As a customer experience manager for Delta Airlines, helping people connect is all in a day’s work for Tamara Ashley. She serves as a liaison between Delta Airlines headquarters and the office in Tampa, between front-line employees and managers, and between the company and the community. She says it’s her dream job to be able to interact with her community and make people’s lives better in any way she can. She carries that philosophy beyond her job to her work with United Way Suncoast.
Tamara first started engaging with United Way in Chicago as a donor through payroll deductions at her workplace. She was brought up in a family who emphasized the importance of community service, whose motto was ‘to whom much is given, much is required’. “Give as much as we can, try to always to do something to help other people.” After moving to Florida in 1987, she realized she wanted to get more involved in the work of United Way, which is how she became a coordinator.
With educators as parents and two children of her own, Tamara is especially passionate about facilitating youth success and on-time graduation. One of her proudest moments of following the Operation Graduate program was watching a student apply for a job at Delta Airlines, interview and then land the job. “The student’s parents have never flown on a plane, and she was able to take her parents abroad for their anniversary. That speaks volumes about the possibilities that open up when United Way is part of the program – helping at-risk youth succeed is just one of them.”
Her passion grew even more when she took site visits to see first-hand what United Way Suncoast was doing to serve the community. “I could see how United Way Suncoast had their hands in different organizations to help a variety of causes and people from all walks of life.”
Together, Tamara and her team have held a drive for school supplies and delivered their collection in person to Potter Elementary School. One of her other favorite campaign activities was gifting presents to residents at the Children’s Home directly off their wish list. Her team at Delta Airlines donated more than $6,000 in gifts, ranging from an Xbox to bubble bath. Tamara and her colleagues are constantly looking for ways to give back year-round, not just during campaign season, “because people are in need all year long.”
When asked what she wishes people could learn about United Way that they may not have known before, Tamara said, “I want them to understand United Way Suncoast’s mission and how they’re trying to stamp out poverty by raising awareness about ALICE and the importance of youth success.”
And it’s clear that Tamara’s dedication and contagious generosity is key to helping others understand United Way Suncoast’s mission. We count ourselves truly fortunate to have such a passionate leader like Tamara helping us fight for the education and financial stability of every person in our community.