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Leadership Tampa honors Dianne Jacob's selfless service

Dianne Jacob still remembers when her father walked into their Louisville, Ky., home and said, "We're moving to Korea."

The 9-year-old didn't even know how to find Korea on a map, but she soon learned much about the culture — and about leadership.

Blond and blue-eyed, she stuck out in Asian culture "like a sore thumb," but she vividly remembers how the ravages of war could still be seen a decade after the Korean War.

And she certainly recalls how her father selflessly gave his services as a dentist.

"We would go out into the villages where they didn't know about dental hygiene and my dad would ring the church bell," Jacob said. "People would come up and he would teach them how to keep their teeth clean and all those things."

Will Whelan planted the seeds of leadership in his daughter during those days, and Tampa is better for it. Jacob, the senior vice president of marketing for Tampa Bay & Company, went on to serve this community in a number of ways.

On Thursday, Leadership Tampa Alumni gave Jacob its prestigious Parke Wright III Award, named after the late Lykes Co. executive whose vision helped create Leadership Tampa.

Whelan helped a lot of organizations in his time, including providing dental work to orphans, putting disadvantaged kids through college and working for Habitat for Humanity. In fact, he died working at a job site for Habitat.

"My dad did things that went without any kind of recognition," Jacob said. "He just did things very quietly and by example. He was quite an inspiration."

Jacob patterned her own service after her father's. She has served on a number of boards and is one of the founders of Dream-A-Dress, which provides gently worn prom dresses to high school girls in need.

She has no plans to slow down.

"If you were to tell me I could never do anything out in the community again, I would wither away and die," Jacob said. "The isolation would kill me.

"The other side of it is there are things that need to be done."

As the winner, she received $2,000 from the Lykes Foundation to donate to the charity of her choice. Jacob will give her winnings to the Glazer Family Children's Museum, where she called upon her previous experience in design, real estate and construction to serve as head of the nonprofit group's building committee.

At its annual luncheon, Leadership Tampa Alumni also awarded a $10,000 grant to Trinity Cafe and $16,000 to the Black Business Investment Corp. that it will use for micro loans to small businesses.

As a member of the organization, I've always marveled at the selflessness displayed by so many of the Leadership Tampa Alumni, and Jacob certainly fits that description.

As 2010 chairman and CapTrust managing principal Eric Bailey noted Thursday, leadership has no term limits.

That's all I'm saying.

Leadership Tampa honors Dianne Jacob's selfless service 01/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 10:54pm]
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