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  • 03/05/2020 2:30 PM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    Hello EMERGErs! Meet Adel (there's NO "E" on the end! LOL).


    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland? I joined EMERGE Lakeland to get involved with the Marketing Committee and meet other professionals that enjoy marketing. My degree is in Marketing but an actual marketing-based position is new to me so I am excited to learn from those who have been in a marketing position for a long time!
    2. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from? I am not from this this area. I grew up in Massachusetts and moved down to Florida in 2007. I do NOT like the cold but I miss how pretty the snow is and how much fun it can be to play in. 
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? My husband and I moved to Tavares for a couple years then moved back to Lakeland a couple years ago. I can tell you one thing I certainly did not miss is the traffic! Also, we lived right near Lake Harris so the area was just beautiful with the woods & lakes but we certainly missed all of our friends & family in Lakeland - Tavares might only be 1.5 hours away but it feels like MUCH farther! 
    4. What do you do? I am the Marketing Manager at Image Depot Express, however, we are a small company so I am involved with many other aspects of the business as well. I started 7 years ago as an outside marketing rep where I went around to customers outside of the office then transitioned to an inside customer service rep. From there I was promoted to Store Manager and functioned as such in a couple different locations before I was promoted to our Retail Operations Manager and in charge of the Store Managers for each location. After that, my role changed to Marketing Manager where I am helping to transform our brand into the future. I have my Bachelor's degree in Marketing so I am very excited to have the opportunity to be involved with Marketing functions in the company that I love!
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? What I love most about my job and company is my boss! You will never find someone more passionate about what he does or the people that work for him.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? I have ridden horses my entire life and compete in something called Eventing, which is like a triathlon on horseback. If you have ever seen one of the equestrian portions of the summer Olympics, you have seen Eventing. The first phase involves performing a memorized series of movements in an arena with letters around the outside to signal when to perform each movement. You get scored on each movement and carry your score through the second two jumping phases where you can acquire penalties that raise your original score. The person with the lowest final score at the end of the three phases wins their division. 
    7. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? I can be a little shy and starting conversations at events is not one of my strengths. I'm happy to talk about anything, just not the best at starting the conversation!
    8. Anything else you want to add? I also have 2 dogs, a black lab & a dachshund and love animals! My husband and I love to vacation in Blue Ridge, in the North Georgia mountains and have been married for 5 years. We don't have kids yet but want them one day and would love to hear about yours! 
  • 02/21/2020 10:35 AM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    It's Friday! Not only is this the best day of the week, it also leads to the highest open and click through rate for emails! Which is exactly why we're posting this super important message today :)

    Our membership drive is NEXT THURSDAY! This event was a blast last year, with over 120 members and non-members in attendance. 

    Have you ever been to our membership drive? It's completely free and super fun. Please register and invite a friend to this free event. Check out more information and register below:

    See you then!

    EMERGE Lakeland 

  • 02/17/2020 9:29 AM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    EMERGErs meet Nick Le, Recreation Supervisor, Senior for the City of Lakeland.

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland? To get to know the city of Lakeland and make social connections.
    2. Are you originally from this area? I was born in Long Beach, CA but I grew up in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia area).
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? How personable people are.
    4. What do you do? Recreational Supervisor, Senior in the Parks & Recreation department of the City of Lakeland.
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? Being an energetic, positive influence on my recreation staff.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? Crossfit, working out, soccer, swimming, rock climbing, sports, grilling, trying new restaurants and bars, watching movies, traveling, FSU football.
    7. What’s your involvement in the community? Creating a safe and friendly aquatic environment at Gandy and Simpson pool so that community can live an active and healthy lifestyle through aquatic recreation and fitness.
    8. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? Florida State, Harry Potter, Crossfit, traveling, recreation and fitness, food and drinks, current podcasts or books I'm reading.
  • 02/14/2020 12:00 PM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    Everyone, meet Jovan Hemenez, Administrative Assistant for City of Lakeland

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland? My boss, Nicole Travis, told me about EMERGE. I joined to network and meet other young professionals in Lakeland, as I am new to the city.
    2. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from? I am not originally from Lakeland, FL. I was born and raised in Orlando, and spent the most recent 5 years of my life living in Gainesville, FL (sorry, I am not a Gator!). I moved to Lakeland in May 2019.
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? I really enjoy the peace over this city. There’s just such a beautiful atmosphere about Lakeland. All the lakes, swans, the landscape, the murals downtown… it all creates a tranquil and serene atmosphere and environment.
    4. What do you do? I am currently an Administrative Assistant to Nicole Travis, who is the Director of the Community & Economic Development Department for the City of Lakeland. I am also a full-time student at SEU, getting my masters in Marriage & Family Therapy.
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? I personally feel like my boss is somewhat of a celebrity, so I really enjoy the opportunities that I have been given in meeting many professionals in the City and surrounding community.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? Well, I am very big on my Christian faith. So, some of my hobbies include studying the Bible, mentoring youth, and I absolutely love singing (& yes, I can actually sing). I also enjoy spending as much time as I can with my beautiful wife. You’ll typically catch us at the movie theaters, at a restaurant (we love trying new places, especially "hole in the wall" places), and just exploring and traveling.  
    7. What’s your involvement in the community? Right now the most involvement that I have with the community is being a part of EMERGE, and I am actively involved with serving at Family Worship Center (mostly with the youth ministry).
    8. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? I like talking about God, my wife, Apple products, Marvel Movies… just to name a few things. Please DO NOT ask me about work, LOL, Just kidding…
    9. Anything else you want to add? I love vlogging. I haven't posted a vlog, in over 3 years (LIFE happened).
  • 02/07/2020 10:06 AM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    It’s a question not unfamiliar to those of us who have been in EMERGE for a while, because we ourselves asked the question at the beginning. Whether we had found out about EMERGE by word of mouth, social media, or by some event we just happened to stumble on, our interest was piqued just enough to find out more.

    So, we went online, trying to find the answer on EMERGE’s website—but, the answer wasn’t quite there. It took some effort, but eventually, we found our way. Later, however, we realized that it’s a question on a lot of your minds when you first join EMERGE: I’m here and I want to get involved—so now what do I do?

    We’re so glad you asked
    If you are newly registered or are trying to decide if EMERGE is for you, we have added some new content on our site to help you find our way. Check out the How to Get Involved page under the Join Us section of our website.

    Everyone’s journey with EMERGE is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to go about figuring out where you belong. EMERGE is growing alongside you, and if there is anything we can do to help you along, please don’t hesitate to ask!

  • 01/21/2020 8:08 AM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    We’re a few weeks in to 2020 and this new year has come with a chance to stop and think about where you are and what you want to change.

    With every new year comes new resolutions and goals. We’ve heard and seen them all. We’ve even had some of them ourselves. You know… lose weight, get fit, make new friends, get out more, drink water and the list goes on. With everyone working on personal resolutions and goals for the year, now is also the perfect time for us young professionals to step back and take a look at our professional and career goals.

    With that being said, we want to let you know that a new committee has “EMERGEed” in 2020. We’re introducing the Professional Development Committee, chaired by our very own Kurtis Pelto.

    Kurtis has been with EMERGE since July of 2018, and has been a very active member. He is a Professional Engineer at Kimley-Horn & Associates and he also sits on the steering committee of EMERGE. I had the opportunity to ask Kurtis, and the rest of the current committee members, a few questions about the newly added committee.

    • What exactly is the purpose of the Professional Development Committee?
      • Our main goal with the new committee is to get back to one of our original purposes of helping develop the young talent here in Lakeland. Not only do we have a large amount of young professionals, but with the higher education institutions here, we want to do our part in retaining them to continue to grow our community.
    • What do you hope EMERGE members will get out of this committee?
      • Members will get information and opportunities to grow as a professional in the business world for real life application.
    • Why should an EMERGE member join this committee?
      • Like with all of our committees, this is a way to get more involved and help to grow our group. We are always looking for new ideas and people.

    Well, there you have it folks! Speaking for myself, this is definitely a committee to be a part of. Now, I will say this, you don’t have to be a part of the committee to develop professionally, so be sure to attend ALL of the Professional Development events held this year. You DO NOT want to miss out.

  • 01/02/2020 11:22 AM | Jovan Hemenez (Administrator)

    Happy New Years EMERGERs! We hope and expect that 2020 treats you well!

    On another note, everyone meet Matt Wagner, Owner of Red Leg Dev, LLC

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland? I joined EMERGE to meet and connect with other highly motivated professionals in our area -- the chance to talk about common interests and be a part of the professional conversation.
    2. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from? I grew up in Lakeland, spending almost the entirety of my childhood here before going to the University of South Florida in Tampa. When my wife and I were expecting our first son, we moved back to be closer to family.
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? I really enjoy the atmosphere of Lakeland -- we're nestled between two larger cities, but we have our own distinct personality. The community is very friendly and welcoming, and also constantly growing and renewing!
    4. What do you do? I currently have a few jobs! I own and operate a custom software consultancy called Red Leg Dev, LLC, and I love working with small and medium businesses to help provide technical expertise and organizational leadership insight. I also am an actively serving United States Army Officer with the Florida National Guard, which has been an incredible experience, training with and leading the finest Citizen Soldiers in the country.
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? I get an opportunity to help people, whether it's the hard-working small business owner in my "civilian" job or a community struck by natural disaster as a member of the Florida National Guard. Sometimes it feels like being tech-savvy is like a super-power, where you can see and provide issues to solutions that people didn't realize were hindering them. Being in the Guard has given me a unique insight into leadership and the sacred privilege it is to lead others.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? I am a voracious reader -- my Kindle comes with me almost anywhere. I try to spread my reading across the spectrum, from technical articles to leadership lessons to fiction. I credit my reading habit to being able to analyze issues from different perspectives, and I make gratuitous use of the highlight feature! My wife and I are also big runners, having done many half-marathons and the most recent Red Ribbon 15k.
    7. What’s your involvement in the community? Besides my National Guard service, I have also been active with the Gator Redlegs, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that aims to serve veterans and their families through scholarships and community outreach. I have also taken the time to speak at events like the Great American Teach-In and Code Lakeland to share some of the lessons that I've been blessed to have learned over the years.
    8. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? I like talking technology -- but more than that, I love talking about how we can use technology and software specifically to improve business outcomes and quality of life. I like hearing about the issues business owners are facing and seeing where we can help them achieve their mission.
    9. Anything else you want to add? I'm really looking forward to meeting and contributing to the conversation. Check out my website at https://red-leg-dev.com for more information on what I do for a living! 

    *If you are a New Emerge Member and would like to be highlighted in our New Member Spotlight, please contact Jovan at jovan.hemenez@lakelandgov.net
  • 11/18/2019 2:05 PM | Taher Hamid (Administrator)

    EMERGERs, let us introduce you to Ashley Miller, Account Executive at MADE.


    1.         Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?

    • As an active member of the Lakeland community, and a native of this wonderful city, I am familiar with the good work that the Lakeland Chamber and EMERGE does in our community. After 12 years in a non-profit career at Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE), I recently made a career change. From my experience working with EMERGE members through various volunteer activities at VISTE, and my knowledge of EMERGE Serves, I felt it appropriate to join this wonderful group of young professionals to learn more beyond what I already know, and meet new professionals who are focused on community, networking, learning from others, cultivating friendships, and developing their careers.


    1. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
      • Born and raised in Lakeland, FL!


    3.         What do you like most about Lakeland?

    • Lakeland is home. As Lakeland grows, more opportunities for community involvement become available. We have great leadership in Lakeland, who invest in making this an even more diverse and beautiful place to live, work, and play.


    4.         What do you do?

    • I am an Account Executive at MADE, a boutique marketing and branding agency in Lakeland.


    5.         What do you like most about your job/profession?

    • I love interacting with our clients, and helping them share their businesses’ voice. Each one is different, and bringing their visions to life is extremely rewarding. We also have an amazing team, each with our individual talents that come together to become an extension of our clients’ teams. My team is like a second family and I love coming to work every day!


    6.         What are some of your hobbies?

    • Singing, playing the piano (not on a stage LOL), and spending time at the beach (particularly Anna Maria Island) and in nature.


    7.         What’s your involvement in the community?

    • I am a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXVI, and recently finding myself with more time to volunteer with some local non-profits.


    8.         If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?

    • A tried and true conversation starter with me is asking about my 4-year old son, Jack. I’ll also talk music, bands, Florida wildlife, restaurants, marketing, volunteerism, you name it. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a “talker.”


    9.         Anything else you want to add?  

    • Thanks for the opportunity to share, join the conversation, and all the great things that EMERGE is doing in Lakeland!


    If you are a fairly new member, within the last three months, and would like to be highlighted in our EMERGE blog, please feel free to contact Jovan Hemenez at jovan.hemenez@lakelandgov.net.

  • 10/25/2019 3:41 PM | Taher Hamid (Administrator)

    Hello EMERGER’s,

    I’d like to introduce to you Bryant Cobb, General Manager at Massey Services.

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?
      1. “Well, I have great respect for Emerge’s goal to empower and connect young professionals in Lakeland’s Community. I would welcome the opportunity to work with a great organization. At the same time, I have friends in the organization who have told me about its involvement in the community and how it creates a great environment for rewarding innovation. I think my leadership style would fit in really well here — especially in my marketing role.”
    1. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
      1. I am originally from Richmond, Virginia.
    1. What do you like most about Lakeland?
      1. Lakeland is place where I see the potential to grow into something great. I see Lakeland in five years, a small city with a lot of new young business owners. 
    1. What do you do?
      1. General Manager at Massey Services.
    1. What do you like most about your job/profession?
      1. Developing People and creating a winning culture.
    1. What are some of your hobbies?
      1. My hobbies are High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), watching Marvel & DC movies and traveling across the world.
    1. What’s your involvement in the community?
      1. My involvement in the community is mentoring and someone who wants to create new young business owners in the community.
    1. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?
      1. How does Emerge bringing value to the community?
      2. How can Emerge get more members involved in activities?
      3. How can we attract more new members? 
    1. Anything else you want to add?  
      1. If you're not reaching back to help anyone then you're not building a legacy.” 

  • 10/16/2019 3:08 PM | Taher Hamid (Administrator)


    My name is Jovan and I want to personally welcome you to EMERGE Lakeland’s Blog Relaunch! I’m actually a new member myself, but I’m the kind of person who dives right in whenever starting something new. Recently, I have joined the Marketing Committee and we are currently working on updating our EMERGE Blog. We will be highlighting new members in our “New Member Spotlight”. For the “New Member Spotlight,” we select a new member that has recently joined EMERGE, ask a couple of questions, post a photo of them, and “spotlight” them in our EMERGE newsletter and blog.

    With so many members in EMERGE, it’s hard to meet everyone. Spotlighting new members opens the opportunity to know a little more about them when attending an EMERGE event.

    With that being said, I’d like to introduce you to Dorcas Crumbley, Owner of Essential Catering Solutions, Inc.

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?  I joined EMERGE Lakeland for the vast amount of resources and information exchange that happens within this culture. I believe that actively learning as much as I can about this awesome community and surrounding area makes me that much more of a force to be reckoned with when it comes to contributing to it in massive ways economically and financially. I am a native of Lakeland and I have seen Lakeland grow so much over the span of my young adult life and I am ready to be a part of its advancement.
    2. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from? I was born and raised here.
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? The excellent family-friendly dynamic it holds which adds value to the community.
    4. What do you do? I own and operate Essential Catering Solutions, a full-service catering company that focuses on personalized care in bereavement food service, although we have a vast range of business and wedding clients. We specialize in creating a very unique and holistic experience in food and event execution. 
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? The people.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? Traveling.
    7. What’s your involvement in the community? I participate in many different ways, such as in-kind and financial donations, volunteering of my time, and fostering nonprofit partnerships among other things. 
    8. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? Ask me more about Bereavement catering and some of the unique ways we provide services to our clients. 
    9. Anything else you want to add? I love what I do. The people who work with me to create the best experience for our clients truly enjoy what they do, which is why, if you want to experience catering differently, then you definitely want us to cater or plan your next event.

    Dorcas, welcome to EMERGE Lakeland!

    Author: Jovan Hemenez

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