Posted by: Carleigh Murphy on Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Kari Goetz and Jake Jalloway are two passionate leaders committed to serving their community. Kari is the Chief Advancement Officer at United Way Suncoast and has been actively involved with the Tampa Bay Chamber for 20 years. Currently a board member, Kari started out as the Marketing and Communications Director for the Chamber. A Leadership Tampa class of 2018 graduate, her involvement led her to spearhead the Collegiate Leadership Tampa Bay (CLTB) initiative four years ago. CLTB is an academic-year-long program that prepares a diverse group of student leaders to have a positive impact on their future communities while they learn extensively about what makes Tampa Bay a favored place to live and work. After two years of strategizing, organizing, and gathering a group of leaders to assist in launching the program, interviews for the inaugural class began. The CLTB program partners with three of Tampa Bay’s universities, Saint Leo University, The University of South Florida, and The University of Tampa, to identify promising young leaders interested in going through the program. The interviews at the University of Tampa are where Kari first met Jake. According to Kari, her (and the others in the room) initial reaction to Jake after completing his interview was that he was, and is, a remarkable young leader.

Jake is a Community Engagement Specialist at United Way Suncoast. Originally from Chicago, he is a University of Tampa class of 2022 graduate and extremely passionate about mentorship and the benefits of a positive mentoring relationship. Jake was in his sophomore year at the University of Tampa when his mentor informed him about the opportunity to apply for the 2021 CLTB class. Jake’s interview solidified his decision that, if offered, he wanted to be part of this program.

Throughout the inaugural program year, Kari and Jake got to know each other well. Jake always stood out to Kari, asking some of the most insightful and thought-provoking questions in the class. Kari and Jake discovered they had quite a lot in common and after Jake’s graduation from the CLTB class in April of 2021, they stayed connected throughout the next year and developed a mentoring relationship outside of CLTB.

When a position at United Way Suncoast opened around May of 2022, Kari knew right away that Jake would be a perfect fit. Kari shared the job posting with Jake and he excitedly applied and became a front runner for the position, even without Kari’s enthusiastic referral. After successful interviews Jake was offered the position and happily accepted. He’s been with United Way Suncoast for almost two months now and loves the organization and his role. As a Community Engagement Specialist, Jake primarily handles all aspects of volunteer coordination. United Way Suncoast’s philosophy on giving back is community-centered volunteering – ensuring that the actual, current needs of the community that’s being served are at the center of any volunteering decisions being made.

Jake feels fortunate to have found a job right out of college where he feels like he’s making a difference. United Way Suncoast, and specifically the Community Engagement team, offer a very collaborative and engaging environment where he can work to expand on diversity, equity, and inclusion needs. Kari and Jake don’t work too closely day-to-day, but Jake is enjoying his independence and the ability to make a name for himself.

Jake knows he has CLTB to thank for his path to where he is now. His plan was always to leave Florida after graduating and if it wasn’t for this program, he likely would have. His experience throughout CLTB showed him the important work happening right here in our community and how each student is a critical part of that work. Kari strongly believes that this current workforce is some of the best talent that can be hired, and Jake’s experience is a perfect example of how the CLTB program works and the successes for the student, the organization, and the community.

Kari hopes (and believes) that Jake’s journey with the Chamber is just getting started. She knows that he will continue to be a leader within the community and, as Kari shared, she hopes to one day work for Jake, or any graduate of the Collegiate Leadership program.

Learn more about Collegiate Leadership Tampa Bay here  

Kari Goetz (L) and Jacob Jalloway (R) at The University of Tampa's 2022 Graduation.