Alumni Spotlight: Chantelle Carter-Jones, Class VII
When Class VII Fellow and British citizen Chantelle Carter-Jones’ vacation to Goa was cancelled at the last minute, the travel agent gave Chantelle and her mother one last option: Clearwater Beach, Florida. They were assured “the average temperature this time of year is 80 degrees”. However, when they arrived it was 60 degrees and raining. Having grown accustomed to England’s often inclement weather, Chantelle and her mother were undeterred and started exploring the area. By the end of their two-week vacation, they had fallen in love with the state and decided to make it home. Now 10 years later, this spirited Brit is as passionate about our great state as any native Floridian and is truly living the American Dream.
Upon graduating with a law degree from the University of Warwick in England, Chantelle and her mother bought a small business in the Tampa Bay region. In 2005, Chantelle moved to Tampa to finalize the sale and manage the operation. Relocating from the bustling city of London to a sunny beach town was a bit of an adjustment for her. “I came from a tightly wound city environment. It is, and will always be, difficult for me to slow down.” Chantelle saw the venture as an opportunity to create a long-lasting, successful enterprise that enriched the lives of its clients and employees. She soon realized that the organization’s success, as well as her own personal success, was predicated on the success of the employees. “In order to ensure the business was successful, I had to engage my workforce, help them overcome their issues in life, and enable them to develop business skills and thought processes which would ultimately benefit all of us.” By 2008, she had reorganized the operation, introduced a green initiative which increased operating efficiency by 50% and tripled her workforce. Chantelle reflects on this time in her life and notes that, “The business ownership experience was truly transformational; it ignited my passion and ambitious nature and enabled me to become a confident leader, problem solver and mentor.”
Now a seasoned business owner, Chantelle decided to return to school and pursue master’s degrees in business administration and management from the University of South Florida. It was during her final year at USF that she came across the Gubernatorial Fellows Program and recognized it as the perfect opportunity for her to invest in the future of the state she now calls home.
Upon notification that she had been selected as a member of Class VII, Chantelle immediately relocated to Tallahassee, a city she had only spent a couple of hours in for the Fellows final interview. As a Fellow, Chantelle was placed at the Division of Emergency Management (DEM). Chantelle’s business background came in handy, as she was on the agency’s team tasked with determining the national “best practices” with regard to mass messaging technology during disasters. They were also responsible for creating a proposal to implement a similar statewide system, incorporating the identified best practices and ensuring the most efficient and effective implementation possible. This vital project will directly result in enhanced disaster preparedness among residents and businesses across the state. Complementing her placement at DEM, Chantelle also worked within the Executive Office of the Governor on issues related to agencies that fall under the Florida Cabinet’s purview.
While in the Fellows Program, Chantelle was exposed to the wide span of state government responsibilities, and particularly spent time with the leaders of agencies over health care and health care administration which is her primary area of focus for the future. This area offers her the opportunity to apply her business background to a public policy problem, while working to solve a major issue facing the state she loves. “Health care is my passion. Industrialized countries learned that public health plays a central role in economic prosperity and growth during the Industrial Revolution. Health care will soon constitute twenty percent of America’s GDP which far exceeds any other industrialized nation. I want to help streamline our health care system, to shepherd investment towards the things that reduce costs moving forward, and reduce waste and redundancy in the delivery of services, while improving health care outcomes.” Presently, Chantelle is a Medical/Health Care Analyst for the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Bureau of Medicaid Services. In this capacity, she is responsible for assisting in the development of policy and programs for community-based and residential services for Floridians with developmental disabilities, in order to provide them with long-term care services.
Looking back on the program, Chantelle notes that, “The Fellowship is a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Florida as a whole, particularly how different elements of our society and government impact our business environment. I had an unprecedented opportunity to further develop critical business and social skills, hone my leadership style, and learn from keen minds and business leaders. Most importantly, I was given the chance to be an active participant in shaping Florida’s public policy and future.”
In the future, she looks forward to working within government to create sound health care policy solutions to benefit Florida’s constituents, and at the institutional level to deliver quality health care in a manner that is consistent with both the patient’s and institution’s needs.