“ANYTOWN changed my life.”

“ANYTOWN changed my life.” 

I’ve heard this statement more than any other since I joined Community Tampa Bay as its new Executive Director in March. If there is anything I’ve learned in my brief time here so far, it’s that we change lives. I am so humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead such an incredible organization!

My whole life has been dedicated to social justice, both personally and professionally, and I am excited to continue the journey with Community Tampa Bay. Growing up in a diverse community, surrounded by a family passionate about civic engagement and service, I naturally gravitated toward non-profit leadership. Most recently, I was the Executive Director of an organization in the San Francisco Bay Area where we provided new shoes and clothing to thousands of homeless and low-income children each year. For over 15 years, my experiences have allowed me to manage programs, lead fundraising and communications initiatives, serve on Boards and Advisory Boards and volunteer with community organizations in the US and overseas.

My passion has always been celebrating diversity and supporting an end to discrimination. I’m thrilled to be a part of a team of devoted donors, volunteers and staff working to do just that! I’d like to share with you what I’m most excited about for the bright future of Community Tampa Bay.

I look forward to broadening the reach of our exceptional programs, including offering additional ANYTOWN sessions, providing more youth conferences and furthering ways for teens to take part in projects that will help them grow their leadership skills. 

We know that developing strong youth leaders is critical to systems change: these students will one day lead our businesses, institutions and communities. As young people graduate from high school and age into leadership positions, I believe we can continue to cultivate their capacity as change agents as they navigate their universities, internships, first jobs and early community leadership positions. I look forward to CTB helping young adults foster cultures of inclusion while setting themselves up for career success.

As we develop young and emerging leaders, we will also seek to engage adult learners who currently lead businesses and institutions. Training for teachers and administrators; education for public servants; learning opportunities for private sector professionals and their diverse teams of employees – these are just a few ways we can influence attitudes and behaviors that promote dialogue and diversity at all levels across our community as a whole.

I’m also excited to report that we have successfully trademarked our unique ANYTOWN curriculum! This milestone will allow us to scale ANYTOWN, so that teens and young adults beyond our local region can benefit from our powerful programming.

Among my top priorities will be to develop and sustain funding by expanding ANYTOWN’s reach into additional communities; cultivating partnerships with new corporations, foundations and individual donors; and celebrating the impact of our current supporters. 

As we move forward, we’ll be keeping you updated on our progress and looking to involve you in our journey. I believe we can reach our ambitious goals if we continue to work together!


While we enhance and grow our programs, I also look forward to finding new ways to tell our story

Did you know that ANYTOWN was featured in an article in The Atlantic in March or that it was cited as a “Best Practice” by the US Department of Education? I want to make sure you and our broader community of supporters are up-to-date on our accomplishments and the far-reaching impact of Community Tampa Bay. I hope in doing so, you’re inspired to share our stories with your networks. By spreading the word about our programs, you can help further position us a leading resource on building inclusive communities. 

Stay tuned for an updated and dynamic web-site, regularly refreshed blog posts and more opportunities to engage via social media. We’ll also be reaching out regularly with an e-newsletter, like this one, to keep you informed. Additionally, we’ll build relationships with the media to tell our story on a broader scale, increasing the visibility of Community Tampa Bay and highlighting the importance of our programs. Our communications strategies will include action steps, giving you tips for practical ways to promote positive change in your community! 

Finally, I look forward to leveraging Community Tampa Bay’s  capability to connect and unite individuals across various indicators of identity: faith, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, ability and more. 

To fully realize the inclusive culture we hope to create, we must continue to connect with our allies in inter-faith, social justice, educational, policy and professional communities to reach our goals.

That’s where you come in. We need you to help us strengthen our programs, tell our story and connect with our communities. Here is what you can do today:

Give in support of ANYTOWN this summer, youth programs next year and future program expansion. Your donation of any amount will help us build the foundation of funding that will help us reach more young people like Sydnee, who shared: “I am proud to be an agent of change in fighting for equality in my school, community and future career. I am not who I was…[because of] the new insight I gained at ANYTOWN.” 

  • Tell us your story. Were you involved in NCCJ? Have you volunteered with CTB? Did ANYTOWN change your life? Let us know! We want to hear from you.
  • Connect us with your faith institutions, community groups and workplaces to help us recruit more participants and supporters. We are only as strong as our network.
Since I arrived at Community Tampa Bay a few weeks ago, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with many of you. If we’ve not yet had the chance to personally touch base, please contact me at jrussell@communitytampabay.org. I hope to hear from you. 

In the meantime, thank you for all you do. You are the reason we are able to envision an end to discrimination.

With gratitude,
Jennifer Russell
Executive Director

F.L.Y presents: “As Long As I Got My Dress And Tie”!

The F.L.Y. (Facilitating the Leadership of Youth) Society presents the final summit for the 2013-2014 year:

As Long As I Got My Dress And Tie
(Gender Stereotypes And Why They Suck)

May 31st 4-8PM

This summit will revolve around gender stereotypes and answers the question, “are they relevant?”
It was created by youth for youth with FREE food and entertainment!

Questions? Call (727-568-9333) or email (fly@communitytampabay.com).
*A waiver is required for participants under 18!

For more info, see the flyer below!

(Gender Stereotypes And Why They Suck)

(Gender Stereotypes And Why They Suck)

F.L.Y. Teens to Host IDERD Summit!

The F.L.Y. (Facilitating the Leadership of Youth) Society proudly invites you to the I.D.E.R.D. (International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) summit,

The Art of Togetherness:
AEpic Showcase to End Racial Discrimination

March 21st 600- 900 PM

This summit was created by youth for youth with FREE food and entertainment!
Questions? Call (727-568-9333) or email (fly@communitytampabay.com).
*A waiver is required for participants under 18!

For more info, see the flyer below!

Hey ANYTOWN™ Volunteers!

As the ANYTOWN™ sessions draws nearer, it’s time to refresh, enhance, and strength your skill sets with the Staff Development Trainings!

Just remember, you must attend 1 (new or existing) Administrative Trainings, at least 3 out of 6 offered Topic Specific Trainings, and you may use 1 of 3 Quadrant Trainings as replacement for a topic specific. Ready?!

Here’s the link to all the training dates and times!

If you have any questions or would like to RSVP, call (727) 568-9333 or email Sarah at sogdie@communitytampabay.org.

ANYTOWN™ Applicants and Volunteers!

The ANYTOWN™ season has already begun! ANYTOWN™ is the area’s premier youth leadership and diversity education program. Thousands of young people have already created more inclusive and just schools and communities where everyone is treated with respect and understanding. We begin THIS summer’s intensive residential program now. We will continue growth throughout the 2014-2015 year via the Be Intentional Institute, which provides ongoing opportunities for service and leadership development utilizing the skills and attitudes developed at ANYTOWN™. Community Tampa Bay brings together a diverse mix of students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds to create each delegate class. All youth meeting ages 14-18 or entering grades 9-12 are encouraged to apply!


Want to attend ANYTOWN™ this summer for the first time?

The 2014 ANYTOWN™ Dates are:

Sunday June 29th – Thursday July 3rd
Sunday July 20th – Thursday July 24th

How do you apply? Click here to download the 2014 Program Participant Application!

Want to be a Residential Volunteer at ANYTOWN™ this summer?

Put your passion for ending discrimination into practice!

ANYTOWN™ begins in less than 5 months!!! The Volunteer Interest Form, via SurveyMonkey, has officially been released.  This is the first step to applying for service at a residential session of ANYTOWN™ 2014.


The online interest form will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete the survey. Incomplete interest forms will not be acceptedEven if you are not certain you can serve this summer, we ask that you begin the process to be considered.

All volunteer interest forms (for new and existing volunteers) are due by Friday, February 28, 2014Staff days for ANYTOWN are Saturday June 28 and Saturday July 19.

ANYTOWN™ Volunteer: Stephanie Coates

In Stephanie Coates’ junior year of high school, she was encouraged to go to ANYTOWN™. The following summer of 2007, she attended the program and has been a part of the CommunityTampaBay community since her delegation year. “ANYTOWN™ quietly impacted me,” she stated. Inspired and excited, she sought immediate involvement.

“ANYTOWN™ makes you realize you have to take charge as a youth. I didn’t think I could do anything worthwhile in the community.”

Stephanie with HYC at Children's Week in 2010

Stephanie with HYC at Children’s Week in 2010

Like many youth, Stephanie did not think she could make a difference as a young person. Through the CTB program HYC, the Hillsborough Youth Collaborative, Stephanie was able to follow up with the youth change initiative. She eventually became an unpaid youth program assistant for HYC by taking on a stronger leadership role. Her proudest memory is of leading the group to the 2010 Children’s Week event in Tallahassee. The program brought together a panel of 12 youth from across the state of Florida to discuss the government’s role in issues that impact children and youth. HYC had the most panel representation from one organization, comprising of over half the youth present.

Stephanie has impacted over 200 youth through volunteering with ANYTOWN™ so far. “The more years I was involved in CTB, the more confident I became. I was very shy and reserved, but now I’ve come out of my comfort zone a lot more. I’ve grown as an individual that’s able to take charge of things and connect to the quieter delegates. I’m at a point where I’m comfortable with myself as a counselor and the skills I personally bring. I don’t have to be off the wall with energy to be a good counselor at ANYTOWN™.” Stephanie is incredible for not only learning her strengths, but becoming more self-assured in using her fortes:

“Just be yourself and be comfortable with what you bring to the program and CTB. There is value in different personalities.”

The U.K. native has also found career inspiration from ANYTOWN™. The awareness of issues has prompted vigilance in serving others in the community. She completed her Bachelor’s in Social Work in the spring of 2011 at University of South Florida (USF) where she interned with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Through her internship, she was exposed to issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, suicide, as well as many other crises scenarios.

Stephanie CoatesStephanie is now earning her Masters in Social Work at USF. She started an internship last fall at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital where she will have the opportunity to follow her passion of working with women. Additionally, Stephanie works as a Student Support Assistant with INTO USF, a program that works with international students from countries where English isn’t the primary language. Through this role, she interacts with students and facilitates small interest groups that helped acclimate international students to life in the U.S.  She also volunteers with Bulls Service Breaks, another USF program that sends groups of USF students to different areas of the United States to do service around various social justice issues. In 2012, Stephanie was a participant in the program, but earlier last year she was selected to be a site leader. Her group traveled to Richmond, Virginia to work with Equality Virginia and the LGBTQ population.

The next step for Stephanie is exploring different areas with her degree. She wants to gain experience working with many different populations and issues with an end goal of becoming a professor of social work. She has learned that awareness and well-roundedness will allow her to become a great social worker who can better serve the community.

Stephanie attributes her work with CommunityTampaBay, ANYTOWN™, and HYC as the reasons she is more outspoken when there are instances of prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination. She loves being a volunteer because education decreases incidents of bigotry. Due to the impact of ANYTOWN™, Stephanie ultimately hopes that the program becomes a requirement to graduate from high school. “I wish we could grow to that level with the school system. 120 students per summer is a lot and it makes a huge difference in our community. However, we could do so much more if we had more resources. A point where we can implement the program with more students is where I hope we’ll be.

Written by Nadia Rumbolt

ANYTOWN™ Reunion – Jan 4th, 2014!

By Sara Miller

The annual ANYTOWN™ reunion is getting closer! Being a delegate from this summer, I’m not really sure what to expect at the reunion. Regardless of the day’s agenda, I can guarantee that everyone will have an awesome time. First of all, you get to see all the friends you made at your session. I know in my session, we’ve stayed really close, so the chance to all be together again sounds fantastic. Even if your session has drifted, this is a great opportunity to reconnect. This is also a time to brush up on your discrimination-ending skills. Dialogue, inclusion, advocating… does this sound familiar? I’m definitely taking this reunion as a refresher for my leadership tools. It’s a way to share with others and learn from their ideas as well.

For a little over a month, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with delegates from other sessions by making phone calls to remind them about the reunion. Not only have we talked about the event, but I’ve been able to connect with delegates over their accomplishments and use of their ANYTOWN™ skills. It’s been so great to hear about what everyone has been able to do to make a difference in their community. I really hope to be able to meet many other people and share with them about the effects they’ve had on others. I might even take a few pointers to improve my skills as a leader.

The ANYTOWN™ reunion is going to be awesome for countless reasons. For me, this is too good of an event to pass up on. I will absolutely be there, and I hope you will too! See you on:

Saturday, January 4, 2014 from 2-5pm at the Community Tampa Bay office
(1499 Beach Drive SE, Suite C, St. Petersburg, FL 33701)

HAWL Luncheon


On December 11, 2013, Director of Programs Jessica Estevez and long time volunteer Shivani Alamo represented Community Tampa Bay at the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers Celebration luncheon (HAWL) hosted by attorneys, Mamie Wise (past Anytowner), Katherine Yanes (parent of a Iliana Yanes, Anytowner 2013) and Victoria McCloskey.

The HAWL organization has 250 members and are dedicated to promoting diversity in the legal profession. Visit www.hawl.org to learn more about their organization.

Thanks for representing CTB Shivani and Jessica!

PCS Partner‏

“I stood in a room full of leaders – full of your future bosses, executives & employees, and each of them was a leader. They all stood out in a different way. They all shined!”
– Thalia, 2013 ANYTOWN™ Delegate

Community Tampa Bay and Pinellas County Schools continue to work together in successful partnership. Through the ANYTOWN™ program, the District-Wide Youth Leadership Conferences, school-specific Youth Conferences, and an on-going middle school PMAC class, we are continuing to cultivate leaders to change our communities.

We welcomed 58 Pinellas delegates to our 2013 residential ANYTOWN™ sessions this summer. We are proud to report our 2013 residential ANYTOWN™ sessions had representation from all public high schools except one, in addition to three middle schools and an exceptional education school. All ANYTOWN™ graduates are invited to continue their involvement with Community Tampa Bay for a year (and beyond!) through a series of skill-building trainings, an ongoing youth group which plans youth summits open to the public, and opportunities to host Youth Conferences and Unity Days at their high schools. Throughout this school year, it is our goal to visit 100% of Pinellas high schools with Anytowners this year at least once to both cultivate our past ANYTOWN™ graduates and outreach for new 2014 delegates!


Anytown 2013

Anytown 2013

The High School District-Wide Youth Leadership Conference just concluded on October 22 at Coachman Service Center in Clearwater. The day was centered around facilitating dialogue and cross-cultural interactions at school, and brought together almost 100 students from 13 high schools, including 11 ANYTOWN™ graduates. Eighteen adult partners and PMAC liaisons were also in attendance, sharing best practices and gaining new tools, in addition to eight Community Tampa Bay staff and volunteers. We also continued cultivating youth leaders at the Middle School District-Wide Conference on November 19th!

For the second year running, Community Tampa Bay is co-teaching a PMAC class at Azalea Middle School. We recently facilitated a Youth Conference with the class to prepare them to lead their own leadership experience for other students at school. The class is centered around creating a safe space to engage in cross-cultural dialogue about aspects of school that promote genuine interactions. They have also combined with a Restorative Justice program at school, designed to give class members a sense of ownership around disciplinary infractions involving other students. Jessica Estévez currently co-teaches the class with Kyle Steinberg.

“We are an organization that helps educate youth on real world issues and build and develop nondiscriminatory leaders to help usher in a new age of progressive thinkers.”
– 2013 ANYTOWN™ Volunteer

How can YOU get involved?

  • Invite Community Tampa Bay to come speak to your rising 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students about ANYTOWN™. We would love to visit your lunch times, classes, or club meetings! We guarantee an engaging presentation for your young people.
  • Schedule a full-day or half-day Youth Conference at your school. Conference costs range from $850 – $1700. However, we have a few limited spaces available for conferences free of cost to your school. Does your school have a lot of ANYTOWN™ graduates? We would love to reward you for your dedication to this mission with free programming! Contact us for a price quote.
  • High school youth may come volunteer for service hours at out District-Wide Youth Conference. Our goal is 100% school representation! 
  • Recommend students to attend ANYTOWN™ from your school or PMAC! It would be a dream come true to have a delegation from every Pinellas high school each year.

Contact Sarah (with an h) Ogdie at 727-568-9333 or sogdie@communitytampabay.org for more information about any of the above opportunities!

ANYTOWN™ Volunteer: Niki Kelly

Niki Kelly

Niki Kelly

Niki Kelly spreads awareness of the need for inclusion and cultural competency in our community. She shares Community Tampa Bay’s values of diversity and inclusion. “I also value equality, dialogue, and an informed population. Some people discount the brilliance of youth, the next generation of leaders.” Niki is, however, not one to dismiss the power of youth.

She is a regular guest speaker during Coming Out Star, one of the workshops that takes place during the youth leadership and diversity program, ANYTOWN™. Like many of the other lineups at ANYTOWN™, Coming Out Star offers different perspectives into the lives of people in our community. This workshop shares the coming out process for LGBTQ youth. Niki has also helped to compile the volunteer risk management policy, train volunteer staff on risk management, and she has photographed countless events. She donates to CTB and encourages her co-workers to do the same.

Niki works as the Director of Integration Programs at Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (GCJFCS) for the last 10 years. GCJFCS’ mission is to provide essential human services to individuals and families in times of need. She uses her cultural awareness to provide skills and resources needed to navigate the community. The GCJFCS includes diverse programs such as the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and the Adele Gilbert Residential Treatment Program.

“The first question I always ask myself and others I work with is, how does this affect all the people we serve? Inclusion is interwoven into everything I do.”

Niki has practice in conducting meaningful cross-cultural dialogue. As someone who has been leading cultural competency trainings for several organizations over the past nine years, she is more comfortable around a diverse group of people. She even works on cultivating an atmosphere of inclusion whenever there is a lack. She credits Community Tampa Bay for cultivating her patience and desire to “be intentional” with her words and actions. Niki, like many of the ANYTOWN™ graduates, are better able to approach every situation calmly with the goal of generating meaningful dialogue. “All people should have their voice. I always learn something new in the process.”

Other than a shared vision of a community free from all forms of discrimination, Niki Kelly has other reasons for being loyal to CTB. “What I walk away with most often is this reaffirming sense that it is a great thing that I live my life true to my unique self. The best thing that I get out of volunteering at ANYTOWN™ is seeing when the youth realize it is okay to be who they are. I’m also treated like a rock star every time I walk through the door!

Niki attended the University of South Florida and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, a minor in Psychology, and later a Masters in Management. Within the last five years, the native Floridian relit a fire for cycling and often rides up to 85 miles in one day. She is a self-proclaimed “serious person”, but in her downtime she watches sappy romantic comedies and, of course, dialogues with her cat.

Written by Amber Carles Klee with edits by Nadia Rumbolt




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