Director of Government and Community Relations, Tampa International Airport
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Alma mater: University of Florida
The Tampa International Airport has been a key component of the city’s recent success, and as TPA’s director of government and community relations, Gina Evans has been responsible for advocating for funding and policy initiatives beneficial to the airport’s operation at both the state and federal level. “My career chose me in some ways,” she says. Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Larry Cretul asked Evans to be his legislative aide after she interned for his campaign, and the rest is history. “I fell in love with the policy side,” Evans says. “I never thought I would be doing this, but I love it and cannot imagine anything else.” Her community involvement is focused on preparing Tampa for its next steps, with board positions at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce and the Hillsborough Community College Foundation. Evans says institutions like HCC are critical to building a skilled, talented workforce right here in the Tampa Bay area, which ultimately will help grow the local economy. “While a traditional four-year university was a fit for me, it is not for everyone. Industries like aviation need to be forward thinking in a future employee base, and the HCC Foundation provides scholarship opportunities for students who may not otherwise be able to afford college.”
What is your current occupation? Tell me a little bit about what you do in your position.
I am the director of government and community relations for the Tampa International Airport. I advocate for TPA and our three general aviation airports at the state and federal levels for funding and policy initiatives. As of October 1, I am also developing our Community Relations department, which is very exciting to me!
How did you choose your profession?
My profession chose me in some ways. My first boss, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Larry Cretul, asked me to be his legislative aide after I interned on his campaign, and the rest went from there. I fell in love with the policy side and never thought I would be doing this, but I love it and cannot imagine anything else.
What nonprofits/charitable organizations are you involved with?
I have been a member of Junior League since 2005. I am currently on the Hillsborough Community College Foundation Board of Directors, the Museum of Science and Industry Board of Directors and the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Previously I have served on the Board of Directors for Redefining Refuge and the Tampa Theatre Winefest Committee. As for leadership roles, I served two years as the co-chair of Development for the HCC Foundation Board, and I currently am the chair of the Development Committee for MOSI.
Regarding the last question, why did you choose to become involved with that particular organization, or why did you choose to found your own?
With HCC, workforce is a critical part of our economy. While a traditional four-year university was a fit for me, it is not for everyone. Industries like aviation need to be forward thinking in a future employee base, and the Foundation provides scholarship opportunities for students who may not otherwise be able to afford college.
Fill in the blank. When I’m not in the office, you can find me…
Running or on a plane.
Who is your mentor, and why?
My mother, because of her kindness and her example of giving to others. She is a tremendous woman, and I would not be where I am without her encouragement and support.
Do you have a motto or philosophy you live by?
I always try to do my best while remembering to laugh even when it’s hard.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, and from whom did you receive it?
Going back to the previous question, always try to find the humor in any situation, from my Nana.
What do you love most about Tampa?
I love the people. We live in a dynamic city with amazing people.
What is the last book you read or your favorite book?
My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Which app on your phone could you not live without, and why?
Marriott Bonvoy, because I would never know where I am supposed to be.
What is your dream vacation?
I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit, but I have never done an African safari.