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Extraordinary Woman – Pam Iorio

From a young age, former Tampa mayor Pam Iorio, who grew up in Temple Terrace, knew she wanted to be a public servant. The woman who would one day lead the city realized her dream at a young age, serving as a county commissioner at age 26. She was the youngest person ever elected to the Hillsborough County Commission and was on the board from 1985-1992. Iorio was elected three times to the office of Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County, serving from1993-2003).


In April 2003, she became the 57th mayor of Tampa, serving until 2011. She established five strategic goals to guide Tampa focusing on investing in neighborhoods; bringing economic development to the city’s most challenged areas; creating a residential community downtown; creating an efficient city government focused on customer service; and establishing Tampa as a city of the arts. She accomplished much during her time in office and is among the city and state’s most respected leaders.

She’s been married for 24 years to Mark Woodard and they have two children, Caitlin and Graham. Caitlin is a graduate student at USF and Graham is a senior at FSU.

What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?

Despite busy careers, Mark and I have always devoted a lot of time to our children. We both like being at home and rarely went out unless it was necessary when the children were young.  We developed a lot of traditions early on that we follow as a family and that helps to make us close. The role of grandparents has been an important factor in our children’s lives.

What is your biggest fear?

I’m too fearful to state my biggest fear!

What advice would you give to other women?

Quit trying to do it all. Figure out what you can do to live a balanced, happy life and be good with that. So many women overload their plates and then wonder why things fall off the edges. Stop saying yes to everything! While you are raising your children, cut back in other areas and focus on the important and don’t feel badly about yourself for not completing an endless lists of to dos.  Most mothers I know are stretched too thin and need to learn to say no.

What is your proudest moment?

My children have grown to be positive, productive young adults and we are very proud of them.

What is your biggest achievement?

Personally, it’s being a mom.  No doubt, the most challenging and rewarding position.  Professionally, being mayor and helping to make our city better. It is my home and I take a lot of pride in its improvements.

What makes you happy?

I am happiest being at home with my entire family, and being with close friends. I like being with friends at their home or my home where we can truly relax and share good times.  I have wonderful friends.

How do you relax and take time for yourself?

I like to read mystery books and biographies.

What message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?

Women know how to do many things well and juggle a lot of responsibility. They often don’t see themselves in a leadership position when, in fact, they exhibit leadership all the time. I address this in my book, Straightforward, Ways to Live and Lead. I would like to see more women stop and look at all they accomplish and give themselves a little credit. Then, when the time is right for them, take that leadership out to the community to make the world a better place.

What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom, about your work?

The busier I am the more I get done.  I like to continually be challenged and learn new things.  Going back to school to get my master’s degree helped me in so many ways and I recommend it to anyone who still wants to learn more. My children have inspired me to stay modern, learn new technology and see the world differently. I like their fresh approach to things and it motivates me to see today’s problems as solvable.

How do you enjoy or draw information from the magazine?

I read a lot of magazines. I like Tampa Bay Parenting because I always get a tip of some sort on how to better manage a household and work. I enjoy reading about others and how they make their family life the best it can be.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Tampa Bay area?

As a family we like going to Ybor City for deviled crabs, taking walks along Bayshore, going to the movies together and eating outside at the Columbia Café at the Tampa Bay History Center and sitting out by the Riverwalk.

Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?

I am inspired by people who overcome great odds and keep a positive attitude.  I have seen people up close who have met the most difficult situations head on and come out still thinking the world is a good place. That inspires me.

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