By MITCH TRAPHAGEN
SUN CITY CENTER — To many people in South Hillsborough she is the face of Sun City Center. For the past decade, Elaine Brad has served the Chamber of Commerce as its president. During that time, she has organized some of the biggest events in the area, including the Sun City Center Business Expo and the Taste of Sun City Center. Her enthusiasm, dedication and glowing smile have done much to transform the image of the community. She has personified the vibrant and active city that it is.
Next week, Brad will leave the post she has so clearly defined. Her last day on the job is June 7.
“I am leaving the chamber after ten really wonderful years,” Brad said. “I am getting married to a wonderful guy. It’s just time. Time to relax a little bit, refocus and jump into something that I really want to do.”
Her wedding to Joe Cavaliere, a manager at Lexus of Tampa Bay, will be on June 19. From there Brad will focus on new projects that will combine her love for writing with promoting area businesses in a public relations capacity.
“It wasn’t an instantaneous decision. I put a lot of thought into this,” she said. “You just have to have confidence that the future will take care of itself. I do think it is time for new blood. It is time for someone to come along to bring in new ideas to make it better. If you really care about something, you really want it to be better.”
Many of the 500 chamber members, however, may not agree that it is time for new blood. Her work over the past decade has left a powerful impact, Brad’s shoes will be difficult to fill. But all members are happy for her new direction in life. Her replacement has not yet been named.
“The reaction has just been wonderful,” she said. “It has been very humbling.”
The Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest in South Hillsborough with a highly diverse membership. Over the past decade, Brad has worked to unify not only the expansive chamber membership, but also the community itself. It is telling that no serious crisis came to mind when asked about the difficult aspects of her job; but several things came to mind when asked about the positive aspects.
“The first business expo sticks out in my mind,” she said “It was such a big event. The Taste of Sun City Center was so big. Those were great times. I can’t think of anything that was really horrible that I can laugh about now. That first business expo scared the heck out of me but everything always worked out. I think it is age that helps with that.”
Brad is hesitant to take credit for her long list of accomplishments in the community. When asked, her signature smile appears and she looks towards others.
“Everyone is such a pleasure to work with in this community,” she said. “It has been such an honor. This has been the best time of my life.”
And now change is coming to the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce and also for Brad.
“It’s going to be weird,” she said referring to her upcoming first day beyond the chamber. “The alarm clock will go off and then what? If I take a week vacation it takes me about three days to calm down, so this might be the same thing. But I’m not sure. I really want the best for the chamber; so I want everything to be as good as possible before that time.”
And with that, three people walked into the chamber lobby and began looking through brochures on community businesses and organizations. For Elaine Brad, it was time to stop talking about herself and to focus on the community that she represents. She smiled, welcomed her visitors, and asked how she could help them. The visitors turned to see the warm, smiling face of Sun City Center greeting them.
Friends and area residents are invited to a send off party for Brad at Little Harbor Resort on June 7 beginning at approx. 4:30 p.m.