Overcoming his own personal adversity helped define Athletes and Cause’s founder Rob Canton’s passion for helping others. A first-generation American, Rob’s mother and father fled the oppression of Castro’s Cuba in 1959 and 1961, and from the time he was born in Long Beach, California through his childhood growing up in Luna County—then and still now one of the poorest counties in the U.S.—he learned that, through hard work, dedication and perseverance, the struggles of poverty are not insurmountable and he worked his way to his first college degree. Life dealt Rob a second blow as he was finishing his undergraduate finance degree at the University of South Florida, when he was struck with Type-One (Juvenile) Diabetes and began the routine of four to six injections of insulin daily. Revealing that there is truth behind the cliché: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Rob learned resilience as he used these experiences to help guide him to become the national leader of the Sports and Tourism practice at the world’s largest professional services firm—PricewaterhouseCoopers—serving clients such as the New York Yankees, the Walt Disney Company, and the National Football League. Rob later left consulting and in 2012 became EVP Finance and Strategy for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was soon after joining the Tampa Bay Lightning that Rob was asked to co-Chair the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) annual Gala. That year’s record-setting event was helped significantly by the development of a partner event to the Gala that Rob created that would be hosted by three local professional athletes, representing Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League, whose lives were also affected by Type-One Diabetes (T1D) and that Rob convinced to join him. The first Athletes+Causes event was born out of the desire to engage high-profile athletes to support Juvenile Diabetes, but Rob didn’t stop there.
Realizing first-hand that the platform the Lightning provided to Rob and that the NHL, NBA, and MLB provided to his three host at the inaugural event, made it clear that George Clooney was on the right track when he said “If Celebrity is a credit card, then I’m using it.” Rob leveraged the success of the inaugural event to create Athletes and Causes, a 501(c)(3) public charity, that is focused on getting athletes and coaches to understand their own philanthropic passions and helping them leverage their own platform and celebrity to positively impact the lives of others.
Founder & Chairman/CEO
Serving on the board of JDRF Tampa Bay, and co-chair of its two most successful annual fundraising galas, Rob first developed Athletes+Causes as a way to further bring attention to and raise money towards finding a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. He enlisted the support of others in the sports industry affected by Type 1 Diabetes, including Tampa Bay Lightning Forward BJ Crombeen, Rays Outfielder Sam Fuld, and Buccaneers Tight End Tom Crabtree and in January 2014 hosted the first Athletes+Causes event in the Chase Club of Amalie Arena. Sponsors and individuals took advantage of the opportunity to mix and mingle not only with the three professional sports hosts, but with the dozens of fellow Lightning, Rays, and Bucs players that showed up to support their teammates.
The event grew significantly in 2015, thanks to the support of our presenting sponsor, Mercedes-Benz of Tampa and our Hall of Fame Sponsors that included the Bucs, Rays, and Lightning organizations, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Malektronic, American Marketing & Mailing Services, and Irish 31. In March 2015, Athletes and Causes was granted non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) Public Charity by the IRS and the proceeds of the event were directed to five distinct charities including DeBartolo Family Foundation, Derrick Brooks Charities, JDRF, Make-A-Wish, and Toby Hall Foundation.
Having spent 25-years conducting strategic and economic analyses within sports and tourism, Rob is a highly-respected expert and thought leader in the industry. He has worked with hundreds of teams, destinations, and developers representing a multitude of initiatives including development, transactions, performance improvement, project feasibility, and strategic planning.
Rob previously served as Senior Advisor to Ownership for Vinik Family Office, following his position as Executive Vice President of Finance and Strategic Planning for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to his work for the Lightning, he consulted on projects across the country involving the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Denver Broncos, Miami Heat, San Diego Padres, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Nationals, and dozens of other professional sports teams. He has also consulted on sports projects for Louisiana State University, the University of Oklahoma, Duke University, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, Texas Tech, The Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Louisville.
Christopher Haran, our Vice President graduated Cum Laude from the University of Tampa where he received the Spartan Leadership Award. It was at this University that he found his passion for leadership, and organizational development and honed his skill set in the non-profit sector.
He has 5+ combined years of Non-Profit Leadership experience. He was the Director of Development for a family foundation, he aided in creating the foundation ‘Sal’s Soldiers’, and has worked closely with Theta Chi International Fraternity. He’s helped to raise awareness and funds for dozens of non-profits around the Tampa Bay area, such as The Florida Aquarium, Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches, A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay, Lowry Park Zoo, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and many more. Because his passions lie in leadership, not management, Athletes and Causes was instantly attractive to him; the ability to guide athletes in finding the causes that matter to them most, and making their goals come to life was an obvious career path.
He recently completed the White Coat Intern Program with Tampa General Hospital creating a deeper relationship with TGH and acting as an ambassador for the award-winning hospital. He has forged many other meaningful relationships in Tampa Bay and across the country, and is a true asset to all of our clients.
“I am honored & excited for the opportunity to help grow this great organization and implement lasting change across the country.”
Steven DiOssi is a Tampa-based attorney and writer with a passion for helping others. After graduating from H.B. Plant High School, he continued his education at the University of Central Florida where he was a Dean’s List student and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance in May 2008. He went on to attend Stetson University College of Law where was a member of the Honor Roll and Dean’s List and obtained both his Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration.
He began his legal career with the privilege of serving the citizens of Hillsborough County as a prosecutor at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa. It was especially meaningful for Steven to be an Assistant State Attorney in the city where he was born and raised. Since that time, he has worked in corporate compliance with a large financial services company and later transitioned into an Associate Attorney position with a civil litigation law firm in Tampa.
Today, he works in the area of business litigation and his passion for the game of hockey has lead to covering the Tampa Bay Lightning and the National Hockey League extensively with multiple publications. He has press credentials with the Lightning game-by-game during the 2016-17 season and his work has also been published on both the collegiate and professional hockey levels.
Steven is especially proud of his article on retired United States Air Force Technical Sergeant, Sonya Bryson-Kirksey. She is well-known in Tampa for singing the national anthem at Lightning home games. Bryson-Kirksey was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in August 2015 and Steven’s article helped raise awareness about the condition and her Voices of Hope Foundation. Voices of Hope helps people in the Tampa Bay area who are suffering from the disease through hands on assistance, fundraising and by bringing together members of the local community to assist those in need.
As the Content Writer at Athletes and Causes, he will take an active role in writing stories about events put on by the foundations of professional athletes in the area. He hopes these stories will give readers an inside look into how these individuals are helping others in their community.
Adria Rebbecchi grew up a Philadelphia sports fan, and was thrilled to find exciting teams to watch here in Tampa when she came down to further her education. She graduated with a major in Communications, from The University of Tampa in 2014.
She was president of her sorority, and, through greek life, found her passion for volunteering and giving back to the community. It was through this organization that she also developed photography and creative skills and continues to use these every day.
She has worked with several non-profit organizations and small businesses and taken control of their marketing, with the goal of “putting people on the map” and bringing awareness to causes and businesses in creative ways, using social media, graphics, and photography. She comes to Athletes and Causes to handle social platforms, website development, and even the head shots you see on this page.
Adam Weiner is a senior at the University of Tampa, where he majors in Sport Management and Law Justice, with a minor in Advocacy. Originally from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, he grew up as a Boston sports fan; his family are New England Patriots season ticket holders and he has many memories of attending Bruins and Red Sox games as well. His love of sports started at a young age, as he played football and baseball his whole life, was an ice hockey goalie in High School, and even participated as a Downhill Ski Racer for 15 years!
He comes to Athletes and Causes with a ton of sports experience. In High School, he did play-by-play announcements for football games on local cable, he worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Guest and Member Relations Staff for two years, interned at the ticket office at Amalie Arena, and also interned with the hockey operations for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also has amazing leadership, acting as the Vice President of his fraternity, the Epsilon Zeta Chapter of Theta Chi.
“There’s nothing I’d rather do than work in the sports industry [and use that network] to make a difference in my community.”
Advisory Board Members
Derrick Brooks was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft, where he remained to play his entire fourteen season professional career. He is widely considered one of the best linebackers in NFL history. An eleven-time Pro Bowl selection and nine-time All-Pro, Brooks was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII seasons. In February 2014, Derrick received one of the highest honors of his life by being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was inducted in Canton, Ohio in August of 2014 and inducted into the Capitol One Academic All America Hall of Fame. In September 2014 Derrick was enshrined into the Ring of Honor by The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the number 55 will never be worn by another Buccaneer player.
Brooks graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business communications at Florida State University where he was a three time first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, two times First –team All-American, and a member of the 1993 Seminoles National Championship team. In November 2010, Florida State retired Seminoles jersey number 10 in honor of Brooks and he was also inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame. He went on to earn his Master’s in Business Communications from FSU in 1999, and his Doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Leo’s University in 2006.
Recognized as often for his hard work in the community as he is for his hard hits on the football field, Brooks has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2000 Walter Payton/NFL Man of the Year award, the 2003 Bart Starr Award, and the 2004 Bryon “Whizzer” White Award, and the 2008 JB Award through the NFL Players association, all of which recognize an NFL player annually for their commitment to the communities in which they live. Derrick also has received numerous community awards in Tampa, Florida for his work and dedication to the community such as: 2007 Citizen if the year from the Tampa Sports Club, 2014 Lee Roy Selmon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tampa Sports Commission, 2014 Community Hero Award from the Tampa Bay Lightning and the 2014 Community Champion Award from the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Brooks was appointed by to the board of trustees of Florida State University by Governor Jeb Bush in 2003, where he occupied a seat until 2011. He has also served on the Florida Department of Education Foundation, St. Leo’s University and Brooks-DeBartolo Charities, Inc. In 2007 he was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist as the Chairman for the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness – helping to eliminate the problem of childhood obesity in the State of Florida. Derrick also serves on other Board of Directors. By partnering with the DeBartolo Family, he was able to realize a lifelong dream with the opening of the very first traditional charter high school in the Tampa Bay area – Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School.
Brandon “BJ” Crombeen
BJ completed a 10-year professional hockey career playing for the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Arizona Coyotes. While playing in the NHL, he was actively involved in the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), serving as a player representative 6 of his 8 years, as well as being on the audit committee, pension committee, Life After Hockey committee and the negotiating committee which was heavily involved in the resolution of the lockout in 2013. Brandon was twice nominated for the Bill Masterson Award (2009 and 2013) which is awarded to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.”
Additionally, BJ is heavily involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and has worked closely with local chapters and their respective board members. He helped put together events such as “Crombeen for a Cure” and “Athletes and Causes,” raising significant money for JDRF. He has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was 9 years old. But BJ is the son of a professional hockey player (Mike Crombeen, who played for the St. Louis Blues and the Hartford Whalers in the 1970s and ’80s) and a child of Canada, so there was never any chance that diabetes would make him step off the ice.
“My family never let me feel sorry for myself,” Crombeen says. “If diabetes was something you were willing to take on and manage properly, you could do anything.”
Liz Dimmitt is a consultant providing curation, art advisory, business development and art market analysis for individual and institutional clients. She specializes in driving economics, audiences and conversations by activating cultural programming and partnerships. Additionally, Liz is an advocate for strategic relationships between the business and art communities and cultural entrepreneurship.
Liz has a background in Finance and has worked in private equity with IndexAtlas, D.E. Shaw and Skate Capital. She focuses on analyzing and investing in the art industry and advising art industry service providers.
Liz is a Director at Circa 1881, an initiative by leading private collectors dedicated to liberating artworks from storage via exhibitions and loans to educational, institutional and corporate partners.
She was previously the Director of Lehmann Maupin, a leading contemporary art gallery representing an international roster of visionary and historically significant artists with spaces in New York City and Hong Kong.
Before joining Lehmann Maupin, she founded and lead Gawker Artists, Gawker Media’s corporate art program, for 6 years. In addition, she is a co-founder of Truck Yeah, a series of festivals celebrating mobile culture, founded a cultural special events company, and worked as a budget adventure travel writer.
Liz is an active participant in NYC’s and Tampa Bay’s cultural communities and serves on the boards of NurtureArt, The Tampa Museum of Art and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Liz holds a BA in Finance from Georgetown University and a MA in Visual Arts Administration from NYU.
David Doney serves as the office managing partner of Akerman’s Tampa office. David’s practice is concentrated in the corporate and securities law areas and principally involves mergers and acquisitions, public and private securities financings, corporate governance, Securities Exchange Act reporting and compliance matters, and other complex business transactions.
David has focused his efforts on providing efficient and sophisticated legal services to established public companies, privately held companies with significant growth potential, and sources of capital. David has represented professional baseball and football players with respect to their personal business interests and related transactions.
Mr. Fernandez is the founder of the corporate advisory firm EMF Consulting, assisting organizations in marketing, community outreach and business development strategies.
A 25-year veteran of the sports and entertainment industry, Mr. Fernandez was most recently Senior Vice President with the Tampa Bay Rays where he oversaw the Rays corporate sales and marketing efforts, broadcast operations, community relations efforts, the Rays Baseball Foundation and team merchandising operations. Under his leadership, Rays revenues grew in record numbers, the team’s TV and radio networks greatly expanded throughout Florida and the organization became deeply entrenched in the Tampa Bay region.
A native of Tampa, Mr. Fernandez joined the Rays from the Arizona Diamondbacks where he served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Previously, he spent two years as the Diamondbacks Vice President of Community Affairs and Executive Director of Arizona Diamondbacks Charities, followed by four years as the team’s Vice President of Corporate Sales. Mr. Fernandez also spent five years with the Phoenix Suns organization as Director of Marketing and Booking for America West Arena.
Currently, he also serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way Suncoast, University of South Florida Foundation, Tampa/Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, American Heart Association, Tampa General Hospital, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and Junior League of Tampa’s Community Advisory Board.
Samuel Babson “Sam” Fuld (born November 20, 1981) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball.
Despite being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10, Fuld began his baseball career by twice batting .600 in high school, during which time Baseball America ranked him 19th in the country. He played college baseball at Stanford. There, he was a two-time All American, set the school record for career runs scored, and established the College World Series record for career hits.
Fuld was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2004. He was an All Star two years later in the Florida State League. A year after that, he was voted the Most Valuable Player in the Arizona Fall League. In the minors, as a result of his fearless defense, he was referred to as “a crash test dummy with a death wish”, a “human wrecking ball act”, a “wall magnet”, and a “manager’s dream and a trainer’s worst nightmare.”
Fuld made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2007. He became a fan favorite for his acrobatic defense, and his tendency to run into outfield walls while making sparkling catches. Despite his batting .299 in his longest stint with the Cubs, the team never gave him a consistent chance, and limited his play to only late-season call-ups over three years. After the 2010 season, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Fuld made the Rays’ 2011 opening day roster, and won the jobs of starting left fielder and leadoff hitter by mid-April. Due to early-season heroics, including a “Superman-esque” catch, he was dubbed “Superman”, “Super Sam”, and “The Legendary Sam Fuld”. He became an internet legend as his catch was put to Superman-theme music in a YouTube video, and tweets about him went viral. In late April, he led the American League in both batting average and steals. He played with the Rays through 2013, and in 2014 he played for the Oakland Athletics (for two stints) and Minnesota Twins.
Andrew Hall currently serves as AT&T’s Regional Director of External Affairs. Hall was recently recognized with the AT&T President’s Volunteer Service Award for his sustained commitment to volunteer service. Hall volunteered more than 250 hours in 2014 as president of AT&T Pioneers, Tampa, and as chair of Leadership Council Development for the United Negro Fund, Tampa.
Nicole has served as an international consultant and advocate for diabetes issues since winning the title of Miss America in 1999. She has worked tirelessly promoting awareness, prevention and early detection of the condition she has shared since 1993.
Nicole is a Telly award-winning television journalist and an avid writer. Her articles on living with diabetes have appeared in Diabetic Cooking Magazine, Guideposts Magazine, Diabetes Forecast, Diabetes Health, USA Today and on various websites related to diabetes. She has written seven books including her most recent transition guide for young adults living with diabetes, Young Adult Type 1 Diabetes Realities, and her autobiography, Living with Diabetes.
In 2010, Nicole secured funding and is the Executive Director for an innovative project called Bringing Science Home at the University of South Florida. This project investigates the connection between chronic disease, family dynamics and optimistic living.
Nicole also serves on numerous health related advisory boards including the JDRF International Board of Directors, Florida Governor’s Diabetes Advisory Council and the Tampa Bay chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She is also a past national board member for the American Diabetes Association, appointee to the National Institutes of Health Council of Public Representatives, and board member for the Tampa Bay chapter of the American Diabetes Association.
Since 1999, Nicole has helped raise over $27 million for diabetes research and programs. She is passionate about promoting public participation and understanding of research.
Nicole has been recognized for her work in diabetes around the world. She is a recipient of the Charles H. Best Medal for Distinguished Service in the Cause of Diabetes from the American Diabetes Association, The C. Everett Koop Medal for Health Promotion from the American Diabetes Association, the Hero Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Victory over Diabetes Medal from the Polish Diabetes Association, Community Heroes Award from the Tampa Bay Lighting, as well as awards from the Japan Diabetes Association, Australian Diabetes Associations, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Regent University and the University of South Florida.
Nicole holds a Doctoral degree in Public Health from the University of South Florida and Master’s degrees in Journalism and Public Health.
William Kalish focuses his practice on representing individuals and businesses on a broad range of tax and business related issues. Bill assists individual clients and their families in accomplishing their short term and long term estate planning goals by planning for and creating wills, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, private foundations, and limited partnerships.
In addition, he practices in probate administration, asset preservation, business succession planning for family-owned entities, and the division of business interests in the context of divorce. He has extensive experience in representing individual, estate, and corporate clients in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service, The Florida Department of Revenue, and local government entities regarding audits, collections and other disputes, both civil and criminal.
Bill assists businesses with choice-of-entity planning, the formation of business entities, corporate mergers, corporate acquisitions, and business separations. He also assists with business contracts, such as the preparation, review and negotiation of employment agreements, lease agreements, and shareholder agreements. Bill has served as an adjunct professor for estate planning at Stetson University College of Law since 2011.
To some, Tyrone Keys may be noteworthy because of his personal accomplishments on the football field as a defensive Most Valuable Player (MVP) in high school and college, or former Super Bowl XX Chicago Bears defensive end.
Tyrone is from Jackson, Mississippi, where he was named a High School All-American and voted defensive MVP of the year in the state of Mississippi in 1977. His high school team also won the state championship in 1976.
His determination to make a significant impact for this university catapulted him into making 26 career sacks (second highest in the school’s history) and being selected All-Southeastern Conference (All SEC) three consecutive seasons, 1977-1980. Tyrone also played a key role in one of Mississippi State’s biggest wins by making the game saving tackle and forcing the Alabama University quarterback to fumble on the last play. He helped to seal a 6-3 Mississippi State win over then number one ranked Alabama. Mississippi State’s win achieved a 9-2 record for the year, the best season in the school’s history. They broke Alabama’s 25 game winning streak, and Keys helped the team earn a berth to the 1980 Sun Bowl. Tyrone was elected to the Senior Bowl that year.
After graduating from Mississippi State in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, Tyrone began his nine-year professional football career. Tyrone was the 5th Round (113th player) draft pick, defensive end, for the 1981 New York Jets. However, he decided to start his career for two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the British Columbia (BC) Lions.
In 1983, Keys returned to the National Football League (NFL) to launch a successful seven-year career. He signed with the Chicago Bears as a defensive end where he remained through the 1985 Super Bowl XX Championship year (46-10 over the New England Patriots). The Bears were 18-1 and their only loss was to the Miami Dolphins eight weeks prior to the Super Bowl, December 2, 1985. The Bears-vs.-Dolphins game had the highest number of viewers in the history of football. Keys and his team mates produced the Super Bowl Shuffle on the next day, December 3, 1985. Tyrone was the keyboardist in the Super Bowl Shuffle video which was nominated for a GRAMMY Award and sold over a million copies.
His next stop was the pre-Super Bowl Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986-1987. Keys retired from the NFL after a career ending injury with the pre-Super Bowl San Diego Chargers in 1989.
Keys founded “All Sports Community Service, Inc.” in 1993 as a non-profit mentoring and scholarship organization dedicated to helping challenged youth in Tampa, Florida, achieve their dream of attending college. Keys taught his students the idea that the skills from the playing field could be parlayed onto the field of life. Since 1993, All Sports has assisted hundreds of students obtain over $20 million in support towards their college education from all over this country and in England as well. All Sports students are mentored through a combination of academics, community service and sports. Great emphasis is placed on returning to the community to assist the next generation. All Sports is now seeing the Full Circle Participation in action with its students returning to invest time, energy and scholarship funds into the program and the community.
Tyrone was one of 75 former athletes to receive the Stories of Character Award, which commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the Southeastern Conference on January 26, 2008. Coincidentally, 22 years prior on the same day, January 26, 1985, Keys and his Bears were crowned the World Champion Super Bowl XX winning team. It provided the opportunity for him to witness the power of mentoring in his life. It began with the acceptance of his high school football coach/mentor’s lessons in life on and off the field years ago. Those life lessons are now coming to fruition as he spends his time helping his alumni students develop after school programs in their communities.
Tyrone Keys’ life work encourages Academics, Community Service, Sports and Significance as he shares these words from his grandmother, Ms. Ruth Anna Jordan, with the next generation: “Once a task begun, never leave it until it is done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”
Tod Leiweke was named chief operating officer of the National Football League in July 2015. He previously served for five years as chief executive of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, which includes the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Storm and Amalie Arena, and also served as an Alternate Governor for the Lightning. Prior to joining the NFL, Leiweke also served as CEO of CBP Development, LLC and its parent company, Strategic Property Partners, LLC (SPP).
Leiweke, who is in his 32nd season in professional sports, has helped rejuvenate the Lightning fan base and has helped lead the team’s transformation off the ice which has resulted in the more than doubling of the team’s season ticket base while vastly increasing its footprint in the community. Season Ticket Membership was increased in part due to a new commitment to customer service including each a customized jersey with a chip implanted in the sleeve that grants them access to a variety of discounts and benefits. Amalie Arena underwent a $50 million, privately-funded renovation during the summer of 2011 and received a new $5 million high-definition center-hung scoreboard, the largest in the United States and Canada at the time.
The renovations breathed new life into the arena and it continues to be lauded by fans, media and partners alike. The project included a signature stage with pipe organ; new seats throughout the arena; reconstructed executive suites, a paradise deck overlooking downtown; and a grand entry with an improved, guest-friendly ticket office and merchandise store.
At the direction of the Vinik family Leiweke and other senior staff pledged to grow the Lightning’s community engagement with commitments such as 5,000 hours of community service committed through its employees this past year through the C.H.A.R.G.E. program and the distribution of $10 million over five years to community heroes through the Lightning Foundation and the Vinik family. Along with his wife, Tara, Leiweke has chaired numerous charity events, including the annual FARA Energy Ball, benefitting the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance, and the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball and Heart Walk He is also co chairman of in the University of South Florida’s Unstoppable Campaign committed to a goal of achieving $1 billon in giving to our USF.
Previously CEO of the Seattle Seahawks and Vulcan Sports & Entertainment for seven years, Leiweke also oversaw of the Portland Trail Blazers and was the day to day leader of the Seattle Sounders FC. He served as president of First & Goal Inc., which operates Qwest Field and Qwest Field Event Center for the state of Washington. Before joining the Seahawks, Leiweke served as president of the Minnesota Wild and chief operating officer of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment. He has also held executive positions with the PGA Tour, the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.
Jay Mize graduated from South Florida with a degree in finance. While at USF, he was a member of the inaugural football team winning Special Teams Player of the Year as a Freshman and two- year starter at free safety. Jay is married to his wife Bianca and they have three amazing children, Ty, Jadyn and Jax while living in beautiful Hyde Park.
In 2011, Jay and Bianca founded Irish 31 with its first location in Hyde Park. Since its inception, Irish 31 has won numerous awards, ranked as the #1 tenant in sales per square foot in Hyde Park Village and opened its second location in Westchase in 2013. Irish 31 is set to open locations next to Maggiano’s at Westshore Mall, Wiregrass, as well as Clearwater Beach in 2015. Known for its chef driven menu, upscale décor, run club, live entertainment and sports viewing, Irish 31 is proud to be a significant contributor to numerous local charities in the Tampa Bay area.
Jay is very passionate about the city of Tampa and is actively involved in the community. Among them, he is the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the St. Petersburg Bowl, a college football Bowl game played in Tropicana Field every December. Jay also serves on the board of directors for Jackson In Action 83, Vincent Jackson’s military based foundation that helps raise awareness and support for the effects deployment has on military families, specifically the children.
Providing strategic leadership for United Way Suncoast’s workplace resource development team, Jamie Renee and her team are responsible for cultivating relationships with business leaders and corporate partners in Desoto, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. Renee brings more than a decade of Tampa-area nonprofit development experience to the organization, as well as success as a private-sector general manager, overseeing the sales, accounting, operations, marketing and production departments. A mother of two and dedicated community advocate and volunteer, Renee said, “There is no greater joy than to use my God-given gifts and talents to help strengthen lives and the community.”
Lamont Robinson joined Nielsen in 2012 as Vice President of Supplier Diversity. His focus is to create a global, world-class supplier diversity program that focuses on clients, employees, suppliers and communities. His passion allows him to incorporate creativity into solutions needed for Nielsen constituents. Lamont is already realizing success at Nielsen after receiving 10 various national individual and program honors. He has appeared in a myriad of magazine and newspaper articles because of his success in supplier diversity and is a published author and nationally-recognized supplier diversity leader.
Lamont was born in Chicago and raised in the Rockwell Gardens Housing Project on the West Side. He left Chicago at the age of 14 to attend Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania through the A Better Chance college preparatory program and later returned to Illinois to attend Lake Forest College and to obtain his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. After receiving his MBA, he worked for Abbott Laboratories as a Senior Purchasing Agent, and in 2004 Lamont was part of Abbott’s spin-off, Hospira, as a Senior Purchasing Agent and Small Business Liaison Officer.
Lamont has enjoyed success while overseeing supplier diversity programs. He was honored as one of the nation’s 8 catalysts for supplier diversity professionals from 2000 – 2010 by the Minority Business News USA magazine, as well as led Novation’s supplier diversity program (which was honored by the same magazine as one of the top 101 supplier diversity programs in 2010 and 2011). While overseeing Novation’s Supplier Diversity Advisory Group, Lamont launched their first Supplier Diversity Toolkit and Annual Report. In 2011, Lamont received the 2010 Corris Boyd Leadership and Diversity award from the Federation of American Hospitals, which recognizes an individual or company that has made an outstanding contribution in fostering leadership and workplace diversity in the health care industry. The award was special to Lamont because the deceased Mr. Corris Boyd served as one of Lamont’s earlier mentors in supplier diversity.