Magic Diversity Game Changer: Barbara Poma

Name: Barbara Poma

Game Honored: Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Hornets (10/27/21)

Barbara Poma, founder and owner of Pulse nightclub, was raised in Coral Springs, Fla., where she attended J.P. Taravella High School. She graduated in 1990 from the University of Central Florida with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Secondary Education and was a member of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority.

Poma worked as an educator in the Orange County Public School system for three years teaching Creative Writing, Language Arts, Debate and Drama.

In 1995, she married entrepreneur Rosario Poma, with whom she has two children and a stepdaughter. Joining her restauranteur husband, she founded and operated several businesses, most significantly the Pulse nightclub, which was established in 2004 as a tribute to her brother, John, who passed away from complications from HIV/AIDs.

Pulse nightclub was embraced by the global LGBTQ+ community for the club's culture of love and providing a venue where patrons and their families could be themselves. While operating Pulse, Poma earned a reputation as a human and civil rights advocate.

On Sunday, June 12, 2016, Pulse became the scene of one of the nation's worst mass shootings in modern American history. As club owner, Poma was rocked into a new and unimaginable reality that caused immeasurable loss and hardship. Since the loss of her business, she has shifted her focus on preserving the memory of the 49 victims, survivors and first responders.

Poma now serves as CEO of onePULSE Foundation, the not-for-profit established to honor and preserve the legacy of the 49 killed and all those affected by the Pulse nightclub tragedy.

onePULSE’s mission is to create and support a memorial that opens hearts, a museum that opens minds, educational programs that open eyes and 49 Legacy Scholarships that open doors.

The National Pulse Memorial & Museum will honor the 49 lives taken and all those affected, while also educating visitors and future generations on the profound impact the tragedy had on Orlando, the U.S. and the world. The project also includes the Orlando Health Survivors Walk, which will trace the three-block journey many victims and responders took the night of the tragedy to get to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Poma was named as one of Orlando’s 50 Most Powerful People of 2021 in philanthropy and community voices by Orlando Magazine. She has been awarded the 2020 Publisher’s Award from the Orlando Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Awards, 2019 Business Leader of the Year Award from the MBA Pride Chamber of Commerce, 2019 Summit Award from the Women’s Resource Center and 2019 Public & Community Service Award from The Atlantic Institute. She was also named one of NBC Universal's 2018 Change Makers, received the 2018 Point Foundation Leadership award, recognized as Ally Ambassador of the year for the 2018 LGBT -Allies Diversity Summit and 2017 LGBT Champion of Equality at the Harvey Milk Diversity Awards.



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