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First Citrus Bank
Deb has been a member of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce since 2009. She has been in the banking industry in the Tampa Bay area since she was in high school graduating from Hillsborough High School in Tampa. She is currently a Vice President & Branch Manager with First Citrus Bank. She came to Florida as a young child with her family from Nashville, Tennessee and has made the Tampa Bay area home for most of her life. She is married to George Leiman and they have one Daughter, Amanda who lives in the SouthShore Community her husband, Nathan and their two precious daughters, Aubree & Kinslee. She has been very active in the SouthShore community for many years and is currently a member of the Ruskin Woman's Club, American Business Woman's Association and “100 Women Who Care”. She has also been a Board Member of Project Return, Inc. since the 1980's. Project Return is a Tampa based non-profit entity that helps adults with mental illness live a better quality of life through Educational & Art Programs, Counselling, Social interaction, Supportive Housing & many other services. She and her family attend and are active in the Wellspring Community Church. In addition, Deb also focuses on connecting individuals, businesses and community groups while encouraging ‘shopping local’ to promote and increase the success & longevity of local businesses.
First Citrus Bank was founded in 1999 on a set of guiding principles and fundamental beliefs which they call their Core Values and they are Honor, Collaboration, and Professionalism. These values not only provide a framework for how the Associates conduct themselves, they define their character as individuals. The Mission of the bank is to provide premier independent community banking services to individuals, executives and entrepreneurs and to deliver banking services that go beyond customer expectations while nurturing loyal customer relationships. The bank also proactively contributes in the community while investing in the future through their Associates and workplace. First Citrus is the only local bank in Hillsborough County that contributes 100% of all deposit dollars back into the local community through lending to local businesses and supporting the community. Much of the success of the bank is contributed to by their loyal & satisfied customers who are responsible for referring the majority of the customers that start new relationships with the bank. In her spare time, Deb enjoys spending time with her family & friends, attending & volunteering at Wellspring Community Church, College & Pro Football, Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey, and volunteering & supporting many local organizations.
Florida Home Partnership, Inc.
Mr. Henderson joined Florida Home Partnership (FHP) in 2011 as the Community Development Manager focused on marketing and public relations. Some of his responsibilities for FHP include marketing the agency’s USDA Self-help Homeownership program; providing outreach and liaison services to the community, business and governmental contacts; provide leadership in programming development; assist with fund development and grants reporting.
He became more acquainted with FHP as the executive director of the Credit Union Housing Partners from 2006 to 2009. While at CU Housing Partners, Joey coordinated affordable housing activities and identified mortgage loan candidates for a coalition of credit unions. He also provided leadership in the organization’s business model and strategic plan development.
Prior to working for CU Housing Partners, Joey worked for Consumer Credit Counseling Service (now known as CredAbility) for 13 years as the Director of Education and Marketing. He was a certified credit counselor and managed a team of educators and counselors who provided community education seminars along the Florida Gulf Coast region. Over 10,000 adults and youth attended these educational seminar.
A graduate from Washington University in St. Louis (BFA 1985), Joey earned a Master’s of Science in Business Management from National Louis University, Tampa, FL (1996), a Certificate of Completion in Project Management from LaSalle Computer Learning Center, Tampa, FL (2011), a Certificate in Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the Learning Institute for Nonprofit Organizations (1998), and is a certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist from the Institute of Fraud Risk Management (2010).
Joey is active in the community and has served several boards including: WEDU – the community PBS station, Florida Alliance of Community Development Corporations, the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Bay Urban Bankers, Hillsborough High School Business Advisory Board, the SouthShore Service Advisory Committee, Hillsborough County Community Action Board and the Woods and Wanton Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers. He is also a member of St. James AME Church in Progress Village where he serves as a Steward, Coordinator of the Finance Ministry and works with youth groups.
Joey and his wife (since 1985) are proud parents of two young adults. In his spare time, Joey enjoys playing chess exercising and spending quality time with his family.
Shawn Geitner is President and Owner of Beleave Teas Inc. and is an Internationally Certified Tea Sommelier(Expert). Beleave Teas is a web based Gourmet Looseleaf Tea Company that offers Premium Looseleaf Teas, Herbals and Tea Accessories as well as important Tea and Health information. www.beleaveteas.com not only displays 50 plus Teas and Herbals that are sourced from around the world, but also categorizes these Teas by type and by Health Attribute.
Shawn’s background in teaching Elementary School for seventeen years as helped greatly in her journey as a Tea Educator and Consultant. She conducts large group seminars as well as small group tastings where clients learn best practices for brewing, serving and enjoying Tea. Shawn also consults and helps with Tea Events in the area.
She has been an active member of the Southshore Chamber of Commerce since 2011. In 2014 Beleave Teas was voted “Small Business of the Year”. Shawn is a member of the Educational Partnership Committee and an Ambassador as well as being on the Board of Directors for the Chamber. She is a member of the Ruskin Woman’s Club and attends St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
Shawn, her husband Chuck Geitner, also a Chamber member, and their daughter Remi have lived in the Southshore area since 2010 and enjoy being active in this ever growing yet close knit community.
Retired - Individual Member
Community Relations Coordinator
South Bay Hospital
Dr. Allen Witt
President HCC SouthShore
Allen Witt is a third generation educator. He has served in the Florida community college system as a teacher, administrator and researcher for a quarter century.
Allen began his career at Lake City Community College, teaching speech, theater and journalism. After completing his doctorate at the University of Florida, Allen became Vice President of the Metro Group, heading research teams in Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico and throughout the United States.
Allen returned to education as an instructor and Department Head at Broward Community College, South Campus. In 2001, Allen became Associate Dean at the Eissey Campus of Palm Beach Community College. Six years later, he moved to the new SouthShore Campus of Hillsborough Community College, where he currently serves as Campus President.
Allen is nationally known as an historian of the community college movement. He was lead author for America’s Community Colleges:The First Century, published by the American Association of Community Colleges. He resides in Ruskin Florida, with his wife, Mercedes Diaz Witt, a registered nurse.
Kids R Kids
Carrie has been a resident and member of the Southshore business community since opening Kids ‘R’ Kids Southshore in 2007. Carrie and husband Kevin are the owners/operators of the licensed and accredited childcare center voted ‘Best of Southshore 2011 - 2014 and large business of the year 2012. Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Southshore provides outstanding childcare services to children ranging from infant through school age. As the parent of two young children who are also ‘customers’, Carrie brings a unique management perspective for this establishment. Carrie holds a BS in Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology and has recently earned her advanced Florida Director’s Credential. In addition to the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors, Carrie is also the Chair of the Hillsborough County Childcare Licensing Advisory Board, serves as the chairperson for the Chamber’s Educational Partnership Committee, the children’s ministry leader for Christ Community Church and head coach for Girls on the Run of Tampa Bay.
Weichert Realtors SouthShore
Ron is a Broker Associate with Weichert Realtors® SouthShore in Apollo Beach as well as a Health Coach with Take Shape For Life.
Ron grew up in Los Angeles, Spent 8.5 yrs in the Navy then got his BA from Antioch College and MPA from American University (where he met his wife). Before ending up in the Presbyterian Church in the early '70s, Ron was a rural preacher in western Washington serving small communities for the American Sunday School Union.
Ron is active at both regional and national levels with Both the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and the Boy Scouts of America. Locally Ron is active with the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors® and a volunteer at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the C.A.R.E. animal rescue in Ruskin.
Owner, Pita Kebob
Mr. Khalid Abouelhouda is chef and owner of Pita kebob, a Mediterranean restaurant located in Apollo beach. Khalid is currently a resident of Ruskin along with his wife Siham and two of his children Ayoub and Yuness since 2011. A former public school teacher, Khalid has worked in a restaurant business for over 15 years. While supporting himself through college, he took many restaurant jobs in New York City doing about almost everything from a busboy, to a cook, a waiter, a bartender, and a restaurant manager. After moving to the Bay Area, Khalid wanted to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant of his own. He chose Apollo Beach since it is near his residence. Also wanted to provide a touch of ethnic recipes that are needed in this area, which he did and has been serving the Southshore community since 2013. Khalid and his restaurant, Pita Kebob have been featured in many local newspapers and magazines, as well as on Chef's Kitchen on Bay News channel 9. Khalid is an active member of The Southshore Chamber of Commerce since he launched his business over two years ago.
The Mosaic Company
Joe is Vice President of Operations Support at the Mosaic Company. Prior to joining Mosaic in 2012, Joe spent 25+ years with GE in operations roles with three different business units (Plastics, Nuclear and Water). Joe has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Michigan and an MBA from Southern Indiana.
Joe and his wife Sally moved to Apollo Beach in 2013. During their 30+ years together they’ve lived in West Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, Minnesota, and now Florida. They are the proud parents of daughter Emily.
Joe is an avid sports fan and has either attended, or plans to attend, just about every major sporting event you can think of.
Alvarez Company P.A.
Steven M. Alvarez, Enrolled Agent, is a Director of Alvarez Company PA CPA Firm established to provide public accounting, tax and consulting services to businesses and individuals.
Mr. Alvarez has been working full time with the firm since January 2008 and previously worked on a part-time basis.
Mr. Alvarez has over 18 years experience in preparing and analyzing financial information and has extensive knowledge of internal and external accounting procedures. His experience includes over 11 years as an accounting administrator with the New York Yankees baseball team where his responsibilities included being in charge of the accounts payable department, accounts receivable for both the Tampa & New York offices and various general ledger accounts, including depreciation & inter-company transactions.
In October of 2010, Steven Alvarez received Enrolled Agent status from the Internal Revenue Service. As an Enrolled Agent, Steven has proven his expertise in tax law and can provide representation for tax payers being audited by the IRS.
Mr. Alvarez also helped do accounting for a public company and a multimillion dollar real estate company that owned various manufactured home parks. He also has experience in the restaurant and bar business as well as medical billing.
Steven received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from St. Leo University in 1994, where he participated in the Honors Curriculum, and attained the Dean’s List on various occasions. He was a recipient of Trustees, Florida Academic and Soccer Scholarships. He was captain of the intercollegiate soccer team where he lettered 4 years, was an all conference player 2 years and set the season and career record for most assists. He was named the University Student of the month for February 1994 and was involved in various student leadership organizations. He graduated from Jesuit High School of Tampa in 1990 where he was a member of the National Honor Society.
Mr. Alvarez still enjoys playing organized soccer and has been a member of 4 State championship teams & numerous runners up. He was a member of the 1999 5 a side National championship team. In his spare time he has been a spotter for an NFL game, a statistician for NCAA football, & a statistician for MLB spring training. He was selected to be a part of the committee to interview and select the current President of St. Leo University. He has been a member of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce (formerly Apollo Beach) since 2008. He has volunteered for various fundraising efforts for non-profit organizations, including Directions for Mental Health & Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group (ABWIG).
He has recently been accepted to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as of January 2013. He also serves as the Treasurer and on the Board of Directors for ABWIG. He has been the finance chairman for the Manatee Festival of the Arts since 2009.
On April 4, 2013 he was elected to the St. Leo University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Firehouse Cultural Center
Georgia Vahue is the Executive Director of the Firehouse Cultural Center, serving the South Shore Region of Hillsborough. She grew up in South Tampa and knows South Hillsborough well since she taught at Wimauma Elementary for seven years before moving to London and later New York. Prior to joining the Firehouse, May 1, 2013, she was the Director for the School for the Visual & Performing Arts, as well as the Gallery Curator for The Great Neck Center for Visual & Performing Arts, Inc., a Kennedy Center Arts-in-Education affiliate, in New York.
The Firehouse Cultural Center is a multi-use facility with a black box theater used for live music, comedy and theater performances, film screening, lectures, and special events. The Cultural Center provides programming in the arts, education, and humanities for all ages and for all residents living in South Hillsborough County. Classes range from arts and technology to arts and the environment (Hydroponics). Its Summer Arts Camps and its partnership with the Straz Center/Patel Conservatory are very popular with South Shore Families.
Georgia strongly believes the Firehouse Cultural Center is a key indicator of our South Shore region’s livability. And having a vibrant Firehouse Cultural Center makes our area more competitive when it comes to business relocations. In addition, She passionately believes that art humanizes, connects us, strengthens our communities and arts education can make a difference in a life.
Georgia Vahue, a Fulbright Fellow, Certified Teacher of K – 12 Art, Gifted and Talented Education with 12 years of teaching experience in Florida, London and New York, graduated from the University of South Florida, College of Fine Arts. She attended the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine and has worked with numerous artists and curators, including internationally known artist James Rosenquist and well known Museum Director Ned Rifkin, formerly of the Blanton Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary of Art, and the New Museum, York City. Ms. Vahue is a published arts writer and curriculum developer. The University of Georgia, Atlanta, recognizes her as a “Southern Scholar on Women”. In addition, Ms. Vahue has more than 15 years experience in arts administration, grants writing, marketing and public relations.
Christ Community Church
Charlie is originally from St. Simons Island, GA and is a graduate of the University of Georgia. After college he entered the corporate world of banking and was a commercial lender for nine years. During this time he earned a MBA from University of North Florida. The biggest deal that he cut during his banking days was his marriage to Coco in 1997. Although he enjoyed the business world, God had other plans for him and he became a minister in 2000. Charlie and Coco moved their family to South Shore in 2006 to start Christ Community Church. Charlie likes to spend time with Coco and his five children and if time permits – watch sports, read books, play basketball, dabble in handyman projects, eat, stay up late and play video games.
Zipperer's Funeral Home
Anthony K. (Tony) Zipperer is the Funeral Director of Zipperer’s Funeral Home, in Ruskin since 1995. Tony attended local schools and received his A.S. Mortuary of Science degree fromSt PetersburgCollege. He served in the U.S. Army from 1987-1995 and is a Desert Storm Veteran. He attended Leadership Hillsborough 2008-2009.
Tony is involved with the South Hillsborough Community Cupboard. He is the Past Commander of the Ruskin Veterans of Foreign Wars, Past District Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Florida, and Past President of the Ruskin Chamber of Commerce. He volunteered to serve as Chairman of the Ruskin Seafood Festival 2008 and has served on the Committee for the Ruskin VFW Veterans Day Parade for several years.
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