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Personnel note: Equality Florida names Mark Puskarich as Tampa development officer.

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

LGBT activist organization Equality Florida promoted Mark Puskarich to the position of Tampa development officer.

In his new role, Puskarich, formerly a volunteer chair for the 2015 Equality Florida Tampa Gala, will manage statewide corporate sponsorships.

Veteran staffer Ed Lally will become development officer for Tampa Bay, which focuses on boosting support throughout the region.

“Ed Lally has played a key role in gathering support for Equality Florida’s mission in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and beyond,” Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer said in a statement. “Ed has done more than raise donations; he’s also recruited a great team of volunteers whom we rely on a great deal.

“Now one of those volunteers, Mark Puskarich, is ready to take up the work that Ed has so energetically begun.”

Puskarich is a University of Miami communications graduate. His earlier career has been in education and the corporate sector, most recently at St. Leo University. Puskarich also worked for Tech Data in developing marketing campaigns for vendors and customers.

Puskarich now serves as a volunteer “chat counselor” for The Trevor Project, a national organization devoted to counseling young people struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity.

Among the local priorities for Equality Florida is developing anti-bullying programs, with work toward adding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to local policies that cover more than 60 percent of Florida students.

Although Equality Florida helped pass the state’s anti-bullying law in 2008, the group says two-thirds of Florida’s school districts still do not have specific anti-bullying policies. Also, while half of Floridians live in communities where discrimination against LGBT people is now prohibited, half do not. Equality Florida has gathered bipartisan and business support for a statewide anti-discrimination law, and continues to push for its first substantive legislative hearing.

“Some people may think that marriage equality was the end of all our struggles, but it’s not,” Puskarich said. “We need to make sure that all LGBT people in Florida can live without fear of losing their jobs, being denied a place to live, or being discriminated against when they go out in public.

“We still have a lot of work to do.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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