Forty Under 40

Natalya Bannister

Written By: Scott Costello

1. Name: Natalya Bannister
2. Birthdate: 09/08/1984
3. Where were you born? Queens Village, New York
4. What are your community activities? (church or faith-based involvement, local, regional and national professional organizations, non-profits, etc)

  • Partners in Prevention of Substance Abuse (PIPSA)- Board Member
  • First Assembly of God- Member
  • JOB Corps Community Relations Council-Council Member
  • Mentor Coalition—Member
  • Gainesville Housing Authority Community Event Committee-Member
  • Woodland Park Community Empowerment Program—Founder and Director
  • Mentor Center—Mentor
  • University of Florida- Guest Speaker and Lecturer

5. List any awards you have won for community service:

  • 2013 Jefferson Award for Public Service- Service to Youth category
  • 2013 National Honor Award for Program Excellence in “Health and Life Skills”
  • 2012 National Honor Award for Program Excellence in “The Arts”
  • 2011 National Honor Award for Program Excellence in “Character and Leadership”

6. What is your definition of success?
Success is achieving your highest potential, being true to your own vision, and living a life of which you can be proud— all while making a positive impact in your sphere of influence.
7. What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Winning three of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s most prestigious national awards consecutively; 2011, 2012, 2013 (no other B&GC in the nation has accomplished this)
8. How do you exemplify the spirit of a Forty Under 40 professional?
My drive to succeed, passion to help, and raw talent exemplifies what I think the spirit of a Forty under 40 professional encompasses. Also, being in able to empower and inspire other young professionals like myself. I can truly say that I enjoy my career, and even better, I am able to see that my work makes a difference in so many people’s lives in the Gainesville area. I think this has made me an inspiration to many young professionals and college students in Gainesville. Many have asked me to Mentor them because they admire what I have accomplished in my short professional career.
9. Businessperson who has most inspired you:
Oprah Winfrey
10. Best advise ever received:
“Do what you love. Then master it so you can do it much better than anyone else you know. Happiness is where interest and capabilities intersect.”
11. Greatest professional challenge:
My greatest professional challenge was trying to find my professional identity when my previous boss/mentor left. When I was offered his position, I knew it would be a challenge to fill such big shoes, especially with me just graduating from college. Everyone was so accustomed to the framework he put in place, that it was difficult to implement change. But as I found my professional identity, I realized that taking risks and making things my own was the best decision I ever made with the Boys & Girls Club. Having the realization that my age and lack of experience could not limit my impact as long as I allowed my talent and passion drive my cause. I have been able to accomplish things that our organization has never done since it has been in existence in the Gainesville area. It is really a dream come true!
12. First job:
I was a hostess at Monty’s Conch Harbor while I was in high school (It was a Seafood Restaurant in Orlando)
13. What color crayon would you be? Why?
First, I would like to mention that I’ve been wearing gold jewelry since I was a little girl due to my Indian heritage. I still love wearing gold now as an adult; I am known for my flashy gold jewelry among my friends and co-workers to this day. Gold also signifies optimism and positivity, gold adds richness and warmth to everything with which it is associated – it illuminates and enhances other things around it. I hope that the color gold is what I symbolize to those around me.
14. Favorite after-work drink:
Sparkling wine
15. If I had a magic wand, I’d:
Eliminate ALL prejudices such as race, social class, and gender.
16. What is your favorite Gadget?
My Samsung Galaxy Phone #TeamGalaxy
17. How long have you been in Gainesville?
8 Years
18. What do you love most about Gainesville/Alachua County?
Its family oriented and offers a great quality of life
19. Three things people would be surprised to know about you:


  • I love playing practical jokes on people
  • I always feel like my life is a reality show waiting to be broadcasted
  • I come up with hilarious catch phrases that spread quickly through my friends and co-workers. Many of them quote them on social media or make t-shirts with my phrases on them.

20. Advice you would give a younger you:
“Don’t waste time worrying about the future; God has your life planned out exactly the way

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