TAMPA — Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio has been named the new president and chief executive officer for the national Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization.
She will start her new job March 31. The job is based in the Dallas, Texas, area, but Iorio said she will commute. She will rent an apartment in Texas, but Tampa will remain her home.
“It’s a national job so I’ll be everywhere,” Iorio said.
Iorio said she had not contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters but received a call from the organization about the opening in February.
She said she is looking forward to leading an organization that works to mentor and inspire children. She’ll be in charge of a staff of 72 people in the Texas office and will lead national efforts in branding, programming, fundraising and assisting the 338 affiliates nationwide, including the offices in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
Iorio, a Democrat, was Tampa’s mayor from 2003 to 2011. The high-profile position led many to believe she could be a strong candidate for a higher political position, but Iorio said she had not been planning on any run for office.
“I haven’t moved in a political direction since I walked out of the mayor’s office three years ago,” she said.
Since leaving office, she has written a book on leadership and done speaking engagements across the country. Iorio has written a history column for The Tampa Tribune for several months, but the new job means the column will be coming to an end, she said.
Her connection to Big Brothers Big Sisters isn’t new and neither is mentoring.
In 2004, Iorio started the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative that allowed city employees to take time off to mentor children at local schools, such as West Tampa Elementary.
The program was run through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Iorio said she saw firsthand how it changed the lives of the children and the adults who volunteered.
“They become lifetime relationships,” Iorio said.
Iorio’s time as mayor gave her a reputation as a strong leader with high ethical standards. Two years ago, she was tapped to be interim director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, a taxpayer-funded organization that helps local children but was in disarray.
In a few months, she cut costs, refocused the organization and improved morale, board members said.
“She made the appropriate changes and helped us get through a difficult time,” said Chris Brown, the chairman for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. “I’m not surprised another organization picked her up.’’
Mike Carroll, a board member with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, said Iorio energizes her staff by listening to their concerns and making them feel that they are a part of the operation.
“She’s very collaborative,” Carroll said. “She’s very inclusive in her leadership style. She’s compassionate and is not afraid to make tough decisions.’’
Iorio replaces Charles Pierson as head of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Pierson became president and CEO in June 2012. He’s leaving the post for personal reasons, according to the organization. According to the Dallas Morning News, the organization received a scathing audit from the U.S. Department of Justice last summer about its oversight of $23 million in federal grants. The audit did not allege wrongdoing but said the organization had sloppy bookkeeping and lax financial controls.