Leadership Pasco Newsletter - Spring 2021

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>Spring</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

Tourism Day<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>'s First New Program Day in 15 years

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

As my <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> board presidency nears<br />

the end and I reflect on the past year, I must begin<br />

by acknowledging the remarkable individuals that<br />

comprise our Board of Directors, including ex<br />

officio members, which together make <strong>Leadership</strong><br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> possible. I feel blessed to work with such a<br />

fine group.<br />

While we are grateful to our very competent and<br />

extraordinary Executive Coordinator in Jason<br />

Longo, Class of 2017, it is the working Board that is the muscle behind the many responsibilities<br />

that go into producing a comprehensive and complete leadership program. In addition<br />

to the Board, we are blessed with active alumni, program day leaders, committee members,<br />

vendor partners, and not to be forgotten, our many financial sponsors.<br />

In my last letter I spoke of the unprecedented times and the challenges we faced because of<br />

the pandemic. While times were daunting, and even intimidating, your leadership team rose<br />

to the occasion and forged a path ahead. Specifically, our board:<br />

• Continued to meet monthly via Zoom<br />

• Launched our new <strong>Leadership</strong> Series, with our first speaker Mike Napier, Class of<br />

2014 and Health Officer, Florida Department of Health-<strong>Pasco</strong> County<br />

• Developed our first new Program Day in 15 years, Tourism Day<br />

• Conducted a large-scale call for applications for the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Class of 2022<br />

Soon, we will return to having alumni networking opportunities again, so stay tuned to your<br />

emails, this newsletter, and our social media channels. We also look forward to introducing<br />

the new board of directors and officers as well as announcing the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Class of<br />

2022.<br />

It has been my honor and privilege to serve alongside our Board, program volunteers,<br />

alumni, partners, and Jason, to face the challenges of a world experiencing a pandemic.<br />

Through collaboration, partnership, and innovation, your <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> network met the<br />

challenges head on with results of which we can all be proud.<br />

Thank you to each of you for your extraordinary support, patience, and most importantly,<br />

your active participation in <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>.<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 />

SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER<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 />

Carla Armstrong '14<br />

Editor<br />

Amanda Hart '14<br />

Editor<br />

Jason Longo '17<br />

Design<br />

Photo Credits<br />

Jason Longo '17 (Tourism Day),<br />

J. David Wright '20 (Pages 12-17)<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.

4<br />

8<br />

2 12 10<br />

Features<br />

2<br />

4<br />

6<br />

8<br />

10<br />

12<br />

Alumni Spotlight: Chuck Anderson '20<br />

Alumni Spotlight: Kurt Browning '96<br />

Alumni Spotlight: Tom Ryan '14<br />

Alumni Spotlight: Wendy Longman '15<br />

Tourism Day: Bringing the Sports Coast<br />

to the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Class Program<br />

Alumni Spotlight: David Wright '20<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 />

Olympus Limo, Inc.<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 />

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 />



Chuck Anderson '20, President/CEO, United Way<br />

of <strong>Pasco</strong> County and <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board<br />

By Laura Raposa ’19<br />

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.<br />

I am a native New Englander, grew up in Connecticut. I<br />

started in Social Work, earned a master’s degree in Social<br />

Work, and happened into a United Way career that has<br />

lasted a long time. Along the way, I got married and had<br />

four wonderful daughters – one in Virginia, two Connecticut,<br />

and one in Washington. I moved to Land O’Lakes in<br />

2019 and love the 20-minute commute (when not working<br />

remotely).<br />

How was 2020 for you, personally and professionally?<br />

Personally, I became a grandfather for the first time in<br />

2020. Because of COVID-19, I had not had a chance to<br />

meet my grandson, Ryan, in person for quite some time.<br />

He is a cute little devil. I met someone special in my life<br />

and it has been great at this stage in my life. Professionally,<br />

2020 was one of the hardest years for me. I find it<br />

harder to be productive while working remotely. It is<br />

especially challenging not connecting with people. I think<br />

we all have adjusted, but it is still taxing in many ways.<br />

How did you spend your time during quarantine/lockdown?<br />

Did you pick up any hobbies or binge anything<br />

noteworthy?<br />

I was able to do lot of walking and exercising. I have<br />

been trying to stay healthy, eat a little healthier and check<br />

in on people. I love mysteries so I read a lot of mysteries.<br />

I read Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale and would highly<br />

recommend it. I did binge watch BOSCH on Amazon<br />

Prime, which is based on a Michael Connelly book<br />

series.<br />

This year marks two years since you have been with<br />

United Way <strong>Pasco</strong>. What changes have you seen in<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> County since you moved here?<br />

Everywhere I look I see more buildings going up and I<br />

have never seen anything like it. It is fun to be in a growing<br />

community. I spent some time in Flint, Michigan<br />

and there were no buildings going up or any growth. At<br />

the same time, the problem with growth is that it puts<br />

stress on things like infrastructure and human services.<br />

2 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

In my career, I have worked in several different cities with<br />

various communities and has been a pleasure to work in a<br />

county like <strong>Pasco</strong>.<br />

How has COVID-19/the pandemic affected your work<br />

at the United Way?<br />

One of the things I really believe in is the United Way’s<br />

mission to respond to unmet community needs. When we<br />

got into the pandemic, we started looking at what we could<br />

do. Early on, we were able to pull from some of our emergency<br />

reserves to help agencies. Another thing that happened,<br />

is we entered a partnership with the county to start<br />

the “Operation Feed <strong>Pasco</strong>” program to utilize CARES<br />

funding to distribute meals through restaurants. We were<br />

able to invest in a dozen or so local restaurants to purchase<br />

meals for $9/meal and then those meals were brought to<br />

agencies such as One Community Now and Volunteer Way.<br />

If you tally up all the numbers, it is close to 230,000 meals<br />

that went to people in need. I am particularly proud because<br />

Operation Feed <strong>Pasco</strong> helped people in need, helped<br />

restaurants, and helped these agencies serve their community.<br />

The United Way of <strong>Pasco</strong> was able to respond and<br />

help and I am particularly proud of the organization and<br />

our team. It was never what we intended, but it was what<br />

the community needed. My team are the ones who rolled<br />

up their sleeves, got to work, and learned more about running<br />

a restaurant that we ever wanted to know. If we are<br />

not going to respond to unmet needs at a crisis point, then<br />

why are we doing this?<br />

What was your inspiration to continue from the Class<br />

of 2020 to the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> board?<br />

To me, it was a logical continuation. The people in this<br />

organization are some of the community’s best and brightest<br />

individuals and it is great to work with the other board<br />

members. Serving on the board is also an opportunity to<br />

give back to the community. The program gave me so<br />

much and it is great to be able to give back.<br />

Chuck Anderson '20 and his four daughters, pre-pandemic.<br />

What brought you to apply for <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

When I came to work at United Way <strong>Pasco</strong>, there were two<br />

to three organizations everyone said I needed to apply for.<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> was at the top of the list. If you want to<br />

learn quickly about a community, which is what I needed<br />

to know about for this position, you need to know what is<br />

happening behind the scenes. I have done other leadership<br />

programs, but <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> is so uniquely <strong>Pasco</strong> being<br />

that <strong>Pasco</strong> is more self-contained and <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

adds a great flavor.<br />

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

<strong>Pasco</strong> experience when you were a class member?<br />

I met some fantastic people. SIMSOC was a great experience,<br />

but I quickly learned that I was going to be greatly<br />

challenged as a member of my team. I think the simulation<br />

of society was eye-opening. Going through the SIMSOC<br />

experience, I learned that I need to look at things through a<br />

different lens. I am also very proud that our class was still<br />

able to raise just under $20k for Suncoast Voices for Children<br />

even without having the Taste of <strong>Pasco</strong> event. Our<br />

class never stopped working to meet that goal and Thomas<br />

and Kera were great leaders.<br />

Chuck Anderson '20 loads meals as a part of the "Operation Feed<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong>" initiative.<br />

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



Kurt Browning '96, <strong>Pasco</strong> County Superintendent<br />

of Schools<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

that I saw what was on the other side of the tracks and it<br />

opened my eyes. When I applied for the program, we had<br />

a great class. It was fun because you engaged with people<br />

that you normally don’t come into contact with and made<br />

new friendships.<br />

Do you remember having a favorite class day or<br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> experience?<br />

There are two experiences really. The ride along was like<br />

the TV show Cops. I was with the Sheriff's Office and we<br />

drove in some neighborhoods in areas where you would<br />

see folks dealing drugs in the headlights of the patrol car<br />

we were in. I could see the problem first-hand in combatting<br />

this because you can arrest them, but they are going<br />

to be back out doing the same thing. Then we went to a<br />

domestic call. The deputy I rode along with, Roger Mills,<br />

said as we approached this house, to stay in the car. I<br />

said, "Don't worry, I'm not moving." It was a very eyeopening<br />

to see what our deputies go through every day,<br />

all hours of the night.<br />

Meeting was conducted in February <strong>2021</strong> on Zoom.<br />

When you were the <strong>Pasco</strong> County Supervisor of Elections<br />

and you went through the program, why did you<br />

apply, and what surprised you about it?<br />

At that point, the program was five years old and a lot of<br />

my friends and colleagues had gone through the program.<br />

The surprising thing was that being raised here, growing<br />

up here and going to school and working here, I really<br />

thought I knew everything there was to know about <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County. Where my office was in Dade City, I could look<br />

out the window and there was a railroad line that went<br />

north and south, and I never knew what was on the other<br />

side of the rail- road tracks. I tell that story because it<br />

wasn't until we took the bus tour, and then later when I<br />

did my ride along with <strong>Pasco</strong> County Sheriff's Office,<br />

The second experience had a lot to do with that too. It<br />

was on law enforcement day when we went to the correctional<br />

facility in Land O' Lakes. To know that you<br />

were inside that facility and in the general population … I<br />

don't know if they still do that today, but I just wish more<br />

people could do it to really get a better sense of what<br />

these law enforcement folks and corrections officers deal<br />

with every day.<br />

I don't think we will be having a Youth <strong>Leadership</strong><br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> class this year, but can you talk about the<br />

significance of that program?<br />

I love that program. Rob Aguis, Director for the Fred K.<br />

Marchman Technical College, has invited me for many<br />

years to speak to the students. I always enjoy speaking<br />

to those students- They’re smart and they're engaging. I<br />

give them an overview of who I am and my role in the<br />

School District, but then I stop. I really want to hear back<br />

from students and it's interesting to hear the things that<br />

they tell you that are going on in some of our classrooms,<br />

both good and not so good. We take copious notes, and I<br />

address those issues that had been brought to my attention.<br />

If our students, who are our customers, don't feel<br />

like they're getting what they believe they ought to be<br />

4 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

getting, then something’s not right. It's just like a business,<br />

if you go into a store and you can't find what you want or<br />

you get a poor quality product, you're going to go someplace<br />

else. It's the same thing with education, as much as<br />

people say education is not a business, it is a business in<br />

many regards. It's a $1.5 billion business in <strong>Pasco</strong>. So I use<br />

that opportunity when I talk to students to find out how<br />

they like the product we're producing. I always appreciate<br />

their experience and honesty.<br />

What you have been working on while social<br />

distancing. Do you have any hobbies?<br />

During COVID, when we were really relegated to being<br />

home after work, I had to have something to do. So, I<br />

picked my beekeeping back up. When I was a kid, I kept<br />

bees, so I'm a beekeeper. I have two hives at home and<br />

they're fascinating creatures. It's very cathartic when you<br />

can open a hive to see all of the bees busy doing what they<br />

do and how they do it with such precision. I've also been<br />

able to do a little more gardening. I love being outside,<br />

I love getting my hands dirty and I love seeing things<br />

grow. My wife gets on to me all the time about "If you dig<br />

something else up just to plant something else ... you know<br />

you've got to quit this." I keep finding projects to do, but I<br />

love it.<br />

Have you harvested any honey?<br />

Well, I haven't yet, but they're almost there at a year old.<br />

I have a peach orchard with about 1,500 peach trees and I<br />

don't need bees to pollinate them because they are self-pollinating.<br />

But when I walk through the peaches, which are<br />

blooming now, the bees are tearing them up. It's my hope<br />

that by summer, I will be able to get a little bit of honey<br />

out of those hives.<br />

Are you in the peach business?<br />

A friend of mine and I do the “you pick peaches” for three<br />

or four weeks late March through early April. It's just a<br />

hobby to have something on the piece of property that we<br />

own. We certainly don't make a living at it.<br />

Peaches aren't a typical Florida crop right?<br />

That's right. The peaches we have were developed by the<br />

University of Florida. Peaches need chill hours between 45<br />

and 33 degrees, and not between 46 and 32 degrees. That's<br />

what throws blooms out on trees and then the blooms are<br />

what throws fruit out, so it's a big experiment. But hey,<br />

what else should I do on my weekends, you know? I play<br />

around and love the outdoors. If I had it to do it over again,<br />

I’d probably be a teacher and a farmer.<br />

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



Tom Ryan '14, Director of Business Development,<br />

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

By Carla Armstrong ’14<br />

Tell us about your experience with the class project<br />

and the community service.<br />

The class project was Taste of <strong>Pasco</strong> before it became<br />

the official <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> project and I admit it was<br />

challenging. I'm in business development and have been<br />

in sales in one form or another my whole career and I had<br />

to go door knocking for sponsors. I had to get over that<br />

dread of being told “NO” directly to my face. I enjoyed<br />

the challenge because it forced me to go back to an “old<br />

school” way of selling and it was for a great cause, so<br />

never be afraid to ask for help for a worthwhile cause.<br />

What stood out for you and your leadership experience<br />

when you were a class member?<br />

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I tell people all the time - it was<br />

the most enjoyable year that I did not expect and one of<br />

the best experiences I’ve had personally in <strong>Pasco</strong>.<br />

Everybody was so professional, and I was really impressed<br />

with what they brought to the class. I learned<br />

about how the county operates and still share stories that<br />

Harold Sample told on the bus tour. I often use what I<br />

learned in <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> in my presentations and tours<br />

to businesses that visit <strong>Pasco</strong>. I highly recommend it to<br />

anybody that asks and tell people it is well worth the time.<br />

What was your favorite part about <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

There really wasn't one part that I can say that I would<br />

put above the rest, but I do have to say the bus tour is the<br />

most memorable. I didn't know 90% of what I learned on<br />

that bus tour. I'm from Ohio and moved here in 2006 and<br />

was in the LP class of 2014, so within that seven years I<br />

really hadn’t learned the history of <strong>Pasco</strong>. After the bus<br />

tour, <strong>Pasco</strong>’s landscape and growing communities just<br />

made sense to me. The fact that I got to sit with all of my<br />

classmates was very enjoyable and I thought it was great.<br />

The event was a HUGE success! I was scheduled during<br />

the second half during the live band and what was amazing<br />

was that my boss at the time, John Hagen, played<br />

bass guitar; he was rockin'. I had a blast and it’s always<br />

fun raising a lot of money for a very good cause. Then,<br />

out of nowhere, our classmate Karen Alexander Petrie<br />

was able to get a matching gift from her employer Florida<br />

Hospital (now AdventHealth) and I thought it was like icing<br />

on the cake! We bought an ultrasound for a pregnancy<br />

center which was very much needed and appreciated.<br />

That’s a great example of a classmate leveraging their<br />

business connections to help the community. Can you<br />

share how the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> program helps its<br />

members leverage business connections?<br />

Well, it definitely allows for an easy phone call or an<br />

email because you already know these friends and colleagues<br />

and I've never felt that it's ever been abused. It's<br />

more about collaboration and there's always something<br />

to talk about and the door is always open. The key is<br />

making the effort to get together. That's the hard part after<br />

you graduate is you know everybody so well and then<br />

there's a period afterwards that you stay with it. But then<br />

you drift apart, and so the real challenge is to come back<br />

together to get updates on everybody's life, their families<br />

and their career.<br />

What is your role in business?<br />

My official title is Director of Business Development<br />

at the <strong>Pasco</strong> Economic Development Council (<strong>Pasco</strong><br />

EDC). My job is to be out of the county visiting target<br />

industries, and showing them the business opportunities<br />

and advantages of locating and expanding in <strong>Pasco</strong>. I’m<br />

6 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

also in charge of the <strong>Pasco</strong> Ready Science Program – a<br />

program funded through the Penny for <strong>Pasco</strong>. I recruit<br />

property owners to submit their site into the program to be<br />

evaluated as to its “readiness” for light industrial development.<br />

We use these sites to assist us in recruiting major job<br />

producing projects to <strong>Pasco</strong>. We currently have seven sites<br />

totaling 2,183 acres with videos and interactive maps on<br />

www.<strong>Pasco</strong>EDC.com.<br />

How has COVID-19 impacted your area and your<br />

profession?<br />

When COVID-19 forced a shut down in March, it was a<br />

shell shock. We asked what can we do as an organization.<br />

Our President/CEO, Bill Cronin, decided that we should<br />

immediately get money out on the street through a small<br />

business grant. The Paycheck Protection Program was already<br />

in play but we found small businesses needed money<br />

fast to pay business expenses such as rent and utilities. The<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> Emergency Business Grant was funded by <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County and administered by the <strong>Pasco</strong> EDC. $5,000 grants<br />

were given to <strong>Pasco</strong> based small businesses with 25 or<br />

fewer employees and we found that there was tremendous<br />

demand. In fact, the county stepped up and funded it twice.<br />

Many businesses told us they were able to use the money<br />

to stay afloat and it was meant for that reason, especially<br />

when everything looked like it was sinking.<br />

What was happening in my area of the responsibilities was<br />

that inquiries started coming in from businesses wanting<br />

to move here. They were getting positioned to try to take<br />

advantage of the fact that, regardless of COVID, they still<br />

had capital to invest in their businesses, and surprisingly,<br />

found the business environment was very healthy in <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

and throughout Florida. The time was right to make long<br />

term investments and for some odd reason, COVID-19<br />

motivated people to make phone calls.<br />

The phones never stopped ringing and it was “Where in<br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> should I locate? Where are vacant buildings? What<br />

kind of services are available for my business?” Inquiries<br />

were coming from all over the country and we're still getting<br />

those phone calls. I think it has a lot to do with Tampa<br />

Bay's growth and reputation for being a friendly place to<br />

live, a great place to raise a family, and very receptive to<br />

business. People hear that and if they hear it enough, they<br />

want to learn more about it. We are very blessed to be busy.<br />

Would you like to share anything about your family?<br />

My wife Caitlin and I had our 25th wedding anniversary<br />

last May. We have lived in Wesley Chapel since we moved<br />

here 15 years ago. We have twin boys who are 21; one is at<br />

USF and the other finished at <strong>Pasco</strong> Hernando State College<br />

and is taking a break before going to USF.<br />

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



Captain Wendy Longman '15, Windsong Charters<br />

By Angel Cook ’18<br />

You were in the Class of 2015, what made you want to<br />

be a part of <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>? And what is the biggest<br />

impact for your business from <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

“Class of 2-0-1-5 Glad I made it out alive!” I’m joking!<br />

I always wanted to participate in the program for years.<br />

Every year since 2009, Bob Memoli asked if I had applied<br />

yet. Finally, in 2015, I made some changes to the business<br />

that allowed me the time, discussed it with my hubby and<br />

asked for his support. He said “Ok Darling, whatever you<br />

like,” in that adorable accent of his.<br />

The biggest impact to the business was a hurricane shortly<br />

after graduating <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>. The county came to<br />

me for canoes and kayaks to help with rescue efforts. They<br />

would not have even known about me or Windsong had it<br />

not been for the contacts made through <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>.<br />

I really don’t look at it as what <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> has done<br />

for me -- it’s what can I do for my Community. <strong>Leadership</strong><br />

<strong>Pasco</strong> fostered how to be a better community leader.<br />

What were you and your husband both doing prior to<br />

Windsong and where did the idea come from?<br />

Windsong Charters is actually my company. My husband,<br />

Bruce, owns a web design company. We actually work for<br />

each other. I pay him but he doesn’t pay me! (Insert aghast<br />

sound here LOL!) Bruce worked for a car rental company<br />

as VP of Sales & Marketing. I had a private practice<br />

in Maine as a therapist specializing in children with<br />

autism and other severely “differently abled” children.<br />

I was considered the therapist of last resort for children<br />

that couldn’t get help elsewhere or other therapists just<br />

couldn’t “reach”. I consulted with 17 school districts<br />

and two military bases. Due to extensive relocation and<br />

traveling Bruce’s job required, I couldn’t open my own<br />

practice when we left Maine as we weren’t in one area<br />

long enough. So, Bruce went to his company and told<br />

them, you have to give my wife a job -- any job -- driving<br />

a shuttle bus, sales, anything, just give her a job. They<br />

said ok, but I stipulated I will only office from home. They<br />

8 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

were less than impressed to say the least however, in 3<br />

months I brought the area from a negative 40 percent down<br />

in sales to a positive 30 percent growth. We were living<br />

in Dallas at the time and every weekend we were flying<br />

to Tampa to look at homes. We both had then developed<br />

the eCommerce department and our plan was to move to<br />

Tampa and work from home. It worked.<br />

After moving to Port Richey in 2000, I wanted to open<br />

my own practice again. Unfortunately, after researching<br />

the regulations and licensing requirements of Florida, I<br />

decided it was not a fiscally viable option. Until I figured<br />

out what I wanted to do when I grew up, I worked as a<br />

substitute teacher for special needs classes in the <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

County School District as well as consulted to the eCommerce<br />

department for the car rental company.<br />

When we first moved to <strong>Pasco</strong>, everyone on our canal had<br />

a boat – except us! (Insert sad sound here! LOL) So, we<br />

used our mortgage payment to buy an old boat we found<br />

on the side of US 19, put our mortgage payment on a credit<br />

card and ate peanut butter sandwiches for months. We<br />

loved our boat and went to the island every weekend! We<br />

met a retired aerospace engineer who wanted to start a<br />

sailing business. We agreed that we would help him with<br />

marketing and he would teach us how to sail. VOILA!<br />

Windsong Sailing Charters was born over cheap beer and<br />

cigars on Anclote Key in 2002. After a horrendous year<br />

of non-stop hurricanes in 2004 our friend’s boat sustained<br />

some damage. He was done with Florida and moved<br />

back to San Diego. Before he left, I had him sign over the<br />

county and state business paperwork to me. I worked too<br />

hard on his business just to see it sink! We got our personal<br />

sailboat legally documented as a commercial charter vessel<br />

by the United States Coast Guard, I went to Captain’s<br />

School and Windsong operated with little interruption. In<br />

2005, I bought another sailboat, and every year after that.<br />

Now, in <strong>2021</strong>, I have 53 rentable assets ranging from pontoon<br />

boats, to paddle craft to boat trailers.<br />

Where do you see the most struggle for your business<br />

and what makes Windsong successful?<br />

Every day is a struggle, and you learn through it. Last<br />

year, hiring employees was a big issue. The pandemic<br />

made it really hard to find people that wanted to work. No<br />

one had been through something like this and the rules<br />

changed every day. The best thing COVID has taught me<br />

is that you just can’t sweat the small stuff. When someone<br />

tells me they are having a bad day, I ask, “Did a boat sink,<br />

did anyone die? No? Then it’s the best day ever!” Everything<br />

else can be fixed. What makes Windsong Charters<br />

successful? Hard work and teamwork! We’re a family at<br />

Windsong. We spend our holidays and time off together. I<br />

would not have a successful company without my crew.<br />

You and your husband travel a lot, tell us how many<br />

countries have you been to? Which trip was your<br />

favorite and why?<br />

We’re travel junkies. Some people collect chachkas, we<br />

collect pins in a map. We have traveled and/or lived in 47<br />

US States. We’ve extensively explored 68 countries and<br />

all 7 continents. My favorite trip was taking my Mom to<br />

South Africa to meet Bruce’s family. She had done some<br />

1 and 2 week vacations to Europe and the Caribbean, but<br />

With COVID taking over 2020, can you tell us how it<br />

has affected Windsong Charters and what you did to<br />

adapt?<br />

2020 was an amazing and challenging year for Windsong.<br />

It forced us to focus on being more efficient with less<br />

employees. We went completely paperless and purchased<br />

a real-time online reservation system (Just like Expedia!<br />

We’re in the big leagues now! LOL). 2020 was also one of<br />

our most successful years. We expanded the business with<br />

purchasing more new boats and also purchased land for a<br />

Workshop as well as starting a new public boat and trailer<br />

storage yard just minutes from the marina.<br />

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



this trip was different. This was a 19-hour direct flight for<br />

6 weeks with only carry-on luggage visiting South Africa,<br />

Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana with a 70-year-old<br />

three-time cancer survivor. My mom is a total Badass –<br />

and my greatest inspiration!<br />

What is your balance with work, volunteer, personal life?<br />

No balance at all! I totally WING it! Bruce and I have<br />

been married for 23 years and we don’t have young<br />

children. I really don’t know how I balance my life. I just<br />

know that when I’m passionate about something, I go for it.<br />

What advice would you give someone thinking about<br />

signing up for <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>?<br />

“Don’t get stuck in the Red Room!” Seriously,<br />

though, have an open mind. Look at the full experience<br />

and the lessons learned. It’s about working together as<br />

a team and being an integral part of your community. I<br />

promise it will be an extremely rewarding experience and<br />

you will form friendships that will last a lifetime.<br />

PS – Really, The Red Room is fun!<br />

You are the Vice-Chair for the <strong>Pasco</strong> County Tourism<br />

Development Council. Tell us about this Council and<br />

how you got involved with it?<br />

The Tourism Development Council (TDC) is comprised<br />

of 1 County Commissioner, 2 elected city officials, 3 hoteliers,<br />

1 representative from <strong>Pasco</strong> Economic Development<br />

Council and 2 tourism industry leaders. We administer<br />

the funds collected from the 4% tourist development tax<br />

on transient lodging such as hotels, motels, and campgrounds,<br />

along with condo and home rentals of six months<br />

or less. The funds are designated to promote <strong>Pasco</strong> County<br />

as a tourist destination. For years I wanted to be a part of<br />

the TDC and was thrilled when I received an invitation<br />

in 2018. Appointments are four years and it is my hope<br />

I will be re-appointed as it truly is an honor to serve. It’s<br />

amazing and humbling to have and be a voice growing<br />

tourism in our beautiful county.<br />

Captain Wendy Longman '15, Bob Memoli '05, and Kim Ham '15 share a smile at a past event.<br />

10 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

Tourism Day: Bringing the Sports Coast to the<br />

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

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

This was also my first trip to AdventHealth Center Ice, in<br />

Wesley Chapel and it was tremendously impressive. They<br />

have an Olympic rink, which was being used by skaters<br />

training for national and international competitions, as we<br />

watched. Other rinks, hosted hockey, curling, and public<br />

skating. The facility can be rented for teams, parties, corporate<br />

events, and even dry-floor events. It is also a destination<br />

for sports performance and recovery, and participants<br />

can see why.<br />

The <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> Board of Directors is thrilled to be<br />

bringing Tourism Day, the first new program day in fifteen<br />

years, to the class of 2022. In 2019, <strong>Pasco</strong> County was rebranded<br />

as Florida's Sports Coast, and participants of this<br />

day will learn how this is funded, to what extent, and how<br />

it leads to tourism and growth.<br />

Captain Wendy Longman ‘15, CEO, Windsong Charters<br />

and Boat Rentals and Adam Thomas, Tourism Director<br />

are the hard-working and creative team that put this day<br />

together with board support.<br />

Our day ended with a Gulf boat trip from Island Paradise<br />

Charters. We cruised out to our famous and historic stilt<br />

houses, and had views of Anclote Key, and the sandbar.<br />

Class of 2022 will learn why so much of West <strong>Pasco</strong>’s tourism<br />

involves boating, fishing, and our beautiful Gulf. Great<br />

way to end the day.<br />

We all learned so much about the county, the tourist 'bed<br />

tax', and how much impact these facilities and their significant<br />

events bring sport tourism to our County. These guests<br />

also shop, lodge, dine, and contribute to the local economy<br />

in many ways.<br />

On March 22, <strong>2021</strong> a handful of alumni Board Members<br />

and I met up at our first stop on a trial run of this program<br />

day, the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis and Wellness Center in<br />

Zephyrhills, established in November 2020. This amazing<br />

facility has memberships and offerings for those interested<br />

in tennis, pickelball, fitness, and a sport growing in interest,<br />

padel. They are also a wellness destination with stateof-the-art<br />

services in cryotherapy, salt therapy, massage,<br />

and sports counseling. The restaurant is open to the public.<br />

The second stop was the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus<br />

of <strong>Pasco</strong> County / AdventHealth Sports Arena in Wesley<br />

Chapel, which opened in August 2020. This facility is<br />

98,000 total square feet with 8 basketball courts convertible<br />

to 16 volleyball courts. There is a dedicated cheer<br />

area with spring floor and tumble run, athletic training and<br />

conditioning space, a VIP sky deck viewing area and some<br />

great concession spaces.<br />

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



David Wright '20, Primerica Vice President and<br />

Photographer<br />

By Jason Longo ’17<br />

liked to do it. When digital first came out, our friend had<br />

a digital camera and he didn't use that much so I would<br />

borrow it from him. It was one third of a million pixel<br />

camera. If you took a picture it would go to a floppy<br />

disk. It would take two or three seconds to record these,<br />

but I would analyze what I was doing and that helped<br />

me to get a lot better.<br />

Once I got a better camera, I would go to church and<br />

take it there. The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art had<br />

just opened and I knew Allen Leepa. When they did<br />

the dedication, I went to take pictures of him and then<br />

became very closely linked to the museum so started<br />

doing more photos there. This, this is my learning curve<br />

doing that kind of stuff.<br />

I've seen your wildlife photography on Facebook.<br />

How do you get those shots at the right place and<br />

time?<br />

I had an older dog, and when I first got the better<br />

cameras, I would take it on our walks. The main thing<br />

about having photography is, if you want to capture the<br />

adventure you have got to bring the camera.<br />

Meeting was conducted in January <strong>2021</strong> on Zoom.<br />

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

<strong>Pasco</strong> before you signed up?<br />

I had heard about it for probably, seven, eight years<br />

because I know a lot of the alumni. It was time for me to<br />

do finally do it and I got a scholarship too. I had been to<br />

several <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> events and taken photos.<br />

Do you have a photography business? How did you get<br />

into photography?<br />

It’s not really a business. I do family portraits and small<br />

weddings, but most of my income comes from Primerica<br />

Financial Services.<br />

I had a film camera, took pictures, and enjoyed it. Looking<br />

back on it now, they were pretty crappy pictures, but I<br />

Of course, you meet people when you walk the dog, as<br />

they always want to talk to your dog. On one walk this<br />

guy came running out of his house saying you’ve got to<br />

see these baby owls. So, I ran over there, took a picture<br />

of these three baby owls sitting on a branch, very close<br />

and that was one of the things that really, really hit me<br />

that that I really enjoyed doing that. I captured something<br />

special.<br />

In life, like in financial services, you can sit down and<br />

work with a family, they can do the investments do the<br />

life insurance, but it is going to take 20 or 30 years to<br />

build up an account really where they become financially<br />

stable. I mean you know what you are doing you<br />

know you're doing good for the family, but when you<br />

take that picture boom it's right there. It’s that self that<br />

that satisfaction of you captured something very quickly,<br />

I think that was one of the big things for me. Then I<br />

started taking more pictures and got better cameras over<br />

time.<br />

I got a photo of a dolphin mother and a baby jumping in<br />

the waves, and that was exciting, for me, having taken<br />

12 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

a picture as good as that. But then just I started shooting<br />

all the time, my camera stays with me. My wife gets mad<br />

with me because I take it in the car every in the summertime.<br />

I know you are a part of many organizations and<br />

fundraising events. How has that been going during<br />

COVID?<br />

Well Wheelchairs 4 Kids is my charity of choice. That’s<br />

the one where I do most of most of work with and the<br />

director was able to do some really great things. We<br />

had Bail and Jail, which is that one raises about sixty to<br />

eighty thousand a year.<br />

And we had to cancel it first of the year, as we didn’t<br />

know what was going on, but we were able to do it in<br />

August. The ones who came really did a great job.<br />

We had our annual fundraiser which is always in November<br />

and we were able to go from Ruth Eckert Hall to<br />

Innisbrook which is a much bigger facility and we raised<br />

a little bit less money than normal; but still it was it was<br />

it was well over a year ninety thousand for that event.<br />

Do you want to share how you got an interest in that<br />

charity?<br />

I joined the Tarpon Chamber was looking to do more<br />

in life. I met the director and she had just begun her<br />

organization and she said, “We're going to be doing a<br />

chair lift presentation, do you want to come down to take<br />

some pictures?” So I did and I saw the impact it made<br />

on the on the family, just a little chair lift on the back<br />

where they can put the wheelchair. Then I went to her<br />

first fundraiser and we had like twenty or thirty people<br />

there and did a couple more. We did one presentation of<br />

a chair for a girl who was thirteen or fourteen years old,<br />

and it was a very expensive forty-thousand-dollar chair.<br />

That was just powerful to watch this girl go from a really<br />

bad regular wheelchair to this wheelchair that she could<br />

actually stand up in. Instead of looking up at people or<br />

people looking down on her all the time she can shift to<br />

where she was face to face with people. And the family<br />

was very excited about getting it, and of course she was<br />

she was very excited.<br />

I found that the director Madeline Robinson was in it one<br />

hundred percent. She used her own money to start the<br />

start group. I saw how she raised money, how she put her<br />

total effort into it. It is her life and I saw the impact that it<br />

had on the kids.<br />

The diversity of what we did for the kids was amazing.<br />

I mean it wasn't just wheelchairs. One of my first ones I<br />

took pictures of was in new port Richey where a grandmother<br />

had been raising her grandson because her daughter<br />

was in jail. They lived in this this this trailer which was<br />

up a couple of blocks. When he was a baby she was able<br />

to carry him up and down the stairs but he now he was<br />

seven or eight and going to school, so every day she had<br />

to drag that wheelchair up and down the steps twice a day.<br />

This is what really impressed me with the director. She<br />

got an architect to help with the permits and the design,<br />

she got I think Lowes to donate the lumber, and she got<br />

a group of kids from University of South Florida, one of<br />

the fraternities to come out and do the labor. It didn't cost<br />

her anything but a lot of time and a lot of effort. But now<br />

for this grandmother to be able to take his wheelchair up<br />

the ramp and go in the house was a life changing thing. At<br />

that point in time, it really locked me into Wheelchairs 4<br />

Kids. I take photos at all the events and I beg people for<br />

money.<br />

When you went through the <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> program,<br />

what class spoke to you, or what surprised you<br />

about <strong>Pasco</strong> County?<br />

I really had not that much time in East <strong>Pasco</strong> so that was<br />

kind of neat. Infrastructure day was good. You never think<br />

about sewage plants and roads. Law enforcement day<br />

was really, really, nice. Meeting new people, and these<br />

figureheads become real people, and you get to know that<br />

they're in it for the community.<br />

David's photos have been a great contribution to this<br />

newsletter since his time in Class of 2020. See pages 14-<br />

17 for a gallery of David Wright's beautiful photography.<br />

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



14 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER<br />

Photos by J David<br />

Photos by J David

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



16 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER

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


17<br />

Photos by J David

<strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong>'s<br />

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

In March, we launched our <strong>Leadership</strong> <strong>Pasco</strong> <strong>Leadership</strong> Series to provide online, engaging<br />

and informative programs for local leaders. Look for details on two more events this year.<br />

Leading through a Crisis<br />

Presented by Mike Napier, Health Officer, Florida Department of Health-<strong>Pasco</strong> County.<br />

The COVID-19 pandemic tested public health leaders and Napier took center stage,<br />

leading <strong>Pasco</strong> County’s efforts. His presentation examines various aspects of the<br />

pandemic response from getting the first positive case to organizing mass vaccination<br />

clinics in the County. Napier also highlighted how communication and local<br />

relationships play a key role in managing the fears and expectations of the public.<br />

March 9, <strong>2021</strong> – On Demand Recording Available<br />

Sponsored by United Way of <strong>Pasco</strong><br />

<strong>Leadership</strong> Series - Upcoming Event<br />

The next online program will feature Dan Biles, <strong>Pasco</strong> County Administrator, as a<br />

speaker. The topic will be announced this summer.<br />

September 21, <strong>2021</strong> – 8-9 a.m.<br />

Sponsorship Opportunities Available<br />

18 SPRING <strong>2021</strong> NEWSLETTER<br />


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