I am the daughter of the late Freda Jernigan and Bob Whipple. I was born and raised in Ybor City until I entered the 1st Grade, wherein we moved to the Forest Hills area in Tampa. I attended Chamberlain HS and participated in many sports, including swimming where I met Jean Tennin who taught me to never give up and always finish the race. During my senior year, I was granted an intern program wherein I worked at local companies learning office administration. One of those was a local real estate firm, and I though this was it I found my niche, and wouldn’t have to pay for a college education. My parents were happy to send me to college, but I couldn’t wait to get started in the business sector. So, once graduation was over, I decided to temp at various corporations when I was placed at Holland & Knight. I was hired permanently one week later for my enthusiasm and hard working experience in real estate and office administration. I worked for H&K for 11 years and during most of that time I worked with the late Bill McBride, as paralegal handling all mortgage foreclosures for Bank of America, where I met Alex Sink. Bill was a great mentor, and I learned a lot from him and his Just call me “Bill” folksy way of communicating with “everyone” instead of the William H. McBride, Jr., formal elite way that H&K preferred. He was able to reach all walks of life, and I have tried my best to model my professional and personal life that same way. During this time, I also had my son, Spencer Russell, who is also a Broker at our real estate brokerage Russell Property Group.
In 1988 I traveled to Washington DC on vacation, and fell in love with the City. I gave my notice, packed my bags, and rented my home all within a 3 week period. I was hired by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius wherein I quickly established myself as a quick learner and was placed in the Environmental Section of the law firm as the legislature had just passed the Clean Air Act and needed employees who could work overtime. Working in this Section, was an eye opener to the real concerns of our environment and what it does to our planet. Global warming was even a thing in the 1990’s.
When my Mom became ill in 1999, I returned to the Tampa Bay area and moved to St. Petersburg, as my home in Tampa still had tenants. Once In St. Pete I went to work for the General Counsel’s Office of Republic Bank handling foreclosures and loss mitigation. During the 4.5 years I worked for Republic Bank, I worked my way up to Assistant Vice President of Servicing Department, which handled servicing for all mortgage portfolios for the Bank, which gave me great insight to the back office of real estate transactions. When Republic Bank sold to BB&T in 2002, I was laid of along with 550 employees. That is when I realized what I had always promised myself. I decided to go to real estate school and obtain my license to work for myself and add to my rental portfolio. I always thought there was no way I was going to ever “sell” real estate, as I had no desire to be a sales person. However, I received a call from the HR Director for Republic Bank (yes the one that had to lay me off), stating she had heard I had obtained my real estate license, and would I assist her in buying her first home, which I did. Well needless to say that was at the end of 2002 which brings us to today.
I always wanted to be a good provider for my family, like my father. He worked for a company over 25 years and always wished he could work for himself somehow, as he did not enjoy the way fellow employees were treated. When my father died in a skin-diving accident in 1980, he was only 42, and while he was doing what he loved when he died, he always had to squeeze in the time to do it outside of work. I decided that I was going to love what I do in my personal and my professional life. So here I am living my dream “keeping it small and doing it all” in my business and personal life, working with my son and helping friends every day achieve their goals.
My baby sister Kelli Whipple Stargel has been in the Florida legislature for most of her professional career and I admire her for that. Even though she sits on the opposite side of the isle and we disagree on just about everything, I give her credit for being passionate about her beliefs just like I am. This may also stem not only from our father, but also from the first settler of Orlando who just happened to be our great, great, great, great (I am not sure the number of greats) Grandfather, Aaron Jernigan. Who was also the first postmaster and served in the first legislature in Florida. I guess you could say it is in our blood.