Connecting with the LGBTQ+ Community: USF Alumna Gives Two Impactful Gifts

June 1, 2023

It’s mid-morning and Jamie Jenkins is ready for business inside a South Tampa Starbucks, with a laptop, notepad and cellphone resting on her table. At any given moment, she could be connecting with associates in India, Argentina or across the U.S. — overseeing complex strategy as a senior manager for PwC, one of the four biggest accounting firms in the world.

The truth is, connecting is what Jenkins is all about, and not simply in her vast professional services network around the globe. The 1998 graduate of the USF Muma College of Business strives to do the same with causes close to her heart — and close to her home.

“I’ve always been a people person,” she says, smiling broadly. “I like talking to people and meeting new people. And in everything I do, I try to build relationships and a culture of learning and growth. In my view, relationships make the world go round, and I strive to connect, build and foster those relationships.”

That goes a long way in explaining why Jenkins serves on the city of Tampa’s Human Rights Board, advocating for citizens against discrimination with a primary focus on equal rights, including equal opportunity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

It sheds light on why she served last year as president of the board of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, one of the nation’s largest juried art festivals — driven both by her love of the arts but also a desire to support artists themselves. “The artists that are juried into the GFA show are extremely talented, and they deserve a chance, right?” she says. “I’m so impressed by their passion for what they do.”

And it offers a window on why Jenkins has recently stepped forward philanthropically to support USF’s brand new LGBTQ+ Giving Fund and establish an LGBTQ+ scholarship in the Muma College of Business.

“I want to make sure that not only am I supporting the Muma College of Business and giving back to the school that helped me, but that I’m helping the LGBTQ+ community as a whole,” Jenkins says.

The LGBTQ+ Giving Fund is designed to operate as a giving circle, where donors pool their contributions. Then, USF’s Office of Diversity Initiatives solicits proposals from throughout the university for activities and programs to benefit USF’s LGBTQ+ community and allied students.

That could mean funding initiatives with the Stonewall Suites, USF’s inclusive residential community, designed to create an environment of awareness, respect and advocacy for all sexual orientations and gender identities. Or it could be used to host an event for the Pride Alliance or the Trans Student Union. One such example: USF’s National Coming Out Day Dinner this past October. The event brought in a powerful keynote speaker, Ecuadorian author Sonia Guiñansca, to address students, parents and staff about the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face coming out to loved ones and friends.

Jenkins’ generosity will pave the way for future special events and speakers, for instance, at Stonewall Suites, which helps coordinate housing for LGBTQ+ students and allies on campus. In addition to thinking of new ways to support students with Jenkins’ gift, Garcia notes that the LGBTQ+ scholarship Jenkins created will have a tangible impact of its own.

“When I first met Jamie, what I noticed were her really kind eyes,” says Alison Garcia, LGBTQ+ Student Initiatives Coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “She’s an amazing person and I’m very thankful for everything she’s done.”

It’s not the first time Jenkins has supported USF students in need of a helping hand. She has done so in the past through USF’s Women in Leadership & Philanthropy, the transformative scholarship, mentoring and faculty grant organization. But now she’s giving back on her own, a commitment that includes speaking to Muma College of Business students about career lessons, as she did in early March.

“I focused on several key things — building relationships and the importance of relationships in your career path, and the importance of bringing your full self to whatever you do,” she says.

That describes Jenkins perfectly. Her career has been built on forging relationships, fueled by her interpersonal skills — and always striving to be true to herself. For instance, her father was an orthodontist in Carrollwood and her mom ran the office, but Jenkins always had a passion for art, influenced by her mother’s skill. Case in point: While attending Chamberlain High School, she created a large stained-glass window overlooking the center of the school.

When college arrived in the early 1990s, Jenkins enrolled at the University of Florida where her boyfriend attended, dabbling in public relations and communications. But after deciding to transfer to USF, she learned that a major in public relations was not yet accredited.

“The next building over was the business school, and I took a couple of classes to see what I thought,” she recalls. “One was an accounting class and the thought process actually came easy to me. I liked the logic.”

But Jenkins never lost touch with her creative side and acknowledges that it even underlies the accounting she does today: “It’s more about creativity in business — it’s focused on strategy, understanding and applying business models, and using that creative side to think differently about how we might do something with keeping a customer-centric focus.”

At the same time, relationships shaped the direction of her life. First, there was the one with her boyfriend, Andrew Jenkins, who followed her to USF and graduated as an engineering major — eventually becoming her husband.

Jamie Jenkins’ first job after USF was with the Eckerd Corp. as a fiscal analyst, in charge of pricing and purchasing generic pharmacy drugs. Tapping her creative and logical side again, she designed a system to analyze prices in the bidding process. While her husband attended law school, she completed an Executive Master of Business Administration through the University of Miami Herbert Business School.

Then came a big break. She and her husband went to dinner with one of his fellow law students. The man’s wife mentioned she worked at accounting firm giant Arthur Andersen, and Jamie Jenkins explained that she had an accounting background. A lunch interview was arranged with a firm partner and Jenkins was hired on the spot, while still completing her master’s degree.

When Arthur Andersen collapsed in 2001 following the Enron scandal, the partner who had hired Jenkins brought her along to start a new company. Jenkins was on her way. She then went to work for a Fortune 1000 company, PharMerica, which did business with one of the world’s top accounting firms, Deloitte & Touche. From the relationships formed with Deloitte, she wound up working for the company in 2004.

Jenkins gave birth to the first of the couple’s two children in 2005, but by 2008 Deloitte was laying off staff amid the nation’s economic downturn. Wanting to spend more time with her toddler, she volunteered to be included in a third round of layoffs. She stayed home through the birth of their second child in 2010, but she missed interacting with colleagues and was eager to return to the work world.

That’s when Jenkins saw a job posting for PwC (originally named Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lyband) doing internal audits, something she had done before for multiple clients. As luck had it, the interview was conducted by a former Deloitte employee and a former Arthur Andersen employee. Connections were made.   She was hired right away and has been with the firm for the last 12 years.

“It’s not only proving the quality of your work and your work ethic,” Jenkins says, “but building on your connections with others.”

That philosophy has certainly served her well — whether connecting on the job globally, or now with the LGBTQ+ community philanthropically, supported generously by a matching gift from PwC.

What motivated her to support the LGBTQ+ community?

“Let me tell you one of my favorite quotes,” she says. “It’s from Dr. Suess: ‘Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.’ The question of why I’m doing this is a little complicated but the answer is very simple: Everyone deserves the right to have an education and to feel comfortable and safe.”


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