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Amy Scherzer's Diary: Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

Bank of America colleagues, Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer, and Tampa Bay Market President Bill Goede visit at the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s 28th annual Women of Distinction luncheon on March 7 at the Hilton Downtown Tampa. [AMY SCHERZER | Special to the Times]
Published Mar. 13

Girl Scouts' Women of Distinction

Bank of America chief operations and technology officer Cathy "MacGyver" Bessant conquered countless challenges, including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, "by believing you can," she told Girl Scouts of West Central Florida supporters at the 28th annual Women of Distinction luncheon.

The 2019 honorees are women's equality pioneer Dore Beach; banker Rita Lowman ("Be a generalist, not a specialist, learn everything you can," she advised); St. Petersburg civic leader Terri Lipsey Scott; and advocate/strategist Arlene DiBenigno whose daughter Alexandra accepted on her behalf. Arthenia Joyner was inducted into the Hall of Fame for her distinguished career in law and politics. Woman of Promise Rachel May Zysk was chosen from under-40 professionals.

CEO Jessica Muroff invited Bessant, a 2001 Woman of Distinction, into the Hall of Fame during the March 7 benefit for Rising Diamonds scouts at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.


YMCA Community Impact Awards

"March forth," intoned Rev. Dean Pfeffer in his March 4th (get it?) invocation at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA's 2019 Community Impact Award Dinner. Many more smiles followed as U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, the first woman to represent Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Congress, was honored for "thoughtful public service, "as well as being a Y member for 23 years.

Joe and Tampa Y Governance Board Member Jill Valenti earned the Red Triangle Award for their sincere and significant fundraising and math tutoring. Three sides of the triangle represent spirit, mind and body, the Y's mission. The 500 guests also met 14 Volunteers of the Year during the dinner at TPepin's Hospitality Centre which raised $280,000 to promote the Y's healthy lifestyle training.


GalaRE 2019

It's no easy task, judging the best of the best of 235 fine arts and crafts creators exhibiting at the 49th annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. Former Tampa Museum of Art director Andy Maass judged wisely and well, awarding $75,000 in prize money March 2. The winning works were showcased all together in a museum setting later that night at GalaRE where patrons and artists bought and sold, connecting over buffets by Capitol Grille and Riverside Cafe and music by Unique Full Circle.


WEDU Be More Awards

Tears and laughs commingled at the 14th annual WEDU Be More Awards luncheon as emcees Lisette Campos and Jack Harris honored non-profits who turn "tragedies to testimony." More than 40 qualified in categories such as Be More Informed, Be More Brilliant, Be More Entrepreneurial and so on. See them all April 4 at 9 p.m. on the PBS station.

Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services earned Be More Humble, the People's Choice award. King High teen Harsh Bagdy's Metropolitan Ministries project won Be More Inspiring. Deejay Mason Dixon presented Be More Involved to Kind Mouse volunteer Sydney Merritt. Children First, a Head Start program of excellence, took home the top honor, a $2,500 Be More Unstoppable grant. The Feb. 28 event at the Glazer Family JCC was sponsored by 200 Muslim Women Who Care.


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  3. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  4. Snack-focused delivery app GoPuff launched in Tampa in February. It serves the area surrounding the University of South Florida. GoPuff
    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Funyuns? GoPuff says it has the data for which snack Floridians love the most.
  5. Stay with for the latest news and updates. Times
    A seriously injured man found near Fowler Avenue and 22nd Street died at a hospital, police said.
  6. The Tampa City Council was told Thursday that it had little power to prevent a medical marijuana cultivation,  processing and dispensary approved for East Tampa. ANDREW SELSKY  |  AP
    Trulieve plans to open a facility near a recovery center. State preemption prevents the city from taking action.
  7. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-LIGN works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  8. Patrick Thorpe, who owns part of Marti/Colon Cemetery in West Tampa, wants to start a nonprofit group to cover the costs of burial grounds that are falling into disrepair. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Architect Patrick Thorpe is working to keep old Tampa cemeteries from falling further into disrepair.
  9. A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call shot an unarmed 17-year-old along Skipper Road in north Tampa on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was pulling a gun. The teen was paralyzed and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    A Hillsborough deputy was cleared because he thought the boy, 17, had a gun. Records show how it happened.
  10. Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is coming to Carrollwood this fall. [Courtesy of Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming]
    The Orlando-based franchise is a specialty retailer of pet food and supplies.