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Dustin Shay was born and raised around the Ocala area. He moved to Tampa to attend college at the University of South Florida and continued living in Tampa for quite a few years before making the move to Lakeland in 2005. Shay’s career brought him to the swan city to work for Rita Staffing where he worked for 13 years.

In 2018, he began working with IGT, a global leader in the gaming industry that prints lottery tickets.

The last 20 years of Dustin’s career have been dedicated to Human Resources. “I had a mentor in high school as part of my business curriculum that got me into Human Resources. It was a passion for me because I love training and development, I love connecting with my team, my employees. It was kind of a natural fit. I got really lucky in that regard,” explained Shay.

Prior to that, Shay thought his job would be designing cars. Around nine years old he had an entire  portfolio of cars that he’d designed and drawn.

“I ended up taking the HR path and I’m really happy that I did,” reflected Shay.

Though he chose a different career path, cars are still an interest of his outside of work. He no longer draws them but does have a knack for all things automotive – mechanical and otherwise. Friends call Dustin for everything from mechanical trouble to car shopping.

A Passion for Human Resources

Shay is an HR Specialist for IGT, along with overseeing talent acquisition for their site of about 300 employees. His daily duties entail community engagement, outreach, recruiting, sourcing, and interviewing.

As an executive board member of Polk Pride and part of the LGBTQ community, Shay is pleased that the Lakeland companies he has worked for have been supporters of Pride. Rita Staffing has been a sponsor of Polk Pride, with IGT joining the list of sponsors this year. Shortly after starting with IGT, Dustin sent an email to their community engagement department about sponsoring Polk Pride. They signed on immediately and are one of the top sponsors this year.

Shay applauded the company for its stance on diversity and inclusion. “It’s great to work for a company that’s not just about the bottom dollar, it’s about culture and diversity,” he remarked.

His professional goals are centered around continual growth in HR Management, specifically within IGT. Their global headquarters are based in London, which he jested wouldn’t be such a bad place to be.

A Shift Towards Diversity

Center stage for Dustin Shay’s personal focus is the organization he and his fellow board members pour so much time and love into. “I would really love to continue the path that we’re on,” he said of Polk Pride. “I’d say a personal goal for me is to set Pride specifically as a stand-alone organization in the future that not only does events, but also has more community engagement – possibly a shelter, possibly an office.”

Now 41, Dustin came out when he was 19 years old. He feels that his generation has seen the largest shift in diversity. He, of course, gave a nod to the generations of LGBTQ before his that paved the way, fighting for recognition and rights, like that of the Stonewall riots.

“Is there still a long way to go? Does our current political climate give us pause? Yes,” he admitted, adding that he chooses to focus on the positive cultural move towards diversity and inclusion versus anything negative.

Get Involved

Shay places emphasis on the importance of community. He urges everyone to get involved and has a piece of sage advice for LGBTQ youth.

“Don’t be afraid,”  he said. “That’s about anything – your goals, who you love, what you want to do, where you want to go in life.”

His message for the broader community was simple but potent as well.

“Get involved, hang out with some of these people in the community. Get to know them,” said Shay. “Because at the end of the day, whether you have a perception of what Pride is, what LGBTQ people are – they are people. It takes three minutes to realize that some of those labels or barriers that you may have notions of, completely disappear.”

Photo: Dustin on left, Adam Sparks, a volunteer with Polk Pride on the right.

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