United Way Suncoast Leadership
Office of the President
Chief Executive Officer
Dawn Stuart, Senior Administrative Services Manager
Jessica Muroff, one of the area’s most recognized and successful nonprofit and civic leaders, serves as United Way Suncoast’s chief executive officer.
Muroff joined United Way Suncoast in November 2019 after establishing a record of transformative change as the CEO of Girl Scouts of West Central Florida (2015-2019) and the CEO of Frameworks of Tampa Bay (2013-2015). She has extended her list of professional achievements since assuming the top role at UWS, an organization committed to creating lasting community change in its five-county region: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto.
In her relatively short tenure at United Way Suncoast, Muroff has helped UWS refresh its brand, galvanized the community in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, and guided the creation of a new strategic vision for the organization.
The colorful rebrand, done in partnership with ChappelRoberts, earned raves for its distinct and bold colors, and it coincides with the adoption of a new mantra: United We Rise, United We Win. The new brand exemplifies how United Way Suncoast unifies its communities, and the bold look reflects Muroff’s belief in bold solutions.
Her leadership proved a beacon in the spring of 2020 as she underscored United Way Suncoast’s role as a convener and helped the organization raise $1.9 million in six short weeks to elevate pandemic relief. Every dollar raised for COVID assistance went back out to United Way Suncoast’s strategic community partners and other nonprofits.
Internally, Muroff has played a pivotal role in reorganizing the UWS staff and reinvigorating its culture. Muroff and her leadership team drew high marks in a staff employee survey for creating a welcoming workplace environment that UWS employees would overwhelmingly recommend.
The new strategic vision, a collaborative effort involving Muroff, staff, and board members, will help UWS lead the region in delivering a transformational impact and creating a meaningful difference. It also reflects a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity, values that Muroff personally and professionally embraces.
Muroff’s latest list of UWS accomplishments points to a brighter future for the organization, but they don’t come as a surprise to those who have followed her ascension as a Suncoast leader. She’s utilizing the same skill set that has helped her enjoy success at other stops: nonprofit executive experience, business savvy, and community care.
In her four years at the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, Muroff led a nonprofit that served nearly 19,500 girls and nearly 8,500 adult members in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sumter counties. Her efforts included creating Camp CEO, a leadership seminar that allowed aspiring teenage girls to network with some of the region’s top women leaders. At Frameworks of Tampa Bay, she helped the social and emotions learning advocacy group increase the number of youth served, developed new partnerships, and increased community recognition.
Muroff also has worked on the corporate side as a Raymond James Financial manager of account services, marketing director at Saks Fifth Avenue, and account executive at Roberts Communications.
As an active member of the community, Jessica currently serves on the board of directors for the Athena Society. She is a member of the CEO Council of Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Partnership, International Women’s Forum, and USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy. In addition, she has served on the Frameworks board and is a founding member of Emerge Tampa Bay, a networking and volunteer organization for young professionals. She’s also a graduate of Leadership Tampa Class of 2015 and Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class XXXVI.
For her outstanding leadership in business and community involvement, Jessica has received several significant awards from the Tampa Bay Business Journal which include Young Business Woman of the Year of 2005, Up & Comers Hall of Fame in 2013, and Business Woman of the Year in 2018. She was also awarded the Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award from the Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce in 2014, USF’s Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications Outstanding Alumni 2018, and Business Professional Women’s Woman of the Year in 2019.
Jessica is a graduate from the University of South Florida with an M.A. in Secondary English Education and B.A. in Mass Communications with a minor in International Studies. She recently completed a graduate certificate in Strategic Foresight from the University of Houston. She lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband Owen LaFave and is the proud mother of two daughters and two bonus sons. With a passion for writing, in her free time Jessica runs a parenting blog called The Be Present Project.
Connect with Jessica Muroff on Twitter and Instagram @JessMuroff.
Chief Strategy and Operations Officer
Karen Fandrick, Administrative Assistant, Operations
Long-time banking executive, Bemetra Simmons has joined United Way Suncoast as Chief Strategy and Operations Officer. Bemetra brings a strong background in finance, operations, and strategy to the organization.
Bemetra most recently served as Florida Managing Director at Mutual of Omaha Bank. In her position, her primary role has been to grow the Bank’s portfolio as well as to raise the Bank’s profile through community and civic engagement. She has worked in financial services for over 15 years. Prior to Mutual of Omaha, she began her professional career as an Account Manager with WorldCom and served as a Global Account Manager for AT&T Global Services. She attended Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN on a basketball scholarship and received a B.S. in Business Administration. She then earned her MBA from Wake Forest University.
Bemetra is active in the community, serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Tampa Housing Authority, board member for Community Tampa Bay, and as an executive committee member for the Tampa Bay Chamber.. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is a 2013 Leadership Tampa graduate, was named an Up and Comer by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2013, and a finalist for Businesswoman of the Year by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2017. She is a member of Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class XXXVIII. Bemetra along with her twin sister, Demetra, is a co-founder of Corporate Homie, a career, lifestyle, and advice company and podcast dedicated to assisting professionals in navigating the waters of corporate America. Bemetra is married, and along with her dog Charlie, lives in Tampa.
Chief Advancement Officer
Daria Harrison, Administrative Assistant, Resource Development
Kari Goetz is no stranger to reinvention and change. An actor in professional film, television, and stage productions from the time she was 10 years old, Kari has had a colorful and unique path to leadership.
Most recently, Kari was the Vice President of External Relations and Marketing for The Florida Aquarium. Under her leadership, she raised the profile of the Aquarium and set historic revenue and attendance records for the beloved institution. Previously, she was the first director of marketing for Tampa International Airport and managed extraordinary growth and route expansion.
Kari has been an audience development professional for the Straz Center, and she still performs and directs with Stageworks Theatre and Jobsite Theater. A Second City Hollywood founder, Kari uses her love of improv comedy to build workshops and MBA programs for students and business leaders at USF and Wayne State University.
Leadership Tampa members may know her from their improv session at opening retreat, a tradition she proudly performed from LT’04 until she became a member of LT’18. She is chair of the inaugural Collegiate Leadership Tampa Bay class for the Tampa Bay Chamber.
She is an (almost) Florida native, and proud to be a member of the Athena Society, board member for Stageworks Theatre, the advisory board of Visit Tampa Bay, and the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at The University of Florida. She holds an MA in Communication from the University of South Florida and a BFA from the University of Florida. Kari is a long-time resident and enthusiast of Seminole Heights. She lives in a funky bungalow with her groovy husband, her righteous son, and many animals.
Community Impact Officers
Chief Impact Officer – Southern Region
Jennifer Giresi, Manager, Special Projects and Operations, Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto
As Chief Impact Officer for United Way Suncoast, serving Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Hillsborough and Pinellas, Bronwyn provides vision, thought leadership, direction and oversight for United Way Suncoast initiatives and team in Manatee County. A resident of Manatee County for 14 years, Bronwyn has spent more than two decades in the social impact sector leading innovative, community-level change initiatives to advance the common good. In the public sector, Bronwyn had a more than 10-year career working in publishing with Sterling Southeast, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the New York Times locally at the Herald-Tribune.
Since establishing the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading movement in Manatee County, now a regional effort in partnership with The Patterson Foundation, SCGLR works to ensure that children are reading on grade level by the time they leave third grade. Currently, through established and emerging partnerships, Bronwyn and her team are leading and developing The Big Plan, Community United for our children’s success, the latest evolution of United Way Suncoast’s impact in Manatee County.
For the past two years, Bronwyn has been working to establish the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading movement in Manatee County. Now a regional effort including Manatee and Sarasota Counties led by The Patterson Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the United Way of Manatee County, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading works to ensure that children are reading on grade level by the time they leave third grade.
Chief Impact Officer – Northern Region
Dawn Stuart, Senior Administrative Services Manager, Tampa Bay
As the Chief Impact Officer for United Way Suncoast, Emery Ivery provides regional leadership in developing strategies to address the root causes of community issues, thereby creating lasting community change in the Tampa Bay region. Emery has nearly 30 years of experience working at United Way, including senior-level management positions in Tacoma, Wash., Orlando, Fla., and his hometown of Cleveland.
In March 2006, Emery brought his talents to United Way Suncoast as the Vice President of Community & Partnership Development, becoming Sr. Vice President in 2009. Emery holds a master’s degree in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University. Emery is an avid reader and runner who lives in Apollo Beach with his wife, Annette.
Marketing and Communications
James C. Gillen
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Karen Fandrick, Administrative Assistant
As the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Jim is responsible for creating the strategic vision for United Way Suncoast’s overall marketing and communications function, as well as steward the organization’s brand reputation in the communities served by United Way Suncoast and our strategic community partners. He provides vision, leadership, and direction for all United Way Suncoast’s (UWS) communications. He is responsible for leading the development and execution of comprehensive, multi-faceted communications and marketing programs that maintain and augment UWS’s position as a leading Non-Profit in the Suncoast Region and steward the organization’s brand, strengthen the public profile of UWS and engage the public.
Prior to joining United Way Suncoast, Jim most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of a multi-channel media and public relations firm that worked with Fortune 1000 clients across the United States. Jim has held senior marketing leadership positions with organizations in the manufacturing, advertising, non-profit and financial industries throughout his career.
He earned a B.S. in Business Administration from East Tennessee State University, as well as his MBA from the University of South Florida.
Jim is active in the community, having previously served on the Florida Board of Directors for Mothers Against Drunk Driving as their Chairman of Communications and Public Relations, Founding and Co-Chairing “The Week of the Family Tampa Bay”, a public private partnership that brought government, business and community leaders together to highlight the importance of Families of all types across Tampa Bay, serving as a volunteer leader with the Boys Scouts of America, as well as providing service in the community in various ways alongside his family. In addition, he is also an Army veteran.
James lives in Tampa with his wife Katherine and they are the proud parents of four children; two girls and two boys.
Chief Talent Officer
Karen Fandrick, Administrative Assistant, Operations
As Chief Talent Officer for United Way Suncoast, Jen leads the talent function and ensure strategic emphasis is placed on advancing the organization’s culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives, and a host of other initiatives to ensure the organization’s, our employees’, and our communities needs are best served. She is passionate about building diverse teams and fostering workplace cultures that contribute to individual and organizational success.
Jen began her career in the mental health field, contributing at a leadership level to several facets of operations including human resources, quality improvement, and risk management. Her experience also includes many years of providing global human resources leadership for a non-profit membership association in the higher education industry.
A fourth-generation Floridian, Jen has made Tampa her home only leaving briefly to attend The University of West Florida. She returned to Tampa to attend the University of South Florida where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters of Arts degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. She is a graduate of the Leadership Tampa class of 2009 and has served as a volunteer for organizations primarily focused on education, children and families, and women’s issues.
When not working, Jen most enjoys spending time with her family. She is married to Jeff whom she met in high school, and they share a grown daughter and granddaughter. Jen also loves to travel and being outdoors.