Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Vice President and General Manager, Sarasota Bradenton International Convention Center
Favorite professor: “Professor Mulene, who made me see the real world.”
On her Adelphi experience: “You can really make a niche for yourself at a small school like Adelphi.”
Advice to students: “Do what you love, and eventually the pieces of the puzzle will come together and make sense.”
When her phone rings, Rose Parsons ’73 is just as likely to be asked about a political campaign rally as a boat show, a folk festival, or even a high school prom. As the vice president and co-owner of a quickly growing convention center, she can’t wait to see what comes along next.
When Ms. Parsons and her husband Oscar purchased the former big box discount store, they had high hopes and little experience. “In a few years we went from zero sales and zero knowledge to having all our bills current,” she says. “Today we’re in the black, booking events a year in advance, with commitments through 2012.”
The Sarasota Bradenton International Convention Center hosts the typical rotation of home shows, antique shows, fishing expos, and trade shows, but occasionally events feature notable guests, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush.
Ms. Parsons and her staff of four have their hands full managing the 120,000-square-foot facility and gearing up for the next project, the construction of an adjacent 135-room hotel.
Ms. Parsons never dreamed of managing or owning a convention center. Her love of fashion jump-started her career with a retail position at Gimbels New York, and later in the buying office of Sears. She honed her marketing skills at a european manufacturer of women’s fashion accessories and as a division manager for a Boston-based belt company.
For 15 years, she owned her own Manufacturers Rep Agency in the lighting and lighting accessories industry. “Every one of my careers has brought me to where I am today,” she says.
Ms. Parsons also credits her experiences at Adelphi with strengthening her ability to overcome obstacles. Even as a commuting student with a part-time job, she still found time to be very active in her sorority, Tri Delta. She recruited her younger sister Marilyn Malerba Keiner ’74 to join, and inJanuary 2007 pinned her daughter Vanessa into Tri Delta at Stetson University in Florida.
“As a collegiate member of Tri Delta, I was the social chair, planning fundraising and social events, giving me a lot of confidence in my abilities.” One event that stands out in her memory was planning and winning the first dance marathon held at Adelphi.
“My forte has always been the ability to notice the market void through research and create a solution to the need,” she says. In one business class she presented a paper on the potential of a full-service food court in the mall at Roosevelt Field. At the time, it was met with reluctance, but Ms. Parsons takes pride in seeing what a success her idea has become.
In her spare time, she enjoys flying, cooking, baking, and sewing. She and her husband recently returned from a trip to Alaska, during which she fell in love with the Last Frontier State.