TAMPA — Charles "Chuck" Sykes, president and CEO of Sykes Enterprises, was named Citizen of the Year by the Tampa Metro Civitan Club on Thursday at the Governor’s Luncheon at the Florida State Fair.
"It sounds like I need a job," Sykes joked as he received the award after Civitan official Robin DeLaVergne read off the lengthy list of voluntary charities and economic development groups he’s been involved in during his career here.
They’ve ranged from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, where he is a former president, to the American Heart Association.
DeLaVergne said Sykes, 55, is "someone who gives and doesn’t ask anything in return."
Originally from Charlotte, N.C., he has been part of the Tampa business scene for more than 20 years, working for the digital marketing and customer service/call center company founded by his father, John H. Sykes.
The civic engagement started in 2004, when a neighbor asked him to serve on the board of Feeding America Tampa Bay, a hunger-relief organization, he once told the Tampa Bay Times. He learned there were an estimated 50,000 people in Hillsborough County who don’t always have enough to eat.
Then his wife, Susan, got him involved with the annual Heart Ball, a major area fundraiser for the Heart Association.
Since then, Sykes has blossomed into one of the city’s most prominent community activists.
He serves on the boards of the Tampa Bay Partnership, the chamber, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida, the Heart Association, the Straz Center for Performing Arts and Feeding America, and is active in Young Life and the Boy Scouts.
He’s a member of the Hillsborough County Economic Development Committee and was part of a business task force formed in 2008 to explore ways to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in the area. In 2010, he led a regional effort to bring World Cup soccer matches here.
He said he hopes the city can maintain its feeling of community as it grows.
"When you come into this town, if you want to lead we accept you," he said. "We’re not cliquish.
"The economic success we’re having is just amazing, but with that success I really hope we don’t lose that sense of community. I don’t think we ever will, but I think it’s something we should keep in mind."
Sykes was the 90th individual named citizen of the year by the Civitan Club.
He and his wife live in New Tampa and have two grown children, Connor Sykes and Kelly Sykes Walton, both of Tampa, and one grandchild.