President and Executive Director
Debra Campbell is an educator, a serial entrepreneur, and an economic development professional. She managed the international division for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and headed the Asia Department for the Philadelphia Commerce Department before starting her own economic development consulting company, International Competitive Services.
Debra founded Forward Thinking Initiatives (FTI) in 2004, and with help from The Florida High Tech Corridor, The Tampa Bay Partnership, and Verizon she started an entrepreneurship program for teens in middle school and high school. This initiative was based upon her background in economic development and was formed as a way to bridge education and workforce development at an earlier stage in order to create a more competitive emerging workforce. FTI’s programs focus on creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2010 FTI received non-profit status which spawned partnerships with the Museum of Science and Industry, Coordinated Child Care of Pinellas, Junior Achievement, Juvenile Welfare Board, the Greenhouse in St. Petersburg as well as various schools and colleges.
As an educator, she has taught elementary through high school age students. She is an ambassador for and past State Coordinator of the National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education. Debra was also the Chair of the CTE Marketing Committee for the Florida Dept. of Education, and served on the Advisory Board of Creative Tampa Bay. Debra won the 2011 Freedom Foundation’s Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education, the Kauffman Platinum Award and the Creative Tampa Bay Creative Catalyst Award.