24Hours: TAMPA, Emilie Kuperman

Emilie Kuperman -- development director, entrepreneur, community volunteer, mom -- no single label adequately fits this uber-busy woman of diverse interests and multiple pursuits. If there's one common thread among her many roles in Tampa, it would have to be her passion for making connections.

As development director for the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation, her job involves making connections in order to obtain financial commitments from donors, plan special events and reach out to engage the Jewish community.

It's a position loaded with variety, challenges and deadlines, and it consumes a good bit of Emilie's energy.

Next up? Meet her creative connections. She sits on the board of freeFall Theatre Company, a not-for-profit organization that plans to open a large performing arts center in St. Petersburg in January.

And during her "off'' time, she's pursuing her dreams as an online entrepreneur, selling clothing patterns she created for Emilie Rebekah Designs, a company she launched last year.

Oh, and did she mention, by the way, that she's also a mom to Hila, a 4½-year-old daughter whose name means energy or aura.

Emilie's days are filled with both, in more ways than one, and that's the way she likes it.

"I don't operate in a 9-to-5 world. My days have such fluidity to them," says Emilie, who is enamored with Tampa's possibilities.

"It welcomes the entrepreneurial spirit," says Emilie, who grew up in Spokane, WA and most recently lived in Cleveland before arriving in Tampa four years ago. "Everyone I meet in my circle is doing something new. Everyone has this new venture.

"I've found a lot of like-minded creative types who not only want to be in the community, but they want to be part of the community."

Emilie believes in buying local, choosing for instance, to have lunch or coffee at independently owned businesses.

"Without the small businesses and people who want to do great things in our community, it would just be a bunch of strip malls," she says.

Emilie's Day In Tampa

9:15 a.m. After dealing with an early morning car repair, Emilie arrives at the Maureen and Douglas Cohn Jewish Community Campus, 13009 Community Campus Drive in Citrus Park.

As soon as she gets there, she pops into Lisa Robbins' office and the pair dives into a project they are doing for "Let My People Know" an outreach initiative aimed at engaging young Jews.

The 30-somethings put on microphones and start dishing about all things life and love for a series of podcasts they are creating that will be available through the website.

For these particular podcasts they are chatting about why people want to get married, and what it is like to be young and Jewish in Tampa. Future topics they plan to tackle include being Jewish in the workplace, what it means to be philanthropic and the best Jewish foods.

They want their podcasts to provoke conversations within the Jewish community, and to help create connections.

"We're on a constant mission to engage people," Emilie says.

10 a.m. Emilie drops in on a weekly staff meeting where topics of discussion include technology on campus and upcoming summer events.

10:30 a.m. Emilie joins a conference call to talk about plans for the first joint fundraising event with her organization and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco counties.

11 a.m. Emilie listens in as Iris Ruth Pastor does a Skype interview with Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal columnist, author of the best-selling "The Girls from Ames," and co-author of "The Last Lecture" with Randy Pausch.

As the Skype interview goes on, Emilie jots down notes and after the interview ends, Emilie critiques Iris, offering praise and advice.

11:17 a.m. Emilie is en route to say a quick hello to Hila at the campus preschool, when she is waylaid briefly by CEO Gary Gould, her boss. He wants Emilie to look over some revisions to a funding proposal they plan to present to a potential donor who will be on campus the following day.

11:22 a.m. Emilie again heads over to Hila's classroom, where the little girl fills her mom in on her day so far, and demonstrates how the black spider that she made, like the one in the song, can climb up and go down.

Emilie lets Hila know that she's leaving for a lunch meeting, and the little girl sweetly negotiates another visit from mom later in the day. Emilie agrees. Hila will be spending the night at her dad's place. He shares equally in parenting Hila.

11:30 a.m. Emilie zips down the Veterans Expressway heading to a luncheon meeting at Bin27, on Kennedy Boulevard, west of downtown.

She's lunching with Kevin A. Lane and Eric Davis of freeFall Theatre Company.
Emilie got involved on the theater company's board after meeting Kevin, who sits on the board of the Tampa-Orlando-Pinellas Jewish Foundation. Kevin is producing director for freeFall and Eric is the artistic director.

The trio pores over the latest architectural plans for the performing arts center and discusses items to include on the board's next agenda.

1:50 p.m. Emilie is back at the JCC, where she refines the funding proposal for the next-day donor's visit, makes telephone calls to confirm donor pledges and drops by again to see Hila.

3:25 p.m. Emilie arrives at Glazer Children's Museum, 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, to meet with Heidi Shimberg for a walk-through of the project set to open Sept. 25.

Emilie wants to check out the space because she's thinking about having a couple of events there. One would be for the Lions of Judah, a group of women donors and the other, for Jewish families, some time around a Jewish holiday.

4:30 p.m. Emilie wraps up her museum visit and heads back to her Hyde Park Village condo, where she looks over the "Let My People Know" newsletter and finishes a few other tasks for work.

Next, she prepares for a 6 p.m. meeting at Indigo in Hyde Park Village. She's meeting with Cindy Honickman, of Honickman Marketing Solutions, a consultant she hired to help her with her social media marketing campaign for Emilie Rebekah Designs.

6 p.m. Emilie and Cindy chat about the progress they've made on the marketing plan, discuss technical issues, get some work done and come up with a to-do list before their next meeting.

The idea is to keep the content on Emilie's blog fresh, Cindy says. "We want them to think you are so cool that they keep coming back to this. (We want them to think) "What did she write about this week?' "

Emilie, who began sewing at age 8, is eager to help others sew. She enjoys dreaming up new ways to upcycle old clothing -- turning it into new designs. She fashioned a skirt from T-shirts, for instance, and a pair of shorts from an old sweatshirt.

She sells her patterns for $6 each online, and so far has attracted customers from around the country and all over the globe, including Australia, Italy, Brazil, Germany, England and Canada.

It's an online business, but Emilie wants to create a real connection with her customers. To that end, she's available to answer questions and offer guidance, she says.

"I want people to bring me into their personal sphere. Even though I am offering a product, it becomes a very personal interaction."

7:45 p.m. Emilie is on her way home when she runs into a friend and some neighbors, who are enjoying live music in Hyde Park Village. She decides to hang out with them for awhile, listen to the band and get a glass of wine.

9 p.m. Emilie calls it a night and heads home.

B.C. Manion is a freelance writer working out of her 1932 bungalow in South Seminole Heights. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

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