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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Hope Bogel - May 23, 2012

Name: Hope Bogel

Alias: Hopey - since childhood, unfortunately.

Age:30

Hometown: Richmond, VA

Profession: Director, Partnership Development and Recruitment, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay – Polk County

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: I totally love La Porta Rosa at Mario’s – it suits me, since I am a pasta junkie.

Best EMERGE memory: Making sludge at Explorations V Museum. I immediately reverted back to third grade - third grade was pretty awesome.

Why did you join EMERGE:
I love the idea of young professionals getting to know each other on a social level. It truly does give you a sense of belonging in a city that we all love and support.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an interior designer. As a teenager, I was always changing the color of the walls in bedroom and constantly reinventing the space. I do this now in my current home (this stresses my husband out, completely). I still find joy in design today and eventually hope to pursue it as a career one day. Watch out, HGTV!

If you were a hero what would you special power be?
I would want to have the power to teleport myself to any place in the world, at any time. Plane tickets are too expensive.

What are your hobbies?
I love to cook. I am constantly trying new recipes and I have built up a large collection of cook books – I find them vastly fascinating.

Your passions: My family and my little Yorkie, Chuck Norris.

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
I can say that I once broke my left elbow while roller blading around Lake Hollingsworth. Enough said.

Where are you going on vacation in 2011?
I am not going on vacation this year, but there is an extremely uneventful “staycation” on the horizon, where I will spend all my time in my pajamas, cleaning out my closets and reading Chelsea Handler books.

Which came first the chicken or the egg?

The chicken who laid the egg, of course!

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring?
I would bring one of those amazing green, pre-fab homes to live in, a good knife set to prepare the fish I catch, and an unlimited amount of sun screen. I would be remised, if I didn’t protect my skin.

What’s on your bucket list?
To spend a couple of years traveling in Europe with my husband - particularly the South of France and Italy. It’s all very “Eat, Pray, Love”… I would absolutely entrench myself in the true European way of life and never wear a watch or keep a calendar.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be?
I would like to be a penguin. I would always be fancy.

Who’s your doppelganger?
A more curvaceous version of Jaime Lynn Seigler from HBO’s The Sopranos.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Jessica Gutowski - May 23, 2012

Name: Jessica Gutowski

Alias: Little Bit, Jes Gut

Age: 25

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Profession: In transition, working part-time at Fitniche.

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: The Red Door

Best EMERGE memory: EMEREGE Serves class.

Why did you join EMERGE: To make Lakeland friends and hang around smart professional people.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A singer and World traveler.
If you were a hero what would your special power be? Green Thumb, like The Troll in Central Park.

What are your hobbies? Planning our wedding,singing, playing guitar, running with my dogs, reading, and spending time with my Fiancé Jake Slaydon.

Your passions: Downtown Lakeland, being happy, volunteering, recycling, connecting with nature.

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Sky Dive at Chalet Suzanne.

Where are you going on vacation in 2012? New York City and My Bachelorette Party in South Florida.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? I can argue both sides.

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? Google, a tent and matches.

What’s on your bucket list? Have a family, explore, go back to Africa and bungee jump.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? Snake, they are stereotyped but are really interesting reptiles.

Who’s your doppelganger? Britney Snow in American Dreams.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Jessica Gutowski - May 23, 2012

Name: Jessica Gutowski

Alias: Little Bit, Jes Gut

Age: 25

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Profession: In transition, working part-time at Fitniche.

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: The Red Door

Best EMERGE memory: EMEREGE Serves class.

Why did you join EMERGE: To make Lakeland friends and hang around smart professional people.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A singer and World traveler.

If you were a hero what would your special power be? Green Thumb, like The Troll in Central Park.

What are your hobbies? Planning our wedding,singing, playing guitar, running with my dogs, reading, and spending time with my Fiancé Jake Slaydon.

Your passions: Downtown Lakeland, being happy, volunteering, recycling, connecting with nature.

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Sky Dive at Chalet Suzanne.

Where are you going on vacation in 2012? New York City and My Bachelorette Party in South Florida.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? I can argue both sides.
If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? Google, a tent and matches.

What’s on your bucket list? Have a family, explore, go back to Africa and bungee jump.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? Snake, they are stereotyped but are really interesting reptiles.

Who’s your doppelganger? Britney Snow in American Dreams.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Mary Church - April 4, 2012

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Name: Mary Church

Alias: some call me MO Church. O for my maiden name O’Hara

Age: 30

Hometown: Clearwater, FL

Profession: Community Representative for the American Cancer Society

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: I have many places I love… Natalie’s Sports Bar & Grill for the BEST oysters and Sumo Sushi.

Best EMERGE memory: My first Pack the Bar event 3 years ago. It was an experience for me to meet and greet wonderful young professionals since I just moved to the area.

Why did you join EMERGE: I love people and just wanted to get to know you and your profession.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an FBI Agent…tried that but God had other plans.

If you were a hero what would you special power be? To be super strong. I want to be able to lift a car or event move buildings that would be neat.

What are your hobbies? Running, Yoga, Horseback riding

Your passions: Professional Passion: Saving lives. I want to find a cure for cancer some day. Personal Passion: Baking! I love making cupcakes and experimenting with different flavors.

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? I can’t believe I am telling you this but… No I better not. Next question. Ask me in person and I’ll tell you. 

Where are you going on vacation in 2012? Staying in a Beach Condo on Anna Maria Island in June for a week with the Hubs! The beach never gets old to me.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Definitely the chicken! Duh!

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? I would bring Bear Grylls and all his life saving tactics that he knows (If you don’t know who he is, look him up, he is amazing).. An iron pot to cook in and of course my husband.

What’s on your bucket list? To complete a FULL iron man before I am 40. Crazy I know.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? An elephant. They are ridiculously smart and graceful for their size. They always stay in a pack and have each other for protection and company.

Who’s your doppelganger? They say Reece Witherspoon. Not sure about that.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight: Antwan Key - February 16, 2012

Name: Antwan Key

Alias: Key

Age: 28

Hometown: Miami, FL

Profession: Multimedia Producer

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: My home, Palace Pizza, Publix subs

Best EMERGE memory: Every time I say or refer to EMERGE, when I run into an EMERGE member around town

Why did you join EMERGE: To meet other young people, to have something to do in spare time, to contribute to its diversity

What did you want to be when you grew up? A reporter

If you were a hero what would your special power be? To clone myself so I would be in all the places I’d like

What are your hobbies? Personal and professional development, cooking, rollerblading, exploring coffee chops

Your passions: encouraging others, assessing my happiness, being a good friend

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Passed a car in front of me on highway 60

Where are you going on vacation in 2012? Washington, D.C.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? The chicken.

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? A will to survive, non-perishable food

What’s on your bucket list? To start a business

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? I don’t know animals well enough to come up with one nor do I know why I would choose it.

Who’s your doppelganger? I’ve been told Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds


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EMERGE Member Spotlight: Ashley Hall - February 16, 2012

Name: Ashley Hall

Alias: I’m not that cool

Age: 31

Hometown: Mulberry, Florida

Profession: Manager of Media & Community Relations at Alliance for Independence, which is an Adult Day Training Center for adults with developmental disabilities.

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: La Porta Rosa. I have only been there twice BUT the food was amazing. What place in Lakeland do I frequent most would be the better question. That would be Starbucks. I know that isn’t technically a place to eat, but hey, coffee is part of my food pyramid.

Best EMERGE memory: Eating cheese puffs with Cindy Green & April Mullins at the Steering Committee Retreat in 2009 

Why did you join EMERGE: I joined EMERGE Lakeland so that I could meet young professionals in Lakeland. I spend a lot of time in Tampa and I wanted to get to know more people here that were my age.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A singer

If you were a hero what would you special power be? I would be able to teleport

What are your hobbies? Right now my second job, I mean hobby, is planning my wedding. Any other year you can find me watching food network, making some new-fangled cupcake recipe that I found online, spending time with my friends

Your passions: mentoring high school/college girls,

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Skydiving

Where are you going on vacation in 2012? I’m not sure yet, but it my vacation this year will be my honeymoon. My fiancé is trying to surprise me………..I think.
Which came first the chicken or the egg? The chicken

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring?
Chapstick, a bathing suit and a friend with a lighter

What’s on your bucket list? Bungee Jump. Be a high school principal. Go back to Spain. Live a happy life.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? I would be a dog so that I would have no responsibility and someone would always take care of my needs.

Who’s your doppelganger? Julia Stiles


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Polk Emerging Leaders Awards - June 23, 2011

o The Polk Emerging Leaders Awards are open to individuals between the ages of 21- 40 who live or work in Polk County. Eligible applicants must have lived or worked in Polk County for at least one year. This program has been developed to recognize those young professionals who have made significant accomplishments in their professional field in addition to contributions and commitment to the Polk County community.

§ Learn more about the criteria to be nominated.

§ Nominate an individual for the award. Nominations are due July 25, 2011.

§ Fill out an application. Applications are due August 1, 2011.

o The awards ceremony, presented by the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will be held on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at the Polk State College Student Center at the Winter Haven campus at 6 p.m.

o Please take a moment to nominate a young professional who you feel should be recognized for their accomplishments both professionally and in the community.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Karen Houtz - June 17, 2011

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Name: Karen Houtz

Alias: Little Moo—ask Kathy Wallen…

Age: 35

Hometown: Lakeland, FL

Profession: Commercial Lender/Banker

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: Spice Thai & Sushi

Best EMERGE memory: Really enjoyed learning from the awesome teachers of EMERGE Serves.

Why did you join EMERGE? Professional Networking

What are the Volunteer Committee’s responsibilities? Evaluation and coordination of quarterly philanthropic activities and the annual EMERGE Serves board service program.

What’s your favorite thing about the Volunteer committee? Being able to offer our members the opportunity to learn more about needs in the community.

Describe the Volunteer committee in one word? Altruistic

What are your goals for the committee as Chair? To expose EMERGE members to new areas of service and nonprofit agencies for which they could develop a passion.

When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was little but discovered I was too squeamish.

If you were a superhero what would your special power be? I got nothing.

What are your hobbies? Horseback riding & reading

Your passions: Pets, family, friends – in that order.

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Driving a motorcycle w/out a license and with a passenger on the back.

Where are you going on vacation in 2011? Snow skiing in Colorado Springs, CO

Which came first the chicken or the egg? The Chicken

What’s on your bucket list? Skydiving and living to tell about it.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? Koala

Who’s your doppelganger? Tyra Banks

If you had to acronym your name what would it stand for?
K- kind
A- articulate
R- rider
E- encouraging
N- non-judgmental


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Jorge Rivera - May 9, 2011

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Name: Jorge Rivera

Alias: Hip Hip Jorge!

Age: 30
Hometown: Bonita Springs, Florida

Profession: Accountant

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: Chipotle!

Best EMERGE memory: Shaking my groove thing at the EMERGE Annual Meeting 2009

Why did you join EMERGE: To learn more about Lakeland and get involved.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Race car driver and lawyer

If you were a hero what would your special power be? I’d like to fly, who wouldn’t?

What are your hobbies? Running, cars and racing, FSU Football, mini-vacations

Your passions: Cars

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Drive 150+ miles per hour

Where are you going on vacation in 2011? Philadelphia

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Neither, there is no chicken or egg

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? Sunscreen, a special lady to share the experience, and a boat so we can leave whenever I want.

What’s on your bucket list? Richard Petty Driving Experience

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? Party animal!

Who’s your doppelganger? I don’t think I look like anyone, but apparently, I sound just like Edward Norton.


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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

Board Service Opportunity - April 26, 2011

Thunderbird District of the Boy Scouts of America in western Polk County serves over 1,200 youth in a variety of Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing programs. Our district encompasses the Lakeland, Bartow, and Fort Meade areas. The youth vary in range from first grade to young adults up to the age of 21 in the Venturing co-ed program.

The District Committee is comprised of volunteers who serve as a traditional board of directors for a non-profit organization by providing program oversight and fundraising efforts. Thunderbird District is looking for members of the community, either as former Scouts, current Scout leaders, former Scout leaders, or just someone who wants to get involved in the District Committee process. Fundraising efforts are typical of other non-profit organizations. Scouting likes to host community dinners to honor distinguished community members or Scout leaders for the purpose of soliciting financial pledges of support as well as other fundraising programs.

Thunderbird District also has a need for volunteers to assist in membership programs to expand Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops in other chartering organizations, such as churches or PTA groups. Other opportunities exist to volunteer with projects such as recruiting new members through School Nights, Risk Management oversight, transitional programs from Webelos Cubs to Boy Scouting, and hosting special events like pinewood derbies, fishing derbies, and other civic activities.

For more information or to volunteer please contact Bill LePere at 863.834.8989 or bill.lepere@lakelandgov.net.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- April Mullins - April 4, 2011

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Name: April Mullins

Alias: N/A

Age: 26

Hometown: Auburndale, Florida

Profession: Banker

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: Wow this is a really tough question because I LOVE food and Lakeland has a ton of great establishments. So here are my favorites in no particular order: Mister Fish, Palace Restaurant, Black and Brew, Palace Pizza and Gosh!

Best EMERGE memory: Wow I’m really not good at knocking down a “favorite” or “best” of anything. My favorite EMERGE memories come from the Follow the Leaders, Pack the Bar and Aprons events as well as the Steering Committee Retreats.

Why did you join EMERGE: My husband was in EMERGE and recommended I join because of the networking opportunity

What does your committee do? I’m on the Executive Committee and the Steering Committee. We do the planning for the year and make final decisions on certain projects/events.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A fashion designer. My senior project was actually based on this. At one point I was ready to move out to Las Vegas (okay it was Henderson but close enough) to pursue my dream and go to design school. I think ultimately things fell into place for me here and I realized it might not be as lucrative a choice as I imagined.

If you were a hero what would you special power be? I would definitely have some type of weapon. I’m not sure what form it would take, maybe a super heated laser? That sounds kind of fun.

What are your hobbies? I really enjoy cooking and baking. As I previously mentioned, I love food! When I’m not cooking or baking, you can probably find me watching Food Network and vegging out.

Your passions: Family and friends. I’m super protective over the ones that I love, including my two fur children (dogs)!

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Ride on the back of a motorcycle while the driver drove on one wheel.

Where are you going on vacation in 2011? I’m going to have a three month stay-cation this summer when my baby is born.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? For sure the egg.

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? Clothing with sun blocking technology, ChapStick and something to filter the water with. I’m pretty confident with my fire starting and food catching abilities.

What’s on your bucket list? I don’t have a bucket list. I’ve been very fortunate to visit some pretty great places and experience some pretty amazing things. When I decide I want to do something, I typically put a plan into action to make it happen. I hope to continue that same attitude throughout life and if I do, I’ll have no regrets when I kick the bucket.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? Probably a lion or a cheetah. I have a fascination with African wilderness and wildlife.

Who’s your doppelganger? No clue.

Write your acronym
A- Aspiring
P- Personality
R- Reliable
I- Imaginative
L- Lively


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Adam Justice - March 15, 2011

Adam Justice.jpg


Name: Adam Nathan Justice

Alias: el CuratórAge: 30

Hometown: Honaker, VA

Profession: Curator of Art, Polk Museum of Art

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: Peking House

Best EMERGE memory: being accepted into the P2P program

Why did you join EMERGE: to build relationships, become pro-active in my community and contribute to my generation

What did you want to be when you grew up? Indiana Jones

If you were a hero what would your special power be? Time travel

What are your hobbies? Painting, visiting museums and galleries, treasure hunting at flea markets and collecting belt buckles

Your passions: art history, world history, music, and the campaign for an international loss of ego

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Date a fashion design major.

Where are you going on vacation in 2011? Annual family beach trip to South Carolina

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Since the proverbial ‘egg’ is a variable, it depends upon your chosen Oviparous. Dinosaurs are always safe bets in this debate.

If you were stranded on an island, what 3 things would you bring? 1960 Dodge Challenger, a flux capacitor and a my big black boots

What’s on your bucket list? Drive the entire length of Route 66, relearn how to read for pleasure and chapel hopping in Florence.

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? Not an Oviparous.

Who’s your doppelganger? Not Indiana Jones.


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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Mandy Sanders - February 15, 2011

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Name: Mandy Elizabeth Sanders

Alias: Liz

Age: 34

Hometown: McMinnville, TN

Profession: Certified Public Accountant

Favorite place to eat in Lakeland: I don’t get out much anymore after having kids but I would like it to be Bonefish

Best EMERGE memory: Making new friends; no specific moment

Why did you join EMERGE: Networking and community involvement

What’s your favorite thing about being treasurer for this year? Handling the money! Just kidding, I don’t have any access to the money! I am glad to get more involved by being on the executive committee.

If you had to describe your position on the Steering Committee in one word, what would it be? Listener

What did you want to be when you grew up? Professional basketball player. No, I really had no idea (but I did play college basketball believe it or not!)

If you were a hero what would you special power be? Read minds

What are your hobbies? Playing with my kids and well what else is there really time for??

Your passions: Kids

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Danger is not a part of my vocabulary

Where are you going on vacation in 2011? I have no idea; maybe Disney again if I can talk my husband into it!

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Really? Do people still wonder about this?

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring? My husband and two kids

What’s on your bucket list? New Years Eve at Times Square

If you were transformed into any animal what would it be? A cuddly puppy

Who’s your doppelganger? I do not have one that I know of – you tell me!

If you had to acronym your name what would it stand for? Sorry this one was just too hard – I tried using Mom as the first one and couldn’t get further
M-
A-
N-
D-
Y-


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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

Young Professional Summit - October 6, 2010

EMERGE Lakeland has been invite by a sister organization, “Emerge Tampa Bay” to attend an exclusive, “Young Professional Summit”.

Participants will have the opportunity to interact with state leadership and local representatives. Share your opinion with these decision makers. The summit will be held Friday, October 29, 11:30am – 5:00pm at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Tampa. A reception will follow the event.

The first 5 EMERGE Lakeland members to RSVP will have their registration fee paid.

Please RSVP to Monti Sommer, polk-ed@amikids.org.

Summit details and registration can be found at: http://www.emergetampa.com/register.asp?e_id=698


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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

September EMERGE Member Spotlight- Sonya Holland - September 2, 2010

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Sonya Holland, audit supervisor at The NCT Group, CPAs

Q: What brought you to Lakeland?

A: I was hired by The NCT Group, CPAs and moved to Lakeland five years ago.


Q: What do you find most rewarding about your job?

A: As an auditor, the most rewarding aspect of my job is working with clients in various industries.


Q: Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland, and what part of being a member have you found most beneficial?

A: I wanted to meet other professionals in my age bracket. I have also enjoyed learning about the various nonprofit agencies serving the Lakeland community.


Q: Name one fact about you that people would be surprised to learn.

A: I love action movies.


Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: The Bourne Supremacy


Q: What is the lamest CD or movie that you own?
A: Totally 80’s CD


Q: Name one of your favorite Lakeland events and tell us why it's your favorite.

A: I love the Annual Christmas parade. I enjoy watching the parade with my kids. Two of my kids participated in the parade last year, which was a treat!


Q: Name one guilty pleasure.

A: Ice cream, I love it!!

Q: What is the worst job you've ever had?
A: I haven’t had a worst job. I’ve learned lessons and grown from each experience.


Q: Name one pet peeve.

A: People who talk loudly on their cell phone at a restaurant.


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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

Now Accepting applications for the EMERGE Lakeland Peer to Peer Program - July 19, 2010

EMERGE Lakeland is proud it announce its 3rd Annual P2P (Peer-To-Peer) Program. P2P was developed for young professionals that are new to Lakeland or have recently returned to Lakeland. Participants in the P2P program do not have to be current EMERGE members. P2P aims to enrich the professional development of Lakeland's young professionals by partnering them with existing EMERGE Lakeland members. Each event is aimed at connecting the participant with the Lakeland community, helping to retain good local talent and providing volunteer opportunities within the community.

Please pass this information on to your staff members that qualify and may benefit from this program. The 2010 class is limited to 25 participants. Attached is information about the program, the application and payment information.

Information is also available at www.emergelakeland.com/p2p/

Download file


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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

June Member Spotlight- Bryan Mau - June 25, 2010

Bryan Mau
Regional director of retirement services, CPS Investment Advisors


Q. How did you come to live/work in Lakeland?


A. My firm, CPS Investment Advisors, brought me down to Lakeland from Keene, New Hampshire a little over a year ago to manage their 401(k) Retirement Program.

Q. What do you find most rewarding about your job?

A. The best part of my job is educating the general public on all things financial. This subject is not taught in schools and most of the time parents won't discuss finances with their children and so it is a taboo subject. Most financial worries can be solved quickly and painlessly by just learning how budgets and the financial markets work. That is what I get to do every day. I turn the light on for people and remove the "boogie man" of finances, if you will.

Q. If you could have grown up during a different decade, which would it be and why?

A. I am a huge fan of history. I would love to go back to the mid to late 1700's and see the birth of America and all of the raw, untapped beauty that was discovered back in the early stages of our great country!

Q. How has your EMERGE Lakeland membership been beneficial to you?

A. The networking abilities that have been presented to me as a member of EMERGE have been amazing, especially as a new member of this great city. I have had the ability to meet and get to know people that have been Lakeland residents all of their lives and find out all the amazing things that have gone on here. The growth that this city has experienced in the last 10 to 20 years has been incredible, so having connections to the local community and more specifically the younger generation has really helped me get involved and feel welcomed.

Q: Name one of your favorite Lakeland events and why it’s your favorite.

A: The Christmas Parade is great, but then again, so is The Pig Festival. Don’t make me choose between them!! We do a lot of fun things here in Lakeland that make most major cities envious.


Q. If you could serve on any organization's board in Lakeland, which would it be and why?

A. The first three that come to mind are the Early Learning Coalition, Polk Museum of Art or the Peace River Center. All three have extremely strong ties to the community and they really believe in helping the community grow, as well as helping families and children.

Q. If you could ask one question of an EMERGE Spotlight member, what would it be?

A. We at EMERGE do a lot for the community already, but what about the kids in our society? Why can't we start up a mentoring program for the local kids in schools? A lot of organizations (Boys and Girls Club for example) have a great program and they don’t have a lot of support or recognition. I think it is time that the community at large takes a step back from itself and help the next generation so they can avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that we have learned in life and in business.

Q. What is the worst job you've ever had?
A. That is a funny question. As an extreme optimist, I believe that everything you have gone through in life is a learning lesson and no matter how bad a particular job is, you should grow from that experience. But, that being said, working on a crab boat in Alaska during the winter months was extremely brutal. Tough not only physically, but mentally as well. I am glad that I did it, but I would never do it again!

Q. Name one guilty pleasure.

A. Sunday afternoon naps! I received a hammock as a birthday gift a few years ago and I love it. Give me a nice warm Sunday afternoon with nothing to do and you can find me outside completely content!


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April EMERGE Member Spotlight- Benny Robles, Jr. - April 5, 2010

Benny Robles, Jr.
Pre-owned sales manager, Bartow Ford

Q. How did you come to live/work in Lakeland?

A. I was born in Brandon, but my father was offered a job as a finance manager at Bartow Ford. We moved to Lakeland and as time went by, he was promoted over and over again until Ernest Smith gave him the opportunity to buy into the company. I started at the dealership when I was 12 years of age washing cars and mowing the lawn and never looked back.


Q. What do you find most rewarding about your job?

A. There are many rewarding aspects of my job. I love meeting new people, and every day is something new. However, probably the most rewarding aspect is working with the employees here at the dealership, many of whom I have grown up with and are like family.


Q. Name one pet peeve.

A. Laziness


Q. How has your EMERGE Lakeland membership been beneficial to you?

A. I have met other successful and up-and-coming individuals who share my same desire to help others and make a difference in the community.


Q. If you could have 50 pounds of anything other than money, what would it be and why?

A. It would be some type of food to give to the needy.


Q. If you could serve on any organization's board in Lakeland, which would it be and why?

A. I already am serving on Polk Works! To be able to help people get on their feet and learn the skills to help better their family's situation makes a great difference, I feel, in the community.


Q. If you could ask one question of an EMERGE Spotlight member, what would it be?
A. In one word, what is the key to being successful?


Q. What is the worst job you've ever had?

A. Cleaning the shelves in the Parts Department.


Q. What are your hobbies and interests?

A. I love all sports and competitive activities. I love traveling. Taking care of four kids is
always a hobby and interest. USTA tennis leagues. I am a huge Bucs fan. My guilty pleasure is shopping.

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EMERGE Member Spotlight- Crystal Lester - March 12, 2010

Crystal Lester, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Architect, Furr & Wegman Architects, PA

Q: How did you come to live/work in Lakeland?

A: I came to live here because my husband took a job here with Lockheed Martin just after we both graduated from the University of Florida. My husband’s family is here as well. I work here because Furr & Wegman Architects, PA has been essential to my growth in my career aspirations.


Q: If you could have any talent in the world, what would it be and why?

A: Writing. I have never been very good at articulating my thoughts on paper in a professional manner. Basically, I write like I speak and that is not always appropriate.


Q: What would you change/add regarding EMERGE to enhance your experience?

A: I would like to make a difference. I think that EMERGE has begun to reach out, but I would like to think bigger. I think we can learn from some of the events that Kiwanis and Rotary do for the community. United Way is a great avenue as a starting place. What can EMERGE do as a group event or fundraiser to help United Way (for example)? It can be fun and exciting but at the same time we, as a group, can make an impact.

Q: Name one pet peeve.

A: Delays. I am a “get it done” kind of person. I don’t like to wait around and I hate feeling like I am not making progress.


Q: How has your EMERGE Lakeland membership been beneficial to you?

A: I am not originally from here and it has been nice to meet other young professionals in the area.

Q: If you could serve on any organization's board in Lakeland, which would it be and why?

A: Hmmm… this is a tough one. My interests and passions relate back to the future of Lakeland’s development as a green environment. I have been a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) since mid 2006 and I have watched awareness grow in Lakeland over the past few years, but it is a long road and I am interested in being a part of Lakeland development into a “greener, more environmentally conscious” city. If there is an organization in Lakeland that is looking for board participation related to these goals, I would be very interested in offering my services, expertise and time.


Q: If you could ask one question of an EMERGE Spotlight member, what would it be?

A: What achievement have you accomplished that you are most proud of? For me, it would be achieving my life-long dream; getting my professional license as an architect.


Q: What is the worst job you've ever had?

A: Baby-sitting.


Q: What upcoming Lakeland event are you looking forward to attending?

A: “Turn Up the Volume” on April 16th! I am excited about inspiring awareness regarding the various green opportunities and services that are out there while having a great time at a free concert on Lake Mirror!

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Julie Townsend: EMERGE Member Spotlight - February 1, 2010

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Julie Townsend
Executive director, Downtown Lakeland Partnership


Q: How did you come to live/work in Lakeland?

A: We moved to Lakeland because of a job opportunity for my husband Billy at The Ledger. He was a reporter for a sister paper in Palatka, FL and applied for a position at The Ledger in 1999.


Q: If you could have any talent in the world, what would it be and why?

A: That's a hard one. I would probably want to be able to play a musical instrument. I attended the Harrison School for the Arts Orchestra concert a while back and it was fantastic. I am just amazed by anyone who can play. The music was so powerful it brought me to tears. I would love to be able to experience it from the creative side.


Q: What would you change/add regarding EMERGE to enhance your experience?

A: It is difficult to say, since I am so new to the organization. We are all so busy, I think it is hard to take advantage of the great activities already offered.


Q: Name one pet peeve.

A: Mediocrity. I always try to beat expectations and not just do the minimum required. I get peeved by others who do not give 110 percent.


Q: How has your EMERGE Lakeland membership been beneficial to you?

A: Already I have met some great people. It keeps me connected with the community in a way that is different from my job.


Q: If you could serve on any organization's board in Lakeland, which would it be and why?

A: Another hard one! I work for an organization with a board so I understand board dynamics well. With that said, the one I chose would have to be an organization I had a passion for and one that I had time to give 110 percent. All my passion for now is tied up in Downtown, so perhaps the Historic Lakeland board.


Q: If you could ask one question of an EMERGE Spotlight member, what would it be?

A: I would selfishly ask, "How much time and money do you think you spend in Downtown Lakeland?"


Q: What is the worst job you've ever had?

A: I have worked since I was 15, so you can imagine I've had lots of random retail jobs. But really all of them were great. Why a job is bad depends on your perspective. I am the kind of person who needs flexibility in schedule, constant changes and new stimuli. I thought I wanted to be a teacher early on, but soon learned that I was not cut out for the rigidity of the schedule and confinement of the workplace. I lasted only 2 years. I have a huge amount of respect for teachers after walking in their shoes. It takes a very special person.


Q: What upcoming Lakeland event are you looking forward to attending?

A: I am really excited about the upcoming Brewz Crewz Craft Beer Festival. Of course I am a bit biased, since I am organizing the event for the DLP, but I think it will be a fabulous event. We do not have a craft beer event in Lakeland that is to the caliber that we are planning, so I am excited to see how the public reacts to it.


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December Member Spotlight: Jared Burton Weggeland - December 8, 2009

Jared Burton Weggeland
Director, sales and marketing for Southern Homes

Q: How did you come to live/work in Lakeland?

A: I was recruited by Southern Homes

Q: What is the worst job you've ever had?

A: I worked in my cousin’s plastic factory for a summer and hated every minute of it (as I stared at the clock wishing the time went by faster!)

Q: What are your hobbies and interests?

A: My work is my hobby. I love working in new homes in Lakeland. I love it so much, it's not like working at all. When I am outside of the office I like spending time with my family. I have three children, ages 12, 11 and 7 and will be celebrating my 14th anniversary in December. I also like to travel, play golf and try different types of foods.

Q: What upcoming Lakeland event are you looking forward to attending?A: I am going to see "The Christmas Carol" at the Lakeland Center in December. That should be very good.

Q: What would you change/add regarding EMERGE to enhance your experience?

A: I like meeting and talking to new people, but I know that not everyone is the same. Maybe we could create some kind of forum within each event to help others meet new people. Maybe there could be an "ambassador" or two at each event that everyone is required to meet and greet so at least the more shy amongst us will know one or two new people each month. Just a thought.

Q: What is the oddest talent that you possess?
A: No, I cannot whistle the national anthem with my tummy button. I do speak fluent French, write poetry and draw, however.

Q: If you ever ran for public office, what would it be and why?
A: Minister of self-reliance. If we could all learn this skill, the world would be a better place.

Q: What is the dumbest thing you've ever overheard someone say?
A: I like to eat liver. Seriously. Liver. I may be missing something, but no matter how I've tried it, it just doesn't do it for me.

Q: If you could have grown up during a different decade, which would it be and why?
A: I would have liked to have grown up in the 1920's. If that were the case today I would be able to say that in my life time I had witnessed some of the most brilliant advances in human history. I would have been a part of it. I wouldn't be reading it in a history book, I would have been part of the action. The question I now have is, "How can I make the next 50 years the best history has ever seen?"
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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

November EMERGE Member Spotlight - November 23, 2009

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Antwan Key
Communications specialist/video producer for the City of Lakeland

Q: How did you come to live/work in Lakeland?

A: Great job opportunity with the City of Lakeland.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your job?
A: The independence, creative freedom, making people comfortable with being on camera.

Q: If you could have grown up during a different decade, which would it be and why?

A: The Roaring 20s: The Harlem Renaissance, Jazz Age. I would have liked to be in the midst of those who began to contribute to the rise of African American expression through art, literature and music like William H. Johnson, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, etc.

Q: How has your EMERGE Lakeland membership been beneficial to you?
A: I’m most efficient when I have a task to do as opposed to just being a member who attends social/networking events. Serving on the Membership Committee and now the Steering Committee of EMERGE allows me to lend a hand in developing Lakeland into an environment that welcomes and supports young professionals and those who are a part of the “creative class” that Richard Florida speaks of.

Q: What upcoming Lakeland event are you looking forward to attending?A: The election (mayor’s seat and city commission seats), the Lakeland Christmas Parade (which I’ll be helping to broadcast live on the city’s government access channel, LGN Channel 615).

Q: If you could serve on any organization's board in Lakeland, which would it be and why?

A: I’d have to do research to determine which boards are out there that focus on mentoring young people. If anyone knows, please share.

Q: If you could ask one question of an EMERGE Spotlight member, what would it be?

A: What professional development exercise or event would you find beneficial?

Q: What is the worst job you've ever had?
A: I’ve never had a bad job experience. However, I often question whether I was stressing myself out or not when I started working part-time with the morning news show at WTXL-TV in Tallahassee beginning at 3 a.m.-7:30 a.m., then went directly to my full-time job for 8 hours. That went on for nearly two years. The long days were tough, but I got the experience I wanted from the news station.

Q: Name one guilty pleasure.

A: This is a tough one: sweet potato pie (others include coffee, JC Penney, Express).


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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

Leading the March: A Discussion with Successful Women of Central Florida - February 27, 2009

When: Thursday, March 5, 2009 from 4:45 - 5:50 p.m.

Where: USF Polytechnic, LTB Auditorium- 3433 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland, FL 33803

What: To kickoff Women’s History Month in March, USF Polytechnic has another phenomenal group of outstanding women to share their stories of success. The panel will include our very own Punam Saxena. Please share with your students, friends, and family members. This is a FREE event.

Hosted by Diane Boczkowski, USF Poly's Students

For more information, please call 863.667.7812

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Posted by Emerge Lakeland

Guest Blogger: Terry Worthington - June 13, 2005

Next up in our 'Guest Blogger' series is Terry Worthington, President of the United Way of Central Florida.

Where have all the leaders gone?

The yellowed pages of the scrapbooks revealed many of the same faces that sit at the heads of the boardroom tables around Polk County a quarter of a century later. They were the faces of the people that chaired the Girls Cub wreath sale, Big Brother Big Sisters Gourmet Dinner or the Rotary Auction. They were young, and frankly, most were not as good looking in 1980 as they became in their forties, fifties and sixties.

Even the group of "senior" community leaders that created the United Way of Central Florida from the independent United Ways of Greater Lakeland, Greater Bartow and the Lake Region were mostly familiar faces. While the first chair of this newly formed organization, John McKnight, passed away several years ago, he was central to the recent creation of Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine. Bob Madden, another founding Board member serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board and is a frequent advisor to the United Way. The American Cancer Society and United Way consider Jack Pines, who celebrates his 80th birthday this month, an individual uniquely capable of pulling together disparate county interests.

Just weeks ago the Publisher of the Winter Haven News Chief, Wayne Ezell, announced his acceptance of a position with a newspaper in Jacksonville. Wayne currently serves as Co-Chair of Polk Vision and was scheduled to be the United Way Campaign Chair in 2007. He serves on the Boards of The Polk Museum of Art, Winter Haven Chamber, United Way, Winter Haven Vision and in various other volunteer capacities, including key fundraising roles with Polk Community College. Who will assume Wayne's volunteer responsibilities?

Community Leadership requires no special talent. The prerequisites include caring about the quality of life for those who follow us.

Over 2000 nonprofit organizations have tax exempt status in Polk County. All require volunteer leadership in order to serve the community. Opportunities to lead are plentiful.

Might we find you in the "2005 scrapbook" as we prepare for anniversaries in 2030?

About Terry Worthington
Terry Worthington has served as President of the United Way of Central Florida since April of 1996. After working as a case manager with the Epilepsy Foundation, he began his United Way career in 1987 as a Campaign Associate with this United Way. In 1991, he moved to the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula as Associate Executive Director and then to the United Way of Middle Tennessee (Nashville) where he was Vice President of Resource Development. Terry graduated from Ohio University with both a Bachelors degree in Communications and a Masters degree in Education.

Terry currently serves as a board member of Polk Works and chairs the Resources Committee. He is also a board member of Polk Citizens for World Class Schools, the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland, United Way of Florida and chairs the Board Development Committee for the Polk Community College Corporate College. He has also served as a Commissioner with Volunteer Florida, the Governor's Commission on Community Service, since 1999.

Terry and his wife Marilyn are the parents of 21-year-old triplets, Chelsea and Katie are recent graduates from the University of Central Florida in Orlando and Ryan attends the University of Florida in Gainesville.


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Posted by Josh Hallett

Guest Blogger: Daniel Stetson - May 2, 2005

Next up in our 'Guest Blogger' series is Daniel Stetson, executive director of the Polk Museum of Art.

When asked by Josh to write this "column" I had many thoughts about what to say or write about from advice about art collecting art to a discussion of the value of art as a tool for diverse cultural understanding and just good old fashion "fun". I wondered what you, the members of emerge, wanted to know, think about or discuss. When I was your age (not so very long ago) I was so very curious about the world but I was also concerned about career and family. My thoughts turned to the question of a quality of life and what that meant to me. I knew that a quality of life, of experience and friendships mattered to me. I've always liked crowds, fireworks, challenging architecture, beautiful things and the great outdoors. With all that in mind I want to tell you about a very interesting new report that I only yesterday began looking at.

Recently RAND Corporation published a monograph research finding entitled "Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefit of the Arts" (available at www.rand.org ). What has struck me most about this report is their emphasis on what they term "The Missing Link." After we consider the empirical data about economic benefits from the arts (Richard Florida has covered this very well in his book "The Rise of the Creative Class") and the cognitive benefits (increased SAT scores etc.) we might want to consider the "Aesthetic Experience and Its Intrinsic Benefits." Wow, a research institute saying art for arts sake is an important topic. If you've ever been moved by some form of art through making or experience - music, theater, dance, visual art - you know what this means. Remember when you made something you were proud of? Don't let age or "maturity" prevent you from seeking out an enjoying these private moments of growth and maybe even "epiphanies".

Putting this all together it is my suggestions to you that you find good friends through Emerge and without the all too easy excuses experience the arts in our community. You will grow from the experience of these intrinsic benefits - beauty and civilization are wonderful things - and you will have fun. If you care about education, economic development and quality of life you own it to yourself and no on else to enjoy, grow and experience the visual and artistic world in new ways. Consider the big picture. Keep curiosity and an openness to experiences alive inside you. Please stop by the Museum of Art, you might like it.

Maybe I'll write about some of the other topics another time. Have a great day - check out the RAND report - and I'll see you around town.

About Daniel Stetson
Daniel E. Stetson joined the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, FL as Executive Director, the Museum's CEO and Chief Curator, in 1996 with an extensive curatorial and museum operations background. His career has included working at Colgate University (1980-1981) and then the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art (1981-1987), where he oversaw the construction of a new art gallery and a substantial increase in the permanent collection holdings. As Director of the Davenport Museum of Art (1987-1991) in Iowa, Daniel curated numerous exhibitions and increased the Museum's permanent endowment fund by more than one-half million dollars.

In 1991, he was named the Executive Director of Laguna Gloria Art Museum (1991-1996) in Texas, where he oversaw the renaming of the institution as the Austin Museum of Art and the development of a five-year strategic plan through an NEA Advancement Grant. He facilitated the opening of a major downtown gallery space for the Museum, a preservation study of the historic Laguna Gloria site, the rewriting of the vision and mission of the Museum to be based on the tenet of "intellectual and cultural diversity" and he increased the Museum's operational budget by 50 percent.

Daniel has evidenced strong community leadership involvement since arriving in Lakeland in 1996. He has served on the board of the Florida Art Museum Director's Association and is currently Secretary and is a founding member of the Cultural Arts Board (CAB) of Polk County and was President (2001 & 2002), and served as President of the Friends of the Lakeland Public Library. Today he serves as a founding member and as an Executive Committee member of the Polk Arts Alliance. He is currently Treasurer for the Florida Association of Museums. He is a member of the steering committees for Lakeland Vision and Polk Vision (25 year community-wide long-range vision plans). He serves on the Harrison Arts Center School Advisory Council and has served on the USF Community Advisory Board and the former Motion Pictures and Television Advisory Committee for Polk County. Currently he serves on the Marketing Committee of the Tourism & Sports Marketing Department of the Tourist Development Board.

Representing CAB, and armed with a grant and partnership from USF, he is one of the principal managers for the first economic impact of the arts study for Polk County (resulting in a measured impact exceeding $35 million). He is involved in a second study which is underway (2005). Daniel is active as an accreditation site reviewer for the American Association of Museums Accreditation Commission and has served on grant review panels for the States of Florida, Texas, Iowa and North Dakota.

The Polk Museum of Art has grown substantially under his direction with total operating expenses now exceeding $1.6 million yearly (up from less than $1 million when he started). Under his direction the Museum undertook its largest ever private fund raising drive for $3.7 million and surpassed that goal. Additionally, Daniel established the Museum's first planned giving program, the Cornerstone Society. Major, year long, downtown sculpture projects are now a part of our community landscape in cooperation with the City of Lakeland.

Daniel has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Art History from SUNY College at Potsdam and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Museology (Museum Studies) from Syracuse University. He is a 2003 recipient of the USF Lakeland Distinguished Service Award. He is married to Catherine, an artist and photographer, with whom they have three children


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Posted by Josh Hallett

Polk Museum Event Today 5:30 p.m. - April 14, 2005

We are looking forward to seeing you tonight at the Polk Museum event. We are very excited about this one in terms of location, activities, and the music and food. It will be a great time, so please join us even if you have not RSVP'd!

Our next event, Cocktails with the Commodore, at the Lakeland Yacht and Country Club is free for members to attend, so we hope you can come to this one, too, on Tuesday April 26th at 5:30 p.m.

If you have any questions about any of our events, please e-mail anyone on the steering committee or post a comment. Thanks!


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Posted by Angie Register

Guest Blogger: Clayton Hollis - April 11, 2005

In our continuing 'Guest Blogger' series, EMERGE Lakeland is fortunate to have Clayton Hollis from Publix provide a message for our members.

What an exciting time in the Lakeland community! Having EMERGE begin to mature (in time, not attitude!) has been a joy to see. I think the possibilities for involvement are endless. I just wish I was young enough to be included in this great group!

When one mentions Lakeland, many things come to mind: Florida Southern College, Florida Citrus Mutual, Orange Cup Regatta, Mayfaire, Sun 'n Fun, Detroit Tigers and, oh yes, Publix Super Markets! While most people know about us, and probably have some sort of relationship with us, I thought I'd take a minute to update the group on where we are as a company.

Having started this great company with one little store in downtown Winter Haven in September of 1930, we set up shop in downtown Lakeland in 1945 after purchasing 19 small stores called All American. There was a warehouse across from Munn Park, so Lakeland became our home. In the past 75 years, we've grown to 851 stores (as of March 31), in five southern states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee), with over 128,000 associates and 2004 sales of $18.6 billion. While this might seem like a very big company, we still see ourselves as this small, family-owned business based in Lakeland. We continue to follow the mantra set by our founder, George W. Jenkins, to operate a better store, make shopping a pleasure and be involved in our communities.

You'll find the Publix name on a thousands of donation lists, but more importantly is that you'll find thousands of Publix associates actively involved in their communities. From serving on boards of non-profit organizations to serving meals at homeless shelters, our associates are most satisfied when "doing". They feel a great deal of satisfaction by helping others. And isn't that what it's all about? I think we've shown that you can be a great, even superior, operator and still keep that personal touch of involvement in your community.

I challenge each of you to find that passion, both in your work world, and your community involvement. Get involved and make a difference!

About Clayton Hollis
Born and raised in Lakeland. Graduated from Santa Fe High School and Florida Southern College. Worked at Publix since the day he turned 16, 32 years ago! Began his career by bagging groceries at Grove Park. Worked in a variety of areas of the company, including construction, but spent most of his time in the store, including managing a store in New Port Richey. As Vice President of Public Affairs, he manages the Government Relations, Corporate Communications, Consumer Relations, as well as Media and Community Relations areas.

Spent a year in a Rotary vocational exchange program with a Swiss supermarket. He has been active on federal industry boards, both the state and Lakeland Chamber boards, as well as various community boards including Florida Southern College. He is a past Chairman of the Florida Retail Federation. Clayton has been honored with various awards for his service both in the industry and the community, including the Glen Woodward Award and the Jere Annis Award.

Married to Beverly, they have two children: Clay and Jill. Active, involved member at First United Methodist Church, he enjoys snow skiing, boating, playing golf, traveling and reading. But mostly, he enjoys spending time with his family!


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Posted by Josh Hallett

Guest Blogger: Ron Clark - April 4, 2005

On a monthly basis (and perhaps more frequently) the EMERGE Lakeland Blog will feature a Lakeland community leader as a 'Guest Blogger'. Our first guest post was written by Ron Clark, one of the initial leaders in establishing EMERGE Lakeland. The following is his message to our members:

I was asked to write a column for the Emerge Website. As I am an ardent fan of what Emerge does and will do in our community, I am happy to do so.

Emerge began as a joint effort of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Central Florida. Both organizations recognized that the future of our community totally depends on the emergence of new leaders who are not only focused on making their way in the business world but in providing leadership in making our community a better place to live and work. From helping those less fortunate to increasing our cultural opportunities, members of Emerge must lead the way. Emerge members will be the vanguard of the new leadership in our community.

The great byproduct of Emerge involvement is that you will connect with future leaders and create relationships and connections that will benefit you immensely as your business grows. I would urge you not to be satisfied with simply being a member of Emerge, seek civic involvement and leadership in everything you do. I can assure you that myself and many others in our community want you and Emerge to succeed. The future of our community depends on it.

About Ron Clark
Mr. Clark is a senior partner of one of Lakeland's leading law firms and is actively involved in civic and charitable organizations. He currently serves as co-chair of Polk County Vision and chairman of Lakeland Metro Vision. He is past chairman of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce as well as numerous other boards. He is a recipient of the Jere Annis Lakeland Leadership Award for outstanding civic accomplishments. He is a Board Certified Real Estate Lawyer and practices in the areas of Business Law, Land Use and Real Estate Development.

EMERGE Lakeland would like to thank Ron Clark for all that he has contributed to the Lakeland community and EMERGE Lakeland.


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Posted by Josh Hallett

*All blog posts and comments are the opinions of the blog author or comment poster and do not necessarily represent the views of EMERGE Lakeland.

P 863/688-8551 ext. 228 info@emergelakeland.com