PINELLAS PARK – Growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York, Dr. Daniel Strauss, National University of Health Sciences dean of the College of Professional Studies, was part of a large family.
He was one of 62 kids – 54 of them foster kids.
“My parents were very loving and giving,” he said. “So I understand the satisfaction of giving back. I was immersed in this very large family with a lot of love. It really emboldened me in adulthood.”
These lessons he learned from his parents’ sense of giving every day, still. He’s enmeshed in the Pinellas Park community. In addition to his work with NUHS, he’s also the incoming president of the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce, chair of its Pinellas Park Medical District and sits on the board for the Vincent House.
“Giving back to the community is pretty much why I’m here,” Strauss said.
Even though he’s six months out from his induction as chamber president, he’s already thinking about what he might accomplish in the role. In addition to new networking and spotlight opportunities for chamber members, he also hopes to collaborate more with other chambers in the county.
“I’d like to see what we can do to bridge the gap that unfortunately occurs with other chambers,” he said. “What type of opportunities can we create with other chambers? I think this is somewhat untapped territory. It would be nice to be able to take resource for one and bring it to another.”
He’s also proud to say that the Medical District, which was formed in 2012 as a chamber committee, is thriving.
“We’ve had an influx. We have a very solid foundation of around 70 active members,” he said.
The district has nearly twice that number when counting less active members. Many people are surprised to learn there are so many health-related companies located within the city, he said.
“That’s the reason why the Medical District was formed,” he said. “We recognized an anomaly of medical and medical-related businesses within this little Pinellas Park community.”
Strauss added, “It’s a fantastic organization. It pulls together many pieces of the puzzle for medical and medical-related businesses in the city.”
Part of the reason it’s done so well is because of the opportunities it offers these businesses.
The district’s educational series brings in “great, dynamic speakers” that present on a wide range of topics, from CPR to dermatology, he said. The monthly meetings also are “great networking opportunities.”
An additional draw is giving back to the local community through the district, he said. Two years ago, the organization created an annual scholarship program for local students. It also offers free back-to-school physicals at community events and partners with the chamber on two annual events – the Back to School event, where backpacks filled with school supplies are provided to area children, in August, and the springs activity-based Healthy Family Fun Fest.
For its efforts, the PPMD was awarded the Future of the Region Award from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council in 2014. The award recognized the organization in its public education category.
“That was a big deal and we were very proud of that award,” Strauss said.
NUHS, an Illinois-based college, has been part of St. Petersburg College’s University Partnership since 2009. It offers students a doctor of chiropractic at SPC’s Pinellas Park campus.
“We’re just shy of 100 students at this point,” he said.
He first joined NUHS in 2011 as an instructor. Prior to that, after relocating to Pinellas County, he taught at Keiser Career College and SPC for a couple of years. In Buffalo, in addition to running his own chiropractic practice for nearly a decade, he also was a teacher’s assistant at the New York Chiropractic College.
At NUHS, he was quickly promoted to associate dean in 2012, and dean a year later.
Though he misses running his own practice, he “love[s] education so much,” he said. “Now that I’m at a chiropractic institution, it’s the best of both worlds for me. I’m able to share my experiences with the students.”
NUHS also shares similar values regarding giving back to the community, he said. The school runs an affordable community clinic at Park Boulevard and 78th Street. It also operates a free clinic for SPC faculty, staff and students at the Pinellas Park campus, and runs a clinic for veterans at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center.
He also started a series on healthy living at the Vincent House, which assists individuals recovering from mental illness, and leans heavily on the students at NUHS to present the program.
“For me, it really is all about giving back,” he said.