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Influencer
Posted By Megan Holmes

Introduction

At 13 years old, Daniel Zepp was already a towering 6 feet 3 inches tall. As the now-president of St. Pete Catholic High School recalls, for as long as he could remember, his identity was tied not to who he was as a person, but to his athletic performance on the field. That is, until it all came to an abrupt halt during Zepp’s sophomore year at Boston College with a career-ending back injury. That's when Zepp became interested in the study of masculinity and faith - and what brought him to teach what he has learned to young men - and women - at St. Pete Catholic. In his four years in St. Petersburg, Zepp has become deeply involved in the community, serving in an advisory role at the University of South Florida and participating in the iconic Leadership St. Pete program.

Years in St. Pete

4

Organizations involved in

Parishioner at St. Paul's Catholic Church; School Board at Cathedral of St. Jude; Digital Marketing Advisory Committee Board at University of South Florida; Leadership St. Pete Class of 2018, Leadership St. Pete Alumni Association; Boston College Alumni Chapter Tampa Bay region

What gets you out of bed every day?

Getting excited to transform students' lives and to make an impact on individuals that will eventually be serving in this community.

Why St. Pete?

My wife is a Florida native, from Naples originally. We knew we wanted to move back closer to family. I found St. Pete because of the high school. A high school that had tremendous history, tradition and also, tremendous potential to grow and to grow with an aspiring community around it in St. Pete.

What is one habit that you keep?

A big habit of mine is lifetime learning. My sense is I get out of bed and I'm a sponge. Asking deep questions, always in community asking how I can better serve. Picking up something to read, engaging in a podcast, having a conversation, being open to the spirit of learning and working in education, I'm only as good as the learning that I'm doing consistently.

who are some people that influence you?

I'm influenced very much by the students, the ideas they have, the spirit they have. They not only give energy and drive but they have great ideas. On a larger level, one influencer in particular is Father Leahy, the president of Boston College. One of the things that he really sees in building an organization is building a farm team and continuing to build for the future, and to build sustainability and to be strategic in how people move forward their careers, their personal, professional and spiritual lives.

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

One of the pieces that really grounds me in particular is a prayer from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - Trust in the Slow Work of God. Reminding ourselves to be patient, to be gentle, to take every day as it comes and to trust that God's leading us is something that I - in a personal way - have been reminded of in critical points in my life. But also see it as a mantra and a way of moving forward.

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

I came in three years ago as the director of advancement at St. Petersburg Catholic High School. I had zero experience in fundraising, I knew nothing about philanthropy, why people give, what inspires them to give, and what they're truly passionate about. What I've learned is that people give from the heart because they feel called, and because they've been impacted personally in such a way. People that give not only philanthropically, but with their time and volunteering and also in prayer. I've just been inspired by the way in which they think about philanthropy and giving, and I wish I would have known that sooner.

What’s next?

A terrific Catholic High School in the city of St. Petersburg and southern Pinellas County. A high school deeply entrenched in tradition, that's forming students in virtue, that students are learning in a way that is inspired, that is thinking about strategic ways of not only engaging them in their formation but allowing them to improve in ways of problem solving, teamwork, collaboration and being forward looking at educational techniques that allow us to do so. Simultaneously, re-engaging alumni and community partners to share within the mission and building a great high school for this community.

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