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Come As You Are: D&I Also Includes Diversity of Experience

SFBW continues the conversation inspired by the admirable work of TD Bank.

Making meaningful change depends on commitment—and it also depends on who you keep company with. When South Florida Business & Wealth hosted a rollicking Diversity & Inclusion Awards last June, the evening was a triumph. But we and our partners wanted to do even more, to continue the conversation. 

That’s why we joined forces with Jennifer Starkey, senior vice president and regional vice president at TD Bank, to lead a more intimate discussion—one that was both energized and personal.  

Frank Romano, senior recruiter at TD Bank, spoke not just of sourcing talent who appreciate his employers’ values, but also shared his own experiences at TD Bank, saying that working for the bank actually aided his coming out process as a gay man. Michell Morgan, a business process manager at TD Bank (and a member of TD’s Black Employee Network), stressed how the bank not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, and how that makes her feel as a black woman. TD’s message is clear: You are not only welcome, but encouraged, to bring your whole self to work.

“Silence is part of the problem,” one attendee said, an echo of “Silence is complicity” the often-used antiracism saying, and “Silence=Death,” which became the catchphrase of the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP. TD Bank offers a simple, but perfect exhortation to oppose silence (you can find it on the bank’s website): “Come as you are.” Read all about the event here.

Recalling our diversity events got me thinking about other kinds of diversity, beyond race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and gender identification. This issue also highlights diversity of experience and the ways in which hearing wildly different life stories enhances our sensitivity, humanity and effectiveness in the business world. Our cover star, Joe Furst, the founder of Place Projects, has a background that tracks much like my own. We both graduated from liberal arts programs, felt that we still had to find our direction after senior year—and got talked into going to law school by our fathers. Eventually, happily, we both found other paths.

Contrast that to Kalista Zackhariyas, the founder and CEO of the technology startup Sparkseeker. We’re both avid travelers and adore Greece, but Kalista, as I learned when I interviewed her, had to overcome heartbreaking obstacles, including foster care, and periods of homelessness, in order to achieve her impressive entrepreneurial résumé. We all have much to learn her story and everyone’s singular story. We feel that opening your mind and your heart—to come as you are, and encouraging others to do the same—is essential for success and living authentically. 

Photo: Drew Limsky and Angelo Martinez, by Eduardo Schneider

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.