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This Spring, community leaders from organizations across the Tampa Bay Area came together to build a home for a local family in the Lealman community in St. Petersburg. Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties launched its second annual CEO Build in February led by honorary chairs: Bill Brand, CEO of Rue21 and Habitat for Humanity International Board Member, Mindy Grossman, Partner & Chair of Consello Group (Former CEO WW & HSNi), and Ryan Ross, President of Neiman Marcus.

In Spring of 2022, Habitat introduced the inaugural CEO Build, where 55 CEOs joined together to help raise over $140,000 to sponsor the Middlebrooks Family home in Pinellas Park. Due to the overwhelming success of this specialty build, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco launched its second annual CEO Build that helped provide a safe and affordable home for Alex Diaz, Christina Gonzales, and their three children: Olivia, Jackson, and Vivian.

“At Habitat, we partner with businesses across our service area to help local families achieve the dream of affordable homeownership”, explains Mike Sutton, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco President and CEO. “We are fortunate to have so many local organizations committing to bettering their community through their corporate social responsibly initiatives. The second annual CEO Build allowed that investment to continue through the sponsorship of the Diaz-Gonzales family’s home.”

The CEO Build kicked off with a social media campaign driven by the community leaders. “I am building for a better community” messages are being shared across social media channels, creating excitement around the build. On February 16th, a kickoff reception was held at Neiman Marcus at International Plaza; hosted by the Honorary Chairs. A panel was hosted by the Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine’s CEO Bridgette Bello to talk with the Honorary Chairs about the need for affordable housing in our community.

Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco partnered with the Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine for a second year to highlight the project and those that participate. Habitat also partnered with the CEO Council of Tampa Bay as its construction site sponsor.

The CEOs took part in three build days with activities that included framing, insulation, and exterior painting. These business leaders raised over $160,000 for the home, making the dream of homeownership a reality for the Diaz-Gonzales family.

On Monday, April 24th, 2023, the Diaz-Gonzales family earned the keys to their brand-new Habitat home. The family earned a brand new home and a zero-interest mortgage by completing our Habitat program, which consisted of over 450 sweat equity hours and 32 homebuyer education classes. Their home is four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The family’s

home dedication was made extra special when Alex turned to Christina during his speech. “I know we are going to spend the rest of our lives together,” said Alex, in front of a crowd of friends, family, CEOs and Habitat staff. “But there is one thing missing.” Alex then pulled out a ring and dropped to one knee to propose to the love of his life. We are so happy for the family to be starting this new chapter of homeownership and marriage in their forever home.

To further engage those involved, a wrap-up reception was held on April 25th at the Karol Hotel Rooftop Bar. At the reception, many of the 55 business leaders gathered together to celebrate the conclusion of the second annual CEO Build. Alex and Christina sat down with Jeffrey Fishman, President of Investors Title and long time Habitat supporter, so that they could sign their closing documents in front of their many supporters.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco’s Second Annual CEO Build was a major success and we are very excited to see how this specialty build will grow in years to come and help to support affordable homeownership for more families in our community.

Special thank you to all of the business leaders who helped make this year’s CEO Build possible:

$10,000 Level Sponsors:

Bill Brand – CEO of Rue21 and Habitat for Humanity International Board Chair (Honorary Co-Chair)

Bridgette Bello – CEO & Publisher of Tampa Bay Business & Wealth

John Couris – President & CEO of Tampa General Hospital

Melissa Seixas – Florida State President of Duke Energy

$2,500 Level Sponsors:

Marc Banning – CEO of Banning Lumber

Ronde Barber – General Chair of Copperhead Charities

John Barrett – President & CEO of First Citrus Bank

David Bennett – CEO of Pinellas REALTOR® Organization & Central Pasco REALTOR® Organization

Ravi Chari, MD – President of HCA Healthcare West Florida

Ronald Christaldi – Tampa Managing Partner and President & CEO of Shumaker Advisors

Jason Clement – Founding Partner & CEO of Sports Facilities Companies

Susan Crockett – President & CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall

Bill Cronin – President & CEO of Pasco EDC

Thomas Del Zoppo – CEO of  New Hotel Collection Group

David Deno – Chief Executive Officer of Bloomin Brands, Inc.

Elodie Dorso – President & CEO of Evara Health

Ed Droste – Chairman of Provident Management Corporation

Elizabeth Dvorak – CEO of Workscapes

Lisa Faller – President of FKQ Advertising & Marketing

Ray Ferrara – Executive Chairman of ProVise Management Group 

Scott Fink – VW of Wesley Chapel, Subaru of Wesley Chapel, & Fink Five Foundation

Jeffrey Fishman – President of Investors Title & Settlement Services

Vincent Forese – President & CEO of Link-Systems International

Wendy Gattis – CEO of DITEK Corporation

Bill Goede – Tampa Bay President of Bank of America

Robert Glaser – President & CEO of Smith & Associates Real Estate

Leo “LJ” Govoni – CEO of Big Storm Brewery & Distillery

Mindy Grossman –Partner & Chair of Consello Group, Former CEO WW & HSNi (Honorary Co-Chair)

Russ Hallenbeck – Chief Executive Officer of Tibbetts Lumber Company

Kevin Hawkins – CEO of MidAtlantic Finance Company & Owner, Crown Automotive Group

Keri Higgins-Bigelow – Founder & CEO, livingHR

Dr. Patrick Hwu – President & CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center

Neil Kiefer – CEO of HMC Hospitality Group, Inc.

Ken LaRoe – CEO, Chairman, and Founder of Climate First Bank

Sharon Leite – CEO, Ideal Image

Brett McGill – President & CEO of MarineMax

Brooke Mirenda – President & CEO of Sunshine State Economic Development Corporation

Robin Moch – Partner at M. E. Wilson Company

John Moore – President of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

Frank Musolino – CEO of Power Design

T. Corey Neil – President & CEO of The Bank of Tampa 

Karl Nurse – President of Bay Tech Label

Amanda Payne – President & CEO of Amplify Clearwater 

Steve Raney – Chairman & CEO of Raymond James Bank 

Bill Roberti – Managing Director of Alvarez & Marsal

Elliott Ross – President of The Ross Realty Group

Ryan Ross – President of Neiman Marcus (Honorary Co-Chair)

Kuleen Shah – Founder of Connecting Tampa Bay

John Strong – Chairman & CEO of Bankers Financial Corporation

Mike Sutton – President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity

Brian Van Slyke – Regional President of Kolter Urban LLC

Randy Ware – Founder & CEO of WestCMR

Tracy West – President of Copperhead Charities and Valspar Championship Tournament Director

Tom Zernick – President of BayFirst National Bank

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