Founder and Executive Director

              Photo by Barbara Banks 

Samantha J. Gholar


Samantha was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A southern belle through and through, she has lived all over the Southeast since entering college but has resided in Florida since 2010.

She began her career as a news journalist after earning her bachelor's degree from her alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, in 2008. After relocating from her beloved New Orleans, just over an hour from her hometown, she landed in St. Petersburg, FL in 2010 taking a job as a journalist at a local newspaper.

Samantha is an award-winning journalist whose passion for storytelling was recognized by Florida Press Association in July 2015. Two of her journalism pieces were awarded first and second in their respective categories by the FPA among thousands of entries statewide. She stepped away from full-time reporting shortly after her FPA award but continues to freelance for local news outlets.

After bouncing around central and southwest Florida for four years, Samantha has come to call Sarasota home. She put down roots in the city in 2014 and hasn’t looked back. Currently, she works as public relations and marketing professional. Additionally, Samantha owns and operates two small businesses.

In January 2017, after several years of working for people, she decided to work with people. It was then that Samantha launched Emerge Sarasota, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that connects and provides a platform for the area’s young minority professionals community.