Partnership Taps United Way Executive as New CEO
Bemetra Simmons has been named president and chief executive officer of the Tampa Bay Partnership. A respected business and nonprofit leader, Simmons will replace Rick Homans in the regional research and public policy organization’s top post on September 27.
“After an extensive national search, we found a local leader who possessed the unique skills to succeed in this challenging position,” said Chad Loar, chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership and West and Central Florida regional president for PNC Bank. “Bemetra is a smart and strategic leader who has demonstrated her commitment to Tampa Bay on both a personal and professional level. She’s also a strong collaborator who, we believe, can unite the diverse voices and interests within our region and help us advance our mission of improving the personal and economic well-being of our residents. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the team.”
Simmons currently serves as the chief strategy and operations officer for United Way Suncoast, where she oversees core operations functions, including finance and information technology, and community investment for a five-county region. In this role, she facilitated a COVID-19 emergency response process which resulted in the disbursement of $1.6 million in emergency relief to area nonprofits and participated in the planning of the organization’s new strategic vision.
In assuming the lead role at the Partnership, she will continue to work closely with United Way Suncoast, most notably as collaborating partners on the State of the Region initiative.
“I’m excited to see Bemetra take her career to greater heights, particularly with a longtime partner,” said United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff. “Bemetra proved to be a dynamic leader for us, solving a range of issues and adding greater efficiency to our operation. I know I speak for everyone here when I say she will be missed. We wish her nothing but the best.”
A former banking executive, Simmons previously worked as the Florida Managing Director at Mutual of Omaha Bank and held leadership roles at Wells Fargo and BB&T. She currently serves on the board of commissioners for the Tampa Housing Authority, the executive committee for the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Community Tampa Bay board. She is a 2013 Leadership Tampa graduate and a member of Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class XXXVIII. The Tampa Bay Business Journal named her an “Up and Comer” in 2013 and a finalist for its businesswoman of the year award in 2017. Simmons is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
“This is an exciting time to take the helm of such an impactful organization,” said Simmons. “Through its research and leadership, the Partnership has helped to identify and address a number of significant, systemic challenges in our region. I look forward to building on that momentum and strengthening the ties between our business, government and nonprofit leaders, so we can work together to solve these pressing issues and create new opportunities for the future.”
Homans announced his plans to step down as CEO in March. He joined the Partnership in November 2015, and was immediately tasked with implementing sweeping changes to the organization’s mission and leadership structure. By 2016, the Partnership had transitioned from a publicly-funded regional economic development and marketing organization to a privately-funded coalition of CEOs focused on regional research, public policy and advocacy.
Under Homans, the Partnership had a far-reaching impact on Tampa Bay through its transportation, talent and racial equity initiatives. Most notably, he and his team led the development of the annual Regional Competitiveness Report, a set of regional metrics that compare Tampa Bay’s performance to 19 peer markets nationwide, and provide a foundation for shared goals and community action.
In April, the Partnership’s governing board established a search committee to drive the recruitment and hiring process for Homans’ successor. Chaired by Loar, committee members included: Brian Butler, president and CEO of Vistra Communications; Anne Marie Lapczynski, vice president of people services and head of the North America Capability Center for Bristol-Myers Squibb; Jim O’Connell, president of Vinik Family Office; and David Pizzo, West Florida market president for Florida Blue. Executive search firm Winner Partners was hired to lead the effort.
About the Tampa Bay Partnership
The Tampa Bay Partnership is a coalition of regional business leaders, joined by a shared commitment to improving the personal and economic well-being of Tampa Bay residents. Formally incorporated in 1994, and re-established in 2016 as a regional research and public policy organization, the Partnership works with the region’s top employers, and a diverse group of government and nonprofit partners, to identify and address the toughest challenges facing our community.