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The Past & Present of LSP

Susan Robertson (Class of 2001) with foreword by Emily Nipps (Class of 2021)

In a span of more than 50 years of Leadership St. Pete history, it’s hard to find an alum who is as passionate about our city as Susan Moran Robertson. As a former marketing and communication leader for both the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and St. Pete Pier, Susan has loved the connections she’s made because of LSP. Susan served as Chair in 2008 and has been involved in one way or another for 20+ years. As one of the more deeply-rooted St. Pete community members, I sat down with Susan to learn her feelings on how LSP has evolved over the years, what makes each class unique, and what makes LSP special.

- Emily Nipps, Class of 2021

It’s funny how you never know how you'll first get involved in things. My ex-husband Bob went through Leadership Manatee many years ago. I just remember him talking about all the friends and memories he made through the program. It sounded really cool. When I moved to St. Pete in 1998, I started thinking, “Surely they have a similar leadership program here.” One day, I was at the Coliseum, and the LSP Alumni Association had a booth. They said, “Here, you want a pamphlet?” So I asked my boss at the time – I was the Marketing Director for Parkside Mall – and I joined the Class of 2001.

LSP has evolved and grown over twenty years. I’m not sure it was quite as much work in 2001 as it is now. We still had 10 or 12 seminars plus an opening retreat, but we were only the third class to have a class project. That started in 1999. Our class project was CASA, and we had to come up with the money personally. We each put in the dollars we could and did as much as possible with our own hands.

But unchanged is the program's deep community connectedness. I think, number one, it’s the people drawn to LSP who maintain this mission. After 19 or 20 years of meeting 35 new people each year – that’s a lot of people. Plus the speakers, sponsors, and all the people you connect with throughout the different classes. Mayors, Business Leaders, … these are people you can pick up the phone and call any time because you’ve made a meaningful connection with them through Leadership St. Pete.

Every class is remarkable, and each class has its personality. Even though it’s a very different group each year, they all seem to develop a theme or character based on the cause they support or what’s essential in this city at the time. No matter how diverse they are as individuals, once they agree on a class project, they come together and bond as a whole. That’s something I think is special and consistent year after year.

-Susan Moran Robertson, Class of 2001 (Summarized & Written by Emily Nipps)

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