited to be the next Executive Director for The<br />

Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind (LVIB) of<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong>, Hernando, and Citrus Counties. The mission of the<br />

Lighthouse is to educate, empower, and employ people<br />

who are visually impaired and blind.<br />

How did you hear about <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> before you<br />

applied?<br />

I actually heard about <strong>Leadership</strong> Jacksonville from a coworker<br />

so when I moved back to <strong>Pasco</strong>, I knew I wanted to<br />

be in it. I knew it was a great networking group and organization<br />

to be a part of, but honestly I couldn't afford it, and<br />

the company I was working with wasn't willing to support<br />

me. So I had to wait and Derek [Pontlitz] ended up going<br />

before I did and I was so upset because I was the one who<br />

wanted to go and he got to do it two years before I did.<br />

When I finally got to a position and organization where<br />

they would let me go - United Way of <strong>Pasco</strong> - I applied<br />

and got in. Cami Austin and Cindy Ewald were my two<br />

supporters along with Tina Shelton and I was really excited<br />

when I got into the class. I met Lisa [Shippy-Gonzalez]<br />

on bus tour day. She's now one of my best friends, but we<br />

didn't meet until the class. She sat next to me and said “we<br />

have a ton of friends in common, how have we not met<br />

before?” We've been super close ever since.<br />

Did you meet your husband, Derek in <strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

We did not meet exactly in <strong>Pasco</strong>. I was President of the<br />

West <strong>Pasco</strong> Young Professionals and two of his close<br />

friends saw a picture of the Immediate Past President in<br />

the paper and thought she was good looking, so decided<br />

they were going to come check out the meeting. In true<br />

style of them, it took them quite some time to actually get<br />

around to attending. By that time I was President but in<br />

talking with them, we decided that we should be friends.<br />

We hung out a few times and at one of their birthday parties,<br />

I met Derek. We technically met through networking.<br />

You and Derek are both Rotary Club presidents. What<br />

does it mean to be a Rotarian?<br />

We are now Immediate Past Presidents. I'm with Trinity<br />

Rotary, and Derek is New Port Richey. Being a Rotarian is<br />

one of the greatest honors. It is an organization of people<br />

who purely want to give back to their community and<br />

never ask for anything for themselves. It is the most selfless<br />

giving family you could be a part of. And each group<br />

has its own personality. Each Club has something that<br />

makes them individually special and so I enjoy visiting<br />

other clubs because they are so much different then mine.<br />

But Trinity is my home and those members are my family.<br />

How did you spend your socially distancing time?<br />

We moved. We had been renovating a house for almost<br />

two years, and so it gave us the time on the weekends that<br />

we hadn't had before. We actually finished the renovations,<br />

and so my time was packing boxes, unpacking<br />

boxes, and moving. We are officially out of the other<br />

house and we'll get it up on the market soon. But yeah,<br />

that's pretty much been my COVID project.<br />

As <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Program chair for a number of<br />

years, can you provide a statement to inspire applicants<br />

for the Class of 2022?<br />

I think it's important for people to encourage their coworkers<br />

and their friends who are looking to get more<br />

involved to become part of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. It builds<br />

friendships and connections that if I needed anything from<br />

the County, from the city, or from another nonprofit there's<br />

someone in <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> that I can call and say, "Can<br />

you help me out with this or do you know who can help<br />

me with this?" I'm probably only one or two phone calls<br />

away from getting the information that I need. We think<br />

we're a small town, but we're really 600,000 people and it<br />

does take a village. I think <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> helps make it<br />

smaller. It's very important that people share that opportunity<br />

with their family and friends. Unfortunately we can't<br />

do it this year; but, when we do come back, as Program<br />

Day Chair we are working on some new and exciting stuff<br />

and we will be bigger, better, and stronger.<br />

Tina Shelton '09, Angel Cook '18, Stefanie Pontlitz '13, and Evie<br />

Parks '00 at a surprise dinner in honor of our <strong>2020</strong> Judith Rochelle<br />

Award winner, Stefanie.<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



Kim Rymanowski '19, New Board Member and<br />

Entrepreneur in the Uncertain Times of COVID-19<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

Tell me about your family. Are they involved in the<br />

businesses as well?<br />

My husband Mitch (pictured) and I relocated to Florida<br />

from Connecticut. In 2012, we bought our house here in<br />

New Port Richey and by 2014 after we both retired, we<br />

moved here full-time, which is how I was able to take<br />

on a business and not have it affect my day-to-day work.<br />

My husband is trying really hard to stay retired, but he's<br />

kind of a silent partner. He does a lot of the maintenance<br />

work for us and technology if we are having trouble with<br />

internet and things. I do all the office work, the accounting,<br />

the hard labor. We have about six jump ropes at each<br />

location, and it's amazing how often they break. I come<br />

home about once a week with a jump rope that needs<br />

repair, and he fixes it, so I can bring it back the next day.<br />

Kim, you are one of our new board members, and a<br />

business owner that expanded your business during<br />

COVID. Let's talk about your business first.<br />

We bought 9Round Chelsea Place in New Port Richey<br />

on November 1st, 2016. The gym had been two years old<br />

when we bought it. During the pandemic, I bought two<br />

more 9Round gyms that were at risk of closing permanently.<br />

Those are in Pinellas County, but our primary business<br />

is here in <strong>Pasco</strong> County. Because we're individually<br />

owned, even though it's a franchise, we operate independently<br />

as if we're small business owners. So I purchased<br />

two more licenses and bought those two locations (Dunedin)<br />

and (Safety Harbor). I know what these gyms are<br />

capable of doing and I love the brand and concept.<br />

Why we bought two more during the pandemic when I<br />

was forced closure by the government is beyond me.<br />

COVID effected the fitness industry in a huge way.<br />

Tell us about that, including what innovations you<br />

added to keep customers safe.<br />

Owning any business is challenging during COVID, but<br />

owning a gym is even more challenging. We had a lot of<br />

frustrations early on, you know we were closed for two<br />

months. That was hard because around Saint Patrick's<br />

Day we had to decide if we were going to close. That's<br />

when I started seeing all the gyms in the area start voluntarily<br />

closing and we were faced with a decision. We<br />

were having our house painted at the time, and the windows<br />

were all covered up, with us inside. We ended that<br />

day with a beautiful newly painted house and made the<br />

decision to close up. As soon as we sent that notification,<br />

the government also had a mandate. I had five employees<br />

at the time, and I still had rent to pay. We had 175 members,<br />

and what we decided to do was to continue charging<br />

our members. We asked them to please stick it out with<br />

us, and we in turn continued to pay the trainers and the<br />

rent. It was a really hard hole to dig out of, and we're still<br />

working on it. When we finally did open up, we offered<br />

our members two months of credit, spread out across the<br />

rest of the calendar year. So we were able to maintain<br />

salary for five people, one of which is full-time and has<br />

benefits, pay rent, and keep as much afloat as possible.<br />

When we did open back up, we didn't get a lot of cancellations;<br />

but what we did get was a lot of "I'm not ready to<br />

10 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

come back." Maintaining social distancing is really hard to<br />

do in the gym, especially when you're doing kickboxing in<br />

your personal training. Our stations are normally six feet<br />

apart by design. So now we keep one station in between<br />

them. They have ten to twelve feet between each person<br />

in there. Our employees are all wearing masks while<br />

they're working. When you're exercising, and that was a an<br />

exception to the mask rule, so the members don't have to<br />

wear masks. Some of them do, but they don't have to. Just<br />

gathering all the PPE supplies just to open, you know my<br />

husband was at Sam's Club every morning at 6 a.m. bless<br />

his heart. That was probably our biggest challenge, just<br />

gathering the cleaning supplies to open up; because they<br />

were nowhere to be found.<br />

Where did you relocate to when you moved to <strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

We originally bought our house on the water in Gulf Harbors.<br />

We recently sold it and have since moved to Odessa<br />

to be closer to all three of the gyms.<br />

What was your experience in <strong>Pasco</strong> that lead you to<br />

become a part of the Class of 2019?<br />

When we bought our business in 2016 we immediately<br />

joined the West <strong>Pasco</strong> Chamber of Commerce. and started<br />

networking. It was through networking that we met a lot of<br />

people, and how I heard about <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. So, you<br />

know, word-of-mouth, and seeing people that have gone<br />

through the program, and being new to the area - I thought<br />

it was a great opportunity for me to get to know more<br />

about <strong>Pasco</strong>, be a part of the community, and to network as<br />

well.<br />

You know there's a lot of rivalry among the Program<br />

Day organizers. What class was your favorite?<br />

I had a lot of favorites because there is so much to take in,<br />

but I think my favorite because I love dogs was Criminal<br />

Justice Day. I own two German Shepherds, so that was<br />

great.<br />

So, besides opening two more businesses; what did you<br />

do during the days when we had to socially distance?<br />

Did you do any binge Netflix watching?<br />

No we didn't get into any new TV shows during the<br />

shutdown. For two months I took advantage of cooking.<br />

I love to cook, and my husband loves to cook, so around<br />

the holidays that's what we do together. We took advantage<br />

of that time to just cook everything from scratch. We<br />

were making pasta from scratch, different sauces, and just<br />

getting creative and learning new recipes. Because my<br />

employees were still working, and I wanted to keep our<br />

members engaged, I had each employee make a 60 second<br />

video every day, so that I could post it on social media to<br />

create content. It was nice and members appreciated that<br />

so that they could see their trainers and see what they were<br />

doing. We were all still working but from home.<br />

If you open up two more businesses during COVID<br />

that becomes your hobby, right?<br />

Exactly, and I do have a nice little home gym, so I spent a<br />

lot of time keeping up with my workouts. I actually lost six<br />

pounds while we were closed, so that's good.<br />

I saw a Tweet about you having a connection to Art For<br />

Hope. Can you tell me more about that?<br />

I like to get involved with different things that are near and<br />

dear to my heart. I was the presenting sponsor for Art For<br />

Hope during September, which is a fundraiser for suicide<br />

awareness - The Bobby White Foundation. I am very<br />

involved in that.<br />

In <strong>2020</strong>, you became a <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board Member.<br />

What inspired you to continue to be involved?<br />

Well, after going through the program and enjoying it as<br />

much as I did, I wanted to be involved in a higher capacity<br />

and hopefully influence others to also be involved in<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> and go through the program because it<br />

was very beneficial for me. I learned so much about the<br />

County. Living on the west side. I wasn't very familiar<br />

with the rest of <strong>Pasco</strong>, so I really got to know the community<br />

in my county and I'm hoping that this program stays<br />

alive. The only way it will, is to keep talking about it and<br />

supporting it.<br />

Angel Cook '18 and Kim Rymanowski '19 at an event in 2018.<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



Interviewing a Legendary Leader & Beloved <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County Resident, Kurt Conover '92<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

Do you remember how you heard about <strong>Leadership</strong><br />

<strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

I do. At the time, I was the Land O' Lakes District Manager<br />

for Florida Power and worked with Bob Creson, who<br />

happened to be one of the founding board members of<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. Bob wanted me to get involved right<br />

away, so we started hosting the board meetings at the<br />

brand new Land O' Lakes Florida Power District Office.<br />

So I became a class member the year after that.<br />

I feel like your career has been about reinventing yourself.<br />

Can you tell us about that, and your early work<br />

history?<br />

Early on, when I was a very young man, I was fortunate<br />

enough to be working for the City of New Port Richey and<br />

it's interesting because at that time I was starting college.<br />

I was right out of high school and going to St. Petersburg<br />

Junior College; there was no <strong>Pasco</strong>/Hernando Community<br />

College. One summer day, I went to the Recreation<br />

Center in New Port Richey and there was a Recreation<br />

Leader there by the name of John Gallagher and he was<br />

a friend of the family. My brother and him hung around<br />

a lot together, and so I said "Hey do you know anybody<br />

that's hiring for the summer?" And John said, "Oh yeah,<br />

Lana (Goluba) Howe is running a summer playground<br />

program. You might want to go over and apply." So I<br />

got hired, and then I got hired as a custodial person.<br />

Then I worked my way up to a Recreation Leader, then<br />

Assistant Parks and Recreation Director and then at the<br />

ripe age of 22, I was appointed as Director of Parks and<br />

Recreation. My bosses always look at me with dissapointment<br />

when I say that's the best job I ever had.<br />

But it truly was. It was a wonderful job. And at that<br />

time, the City of New Port Richey had everything. They<br />

had that brand new Recreation Center had a new Olympic-sized<br />

swimming pool, we had the tennis courts, golf<br />

tournaments, and golf leagues. We had bowling leagues,<br />

we had Southwestern United States qualifiers for horseshoe<br />

tournaments. We had roller skating, record hops,<br />

and teen dances. We had so many things out there and<br />

always exciting stuff going on and I still see people to<br />

this day that remember when I was at the Recreation<br />

Center. They bring their grandchildren and sometimes<br />

great grandchildren and say "That's the guy that used to<br />

work the Rec Center when I was little." The Rec Center<br />

obviously looks a lot different today than what it did<br />

back then but that was a was a was a great job. I did get<br />

to be really good friends with Chuck Nelson who was<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> County's first Parks and Recreation Director. I<br />

also became good good friends with co-workers Steve<br />

Luikart (he worked as our Athletic Supervisor) and<br />

Chuck Bellerose '92 (he worked as Assistant Director)<br />

who later became a <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Alumni and was<br />

also later awarded the Judith Rochelle Excellence in<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> Award (2003).<br />

You have been so involved with <strong>Pasco</strong> County. Can<br />

you take us back to the beginning?<br />

I was very young when I moved to New Port Richey.<br />

My dad was a retired military officer and my mom was<br />

a registered nurse. When we first came down from up<br />

12 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER

New York, my father drove down Grand Boulevard. He<br />

happened to see the water and the houses right on the<br />

water and he said, "That's where we've got to live." So<br />

we moved into a house off of Sunset Point, which is now<br />

Manatee Drive and there were only like six houses on the<br />

whole peninsula, because it is a peninsula. It's right in<br />

between the City of New Port Richey and the City of Port<br />

Richey. It was a big three-story house that had a boathouse,<br />

literally right down from the living room. It was<br />

really neat growing up there as a kid. I had two brothers<br />

and two sisters and our grandfather moved in with us.<br />

It was really a small town and everybody kind of knew<br />

each other. The activities were wonderful and, as we had<br />

the water right there, you could fish and we used to do<br />

things that you shouldn't do, like feed the alligator. There<br />

were lots of fish, lots of crabs and we enjoyed boating<br />

and scalloping. Just a great place to grow up.<br />

We were sorry to hear about your wife's passing. Can<br />

you tell us about her life and about your children?<br />

I had actually married my next door neighbor. I had built<br />

a new house on Louisiana Avenue when I was in my late<br />

20s and my future bride, when she came down from New<br />

York. She rented one of the duplexes next door. We fell<br />

in love and got married and have two beautiful children.<br />

Unfortunately, I lost my wife, it will be five years ago<br />

this December, to a very unexpected aneurysm and then<br />

a stroke. She was a very active, energetic, and vibrant<br />

person. She had been a dance instructor. So it was a challenging<br />

time and I have a lot of empathy for people who<br />

lose loved ones after so many years.<br />

I have always wondered when you met Harold Sample,<br />

your friend and Bus Tour Days' colleague?<br />

So Harold and I go way back. I had an older brother that<br />

knew Harold. Harold's dad used to work for the <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County Sheriff's Office. That's not how I got to meet<br />

Harold, but I did know him. His mom used to work at<br />

the Florida Power Office in New Port Richey when I first<br />

started there and he had a sister that worked there too.<br />

Harold has been all over the County. More recently, he's<br />

lived in the east side, but he grew up on the west side.<br />

Like I said, it's a small knit community so mainly through<br />

his activity in West <strong>Pasco</strong> is where I got to know Harold<br />

real well. I have to say this about Harold and I echo<br />

it whenever I can; I am totally amazed at his ability to<br />

remember things about the whole county. I've been doing<br />

tours with him for 10 years, 15 years... I don't even know<br />

how long. We will go through a new area that we don't<br />

normally cover and he says something significant about<br />

that area and things that happened in that area. I've never<br />

heard of anybody say that they haven't learned something<br />

new while on tour with Harold, no matter how long<br />

they've lived here.<br />

How did you make the transition to a hospital marketing<br />

role?<br />

The thing that was similar to all of those jobs, whether<br />

it was with the City or the power company, is that it was<br />

a lot of public relations. That's my favorite thing. I love<br />

people and I know a lot of people. At the time, I was the<br />

Chairman of Chasco and I had met a man by the name of<br />

Alan Levine, who who has since held several impressive<br />

executive positions in healthcare. In working with him,<br />

Alan became a really good advocate for me and he was<br />

the one that encouraged Dan Miller, who was President &<br />

CEO at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, to hire<br />

me. That was just under 25 years ago.<br />

COVID has greatly effected the new normal, but tell us<br />

about the effect to service and safety at the hospital.<br />

So they have implimented precautions. We get screened<br />

every day and we have to wear masks. With COVID hitting<br />

the hospital, we had to go about redesigning everything.<br />

We went from five different entrances to one for<br />

patients and one for employees.<br />

Can you tell us about any hidden talents or hobbies<br />

that you picked up this year?<br />

I do play some online poker. Texas hold 'em with some<br />

buddies who are soccer coaches from Land O Lakes,<br />

because I used to be really involved in the Central <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

Youth Soccer Association (CPUSA) and made some<br />

lifelong friends. The in-person stuff is out, but now we<br />

just do the online playing. I've also remodeled my kitchen,<br />

installed new windows and doors, installed Bermuda<br />

Shutters, and have done a lot of painting and gardening.<br />

Kurt Connover '92, Richard Jenkins '20, and Thomas O'Conner<br />

Bruno '20 at Bus Tour Day (West).<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />



Class Notes<br />

Accomplishments<br />

Don Anderson '16 is now President of the<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors.<br />

Tom Celotto '11 is now a Director Emeritus of the<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors.<br />

Heather Grimes '11 is now a Director Emerita of<br />

the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors.<br />

Manny Long '16 is now President Elect of the<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors.<br />

Tara O'Connor '16 is now Secretary of the<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors.<br />

Stefanie Pontlitz '13 is the <strong>2020</strong> Judith Rochelle<br />

Award winner and hired as Executive Director for The<br />

Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind (LVIB)<br />

of <strong>Pasco</strong>, Hernando, and Citrus Counties.<br />

Kim Rymanowski '19 opened two additional<br />

9Round Fitness franchises this year.<br />

John Willis '15 is now Treasurer of the <strong>Leadership</strong><br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors and was named Employee<br />

of the Year <strong>2020</strong> by the Florida West Coast Credit<br />

Union.<br />

In Memoriam<br />

Candace Glewen '14<br />

Visit <strong>Leadership</strong><strong>Pasco</strong>.com/ClassNotes<br />

to submit accomplishments, marriages,<br />

engagements, births, and memoriam<br />

information. We will continue to share in this<br />

quarterly newsletter.<br />

Class of <strong>2020</strong> Graduation<br />

Save the Date<br />

Tuesday, December 1, <strong>2020</strong><br />

Spartan Manor - New Port Richey<br />

6:00-9:00 p.m.<br />

We appreciate our sponsors<br />

14 FALL <strong>2020</strong> NEWSLETTER<br />


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