United Way Suncoast CEO shines at PRSA Tampa Bay event

United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff

United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff left a lasting impression on those attending the PRSA Tampa Bay Professional Development Retreat on Aug. 24.

Positive comments swirled after she gave the keynote address at Tampa Bay Watch Marine and Educational Center on beautiful Tierra Verde Island. Some wondered out loud if Jessica could find time to have lunch with them. Others marveled at her ability to “be present” both at work and at home with her family. And one particular woman asked if she went too far in jokingly saying, “I have a crush on her.”

Well, at least we think she was joking.

Valuing PR

However, one consistent reaction rose above the others representing PRSA Tampa Bay: It’s great to see a CEO who actually understands and values public relations and marketing.

Jessica stands as one of the region’s best known business and civic leaders, having served as the CEO of two other nonprofits before taking the reins at United Way Suncoast in 2019. Yet, she started her career in communications, including playing a vital role in the marketing department at Raymond James Financial. In fact, she served as international public relations coordinator for Junior Civitan as a high school student.

She’s never strayed from those roots.

In fact, Jessica stressed to the PRSA that she examines every issue through the lens of marketing, always ensuring that the solution is “grounded in communications and how we’re talking about our brand.”

Do What You Do Best

While serving as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, Jessica used strategic communications to bring about significant change. One of her proudest achievements during this tenure was the creation of Camp CEO: a program that allows leading women CEOs to connect with teenage girls during a weekend of activities. The program remains in place today.

Communications came into the play again when Boy Scouts of America invited girls to join their organization. Spurred by a “leadership manifesto” created by Girl Scouts USA, Jessica drew inspiration from the G.I.R.L acronym: Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker and Leader.

“I tell leaders all the time when you encounter a crisis, you shouldn’t become all things to all people, you should double down on what you do best,” Jessica said.

Life, Leadership & Legacy

Shortly after taking over United Way Suncoast, Jessica led a brand refresh with the help of ChappellRoberts, and then paired that with a strategic vision that realigned the organization’s role as a community leader, partner and convener. Both have earned admiration from United Way Worldwide and multiple local United Way affiliates.

Citing President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “The Man In The Arena” speech, Jessica left the group with three poignant pieces of advice:

Life is full of opportunity.

Leadership is about taking those opportunities.

Legacy is what you will leave behind when you do.

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