Panoramic View of Seaside Community Center: Park, Restaurant, Houses, and People Enjoying a Sunny Day in Seaside, Florida.

From Secretary to CEO: Pam Avera retires as Seaside’s General Manager

In her Atlanta office hung a watercolor print of the pastel cottages in Seaside circa 1990s. Pam Avera had gotten the print while visiting her parents in Fort Walton Beach. Beyond the pretty painting, Pam knew nothing about the town of Seaside. Years later, she is retiring as vice president and general manager at Seaside Community Development Corp. (SCDC), where she has run the company for 17 of her 24 years with SCDC. 

Pam had been working in Atlanta as director of corporate human resources for most of her career, responsible for more than 2,000 employees. Her husband, Larry, owned his own software business and could work anywhere in the country. When the couple were ready to leave Atlanta, they chose to be close to Pam’s parents in Fort Walton.

Pam first came to know Seaside in 1999 when she met Erica Pierce, vice president and general manager of Seaside Associated Stores (SAS). While she was doing contract HR work for SAS, Erica introduced her to Seaside founder Robert Davis. Robert, who owned Cottage Rental Agency (CRA) at the time, needed Pam’s help managing  HR for his 200 employees. “I was excited about the opportunity,” Pam says.

In 2006, when SCDC was about to divest itself of CRA and focus on its commercial interests in Seaside’s downtown, Robert’s wife, Daryl, asked him to consider a woman to manage the transition and help shape the new organization. “Daryl and Erica had succeeded in building a core team of loyal, hard working people (mainly women) by nurturing them, helping them grow in competence and confidence and helping them stay invested in the success of their common enterprise,” Robert says. 

When Robert asked Pam to be general manager, she was flattered and overwhelmed. “I told him, ‘Robert, you do know that I don’t know anything about commercial leasing, right?’ He said, ‘I’m not worried about that. I can teach you that. What’s important to me is relationships. This job and this company are about relationships, and I think you do that really well.’” 

pam avera

Initially, Robert recalls, Pam needed help to develop the confidence and competence to take on the areas beyond HR that her new role required — finance, accounting, marketing, construction. “But she learned quickly,” Robert adds. “And she built a team of people on whom she could rely.”

Daryl, co-founder of Seaside, got to know Pam when she took the general manager role. “Over the past 24 years I have watched her develop and hone her skills wearing many different caps,” Daryl says. “She learned to speak and understand legalese, she learned what it takes to become an entrepreneur in retail, she learned the language of architects, engineers and contractors. She can find her way around the Walton County Planning Department. Really the question is, what can’t she do? I have tremendous admiration and respect for Pam. She has been an excellent fiduciary for Robert and me as well as for SCDC. I thank her with all my heart.”

Pam had learned a lot from previous jobs in hospitality and management. So it wasn’t completely scary for her. “Robert suggested it would take about a year to learn the job,” Pam says. “I wondered if he didn’t think I was that smart! It seemed like a long time to learn a job. But I’m still learning!”

Pam leads a team of 53 employees in managing the day-to-day operations of a town that attracts architects, artists, scholars, town planners, home buyers and tourists. The vibrant business environment lures entrepreneurs who see the value in the unique characteristics of the first New Urbanist town in the world. 

Erica recalls Pam leading the town with great strength and wisdom through many good times, as well as, not so good times. “We worked together on many projects throughout the years helping Seaside develop into a beloved destination for thousands,” she continues.  “Pam will be missed, but I wish her the very best in her next new adventure!”


Pam explains that the most cherished aspect of her job is the people. “The people who serve this town, those who come here, and the tenants who want to be successful. It’s always been about the people. No business runs without them, and a business doesn’t work well if the people aren’t glad to be here.” 

Paula Simpler, administrative services manager for SCDC, has worked with Pam for all of her 24 years in Seaside. “She was always an amazing mentor and leader,” Paula explains. “You learned something new every day and she was always willing to share her knowledge. Pam was very devoted to Seaside and gave 100 percent to her job and being a leader to her staff. I have been blessed and honored to work with her and learn from her. Some people never have had the chance to work with someone so closely for so long. That was my reward. Pam will be greatly missed.” 

pam avera and robert davis standing in front of a red car

Pam credits Robert with creating a lot of opportunities for her and many other people. “He’s a very inclusive person and has associates, contacts and friends of many different ages and stages in life, and levels of education,” she explains. “He instantly sees things he either likes or doesn’t like. He says, ‘I live in the future,’ and he does. And I was his reality, meaning he got to be up there being the visionary he is, because I was down here taking care of his business for him. It was my biggest joy, that he trusted me with it. After a while I got to understand what his philosophies were because he’s very willing to share it. I learned that and could follow that philosophy. He is a very generous man in terms of time and attention to others. He likes to teach and pass on his thoughts, knowledge and vision, and a lot of people benefit from that. I was happy I brought what I knew at a time he needed that for his company.”

Post retirement, Pam and Larry, her husband of 55 years, with their Yorkshire terrier, Lilly, might take a few road trips, which the couple love doing together. “I’ve always liked crafts, like macramé, candle-making, painting and crocheting.” she adds. “If I know someone who is having a baby, I’ll make them a blanket or something.”

As Robert and Daryl’s son, Micah Davis, takes over the role of envisioning Seaside’s long-term future, Pam has provided the nurturing that Seaside needed. “Her ability to listen, to read the room, to get a feel for what people were saying (and not saying) helped Seaside evolve and improve in numerous big and small ways,” Robert adds.

pam avera and robert davis

“As before Pam’s tenure, Seaside changed slowly and carefully. Mistakes were made. Generally, they were small enough not to seriously set us back. Even endless litigation benefitted from Pam’s persistent insistence that we would win the lawsuit, but it would always be preferable to keep trying to find common ground with the other side since we were all, ultimately, on the same side, as neighbors and as fellow citizens of a town we all loved. Pam has been an excellent fiduciary for a business that has prospered and grown in value, even as many of the investments we made did not have an immediately calculable return on investment. Town building is, or should be, a long-term bet that continuing improvements to the public realm will make a place more prosperous. I am hopeful that Pam will continue to be engaged in helping Seaside’s relations with the various communities that make up our world (Town Council, Walton County, Seaside Neighborhood School, etc.). Her continued engagement and good guidance will be of great value to me and to Micah, as he surrounds himself with people who can help him nurture his vision and the town we love.” 

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