The apogee, or culmination, of the evening for United Way Suncoast board members Brian Deming, Eric Bailey and Melva McKay Bass came when attendees honored their leadership at the recent Tampa Bay Business and Wealth 2023 Apogee Awards.
Yet the apogee of their community service remains an ongoing ascension, even though their involvement in United Way Suncoast spans decades. Brian, Eric and Melva all continue to lead our effort to invest in community and support others striving to reach the apogee of their lives. With equal success in their chosen careers, it came as no surprise that they joined 49 other finalists in 17 categories at the recent awards gala at Armature Works.
United Way Suncoast represents
United Way Suncoast proudly served as the Nonprofit Partner for the Apogee Awards. With CEO Jessica Muroff and Chief Development an Marketing Officer Kari Goetz leading the way, UWS team members not only attended the event and saluted the finalists and winners, but engaged all along the way. They met with finalists at VU when they recorded interviews, and we connected with them at a special pre-gala reception.
Most important, they welcomed finalists to our new office for a volunteer activation. They arrived on time and put together more than 100 literacy kits that will support our efforts to elevate early learning. With 80-90 percent of brain development occurring between the ages of 0-5, the need to educate our youngest minds and promote kindergarten readiness is tantamount to bringing about generational change. Students prepared to learn on the first day of kindergarten are more likely to graduate high school, more likely to enjoy post-secondary success and more likely to enjoy higher earnings over their lifetimes. The Apogee finalists took a huge step towards helping more students peak in their formative years.
Eric credits supporters
Eric, managing principal at CapTrust Tampa, took top honors in the managing partner category. Brian, the CEO of Crucis, received
special recognition as a judge’s choice award winner. Melva, the chief community development officer at Suncoast Credit Union, was a finalist in the chief development officer category.
All of them stand as winners because they view community service as an integral ingredient in their leadership formula.
“If ‘apogee’ is defined as the highest point of development, this is not accomplished by the acts of one, but driven by the help of many,” said Eric, a Tocqueville Society member who has 23 years of United Way Suncoast involvement, including eight on the Suncoast board. “We all are responsible for lifting up others and improving the lives of everyone in the community we live and work. Giving back through community service and philanthropy are a natural way to share the rewards of success.”
Brian believes in community
Brian, who’s also a Tocqueville Society member along with his wife Dea echoed those sentiments, saying community involvement and philanthropy has been central to everything he does.
“I’ve said many times that I believe businesses can only be as successful as the communities in which they operate,” said Brian, whose service extends 20 years and includes two stints as chair. “That belief has led me to dedicate my time, talents and treasures to giving back at every stage of my career. My involvement at the board level across many community organizations has also exposed me to so many great leaders, and they have all shaped my leadership style in some way.”
Melva shines light on mentoring
Melva, a Tampa native, traces her connection to United Way to her childhood, where she benefited from such United Way-supported organizations as Girl Scouts and Boys and Girls Club. She’s “officially” volunteered with United Way for more than a decade, and that includes serving on the Hillsborough/Pinellas or Suncoast board since 2018.
“I think it’s our responsibility as leaders to pay it forward,” Melva said. “No one gets to where they are without having a hand up. Certainly, along the way someone has mentored you and made a difference in your life. For me, it was a lot of the United Way supported organizations.
“It’s incumbent upon us as leaders who live and work in these communities to give back to your communities and be visible in these communities because it makes a world of a difference to the kids coming up behind us.”
With apogee meaning reaching a peak, it’s clear that our three honorees always reached back as they continued to climb. Congratulations Eric, Brian and Melva.