Mission & History

EMERGE Lakeland is a meaningful networking organization of dedicated, talented young professionals ranging in age from 21-42 in Lakeland. This organization is a partnership of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Central Florida. Groundwork for such an organization began in 2003. The partnership offers a unique opportunity for collaboration between the two organizations for the continued strengthening of the community.

EMERGE Lakeland Mission

To create a venue for our members to build relationships, develop professionally, become politically aware, philanthropically active, and contribute to the economic development and quality of life in Lakeland.

EMERGE Lakeland History

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is in communication with other Chambers around the state and nation. In the Fall of 2003, during the course of communication with some of these chambers, we learned that some had started Young Professional organizations. The incentive for creating such an organization was to provide a venue for retaining young professionals in the community. We also wanted the organization to be a tool for local businesses to use in recruiting young professionals to Lakeland. Too often, it was observed, young people go off to college, never to return to their home town. The Lakeland Chamber knew that we had a rich reservoir of young professionals with roots in Lakeland. If they had left Lakeland, we wanted them back and if they were still in town, we wanted to keep them here.

Unbeknownst to the Chamber in the Fall of 2003, the United Way of Central Florida had had a similar experience. Nationally, United Way organizations were recruiting young professionals to cultivate them for philanthropic endeavors. It was their goal to expose young professionals to United Way agencies and create in them an interest for the organizations funded through the United Way. It was a further goal that the young professionals would become active as volunteers with these agencies and the United Way. Not only would they contribute their time and talent, but also they would become financial contributors.

It was in December, 2003, that the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce discovered that they were targeting the same demographic group and realized that a collaboration might be possible. Representatives from both groups met together and determined that the goals of each should be combined into one program. At that time it was determined that the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce would administrate the program.

2004 was a very busy year. In the space of 9 months the following occurred:

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A steering committee was formed

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Co-chairs - one representative from the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce were appointed

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A database was created of potential young professional members

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A logo was created along with a new name: EMERGE Lakeland

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A mission statement was developed

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Rules for membership were established

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Sponsors for the program were secured

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Plans were made and implemented for a launch event for November, 2004, at which 250 people between the ages of 21 and 42 attended.

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Twelve monthly events for 2005 were determined and announced in the form of a printed brochure to distribute at the kick-off reception.


EMERGE Lakekland Steering Committee

The following individuals are on the EMERGE Lakeland steering committee.

Karen Houtz
Chair
Community Bank of Florida
863-619-5922
khoutz@communitybankfl.com

William Link
Vice-Chair
Reed & Mawhinney, P.L.
863-687-1771
will@polklawyer.com

Jorge Rivera
Treasurer
CPS Groups CPA's, P.A.
863-688-1725
Jorge@cpalliance.com

Timothy B. Darby
Secretary
Darby Law Group, P.A.
863-683-7400
tim@darbylawgroup.com

Todd Baylis
Cipher Integrations
863-686-0110
todd@zeroworries.com

Mary Church
American Cancer Society
863-688-2326 x5505
mochurch15@gmail.com

Stephanie Colon
Community Southern Bank
863-648-2265
scolon@community
southernbank.com


Carolyn Jackson
Lakeland Chamber of Commerce
863-688-8551
cjackson@lakelandchamber.com

Adam Justice
Polk Museum of Art
863-688-7743 x241
ajustice@polkmuseumofart.org

Antwan Key
City of Lakeland
863-834-6566
Antwan.Key@lakelandgov.net

Michael Kincart
Clark, Campbell, Mawhinney & Lancaster, P.A.
863-647-5337
mkincart@ccmattorneys.com

Colleen Mangan
Polk County Health Department
863-519-7900 Ex. 11334
cmangan20@gmail.com

Jennifer Mansfield
Qgiv
863-687-0110
Jennifer.mansfield@qgiv.com

Ian McIntosh
American Therapeutic Massage
863 370-0819
Ianmcintosh76@gmail.com

Christina Nykile
City of Lakeland
863-834-6844
Christina.Nykile@lakelandgov.net

James C. Sidou, Esq.
Gray Robinson Attorneys at Law
863-284-2268
james.sidou@gray-robinson.com

Jessica Slaydon
Lorrie Walker Communications
863-703-0431
jessica.gutowski@gmail.com

Christina Criser Smith
United Way of Central Florida
863-648-1500
christina.smith@uwcf.org

Meredith Spresser
United Way of Central Florida
863-648-1500
meredith.spresser@gmail.com

Ashley Thompson
Greater Lakeland Consulting
863-648-1500
ashleynt@gmail.com


    P 863/688-8551 ext. 228