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Side of Ranch

Work in background propels Keith Pandeloglou to the forefront

The executive director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities earns "Mr. Lakewood Ranch" title.

Keith Pandeloglou, the owner of UTC Venture Group and President and CEO of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities, won the Best Rancher award at the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance's Sandies event Friday at the Grove.
Keith Pandeloglou, the owner of UTC Venture Group and President and CEO of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities, won the Best Rancher award at the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance's Sandies event Friday at the Grove.
Photo by Jay Heater
  • East County
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It was another story about a Lakewood Ranch Community Activities event and I needed a photo of its executive director, Keith Pandeloglou.

So I went to old reliable, a photo I took of Pandeloglou at the Eggstravaganza event in 2017. He was walking past a line of hundreds of kids, who were waiting to sprint into the field to grab as many Easter eggs as possible. He was clutching an Eggstravaganza notebook, which had to contain all the information about the event schedule.

I had used that photo three or four times for various stories abut upcoming events, and that habit didn't go unnoticed by Pandeloglou.

"Did you have to use that photo ... again?" he would ask, incredulously.

Well, yeah.

It was 2018, and I didn't have a huge collection of Keith Pandeloglou photos. He worked mostly in the background, and the photos at his events were of the people involved, or the volunteers. The photos I did have were mostly related to his opening of Cowork LWR, and wearing a suit and tie didn't exactly go along with a story about Santa coming down Lakewood Main Street.

I no longer have a problem in finding an appropriate photo of him.

On Nov. 17 during the annual Sandies event at the Grove in Lakewood Ranch, Pandeloglou was named the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance's Best Rancher, a member who is the "most dedicated and high-motivated, and who has invited or referred the highest number of new Alliance members.

It is one of the nonprofit's two most prestigious awards that is awarded each year. The other is the Volunteer of the Year award that went to AnneMarie Graff of Bank OZK.

In writing this column featuring Pandeloglou, I did, of course, have the photo above of his award presentation. But I also looked in our files to see what other photo choices I had.

The Eggstravaganza photo did come up, and believe me, I chuckled at the thought of using the photo as an inside joke. But that was followed by a stream of other photos.

It was Keith around the campfire, and Keith doing yoga, and Keith honoring veterans, and Keith in the Tribute to Heroes Parade, and Keith at a fishing clinic, and Keith supporting a possible Players Center for Performing Arts in Lakewood Ranch, and Keith with his wife Melissa McNally at a Lakewood Ranch Community Fund event.

The photos kept coming.

It is not surprising since Lakewood Ranch Community Activities in 2017 was about 10 major events and 50 social clubs. Now Pandeloglou supervises more than 700 events each year.

It should be noted that he was a one-man band in 2017 and now he has three full-time employees in Joanna Bailey, Danielle Bugel and Paige Venuto, along with part-time employee Chris McComas.

But the workload certainly is impressive, more help or not.

Besides those duties, and his Cowork responsibilities, the New Jersey native is on the boards of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance and the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund. Members of those organizations will testify that he is an "active" member.

I thought the Best Rancher award was apropos considering an interview I did with Pandeloglou when he took the Lakewood Ranch Community Activities position in March 2017.

Here is his comment from that story.

"I've been (in Lakewood Ranch) seven years and this is a community that pulls together when there is an opportunity for anyone. I love the power of our community. I like to consider myself Mr. Lakewood Ranch."

He is doing everything he can to earn that title.

He also noted in that interview, "I love Lakewood Ranch and part of my goal is for it to be the No. 1 community. It's like No. 4 now (as the best-selling, master-planned community in the United States). I hope to take what Community Activities has done and enhance it. So if I can be a small part of Lakewood Ranch being No. 1, that's great."


The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance also recognized eight other award winners at the Sandies. They were Kent Jimison of Easterseals Happiness House (Above and Beyond), Zoe Kasper of Bekins Moving Solutions (Networking Queen), Wayne Parrish of Rite Technology (Bull by the Horns), Jorge Augero of Family Legacy Care (Ray of Sunshine), Kevin Cooper of Mote Marine (Community Champion), Skyler Betts of Town Square University Parkway (Rising Star), Dennis Butt of HR Elements (Networking King) and Tieler Gittleman of Northern Trust (Young Professional of the Year).

After receiving his award, Pandeloglou said, "I wouldn't have anything in Lakewood Ranch without the Alliance. This is the easiest thing in the world to refer people to,"

Then came a photo session with all the winners, which provides the local newspaper editor more choices for the future.

In Pandeloglou's case, the need could be there a long time.

He was asked in the 2017 interview how long he would stay the executive director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities.

"I am going to do this as long as they will have me," he said.

Keep those photo opportunities coming.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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