Leah was born in Pensacola, Florida, and her family moved to Bradenton only a few weeks later. Leah’s parents, Mike and Sherry Knowles, are both retired Manatee County teachers. At a young age, her parents taught her the importance of a good education, to always treat people with kindness, and when you help others you actually receive more in return, lessons which Leah lives by today.
A graduate of Manatee High School, Leah attended Manatee Community College on a Debate scholarship and then attended Florida International University in Miami. At FIU, she was a member of their award-winning debate team. After living in Miami for six years she realized Bradenton was really the place she wanted to be.
Soon after returning home, Leah began working at Bright House Networks. Her experience as a manager in the Public Relations and Government Affairs departments of a large telecommunications company afforded her many opportunities to develop skills in internal and external affairs focusing on community; promoting employee volunteerism, coordinating public relations campaigns, advocating for regulatory and policy issues, building relationships with state and federal legislators and managing staff to achieve targeted goals.
Leah loves the outdoors, is an avid golfer and enjoys any activity on the water. Leah is married to her long-time friend, Brent Brown, also a graduate of Manatee High School. Together, they have a beautiful 4-year old little girl, Taya Hope.
Leah’s particular passion is creating winning partnerships with non-profit organizations, businesses, and public entities to achieve mutual short and long term goals. When asked, Leah noted, “If you think about it…as an adult it’s hard to carve out the time to volunteer for all the worthwhile causes that you’d like. That’s why I feel so blessed, through my work in public and government affairs. I’ve been given the opportunity to partner with more than 100 non-profit organizations and more than 25 school districts in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the state. To this day, I remember my parents’ teachings and hold dear all the fascinating people I’ve met and worked with over the years. Manatee County has an exemplary group of community-minded individuals that strive every day to make our community a better place, which makes me proud to share these experiences with them.”
Leah served on the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee Board of Directors as the Marketing & PR Co-Chair and currently serves on the Florida Board of Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT), as well as, the Board of Directors for the Pinellas County Urban League. She’s also been very active in local events and community programs including Communications and Sponsorship Chair for Symphony on the Sand, and Silent Auction Chair for Snooty’s Gala at South Florida Museum. She is a graduate and a current member of alumni organization of Leadership Manatee, a former member of the Marketing & Events Committee for Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County, and former member of the Marketing Committee for American Red Cross Manatee Chapter. Leah is also a new member of the Legislative Affairs Committee for the South Florida Museum.
Leah has also championed several Public-Private Partnership Agreements in Manatee County including:
– Expansion of Bright House Networks Downtown Wireless Internet Access footprint supporting Realize Bradenton Riverfront Project and Public Art Program.
– Instrumental in Bay News 9 bringing the new weather camera to the Bradenton Riverwalk, therefore, creating a promotion for the downtown Bradenton area.
– Regularly assists and supports Old Main Street Merchants Association with downtown promotions, collateral placement and media advertising of their many Main Street events.
– Partnership with Manatee Education Foundation Connect Your Community program providing discounted Internet service to newly trained Internet users to bridge the digital divide and raise the number of Sustainable Broadband Adopters in targeted areas.