T H R 🌿 V E

Ad 2 Tampa Bay celebrates being named Club of the Year + more |Photography by Sabrina Coyle

You are beautiful. Like a garden, you bloom from a mixture of inspiration, hard work, and love. Life is nothing but planting and tending to your fruition. We all get tangled in insecurity and shrink in darkness, but we were born to radiate and grow together. So, roll up your sleeves, smell the potential roses, and know you are here to thrive.

Seven years ago I made the best decision of my life to move from Detroit, Michigan and put my roots here in sunny Florida. Majoring in Advertising was my second best decision because it set me on a creative career and introduced me to Ad 2, a volunteer organization that empowers young professionals in the advertising industry with chapters from all over the country. One of them being Ad 2 Tampa Bay. Ad 2 TB’s mission is to advertise a better tomorrow and they do this by activating today’s creatives.

If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.

Ad 2 hooked me in with their student-driven initiatives like AdTour and AdTalks that let me mingle with local businesses and talent. I attended every single one of their events, bright-eyed and clueless, and each time I’d get better at networking / wearing a blazer. Everyone in the organization was ambitious and active in their community, and the karma was contagious. As soon as I graduated from the University of South Florida in 2014, I was ready to dig even deeper and see what I could do for Ad 2.

Just like joining a superhero squad, you have to choose your powers.

Changing scenery from student to professional helped me decide to serve as Ad 2’s Education Director alongside Max Dempster, a soon-to-be best friend, which meant we’d be organizing those same events I had attended prior. We devoted ourselves to these initiatives, reshaping them, amplifying them and anything else it took to better guide others along their career path. Giving back and not expecting anything in return ended up energizing me with hands-on industry experience and exposure. Fast-forward through a transformative two years of accelerated growth to last July when I was sworn in as the 2016–2017 President of Ad 2 Tampa Bay.

To thrive is to live beyond.

Leading 80 or so millennials was not something I knew I could do. It was a position I had to prove to even myself that I could handle. Fortunately, Ad 2 is the perfect community garden for us to test and nurture our abilities. I see so many in our group that step up to a project they’ve never accomplished before. They take risks, cast aside their doubts and claim an opportunity to make a difference. I challenged myself to be a leader and experienced the hardest year of my life and also the most rewarding. Others took on different roles and I too watched them thrive.

Helen D’Avanza was born and raised in Tampa, but was new to Ad 2 a year ago. Now, I couldn’t imagine our club without her half-shaved head and full sense of humor. Helen chose the super power of Public Service and served as Account Director, which means she’s the liaison between another local nonprofit in need and one completely free marketing campaign from Ad 2. By doing so, Helen met Sabrina Elizabeth Coyle (this article’s photographer) and other new faces whom she’d collaborate with every week together at a local coffee shop. After researching and discovering 1/4 of kids in our city are food-insecure (don’t know when their next meal will be), the team chose Where Love Grows, a small organization that hosts monthly dinners and cooking classes for hungry, young minds. Helen, for the first time in her life, led a creative team, acquired seven business partners and raised over $3,000 to help Where Love Grows and children thrive → nourishus.info

Alex Abell is now wrapping up his second year with Ad 2 and if he hadn’t moved from Georgia and decided to volunteer for our club, I don’t know if we’d be the thriving club that we are today. Alex is passionate about two things: people and processes, so he naturally became our Membership Director. His super powers to organize and streamline took us from 20 members to 100. And his knack for posting outrageous memes made everyone feel welcome. It’s amazing to see how much he has grown since I’ve met him. Alex used to say he was too shy to do public speaking, but I watched him take on the challenge and get others’ support until he was finally on stage, not once but at three different events. *Drops mic*

Frances Negron is brand spankin’ new to Ad 2 Tampa Bay. In fact, I just met her the other day and it was love at first sight. Frances does not have an official position for Ad 2, but she is a new member who decided to step outside her comfort zone, swing by on a Saturday and contribute to our Ad 2 photo shoot at the Fancy Free Nursery. I now see Frances sprouting new friendships, daydreaming about what could be and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Frances become President of Ad 2 Tampa Bay in 2020.

Enough beating around the bush.

We have some big news to share. This past month, we were able to send seven members to New Orleans to attend Admerica, a weekend conference hosted by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), where we meet other Ad 2 chapters, present our Public Service campaign and celebrate all we’ve accomplished. Here, the AAF honors the cities who exemplified the best of the best within eight different categories. How’d Tampa Bay do? Let’s take a look:

1st place in Education
1st place in Diversity
1st place in Government Relations
1st place in Membership
1st place in Programs
1st place in Club Operations
2nd place in Communications
3rd place in Public Service

The seeds we planted last July, the difference we set out to achieve and the energy it took all blossomed into one award-winning, city-changing act of nature. And the award for National Club of the Year goes to …

It’s time to continue to thrive. My year as President is over and I pass the watering can to my friend from the very beginning, Max. He has his own style of leadership with unique strengths and the organization will flourish in new ways. Helen is crafting a new position called Achievement Director, Alex is pursuing Technology Director and Frances is becoming a more active member each day. Now it’s your turn. How will you contribute to your community? What will you add to the world?


Connor Storch

Immediate Past President, Ad 2 Tampa Bay

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