Central Florida Business Leaders Harness the Power of Partnership at HFUW’s Business United Summit!

Blog BU Summit Recap

There is power in partnership! 

On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, Heart of Florida United Way hosted Central Florida’s first-ever Business United Summit, presented by Publix Super Markets Charities — an event where local business leaders learned how engaging with the nonprofit community can bolster their company’s brand, foster cross-generational employee engagement, expand their markets, and help them discover new ways to meet their employees’ needs.  

This event began with a few words from our facilitator Chief Creative Catalyst Bob Kodzis and HFUW Board Chair Tracey Powell. Bob led these business leaders to share their successes, challenges, and potential.  

HFUW Chief Operating Officer Graciela Noriega Jacoby then shared our latest community insights on our ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population which make up 33% of our population in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties that we serve. 

The Business United Summit offered three breakout sessions, led by a who’s who of Central Florida business leaders, where attendees gathered insights and strategies to improve their business models and how their businesses can readily support our community.  

The Heart of Giving Back: Volunteerism at Work breakout session, sponsored by TD Bank, had a panel discussion moderated by Director of Community Engagement at AdventHealth Meghan Curren with the following panelists: 

  • Arthur Costa, SVP and Multicultural Banking Leader at Truist 
  • Elisha González, VP of Community Relations and Government Affairs at FAIRWINDS Credit Union 
  • Jodie Hardman, SVP and Market Executive for Central Florida at Bank of America 
  • Rob West, VP and Community Development Manager of Central and North Florida at TD Bank 

Another available breakout session was the Our Inclusivity Works: How Employee Engagement Drive Retention session, sponsored by LITTLE, that included a panel discussion moderated by Director of Business Performance at LITTLE Dorrie Knizatko with the following panelists: 

  • Shane A. Burnsed, Business Leader at Gilbane Building Company 
  • Laura Cutchens, Executive Director at Orlando Magic Youth Foundation 
  • Leslie King, Instructional Designer and Master Trainer at Orange County Government 
  • Amy Beth Pinto, Managing Director at Ernst & Young, LLP 

The third breakout session available was the From Programs to Progress: The Transformative Power of Shared Resources session, sponsor by Rosen Hotels & Resorts, for a conversation moderated by our very own SVP of Strategic Impact and Community Engagement Ray Larsen. We also heard a few words from Associate Director of Communications and Community Affairs at Rosen Hotels & Resorts Janice Abrew-Coriano. The business leaders who led this conversation were: 

  • Lainie Fox Ackerman, Assistant VP of External Affairs and Community Benefit for Orlando Health 
  • Karlene Santiago, Senior Community Engagement Coordinator for the Community Engagement Department at OUC – The Reliable One 

After attending two of the breakout sessions, attendees connected the dots with facilitator Bob Kodzis as they talked about the new ways to bolster their business strategies by partnering with nonprofits like HFUW. Watch this recap video of our inaugural Business United Summit below. 

When businesses choose to LIVE UNITED and harness the power of partnership, together we can support the ALICE families of our community.  

Thank you to our speakers, sponsors, and event partners for their support in making this event happen!  

RSVP for Business United: Food for Thought Friday! 

Are you ready to get to work? Join us for our Business United Food for Thought Friday on October 20, 2023, facilitated by Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at Florida Blue Nisha Brice. This is your opportunity to take your first steps to reaching your business’s corporate social responsibility goals. 

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