USF remembers inspirational leader, friend
TAMPA, Fla. – On Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, USF and the Tampa Bay community lost Deanne Roberts, an influential and devoted individual whose life made a significant impact to the area.
Down to earth, passionate, inspirational – these were all words that have been used to describe Roberts. She is best known for being a businesswoman, a mentor, a mother and a leader in her community.
A Tampa native, Roberts graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. At age 25, Roberts founded her own public relations firm in Tampa, which is known today as ChappellRoberts.
During the course of her career, Roberts became a prominent business owner and an advocate for regional issues, especially attracting young, talented professionals to Tampa. Roberts maintained ties with USF as an active alumni team leader.
“Deanne was one of the first media professionals I met when I came to USF,” said Edward Friedlander, a mass communications professor. “She made it clear from the beginning that she was extremely loyal to USF and to the School of Mass Communications and to its students. She worked tirelessly to help the school and its students in many important ways over the years.”
Roberts commitment to the region, spread to USF and beyond. Roberts served as Chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and she worked tirelessly to help young professionals, especially women. Roberts was one of the founders of Creative Tampa Bay and founded Emerge Tampa, a business networking organization for young adults.
Eventually Roberts mentored her own successor, Colleen Chappell, and ChappellRoberts grew into a full-service marketing agency.
Her vision and dedication to change and improvement are among the many things Roberts is remembered for. When Roberts set out to accomplish a goal, she did so.
“Quite simply, she was one of the kindest and bravest people I have ever known,” Friedlander said.
Roberts died after a four year battle with cervical cancer. She had recently spent her time between Maine and Tampa and is survived by her two grown sons.
Her dedication to the community continues, even after her death. It was Roberts’ wish to set up an endowment fund for public relations students at USF. This is just another example of the inspiring legacy that Roberts leaves behind.
A memorial service for Roberts was held on January 18 at Unity of Tampa Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the Deanne Dewey Roberts Scholarship fund at USF.
Filed under:Arts and Sciences Arts and Sciences Alumni Mass Communications
Author: Meghan Mangrum