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press release
8/9/12 02:20PM

Mark fernandez named united way suncoast tampa bay area campaign chair

Mark Fernandez, Senior Vice President for the Tampa Bay Rays, will lead the 2012 United Way Suncoast – Tampa Bay Area campaign this year. Mark has been a member of the Board of Directors for the past five years and is actively involved in many regional community partnerships.

Mark Fernandez, Senior Vice President for the Tampa Bay Rays, will lead the 2012 United Way Suncoast – Tampa Bay Area campaign this year. Mark has been a member of the Board of Directors for the past five years and is actively involved in many regional community partnerships.

“I strongly believe in the United Way goals of education, family income stability and safety net services, and am very proud of the community impact achievements,” states Fernandez. “In the months ahead, our Campaign Cabinet will work on expanding donor relationships to broaden United Way’s impact throughout the region.”

Fernandez reflected on his childhood in Florida.  “I grew up in Tampa Bay, so the having the opportunity to serve as the United Way’s campaign chair is particularly meaningful. We are committed to setting the bar high for this year’s campaign so we all can support those that need our help the most,” added Fernandez.

“We are extremely delighted to have Mark Fernandez serving as our Tampa Bay Area campaign chair this year,” said Diana Baker, CEO of United Way Suncoast. “Mark is a passionate, determined supporter and leader of United Way.  He is truly dedicated to his role and inspires other volunteers to reach beyond what’s easy and go for what’s necessary.   Mark’s energetic spirit and community relationships have already been effective as we look at new and creative ways to improve our campaign and build awareness about United Way’s goals to impact the educational achievement of our children and the financial success of the individuals and families we serve.”

United Way is rolling out a new messaging campaign in 2012 called ‘Change the Story’. “We want the community to realize they have the power to make great changes happen here.  We can find long-term solutions through providing more programming in education, as well as helping families attain greater financial stability with the income they earn,” explains Fernandez. “Our story is how, working together as a community, we can create a brighter story for thousands who are hoping for a better tomorrow.  This is a positive message I know will resonate with others and encourage involvement through giving, advocating and volunteering.”

Visit United Way Suncoast’s new website at to learn more about how individuals can help by giving, advocating and volunteering.

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About United Way Suncoast

United Way Suncoast serves the people of Desoto, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties with programs, initiatives and collaborations focusing on education, income and health.  United Way Suncoast is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and a proud part of the United Way Worldwide system.  United Way Suncoast has evolved from a traditional fundraising role to a strategic community impact organization.  This transformation gives priority to the issues of school readiness, early literacy, high school graduation, income security and supports, workforce development, and asset building at the neighborhood and community level.  

United Way responds to immediate needs while making sure that the solutions are also in place for lasting change in the lives touched and the communities served.  Guided by citizen volunteers, United Way is about community leadership. Volunteer leaders design, organize and fund social programs resolved to finding solutions to education, income, and health issues across the region.  Area leaders –  corporate and civic – direct the mission “to improve lives and create lasting community change by mobilizing the caring people of our communities.”

More About Mark Fernandez

Mark Fernandez was named senior vice president/chief sales officer in December 2005. He oversees the Rays corporate sales and marketing efforts, broadcast operations, community relations efforts, the Rays Baseball Foundation and team merchandising operations. Under his leadership, Rays corporate sponsorships have grown in record numbers, the team's TV and radio networks have greatly expanded throughout Florida and the organization has become deeply entrenched in the Tampa Bay region.

Fernandez also serves in a similar capacity for Sunburst Entertainment Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rays which serves as a vehicle for the franchise to invest in new sports and entertainment-related business opportunities.

A native of Tampa, Fernandez owns 20 years of experience in professional sports. He joined the Rays from the Arizona Diamondbacks where he served as senior vice president of sales and marketing. Previously, he spent two years as the Diamondbacks vice president of community affairs and executive director of Arizona Diamondbacks Charities, followed by four years as the team's vice president of corporate sales. His initial tenure with Arizona was a two-year stint representing both the D-backs and the Chicago White Sox in the development and construction of Tucson Electric Park. Mark also spent five years with the Phoenix Suns organization as director of marketing and booking for America West Arena.

In April 2009 Fernandez was elected to the board of directors of the prestigious Helios Education Foundation. He also currently serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Tampa Bay, University of South Florida Foundation, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa/Hillsborough EDC, Downtown Tampa Partnership, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida, Rays Baseball Foundation, Clear Channel Tampa Bay Advisory Board, and the Tampa Bay Partnership, Chair of the CEO Direct program, Class VIII.

Mark was honored in 2010 as the inaugural recipient of the United Way's Advocacy Award for his outstanding service as volunteer community leader. In 2011, Fernandez chaired the United Way's Tocqueville Society fundraising efforts and in 2012 he will assume the role of Campaign Chairman for the United Way of Tampa Bay.

He and his wife, Trudie, have three children: Grace, Jamie and Eden.