Class of 2024 Opening Retreat
Leadership Tampa Bay

September 22, 2023

By: Michael Forster, V.P. of Operations, Ready for Life Pinellas

In the span of a few days at the Leadership Tampa Bay Class of 2024 Opening Retreat, I found myself immersed in a world of learning, growth, and inspiration. It was an event that challenged my comfort zone, encouraged me to connect with strangers, who will hopefully soon become friends, and imparted valuable lessons on leadership.

Brigadier General Thomas Draude reminded us that leadership begins with knowledge, integrity, and a deep sense of responsibility to those we lead. Dr. Nick Hall taught us to confront our fears head-on and act in alignment with our aspirations. The team-building exercises revealed the importance of collaboration and the beauty of stepping back to let others lead.

Joanne Sullivan (LTB’10), Assistant Vice President of Community Engagement at the University of South Florida, emphasized the power of connections, and Tye Maner, President of the Tye Maner Group and author of “Forget Patience Let’s Sell Something”, shared the keys to effective leadership, from active listening to fostering a culture of empowerment. These insights have left a lasting mark on my perspective.

As we adjourned and went our separate paths, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the journey ahead with the Leadership Tampa Bay Class of 2024. This retreat has not only expanded my horizons but has also instilled in me a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to being a better leader. I eagerly anticipate the bonds that will form, the challenges we will overcome, and the lifelong friendships that await in the chapters to come. With the knowledge, inspiration, and camaraderie gained at this retreat, I am more than ready to embark on this incredible leadership journey.

Thank you again to our amazing sponsors including SouthState Bank, Halifax Solutions, Centre Club, Feldman Equities and Florida Avenue Brewing Company.


The Leadership Tampa Bay class year begins in September and runs through May. Each year, the Board of Directors organizes 11 class days that focus on regional issues and opportunities. The agenda for each day consists of panel discussions with business civic and government leaders, questions and answer sessions, and facility tours. In addition, each class member participates in both an opening and closing retreat and a two-day Tallahassee Trip.






Post Office Box 1315
Tampa, FL 33601


Executive Director
(813) 486-8917