CONSULTANT, NFL FOUNDATION
ALMA MATER: Elon University; currently pursuing a MBA at the University of Tampa
AT THE OFFICE: Avery helps manage the NFL Foundation’s 40-plus grant programs, all of which help support the health, safety and wellness of athletes of all ages. “I help with the application process from start to finish — review, approval, processing the checks and managing grant reports,” she says. “It is really rewarding to not only help organizations with grant funding, but also to read about the impact the funding made on the lives of people in different communities.”
GIVING BACK: After being diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuromuscular disorder, at age 15, Avery became a passionate advocate for fellow patients. Her family hosts the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) Energy Ball each year, raising $1 million for FA research just this year through their virtual event. Avery also participates in FA research studies and presents to pharmaceutical companies so scientists can put a human face on the disease they’re studying. “Being able to use my voice to speak up for others and myself is the most powerful ability I have,” she says. “My passion for this cause has intensified as I’ve created friendships with so many people living with FA. In college, I interned with the team at FARA and focused my time on enhancing the patient registry. Immediately I was amazed with everything the FARA team does and now, I want to do everything I can as a patient and advocate to help raise funds and advance research.”
Avery is also a member of the Junior League of Tampa and serves as the Affinity Chair of the Alumni Executive Committee at Berkeley Preparatory School.
WHEN I’M NOT IN THE OFFICE, YOU CAN FIND ME… Walking my dog. I have a 10-year-old golden retriever named Abby who loves to be outside!
WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I WANTED TO BE… A photographer. I was on the Yearbook Committee in 5th grade and loved capturing every moment. Looking back, they weren’t the best photos, but I enjoyed taking them.
DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO OR PHILOSOPHY YOU LIVE BY? “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” I have this quote above my desk to remind me that failure is not something to fear. It is what makes us stronger. Also, before I used a wheelchair, I fell often and this message was extremely important to me. It allowed me to focus on the rise rather than the fall.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? It’s not so much advice, but my parents taught me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Using a wheelchair can bring about certain barriers and I constantly work to overcome those hurdles, whether it be in my personal or work life. Whenever I have faced a setback, my parents pushed me to keep going forward.
THE BIGGEST LESSON I LEARNED THIS YEAR WAS… To never take anything for granted. No one expected anything this year has brought. In November, my 96-year-old grandmother passed away. She meant everything to me and I used to visit with her as much as possible. Beginning in March, visitors were not allowed in her assisted living facility until late September. I made it a point to call her at least once a day, if not more, or visit with her through the window. We can never take the relationships we have with family or friends for granted. You never know what tomorrow brings.
MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA IS… The people. Living in the city you’ve grown up in is very special. I’m so thankful to be surrounded by family and friends that have been with me through it all. It is my friends and family that make Tampa home.
MY SECRET TALENT OR SKILL IS… Target shooting. Fun fact: I outshot all of my dad’s friends.
THE BEST TV SHOW I SAW THIS YEAR WAS… The Queen’s Gambit. I never thought the game of chess would be so exciting. This show makes me want to learn how to play!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM VACATION? I would love to travel to Australia and New Zealand. I want to see the Sydney Opera House, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and see kangaroos in the wild! New Zealand is a beautiful island, and I’d love to explore it and maybe even zip-line!