Posted by: Leadership Tampa Alumni on Monday, August 9, 2021

Jill Witecki
Director of Marketing & Community Relations, Tampa Theatre

Tell us, why LTA?  

As a PR and Marketing professional, I know that the No. 1 best promotion you can ever hope for is positive word-of-mouth. So it’s appropriate, I suppose, that that’s what originally drew me to Leadership Tampa. 

A dear friend and trusted Busch Gardens colleague, Scott Swenson, had recently completed his own LT experience and joined LTA, and it was his glowing recommendation that disabused my faulty notion of what the program was all about. I had heard of Leadership Tampa, but I had assumed (incorrectly, of course) that it was an exclusive club of stuffy, downtown high-rise types. Definitely not, in a word, “my thing.” 

Scott assured me that I couldn’t be more wrong: that my particular background – namely, news and local attractions – would be welcomed, and that I was at just the right point in my career to benefit from the program. 

He was right.

For you, what separates LTA from other business leadership programs?  

In my current role at Tampa Theatre, I have had the pleasure of speaking to and touring through several regional leadership programs each year, and I applaud them all for what they do. But there is both an energy and a camaraderie among Leadership Tampa and its affiliated groups that I have never seen duplicated in any of the others. 

LTA is the Kevin Bacon of the Bay area: There is no committee I have joined, no Board I have witnessed, no civic group I have addressed, nor event I have attended that isn’t peppered with fellow LT alums who can easily connect to each other in three degrees or less. Like some kind of professional Bat-Signal, any request or call for help shone up through LTA’s ranks is immediately answered with eager assistance and appropriate contacts (though, sadly, with less capes.)

Describe a time when the LTA experience impacted your life or career? 

In the hour or so that I’ve had this questionnaire open, I have received two e-mails from two different LT’14 classmates. That’s not uncommon: our class remains very close and has an active, ongoing e-mail list through which we share all kinds of good news, upcoming events, professional opportunities, and more. I just saw one of my classmates yesterday for a meeting about a project his company is leading at Tampa Theatre. My Facebook feed is filled with posts from a Moms group (“group” is an understatement… “lifeline” is more like it) founded by another LTA friend.

So while I can’t necessarily describe “a time” in the singular, I can easily describe the near-constant, almost daily interactions I have with fellow LTA friends and colleagues that support, celebrate, and enhance so many aspects of my personal and professional life.  

What is a LTA benefit you wish everyone knew about?  

We all know that “it takes a village,” and that “it’s all about who you know.” But we also know that as busy professionals balancing work, life, family, etc., that’s sometimes easier said than done. Not everyone is a natural networker. Not everyone is comfortable asking for support. 

LTA is a ready-made community of incredibly diverse, yet like-minded individuals who span nearly every industry and interest one could conceive. It is a pre-vetted, quality-controlled Rolodex at your fingertips, as well as (and more importantly, really) a ready-made group of new friends. It’s your invitation to the “cool kids” table at lunch.

Describe how the leadership journey will continue to shape you?  

Just one more platitude, I promise: “It’s lonely at the top.” I’ve had the displeasure of working for “that boss,” but I’ve also been blessed to work with and for incredible mentors who nurture their teams as webs, not ladders. My experiences with LTA have continued to illustrate that same sentiment: leadership is not a destination. Our business community is a jigsaw puzzle, and true success in leadership comes from finding your place as an integral piece of the bigger picture.