TAMPA — Nestor Ortiz was recently named the University Area Community Development Corporation’s chief operations officer.
While the position is new to him, neither is the low-income area where the nonprofit organization serves, nor is his experience in establishing programs to improve the lives of the underserved residents, most notably its youth population.
The 39-year-old father of two sons has family members who live in the community north of the University of South Florida, and he founded Adolescent Development Services, a consulting firm that since 2002 has focused on working with youth enrichment agencies throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including the UACDC, to improve their quality of life.
He’s also held other leadership positions at Lowry Park Zoo, the Boston Museum of Science and Zoo New England that involved youth and community engagement.
“I’m intricately invested here, so I think this position is an excellent opportunity for me,” said Ortiz, who has 20 years of experience in strategic planning and program development.
Ortiz defines his role as one of bridge building among communities and cultures and expanding UACDC’s presence.
“We’re institutionalizing a strong community engagement component and growing and streamlining our programs,” he said. “I want to make sure that we grow as an economic vehicle, but we don’t want our most vulnerable residents to be displaced. We want to make sure they have access to jobs available and have the education available to get those jobs.”
In his view, the UACDC is a diamond in the rough that simply needs polishing.
“For me, this is not even a job, in all honesty,” Ortiz said. “My entire life has been in communities that struggle.”
UACDC executive director and CEO Sarah Combs is thrilled to have Nestor on her team.
“His vast years of experience working with this community and with so many not-for-profits make him a perfect fit,” she said.
Gene Marshall, UACDC board chairman, agrees.
“He’s a tremendous asset and he’s a good guy. When you meet him you feel his energy and that spunk,” Marshall said. “I think we hit the jackpot.”
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]