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Executive Director - St. Pete Innovation District

Posted By Joe Hamilton


Alison Barlow has been at the helm of the Innovation District for less than a year, but she's already fully plugged in to the influential and fast-paced community it boasts, including organizations like USF College of Marine Sciences, John's Hopkins All Children's Hospital, the many players of the Ocean team, and more. Barlow's background in facilitation and collaboration positions her to unite the Innovation District in a collaborative and transformative way. Barlow serves as a powerful connector, facilitating partnerships between members of the district and finding ways to share stories that illustrate the district's relevance to St. Petersburg as a whole. In her (sparse) spare time, Barlow enjoys an active community life, volunteering with Friends of Strays.

Years in St. Pete

Grew up in St. Pete, returned to the area part time in 2007, full time in 2014.

Organizations involved in

Leadership St. Pete, St. Pete Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Strays Animal Shelter

What gets you out of bed every day?

The fun things we get to do. People I work with are always willing to do new things, and my job is different every day.

Why St. Pete?

Originally, my dad moved here for a job. But I came back here because St. Pete has the qualities I liked from DC but still felt small. I’m one of those people that likes running into people I know at the grocery store. The commute is easy and still leaves me time to volunteer in the evening or get dinner with friends.

What is one habit that you keep?

Sleep. Sleep is the most important thing. Eight hours is always the goal. I have a high energy job and I get cranky and clutsy when I don’t sleep enough.

Who are some people that influence you?

People who get things done but aren’t mean about it. Without making people feel less than them. People that are able to really balance their work life and their community contributions.

What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?

Structural Intervention. The physical space that you’re in has a lot to do with the outcome of a conversation. The place that you choose to have the meeting can be as important as the meeting itself. Even the dynamics of the table that you sit at and where certain people are seated can make a big difference.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?

I wish that I understood more about economic development of St. Petersburg. That was the one real blank spot on my resume.

What’s next?

Near term: mapping collaborations. There is so much going on behind the scenes. Major projects in areas like marine & life sciences, retail & housing in the Innovation District, and district place making and walkability initiatives.

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