As a teenager, Joanne Delmonico knew she loved two things: art and teaching people. So she focused on art and education in her home state of Rhode Island College before her uncle, a high school principal delivered a reality check.
“He said, ‘Joanne, there are no teaching jobs right now,’ and that convinced me to drop teaching as a major,” Delmonico said. “So then I focused on just studying art and came out of school with NO career.”
Delmonico moved to Florida’s Pinellas County right after college, getting a job as a cashier at the now-closed Albertson’s grocery store. She stayed for 13 years, working her way up to training other employees – a role she loved, which set her eventual career calling into motion.
Now a Manager of Training & Development at Tampa International Airport, Delmonico feels she has found the perfect balance of teaching people while doing artwork on the side. After leaving Albertson’s, she worked at the Tampa Tribune for seven years as a training manager. There, she developed a diversity awareness program in which all employees participated. She loved bringing different types of people from different departments together, and contrast and differences among people have become a running theme in her artwork.
After leaving the Tampa Tribune in the early 2000s, she went to Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center, where she worked as an organizational development consultant, teaching leadership and team building to employees and doing one-on-one coaching. She also became interested in the psychological impact of stressful work on employees, as well as the tragic events of 9/11 affecting people all over the country. She earned her master’s degree in counseling and began focusing on stress management and wellness.
While she liked working for a great healthcare facility that did good things for people, she was ready for a change of scenery after eight years. She began working at Tampa International Airport last May.
“It was a huge breath of fresh air coming to the airport,” Delmonico said. “It was very exciting to me to be here.”
Since coming to TPA, Delmonico has begun teaching hundreds of employees in leadership development and customer service classes, and she helped develop the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority’s 2014 Flight Plan. She also assisted with the employee engagement survey conducted last year and helped identify areas where the Authority could improve for its workers.
Delmonico lives with her 27-year-old daughter and 5-year-old grandson, and she also has a 24-year-old son. She enjoys drawing, painting and photography, and some of her work can be seen in her Human Resources department office.
On the wall across from her desk are several framed photos of what she calls, “The Buddha Project.” A couple of years ago, she bought a two-foot statue of Buddha from Pier 1 Imports and hauled it to various outdoor locations around the Tampa Bay area, such as Florida Botanical Gardens and Fort De Soto Park.
“I went out to Fort De Soto and there were a million people all having picnics and here I am hauling this Buddha statue into the woods,” Delmonico said.
She photographed the Buddha among the water, cypress trees, mangroves … anywhere that looked peaceful.
“To me it’s a big component of stress management, the idea of people being able to find a sense of peace in life,” Delmonico said. “Going out into nature is a big one.”
The photos on her wall remind her of what is important to her, and that feeling of being centered and balanced is something she tries to instill in her fellow colleagues and employees.