Kay Jasso

Management 2015
Executive Director at Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center of Southwest Florida

As the executive director of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center of Southwest Florida, Kay Jasso manages two staff members and 29 contracted professionals. Having prior experience in management, it wasn’t until she enrolled at Hodges University that she began to fine tune her leadership and managerial skills, many of which she has transferred into her role of executive director.

Spending 15 years with the Quaker Oats Company in Chicago, she advanced within the company to a management role, overseeing a staff of 60 people; however, she learned it would be to her benefit to earn a bachelor’s degree if she wanted to advance further. Enrolling in DePaul University’s organizational leadership program, trying to balance work and school became too much, so she put her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree on hold.

Deciding it was time to change careers, Jasso and her family moved to Florida, and she began working in the nonprofit world. Working for various organizations such as Community Foundation of Collier County, Encompass Business Solutions and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, she gained valuable leadership experience; however, she still longed to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Prior to enrolling in Hodges’ Bachelor of Science in management program in 2012, Jasso did her research to determine the best institution to further her education. Attending the University of Phoenix, she did not enjoy the online only learning environment, and when considering Florida Gulf Coast University, she could not find much to fit her “working adult lifestyle.”

“I chose Hodges because of its adult-friendly program structure, evening schedule and the management degree program,” she said.

Before pursuing the management program, Jasso spent two semesters in the computer information technology (CIT) program, saying, “Although I’m a little geeky, I found out I don’t hold a candle to most people in the CIT program. Management was definitely the right choice for my major.”

Throughout the program, Jasso enjoyed learning about topics relating to her career such as analyzing financial statements and developing strategic plans. Impressed with Dr. Dolores Batiato, Jasso admired her “wealth of knowledge and experience, and down to earth perspective on the business world.” In fact, when Jasso accepted the position of executive director at the MS Center of Southwest Florida, she turned to Batiato, who “gave me valuable advice on how to transition into my new role,” she said.

Earning her degree in 2015, she remembered her course on leadership, in which students learned about transformational leadership. “After reading about it, I vowed that was the type of leader I wanted to be,” she said. As the executive director of the MS Center of Southwest Florida, she works alongside her team to “improve the quality of life for people affected by multiple sclerosis,” she explained. Providing services at low or no cost to participants, the center offers services such as massage therapy, mental health counseling, personal training and support groups.

Currently, the center provides direct services to an estimated 200 people with an additional 200 receiving services via outreach and educational programs.

Believing she has carried the transformational leadership style into her role as executive director, Jasso has improved processes, implemented new procedures, increased clientele by 150 percent, as well as doubled the number of providers, activities and support groups.

“Most importantly, our clients and other visitors say the atmosphere here is completely different now, and they look forward to coming here. The increase and improvement of services has attracted new volunteers and donors to the center. The foundation we are putting in place will help to ensure the sustainability of the organization for years to come,” she said.

Reflecting on her personal achievements, she places her degree from Hodges at the top. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree at 58 years old, she admits it was a difficult program and “one of the hardest things I ever attempted.” Wanting to give up, she remembered the sacrifices of her mother, who worked multiple jobs to send Jasso to good schools. Losing her mother in 2007, she said, “I’m sorry she was not here to cheer for me as I accepted my diploma at graduation, but I know she was smiling down on me.”  

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