Four Women Every Tampa Bay Nonprofit Leader Should Know

Team NLC Stories

For more than a century, the world has come together each year on March 8 to celebrate women. International Women’s Day is a global day to recognize the achievements of women everywhere while continuing efforts to advance gender equality. To mark this important occasion, the Nonprofit Leadership Center is pleased to introduce you to four women in Tampa Bay every nonprofit leader should know.

Four Women Every Tampa Bay Nonprofit Leader Should Know: Emily Ghosh Harris, Kate McPherson, Meriel Martinez and Rebecca J. Watson

We have four new trainers at NLC — all women! Behind every great leader is someone who mentored them and contributed to their knowledge and growth. That’s what NLC trainers do for nonprofit leaders and organizations throughout the year. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked each of our new trainers to tell us about a woman who has made an impact on their lives and careers and what they learned from them. We think you’ll agree we are so fortunate to have such talented experts helping our nonprofit sector grow and build capacity.

1. Emily Ghosh Harris

Emily Ghosh Harris

Emily Harris is the founder of Soul Media Global where she spearheads digital marketing campaigns, brand strategy and experiential marketing for companies of all sizes, from startups to the largest media companies. Her ability to help clients connect with their target audience in a meaningful way and inspire brand loyalty is what makes her a powerful force and thought leader in the digital marketing world. Emily has dedicated her career to helping individuals and businesses of all sizes reach their highest potential. When she’s not helping women entrepreneurs and conscious companies make global impact, Emily enjoys traveling, interviewing guests on her podcast — The Soul Collective — and spending time on the water. 

“Eileen Canady has been an incredible mentor and friend in my life. She is the true embodiment of authentic leadership. She leads with humility, inner confidence and grace, lifting everyone up around her and helping them to shine. She is an extraordinary visionary and understands what it takes to build a dynamic and thriving team. I have learned so much from Eileen, in business and in life, and I’m a better human because of knowing her.”

Emily Ghosh Harris

2. Kate McPherson

Kate McPherson

Kate McPherson is a disaster preparedness expert who helps leaders and organizations prepare for the worst so they can be their best. She has led Tampa Bay’s recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma as the executive director of the Recover Tampa Bay Initiative and serves as the co-chair of Florida Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster’s (FLVOAD) Long-Term Recovery Workgroup. Kate came to Florida after a long history of disaster planning, response and recovery work in North Carolina with the state’s preeminent public health disaster team.

“My female mentor was a woman named Lou. She was my boss’ boss. We were a small group, and her office was across from mine. She showed me how to be a strong, capable woman in a man’s field. She was tough. She had the language of a sailor at one minute and then would show up with homemade baked goods the next. She showed me there wasn’t one way to be a powerful woman in this world — no single path, only the one we blaze for ourselves.”

Kate McPherson

KATE’S UPCOMING COURSE: Be Ready: Disaster Preparedness for Nonprofit Leaders and Organizations (April 1 & 8)


3. Meriel Martínez

Meriel Martinez

Meriel Martínez is a freelance trainer and facilitator who specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion, with specific expertise in professional development, youth empowerment and LGBTQ+ issues. Meriel has served as logistics coordinator for the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network’s (VALHEN) Hispanic College Institute and an adjunct professor in the English Language Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was education and training coordinator at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, where she designed and facilitated educational programs on diversity and inclusion for schools, workplaces and communities across the state.

“I was only months into my first job out of graduate school when Julia Caballero was hired. I didn’t know it then, but she would become my mentor, champion and friend. Julia was a natural teacher and guide, eager to share her abundant know-how. I was fortunate to have her as a colleague and, eventually, my manager. She imparted her knowledge with skill and enthusiasm and genuinely enjoyed watching me grow. While I am grateful for the job-specific lessons I learned from Julia, what I treasure most is the example she set. Julia is a strong, giving leader who is an outstanding professional with fierce dedication and sound character. I am better for having worked with her for so many years and am thankful I can call her my friend.”

Meriel Martínez

MERIEL’S UPCOMING COURSE: Courageous Conversations Across Generations at the 2020 Leadership Conference (June 11)


4. Rebecca J. Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson is a master facilitator and development strategist with a passion for empowering emerging and established leaders. She currently serves as CEO of Limitless Leader Inc., an expert facilitation and leadership development firm. For more than 17 years, Rebecca has made significant contributions to leadership capacity-building initiatives in Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Tennessee. Previously, Rebecca served as a principal with Chicago Public Schools where she specialized in school turnaround work. She led K-12 schools to achieve significant growth in academic performance and award-winning culture transformation. Rebecca is also dedicated to serving her community. She is a board member of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties and YMCA of the Suncoast.

“The female mentor who has had the greatest impact in my life is my mother, Virginia L. Watson. My mother was the first in her family to graduate from college (Miami University). She obtained her master’s degree well beyond age 50, became a living legend in early childhood education in Chicago, and still found time to pursue multiple passions through entrepreneurship and community building … all while raising five children with my equally awesome father. My mom would say to me all the time: ‘There’s always a way.‘ I’ve held this wisdom in my heart and mind through the years and used it as fuel to overcome every professional and personal barrier to realize my dream of doing what I love most: developing and supporting leaders, creating positive change in my community and being a great mom to my son.” 

Rebecca J. Watson

REBECCA’S UPCOMING COURSE: The Data-Driven Leader as part of our new Certificate in Leadership Series


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