Cover Stories Motivate November 2017 On The Cover

Young Professionals Spotlight


Written By: Staff

Frank Avery: ACEL President, Executive Director of CareerSource North Central Florida

  1. Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?

I moved around a lot growing up, but what became the closest thing to “the place where I’m from” is Columbia, South Carolina, where I attended college at the University of South Carolina.

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  1. How did you come to Gainesville?

I started my career in economic development in South Carolina working for a young professional organization called Columbia Opportunity Resource. I was a program assistant there, and I helped put together events similar to the ones we host through ACEL here in Alachua County.

While my wife and I were dating, I frequently came to visit her in Gainesville after she started her doctorate at UF. During these visits, I would talk to locals to learn about economic development in Gainesville. After a while, someone said, “You should move here,” and eventually I was offered a job by the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and was able to move down myself.

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  1. What is your current job?

Currently I am serving as the Interim Executive Director at CareerSource North Central Florida, which is the workforce agency for the community, or what some people may know as the job center.

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  1. As the new president of ACEL, what is the biggest opportunity you see for young professionals in the community?

I think the primary thing that we in ACEL can do is to professionalize ourselves and grow into more strategic thinkers.

Gainesville is at one of these fun crossroads right now with a lot of companies growing, new development, and new jobs. The choice is whether our demographic will be part of the conversation to influence what Gainesville will look like five, ten, twenty years from now.

Groups like the City Commission and the Chamber of Commerce are out there looking for answers to what young professionals want. ACEL can be that resource and that voice for young professionals.

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  1. What are some of the challenges you have encountered in your career as a young professional?

The biggest challenge for me has always been the imposter syndrome. I think it’s about coming to realize that there’s never a moment when you’re like, “Ah ha, I’m a leader now.”

I’m fortunate to do a lot of things that imply leadership in their title, but it never quite feels like it still. So it’s been very, very hard to accept the roles that I have and know that it’s okay to own it.

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