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Vice President for Institutional Advancement & Executive Director of the Foundation at St. Petersburg College - St. Petersburg College

Posted By Keara McGraw


St. Pete College is a high octane, action filled environment where careers are lifting off like rockets in every direction. Thus the Foundation at St Pete College requires a leader who can match that energy to properly serve the organization's mission. That's exactly what they found in Jesse Turtle. Exacting, efficient and endlessly ready activate good ideas, Turtle has been thriving in the role. It's not doubt he's influencing many lives in many ways and we're happy to celebrate him with this profile.

Years in St. Pete

I’ve been in St. Pete for over 30 years since 1986.

Organizations involved in

So I’m involved in a ton, but not as a volunteer. So I guess the organizations I’m involved in are all of our art museums and parks. But my role at Symbol College kind of limits me with the organizations that I can be involved with in terms of fundraising.

What gets you out of bed every day?

St. Pete College really gets me out of bed every day. I wish I had known it 30 years ago. It really is such an amazing place and does such a wonderful job at educating our people. Really, and Dr. Williams, those two things get me out of bed.

Why St. Pete?

The more we travel around Florida, the better we like St. Pete. I mean, it’s just such a great city. It has so much to offer. The beaches, the arts, the culture, the restaurants, the atmosphere, the laidback. We go travel all around Florida and just we always are anxious to get back home for a weekend in Tallahassee or Miami. Those places are fun, but we love living

What is one habit that you keep?

I get up every morning, 5:30 and stretch. If I don’t stretch, I don’t feel really good at the end of the day. So that’s definitely one habit that I do every single day. 

Who are some people that influence you?

Mark Smith, who was my former Dean of students at Eckerd College, is a huge influence on my life. He really kind of took over the father figure, and his mantra was givers, always win and takers, always lose. I really kind of took to that. Then, Dr. Williams, she’s just an amazing role model and her perseverance and her leadership skills are just incredible, I want to be Dr. Williams when I grow up.

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

There’s a book by Adam Grant about giving so you could see my theme. That book definitely has reinforced what I’ve kind of learned and what I do really in philanthropy and giving back to the community. So that’s definitely a book I would recommend.

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

As I said, I really wish I knew more about St. Petersburg College three years ago, and it’s actually almost been three years since I started working there. The scope of what SPC does is amazing. I mean, people don’t realize it’s not Junior College anymore. It’s 20 BA degrees, it’s college of nursing, it’s certificates. We’re all over the county from the bottom of the county, all the way to the top with eleven sites.  That’s what I really wish I knew.

What’s next?

We’ve got a big fundraising campaign on the horizon. You could see the theme here. So I’m really excited about that. My two kids are out of college. So that’s also on the horizon and more camping, more kind of empty nesting. So that’s on the personal side, that’s what’s up next. And then this big campaign we’re going to be doing to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the college. So that’s what’s next.

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