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With Just Getting Started, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Dr. Kanika Tomalin is “telling the St. Pete story” through one-on-one conversations with change-makers. With many exciting plans and projects on the horizon, St. Petersburg’s upward trajectory remains strong. “So much has been done, but here’s the secret: We’re just getting started.

02/28/2021 | Episode 14 | 17:54

Just Getting Started: Sri Sundaram

Dr. Tomalin's guest is Sri Sundaram, dean of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg's Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance, and the current chair of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. He was chair of the St. Petersburg Grow Smarter initiative (the comprehensive economic development plan) in 2019, and remains on the steering committee.

Key Insights

  • The Chamber is committed not only to the business community, but to the vitality of the community itself.
  • The goal of Grow Smarter, Sundaram said, is "equitable economic development. Putting some pathways together."
  • For all her success in business, Kate Tiedmann has an 8th grade education. "If I'd had the opportunity to go to college," Sundaram quotes her as saying, "what could I have done?" Thus, Tiedemann's philanthropy led to the establishment of the USF business school that bears her name.
  • A relevant and innovative curriculum is a top-tier goal of the Tiedmann School.
  • Sundaram and his faculty and staff are also dedicated to giving students the opportunity to apply what they've learned in a practical setting.
  • In his first three years as dean, internships went up from 20 to more than 120.
  • Professional development activities have given students the opportunity to network. "We have a lot of first-generation students - we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to grow them as a person."
  • The Tiedmann building is "not only an academic site; we also do impactful research." Not just publishing in journals but real-world research.
  • Sundaram is also a proponent of "intentional community engagement. We really wanted to make sure we opened up the building" to partners and the business community. Pre-pandemic, the school hosted approximately 100 events per year.

Dr. Tomalin’s guest is Sri Sundaram, dean of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance, and the current chair of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. He was chair of the St. Petersburg Grow Smarter initiative (the comprehensive economic development plan) in 2019, and remains on the steering committee.

St. Petersburg opens the arms and welcomes everybody. That's the intangible - you don't have to talk about it all the time, but you have to feel it to be a part of the city."

 

The ability to cater to small businesses (during the pandemic) has been critical for the growth of the community, and continued to move that forward."

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About the host

Dr. Kanika Tomalin is a thought leader, policy-maker, community ambassador, and health advocate.

As the first African-American, female Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of one of Florida’s largest cities, Dr. Kanika Tomalin is a role model for women from all walks of life and an advocate for innovative policies, equitable community revitalization, healthy families, at-risk youth and education.

Her signature initiative, Healthy St. Pete, which launched in 2014, has made community health a priority and impacts the lives of thousands of Sunshine City residents. By creating access to healthy food options, implementing free fitness zones in city parks and adding resources for individuals and families to make healthy living easier – Dr. Tomalin has made a tangible difference.

Dr. Tomalin’s understanding of the critical role health plays as a determinant of overall quality of life was shaped prior to her career in the public sector. She quickly climbed the ranks in the healthcare industry, most recently serving as the regional vice president of External Affairs for the Bayfront Health Network and director of Strategy for Health Management Associates’ 23-hospital Florida Group.


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