Ernest Hooper, United Way Suncoast
For Florida Blue, he’s the market president for West Central Florida.
For United Way Suncoast, he’s the pied piper of giving.
For more than 20 years, Dave Pizzo has rounded up fellow employees and community members and marshaled them into a force for change for United Way Suncoast and United Way Florida.
Dave, who holds a degree in pharmacy from Rutgers University, prescribed a healthy dose of philanthropy for his Florida Blue colleagues in 2000. At the turn of the century, he turned up Florida Blue’s commitment by volunteering to chair Florida Blue’s United Way campaign, and activating a top-notch employee marketing campaign using data and research.
He tripled leadership giving by hosting 100 rallies with United Way agencies, advocated corporate giving policy changes, transformed Florida Blue’s “thank you” lunch to a leadership luncheon and convinced the company’s CEO to host a United Way event at his home.
Florida Blue’s giving catapulted from $25,000 to more than $1 million annually. His work with United Way deepened Florida Blue’s overall commitment to giving back. He advocated company policy to increase corporate giving by proposing a match of $.25 to the dollar.
What drove Dave? An empathy that arises from his own background.
I didn’t grow up in a wealthy household,” Dave shared in a 2020 Nonprofit Leadership Center article. “I started working when I was in eighth grade and know what it’s like to experience difficult times. As a result, I also know how important mentors, support systems and hard work are to help you through significant challenges.
“Helping others succeed is one of my greatest joys in life.”
He is most proud of directly impacting communities through the United Way Suncoast Week of Caring, an annual event where Pizzo can be seen landscaping, painting, or cleaning up the valuable estuaries of Tampa Bay.
Now a member of United Way Suncoast’s prestigious Tocqueville Society, he’s been extremely generous with support of the Covid-19 Emergency Fund and grants that provide sustainable and significant impact in their community.
One of Florida Blue’s latest collaborative efforts with UWS involves providing funding for Bay Area Legal Services and Gulfcoast Legal to help families find rental assistance to stay in their homes and avoid eviction.
Dave believes cementing Florida Blue’s relationship with United Way is a monumental achievement, but it’s not his only philanthropic accomplishment. His resume brims with business, board and civic leadership appointments. Launching the American Cancer Society’s Tampa Bay CEOs Against Cancer chapter represents another distinguished moment of service. That chapter now boasts the largest number of CEO-members in the state.
Through organizations like the Tampa Bay Partnership, Pizzo advances workforce development, addresses substance abuse issues, promotes health equity and tackles food insecurity. Under his guidance, Florida Blue also has invested $1.7 million in Tampa’s University Area to disrupt generational poverty by Growing Resilient Communities.
Strike up the band. We’re ready to march with Dave in making Tampa Bay and the state of Florida a more prosperous community for all.