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Ester Venouziou, founder and president

Ester Venouziou started LocalShops1 to help her parents find local shops and restaurants when they were visiting from New Jersey. At the time Ester was a full-time journalist at the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), and she found she was spending the rest of her time meeting business owners and brainstorming ways to grow Tampa Bay's Buy Local movement. With their support and encouragement, LocalShops1 grew into the area's leading advocate for small businesses, a socially conscious company with a mission. Ester, who has degrees in psychology and journalism from Boston University, moved to Florida in the early 1990s and to the Tampa Bay region in 2003. She has won numerous awards through her work at LocalShops1, where she now works full time.          


Mo Venouziou, vice president  

Mo joined his sister at LocalShops1 in November 2011, with the goal of integrating the efforts of buy local advocates and business groups across the Tampa Bay. He has a doctorate in mathematics from Syracuse University and bachelor's degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Rochester. In addition to working full time at LocalShops1, Mo is an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College.

And our Awesome Staff!


Billie Jo Grassinger Bell
Billie Jo joined LocalShops1 in 2009, as a business member on behalf of her company, Tampa Bay Natural Health. She was appointed LocalShops1's North Pinellas director in June 2012. Billie Jo, a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay region, has a degree from St. Petersburg College.

Cherlene Willis 
Cherlene joined LocalShops1 December 2013 to help with community relations in St. Pete and Gulfport. Cherlene brings more than 10 years of experience in writing, photography, videography and communications, most recently as editor of the Gulfport Patch and Pinellas Beaches Patch. Before joining the Patch she was the weekend anchor and reporter for KELO TV in Sioux Falls, SD.