Manatee Chamber wins state award

TAMPA – Manatee County’s Chamber of Commerce has received yet another award for its commitment to public education and support from behind the scenes over the last two decades. The Manatee Chamber and President and CEO Jacki Dezelski received the honor from SUNSPRA, the Sunshine State School Public Relations Association, last Thursday in Tampa during the 72nd Annual Joint Conference of the Florida School Boards Association. Over the last five years, the Chamber has created an environment of positive change in four key areas: student achievement, connecting the community to schools, education advocacy, and career and technical education. Consider these contributions the manatee chamber has made:
* Project Teach, now in its 26th year, takes Chamber members into the fourth grade to share their career stories;
* The Big Bank Theory places volunteers into high schools to engage seniors in hands-on, real-life financial situations to teach students how to become financially responsible adults;
* Legislative interaction has increased funding for the district — from 50 percent to 95 percent for Manatee Technical College; and
* With a voice representing 2,000 members and 75,000 employees, the Chamber is supporting restoration of millions in performance-based dollars and other funding to the Department of Education — all earmarked for post-secondary workforce education. Given these reasons and more, it’s easy to see why this year’s Leading Light Award winner truly is spotlighting public education from behind the scenes but in a very public way. The Margie Davidson Leading Light Award recognizes individuals and organizations for providing outstanding support to public education. It honors the late St. John’s County communications director who championed the award process started in 2002. Blackboard, a leader in school communication platforms, returned as the exclusive

sponsor of this year’s award.  # # #
Jacki Dezelski (third from left), representing the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, receives the 2017 Margie Davidson “Leading Light” Award in Tampa from the Sunshine State School Public Relations Association. Also included with Dezelski are SUNSPRA President Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC (left), Manatee Technical College’s Maura Howl, APR, and Blackboard’s Tina McMechen (right).