LoveLakeland’s January 2018 CityMaker
By Olivia George
Pictured: CREATE at Catapult, Gillian Fazio
The people of Lakeland. Publix. Giving her time, treasures, and talents. Perpetuating Publix’s mission to be a responsible citizen and BE THERE. Her family and her many, many, many friends.
These are the things that drive Greta Dupuy, the Manager of Associate Services at Publix and giver of everything she can to her community. Her confidence, love for her community, passion for Publix, and love of her “tribe”—what she calls the group of her best friends—is contagious.
She wasn’t born here, and she wasn’t raised here, but after living in several other big cities, she landed here nonetheless. And after a little hesitation, our community has become a home that she says she doesn’t ever want to leave.
Where She Comes From
Greta’s parents were both born in Haiti and came to Miami where Greta and her brother were raised. Greta grew up speaking French and started school not speaking English. The family moved to Maryland when Greta was in middle school before settling in Tampa, where she eventually attended and graduated from the University of South Florida.
Greta credits the way she was raised and the Academy of the Holy Names –the all-girl Catholic high school she attended – for her confidence and the emphasis she places on investing in her community. Her parents made it a priority to travel regularly, expose Greta and her brother to the arts, and to study abroad.
Currently, her parents, her brother, and her brother’s family reside in Miami, where she travels frequently. She says her family tries their best to get her to move south to be closer to them, but she won’t budge.
“This is where I’m meant to be,” she said fondly.
The thing about family though, is that Greta has two of them. She’s got her “blood” family—her mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, and nieces—and she’s got her Lakeland family, a tribe of friends that she cherishes and struggles to leave when it’s time to head to Miami for holidays. This group of friends has transformed this city into her home.
“That’s the great thing about Lakeland, I actually was really sad to leave my family here, I almost started crying,” Greta said. “That’s how much I feel at home here.
Greta & Her Love, Publix
Greta started her career at Publix shortly after graduating from USF, and ten years ago, she made Lakeland her home. She initially chose to live in Lakeland because a daily commute from Tampa had become unmanageable. She wasn’t sure how she’d fit in here at first, but after a lasagna dinner with Barney and Carol Barnett in her 1 bedroom apartment, she realized that this community and her company was where she wanted to stay.
“Barney found out that I lived in Lake Mirror Tower, and he [said] ‘I’ve always wanted to visit that place. Carol and I are coming over for dinner.’…I made lasagna, and they ate my lasagna!” she said. “That’s when I was like, ‘This ain’t that bad!’”
Four years ago, she became the Manager of Associate Services, a position she says, “is the best job at Publix.” She acknowledges that a lot of people say that about their jobs at Publix, but she glows when talking about how she spends her time at “work”.
Greta manages the Publix Service Awards program, a program that celebrates associates and their many years of Publix service. This involves planning luncheons, dinners, facilitating associate travel, all culminating in April when associates receive their awards—a time she says, “is the best time of year”.
She also plans and handles the logistics for the Publix Annual Stockholder’s meeting every April, and she facilitates the Mr. George Community Service Award—a project that involves bringing associate recipients in from each region, showing them important Publix landmarks in Lakeland, treating them to a meal at the Terrace, and presenting their award at the Stockholder’s meeting over the course of two days.
You might think that would be enough – but there’s more: Greta also plans and organizes the Publix Retail Ops Conference, a leadership conference held in Orlando annually for Publix store managers and above (nearly 1,500 attendees).
Outside of all these important responsibilities, Greta is most well-known for her involvement in Publix’s annual United Way campaign. Greta’s department plans, organizes, and manages an annual company-wide United Way giving campaign, a campaign that has made Publix the 3rd largest United Way donor in the world, behind UPS and Wells Fargo. It’s this part of her job that has gotten her deeply involved with United Way of Central Florida in Lakeland and has made giving back to her community part of her life, every single day.
“This is where I’m meant to be – Lakeland”
“This is where I’m meant to be – Lakeland”
For Greta, her tendency towards helping her community and finding ways to give back to those in need stems from the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. She lost her aunt in the tragedy, and from Lakeland, she felt like she couldn’t help from so far away, but she knew she could impact her own community.
“I think that was one of the biggest turning points for me,” she said. “I said, ‘I need to make a difference.’ There’s so much I can give.”
From there, and with the influence of Publix’s “give back” culture, Greta has plunged headfirst into giving her time and talents to her community in as many ways as she can.
She’s Vice-Chair on the United Way of Center Florida board; involved in United Way’s Young Leader Society, Women’s Leadership Council, and Reading Pals program; a volunteer for Junior Achievement; she sits on boards for LVIM, Polk State College Foundation, and her alma mater Academy of the Holy Names; she’s involved in Read Lakeland’s Kiss the Pig; and she’s Secretary on the Pace Center for Girls Board of Trustees.
Even after reluctantly and exhaustively listing the ways in which she’s involved in our community, she gets excited.
“But I want to do so much more!” she said.
There’s got to be something incredible and enviable driving a person to give so much of themselves to the people in their community, right? What drives Greta is seeing that positive change, the end result. So often, she says, great partnerships, strong relationships, and personal growth are the result of digging in and doing the hard work for your city.
The Community She Loves
Statistically, Lakeland is one of the most giving communities in Florida. But even with statistics unseen, Greta knows this city and its people have big, charitable hearts. For her, the people are supportive, giving, and make getting involved in new causes or organizations easy and never intimidating.
“People welcome you with open arms,” she said.
That, combined with the feeling of knowing someone everywhere you go and the sense of authenticity, she said, make our city unique. Maybe not unique the way big cities like Miami are unique, but niche landmarks like Munn Park, the Polk Theatre, Florida Southern College, and others help Lakeland stand out.
Greta hopes to see Lakeland continue to make strides and change as the population grows. Bringing more nightlife, live music, exciting dining options, improving public transportation, seeing our community become more diverse, and bringing those people from different age groups, races, backgrounds, and religions together to make a positive impact are some of things she is excited to see develop in the coming years.
Last year, Greta was crowned the Lakeland Derby Mama Swan by Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine, an honor she cherishes. Each year, LVIM hosts the Lakeland Derby, an exciting event in which leaders of Lakeland rally together to raise money for a worthy cause and have a blast racing paddle boat swans.
During the press conference before the Leaders of Lakeland were introduced before Derby Day, Linda Wiggs—wife of former Mayor Howard Wiggs—bestowed unto Mama Swan her very own #LoveLakeland pin. Linda took the pin off her own shirt, and gifted it to Greta, a gift she adores and still wears often.
“I felt that day that I got the keys to city with the #LoveLakeland pin!” Greta said.
It may be a “cheesy” story, she said, but it’s her Lakeland story, and it epitomizes the overwhelming love she feels for our community. And the joy emanating from her as she tells the story only reinforces that.
For Greta, Publix and the city of Lakeland have truly shaped who she is, how she lives her life, and how she treats other people, every single day. The culture that Publix has cultivated and perpetuated—a culture that drives associates and shoppers alike to do better by their communities and serve where they can—Greta exemplifies it. Whether it’s in her community, in her office, at home with family, or with friends and their children, Greta shows up, gives everything she can, and does it because she enjoys it.
Point blank, Greta Dupuy bleeds Publix green. And her city is so glad she does.