Speakers & Presenters

General Session Speakers

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Britton Banowsky
Executive Director
College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation
Britton Banowsky, named Executive Director of the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation in July 2015, leads the organization’s philanthropic initiative, as well as its capstone project, Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT).

As the charitable arm of the College Football Playoff, the CFP Foundation aims to make an impact off the field in communities touched by the playoff system and across the country. As executive director, Banowsky’s role includes enhancing the Foundation, as well as building sustainability for the program.

Prior to his role with the CFP Foundation, Banowsky served as commissioner of Conference USA for 13 years. A licensed attorney, Banowsky was general counsel for the Big 12 Conference for six years. From 1993 - 1996, he was commissioner of the Southland Conference.

Outside of the CFP Foundation, Banowsky has been involved with many public service programs in Dallas. He served on the Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty, is one of three officers of a new nonprofit to transform neighborhoods in Dallas, has been president of the Heart of Dallas, and is currently chairman of the Dallas Metro Homeless Alliance.

Born in Los Angeles, he is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he earned both a business and a law degree. Banowsky and his wife, Cindy, have three children: Kendall, Brit and Wade, as well as a granddaughter, Cora.
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Ken Burke, CPA
Vice Chair
Higher Education Coordinating Council
Ken Burke serves as the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller for Pinellas County, Florida. As clerk he manages all courthouse records, a local budget of approximately $43 million and about 550 employees. He was elected to his position in 2004. And re-elected continuously without opposition. He is the governor’s appointee to the Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council and was elected as the Council’s Vice Chair.

In 1999, he was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush and reappointed by Governor Charlie Crist, to serve on the Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College. Ken was also elected to the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Board of Directors in 2001. In 2005-07 he served as Chair of the Association.

In June 2011, Ken was elected to serve as President of the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers, a non-profit, statewide organization. The Association is comprised of the Florida Clerks of the Circuit Court and Comptrollers, and provides education and accreditation for Clerks of the Circuit Court and Comptrollers, information and technical assistance to local governments.

Well respected for his leadership and community involvement, among the numerous duties he has held is serving on the Florida Supreme Court’s "Access to Justice" to improve access to the courts by pro se litigants; and to serve on a committee to review the Supreme Court’s judicial plan. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Court Clerks, County Records & Election Officials (NACRC).
David A. Dawkins
Senior Vice President
Wells Fargo Advisors
David Dawkins is a Senior Vice President and Complex Manager for Wells Fargo Advisors in Orlando, FL. In August of 2011, David joined Wells Fargo Advisors as Gateway Complex Manager. David began his career in the Financial Services industry in 1979 at Merrill, Lynch as a Financial Advisor. He further developed his career as a Financial Advisor at Oppenheimer and Company and McLaughlin, Piven, Vogel Securities, Inc. In 1987, he assumed his first Branch Management position, and since then he has held numerous roles including Branch Manager, Regional Director, Business Development Coach and Regional Sales Manager with firms like McLaughlin, Piven, Vogel Securities Inc; Bear Stearns and UBS Financial Services.

David and his wife, Susan now reside in Orlando, FL and have 3 adult daughters. In addition to his career, David is passionate about future generations and sits on the Advisory Board for Valencia Promise – Take Stock in Children through Valencia College. He also served for years as Director of an inner-city after school program in Cabrini Green, Chicago. David is also a current member of the board of the Foundation for OCPS.
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Charles Hokanson
Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer
Helios Education Foundation
Charles Hokanson is Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer for Helios Education Foundation, where he leads the Center for Policy, Research and Evaluation and oversees the development and implementation of a public policy agenda committed to improving quality, access, and achievement across the birth-16 education continuum.

Mr. Hokanson’s career has bridged the worlds of nonprofit, private sector, and government policy development and executive management. As President and CEO of Hokanson Consulting Group LLC, Mr. Hokanson provided strategic and public policy advice to nonprofit, think tank, trade association, and federal and state agency clients. Mr. Hokanson previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, as president or executive vice president of three national education reform nonprofits, and as professional staff to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Mr. Hokanson graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, earning a BA in History and American Studies and an MA in History, before earning JD and Master of Public Policy degrees at the Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

He currently serves as a Trustee of the Florida Chamber Foundation and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hostelling International USA. Mr. Hokanson is also a member of the advisory boards for the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University, the Florida College Access Network (serving as Chairman), the Florida TaxWatch Center for Educational Performance and Accountability, the Business Alliance for Early Learning, and Future Plans USA, LLC.
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Dr. Christopher Holland
Vice President, Student Services
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Dr. Christopher Holland has served as the Vice President of Student Services at Florida State College at Jacksonville since September 2014. With over 15 years of professional service in working with college students, Dr. Holland has been a committed advocate of higher education serving as a vehicle for underserved students to have access to the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to society in workforce placement and responsible citizenship.

His administrative career in higher education has taken him from Montana to Mississippi to New York and now Florida. He has served as a Director of Housing at a small public state traditional women’s college and at a large research one university and has served as a Dean of Students at both small private and larger public colleges and universities prior to coming to Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Dr. Holland earned his AA in liberal arts from Jamestown Community College in New York, his B.A. and M.A. in English from State University of New York College at Fredonia, his M.S. in Higher Education Administration from State University of New York at Albany, and his doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama. His research interests focus on college culture, the student experience, and how both effect and affect each other in the context of student development. His dissertation, “The Experiences of Gay Male Students at a Traditional Women’s University” was both published and the 2009 recipient of ACPA’s Research Recognition Award.

Prior to working in Student Affairs administration, Dr. Holland served as an 8th and 9th grade English teacher, worked for TRiO’s Upward Bound Program, and he was a higher education lobbyist in New York. Additionally, he served for two years on the State University of New York Board of Trustees where he helped bring sweeping changes to general education, charter school development, and stronger articulation agreements. Outside of work, he enjoys living at the beach with his partner of over 14 years, Cole Holland, their five-year-old son, Cayden, and their two dachshunds, Casadine and Columbus.
Chris Laney
Director of Education and Community Investment
CareerSource Suncoast
Chris Laney is an award-winning expert in marketing, business strategy, project management, and organizational behavior. His expertise has allowed him to hold multiple hats in a variety of organizations – operations manager, digital strategist, project manager, owner, sales manager, traditional and untraditional marketing executive, and more. He has worked for organizations like Verizon Wireless, Chick-Fil-A, The Joy FM, Protect My Ministry, and boostDFM Digital Agency. In addition, he’s also owned and operated two successful businesses. Through his unique ability of understanding the customer experience, Laney has driven millions of dollars in revenue for organizations.

In 2013, Laney had a vision to bring students together to inspire them about their futures. Through this effort and partnership with the Sarasota Young Professionals and Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the State of Jobs Conference was created. Over the past three years, the State of Jobs Conference has inspired over 1200 students and brought together over 150 speakers discussing topics related careers, colleges, and leadership. After three years, the State of Jobs Conference is on the brink of expanding and growing into a regional conference for students to continue to be inspired when it comes to college and careers. As part of the State of Jobs Conference, a survey is conducted asking students about their perception on careers, colleges and living in the region. The data from this survey is compiled into the State of Students report.
Claire Lessinger
Director of Special Events
Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC)
Claire Lessinger is Director of Special Events with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC), a non-profit charitable corporation that serves the entire Tampa Bay area as the lead organization for bidding on and hosting premiere sports and entertainment events. She has been featured as one of the most influential women in Tampa Bay sports by the Tampa Bay Times.

Lessinger and the TBSC are responsible for driving economic and social impact by identifying, bidding on, and ultimately hosting sporting and entertainment events in Tampa Bay such as the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four, the NCAA D.II Women’s Volleyball Championship and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Most recently, Lessinger and the TBSC hosted the first College Football Playoff National Championship in the Southeast in Tampa on January 9th, 2017. Lessinger managed operations, logistics and marketing/promotions for all ancillary events associated with the Championship. As a result, Tampa Bay set record attendance numbers at a variety of events throughout Tampa’s beautiful downtown.

In addition to Tournament Manager and Special Events Director, Lessinger has been instrumental in piloting successful legacy programs; the “Beyond” initiative, which focuses on gathering and empowering local women of influence in support of Tampa Bay hosted National Championships, and “For Student-Athletes, by Student-Athletes” (FSABSA), which targets non-participating student-athletes, providing a unique professional development opportunity by engaging them in the behind-the-scenes event management and operations.
Lessinger came to the TBSC from the University of South Florida (USF) where she spent eight years as the head volleyball coach (2004-2012) and seven as the assistant volleyball coach (1996-2003). As head coach, Lessinger helped transform the program into a BIG EAST Conference Championship contender, earning conference tournament appearances in each of her last four seasons. While coaching, she served as the President and Vice President of the BIG EAST Coaches Association and Chair of the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association (AVCA) All-Region Committee.

Prior to her coaching career at USF, Lessinger spent five years as a collegiate volleyball player at alma mater University of Florida (UF) where she won five SEC Championships, participated in five NCAA Tournaments and three Final Four’s.
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Amanda Lopez
Coordinator of College and Career Counseling Services
School District of Osceola County
Amanda Lopez began her career in education working as an Administrative Assistant in the Exceptional Student Education Department, and has continued her work as a High School English Teacher, Intensive Reading Teacher, AVID Teacher and Coordinator, Clinical Case Manager, School Counselor, and College and Career Counselor. In 2014, Ms. Lopez was nominated as Counselor of the Year for the School District of Osceola County, in 2015, Ms. Lopez was named as a Top Ten Finalist for Osceola County Teacher of the Year, and in 2016, Ms. Lopez was nominated and named as a board member on the College Board's Regional Governance: Guidance & Admissions Southern Regional Council. Amanda Lopez currently serves as the Coordinator of College and Career Counseling Services for the School District of Osceola County.
Toby Loukmas
School Counselor
East Bay High School
Toby Loukmas has been a high school counselor for 10 years; eight in Michigan and two years at East Bay High School in Hillsborough County. Unlike private schools, public schools are not always staffed to allow for dedicated College and Career Counselors to focus on the critical need of planning for life after high school. To meet that need, Toby created a plan and a system to promote a “college bound culture” that is used in several public school districts that are limited by large student to counselor ratios. She has been selected to serve on Counselor Advisory Boards for 2 large universities; Wayne State University and Michigan State University. This experience provides her a unique perspective on how the admissions process works from a college standpoint. This insight provides methods on how best to prepare students for acceptance into the college of their choice. She is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling and was very active in the Michigan Association for College Admissions Counseling, serving as Secretary. She was responsible for launching the college culture-building initiatives at East Bay (like the College Week event shown in the video). We’re pleased to get Toby’s perspective on hosting these initiatives and the impact on her students, as well as tips for other schools and communities.
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Madeline M. Pumariega
Florida College System, Florida Department of Education

Madeline M. Pumariega became the Florida College System (FCS) Chancellor in August of 2015. FCS serves more than 800,000 students at 28 colleges throughout the state. Madeline most recently served as president of the statewide non-profit Take Stock in Children. She lead all facets of the organization, from working with a team of professionals and an active Board of Directors to overseeing the organization's management and operations, fundraising and development efforts, as well as strategic partnerships and legislative affairs. Take Stock in Children (TSIC) is a Florida statewide non-profit organization, focused on breaking the cycle of poverty through education that leads to well-paying jobs. TSIC has helped over 22,000 students living in poverty successfully complete high school and move into post-secondary education and career.

Prior to joining Take Stock in Children, Madeline spent 20 years growing her career at Miami Dade College (MDC), most recently serving as President of the Wolfson Campus. She is regarded for her work in developing innovative approaches to support academic progress and student success, ensuring that thousands of youth can access and complete college. Pumariega was instrumental in establishing Take Stock in Children's largest affiliate, at MDC, which is currently serving 600 youth. Pumariega has also been instrumental in supporting workforce programs by leveraging key partnerships in the community. One such partnership during her time at Miami Dade College, through its Hospitality Institute, provides culinary certification that fills the workforce need and creates employment opportunities.

Pumariega's volunteer activities include serving on the board of City Year Miami, serving on a steering committee for The Miami Foundation, and membership in the International Women's Forum. She is a member of Leadership Florida Class XXXIII and was a Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation's Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community Colleges, which is an innovative program focusing on leadership development and capacity building as a change agent for communities.

Marlene Spalten
President and CEO
Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
Marlene Spalten joined the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay as its President and CEO in October 2012. With an objective of significantly increasing philanthropy in the region, she was listed on Tampa Bay Business Journal’s “25 People to Watch in 2013”. Since its inception in 1990, CFTB has distributed $200 million in grants while building assets to almost $190 million through community leadership, philanthropic services, and creative grantmaking. Marlene serves on the Boards of the Florida Philanthropic Network, the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, and Community Foundations of Florida. She is a graduate of Cornell College with a BA in English.
Joseph S. Terry, CFP
Executive Director
JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Joe has been in the financial services industry for 22 years, serving the Central Florida community since 1996. Joe is currently a Banker with J.P. Morgan Private Bank, with responsibilities for leading a team of professionals to assist ultra high net worth families on overall wealth management needs, including investment management strategies, customized banking and lending strategies, trust and estate planning strategies and business succession strategies. Prior to his role at JP Morgan, Joe held Senior Private Banker positions at Wells Fargo Private Bank and Bank of America. Joe started his career as a commercial analyst and commercial client manager working with business owners on banking and advisory solutions for middle market companies.

Additionally, Joe also serves as the Chairman of the Market Leadership Team for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Central Florida. In this role, Joe is responsible for the integration of all lines of business for the firm to ensure effective communication from our global operating committee to the local JPMorgan Chase & Co. management team. Joe also engages with community leaders to ensure that the firm is well represented in the Central Florida community through sponsorships and other important civic activities.

Joe is currently a member of the Board of Directors for City Year Orlando which is an education-focused, nonprofit organization that unites young people for a year of full-time service to keep students in school and on track to graduation. Joe has served with many other civic organizations such as Take Stock in Children, Community Coordinated Care for Children, Orlando Shakespeare Festival and serving as the past chairman of Leadership Orlando Class 64. Joe lives in Windermere, Florida, and is married with two sons.

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Andy Tuck
Vice Chair
State Board of Education
Andy Tuck is a member of the State Board of Education. He has been a Central Florida citrus grower for more than 22 years. Tuck is the owner and manager of Tuck Groves, Natural AG Solutions LLC and Southeast AG Management LLC.

Tuck Groves owns and operates citrus properties for the process market in Central Florida. Natural AG Solutions LLC is an agricultural nutritional company that focuses on enhancing plant health through nutritional balance. The company’s products are distributed throughout Florida and South Georgia in primarily the citrus and blueberry industry. Southeast AG Management LLC manages and owns citrus properties in the Central Florida region.

He is a former chairman of the Highlands County School Board and the Highlands County 4H Foundation. In addition, he served as vice-chairman of the Florida School Boards Association-Small District Council. Among his other service, Tuck has been a member of the South Florida State College Foundation, the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, the Highlands County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and the Florida School Boards Association Board of Directors. He is also a former member of the Florida Transportation Commission.
Francisco Valines
Director of Financial Aid
Florida International University
Francisco has been involved in Student Financial Aid Administration for over 30 years at various large public Universities including the University of Florida, Texas Tech University, Washington State University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, The University of Maryland, College Park, and Florida International University.

He is in his eleventh year as the Director of Financial Aid at Florida International University, a public research University with 54,000 students, a Law School and a Medical School. FIU is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution and qualifies for the Title III and Title V exemptions for Title IV Aid matching requirements based on the size and ratio of its Pell Grant recipients. Prior to coming to FIU, Francisco was the Associate Director of Financial Aid at the University of Maryland, College Park for 15 years.

Francisco is the currently serving on the P-20W Electronic Standards Council Board of Directors, and is the Federal Legislative Relations Chair for the Florida Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (FASFAA). He was also the 2013-2014 Chair of the NASFAA Technology Initiatives Committee. He has served on many NASFAA committees including the Reauthorization Task Force, Technology, Need Analysis, and College Access. He has presented at State, Regional, and National Conferences in such diverse areas as Technology in the Aid Office, Using Diversity in packaging financial aid, Gramm-Leach-Bliley as it applies to financial aid, Hot topics for Grad and Professional Financial Aid, Disaster Preparedness, BBAY Loans, and many others.
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Carrie Warick
Director of Policy and Advocacy
National College Access Network
Ms. Carrie Warick is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the National College Access Network. She leads NCAN’s policy and advocacy work to promote policies that support low-income, first-generation, and minority students access to and success in higher education. This includes managing NCAN's policy priorities at both the federal and state level.

Joining NCAN in May 2008, Ms. Warick has also served as a Program Associate, the Director of Member Services, and the Director of Partnerships and Policy. In these positions, she managed NCAN's technical assistance to statewide and regional networks, developed and disseminated resources and training to NCAN members as well as managing membership events, communications, recruitment, and renewal.

Ms. Warick holds a Masters of Public Policy, with a concentration in education policy, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and History, both from The George Washington University. While pursuing her Masters, Ms. Warick was a Presidential Administrative Fellow and worked in various areas of communication within GW.

Warick is a five year member of Women in Government Relations and currently serves as co-chair of the Education Taskforce. She lives with her husband and daughter in Northeast DC.
Don Yu
Better Make Room
As Director of Better Make Room, Don supports the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. Better Make Room seeks to celebrate education, change the national conversation, and reach students directly where they are and give them a space to create content while also navigating the college-going process. With partners in the business, philanthropic, media, and education realm, this campaign will stretch across the country to inspire students and give them the tools they need to reach higher for college. Prior to joining Civic Nation, Don served as the chief of school transformation at the U.S. Department of the Interior and as special advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He is a former teacher and school district attorney. Don received his B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Northwestern University.

Session Speakers

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Tiara Arline
Collective Impact Coordinator
Take Stock in Children
Tiara Arline is the Project UNISON Collective Impact Coordinator for the Take Stock in Children’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant at Columbia High School in Lake City, FL.

Tiara has been educating hundreds of students in the Columbia County School District for almost 10 years, which is her passion. It is her mission to empower, expose, and excite students about education and life after high school. Her belief is that no matter where you come from, what you may look like, or the hand life may have dealt you, there is still a space on the bus to success for you!

Tiara is a Saint Leo University graduate and member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Altrusa International of Lake City, former Teacher of the Year (RMS, 2013), Collective Impact Team member, Community Action Team member, Take Stock In Children Mentor, Young Women of Excellence Advisor, and a Take Stock in Children Leadership Council member.
Daniel Barkowitz
Dean of Enrollment Management
St. Johns River State College
Daniel Barkowitz is no stranger to financial aid having worked for nearly 30 years in the field. Previous roles include Dean of Financial Aid / Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia College and the School of Engineering at Columbia University, and Director of Financial Aid at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a poet, tarot card collector, and musical theater actor.
Amy Bickel
Assistant Director, PRIME STEM
University of Central Florida

Amelia (Amy) Bickel received a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Psychology in 2011, and a Master’s of Educational Leadership (Higher Education) in 2013 from the University of Central Florida (UCF). She is currently working on her Educational Doctorate (EdD) at the University of Alabama.

In her current role, she works with the UCF PRIME STEM program- a Federal TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) grant providing wrap-around services to first-generation, low-income, and students with disabilities. Her current and previous research has focused on the role of mentoring, STEM retention, undergraduate research, and career-related interventions for first-generation and low-income students. Her professional interests are impacting the access and success of the aforementioned populations.

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Michelle Boehm
Research and Evaluation Analyst
Helios Education Foundation
Ms. Boehm is a Research and Evaluation Analyst under the Policy, Research, and Evaluation Center of Excellence (PRE). Prior to joining Helios Education Foundation, Ms. Boehm was a Program Evaluator at Community Connections of New York, Inc. where she worked with government and non-profit stakeholders in conducting evaluations of child welfare, adult criminal and juvenile justice, and education programs. Ms. Boehm’s experience also includes work as a graduate research assistant on Project LEE (Language and Educational Excellence). She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Psychology and Health and Human Services with a concentration in Early Childhood from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Psychology from Arizona State University.
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Dr. Ginny Botts
Assistant Director of Research Programs and Services
Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities
Ginny McPherson Botts, Ed.D. is currently the Assistant Director of Research Programs and Services for the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. She oversees the FLC working groups and FLC Summits, as well as other grant implementations. Ginny adjunct teaches at the University of Central Florida. She has both published and presented on topics related to student engagement and success.
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Dr. Naomi Boyer
Vice President/Chief Information Officer Strategic Initiatives and Innovation
Polk State College

Dr. Naomi R. Boyer, Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives & Innovation/ CIO, holds a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary education and is responsible for facilitating a wide variety of tasks for Polk State College. She is responsible for all institutional technology and the departments of Instructional Technology & E-Learning, Infrastructure Technology & User Services, and Enterprise Systems and programming. Also, she cultivates STEM pipeline projects, fosters K-12 partnerships, works on new academic program development, and facilitates international initiatives.

She has over fourteen years of experience in post-secondary administrative roles and has professional experience in K-12, State College, and University organizations. Through her work, Dr. Boyer has been instrumental in the initiation of educational robotics and administratively supports a team in the implementation of competency-based education. Her role at the College is dynamic, as she is tasked with new initiatives and projects as they emerge.

Julio Calderon
Access to Higher Ed Organizer
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Born in Honduras, Julio Calderon arrived in the United States as an unaccompanied minor in 2005 to escape poverty. Julio started his work with Students Working For Equal Rights (SWER) by pushing for the DREAM Act in 2010. Years after he served as the END (Education Not Deportation) Coordinator for the State of Florida, which also helped to build a campaign around DACA. After DACA, Julio became the Outreach Coordinator for DACA-eligible immigrants and successfully helped turn out more than 450 applicants during the first clinic. In 2014, Julio joined other students in Tallahassee to fight for in-State tuition. The strategy and mobilization allowed them to win the campaign. Julio is now the Access to Higher Education Organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. He is working on his Bachelors in Economics at the Florida International University.
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Kathy Carr
Executive Director
Education Foundation of Osceola County

Kathy Carr has been the Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Osceola County for sixteen years. The Foundation is the School District’s foundation and provides programs, funding, and scholarships for teachers and students. Prior to this, she worked for both the School District and the Board of County Commissioners.

Kathy has a marketing degree from the University of Kentucky. “Go Cats!” Her work experience includes marketing, public relations, grant writing and non-profit management. Ms. Carr has been an Osceola County resident for 30 years and is married to Craig Carr, the District’s Environmental Science Resource Specialist. Their oldest son, Kyle (a recent Gator grad) is a third-year science teacher at Harmony High School. Their younger son, Kevin is a freshman at Harmony High School.

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Matthew Clark
Broadway Real Estate Services

Matt began his career as a commercial litigator. In 2009, Matt left the practice of law and formed two real estate start-up companies: Broadway Real Estate and StoreRight Self Storage. Broadway owns and manages a portfolio of over 500,000 s.f. of commercial and multi-family space. StoreRight Self Storage owns and operates twelve Class A self storage facilities located throughout Central Florida, consisting of over 700,000 s.f. of storage space.

Matt has also been active in the local community, currently serving on the Board for the Lakeland Chamber, Co-Chair of the Talent Pipeline Team and Operating Board Member for Polk Vision, Honorary Chair for March of Dimes, and Lakeland’s Charter Review Committee. Matt also recently served as the Chairman for Ignite Lakeland, Treasurer and Board of Directors for the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, Board of Directors for the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency, and Board for Girls, Inc.

Braulio Colón
Vice President, Florida Student Success Initiatives
Helios Education Foundation
As Vice President, Florida Student Success Initiatives, Mr. Colón serves as the strategic lead in the Foundation's community investment and engagement activities designed to increase student success in Florida, particularly in the key metropolitan regions of Tampa, Orlando and Miami. Mr. Colón identifies partnership opportunities and facilitates relationships that promote the Foundation's mission of enriching lives through education.

Prior to joining Helios, Mr. Colón was Executive Director for ENLACE Florida an organization based at the University of South Florida (USF) that engaged communities for higher education by promoting program and policy development designed to influence systemic change and improve college-preparation, access, and completion rates for limited-income, first generation, and underrepresented students. Under Colón's leadership, ENLACE evolved into the Florida College Access Network (Florida C.A.N.!), a statewide network that catalyzes and supports communities to improve college and career readiness, access, and completion for all students. He serves as Chair of FPN’s Tampa Bay Funders Forum and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and USF Alumni Association.

Mr. Colón earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and Africana Studies and a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of South Florida.
Dr. Jesse Coraggio
Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services
St. Petersburg College

Dr. Jesse Coraggio is the Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services at St. Petersburg College (SPC). He joined SPC in 2006 and has been tasked with increasing levels of responsibility since that time. Jesse has contributed greatly to the success of various strategic College Initiatives such as the Seminole Community Educational Ecosystem, the Pulse BI Consortium, the Moving the Needle Conferences, the creation and deployment of the college’s Academic Pathways, Guaranteed Academic Schedule, and the implementation of Program-Based Academic Standing.

He is a former President of the Florida Association for Institutional Research (FAIR) and serves as the current Chair-Elect of the Council of Instructional Affairs (CIA). His work has been published, and he has presented papers and presentations at more than 70 conferences, including the Association of Institutional Research, American Educational Research Association, National Council on Measurement in Education, and DREAM.

Jesse is from Clearwater and is a graduate of St. Petersburg Junior College. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Measurement and Research, also from the University of South Florida.

Dominique Davila
Assistant Director of Admissions
St. Johns River State College
Ivonne Díaz-Claisse
Founder, President, and CEO

Ivonne Díaz-Claisse is the founder, President, and CEO of HISPA, Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement. Under her leadership HISPA has recruited close to 2,000 volunteers, conducted nearly 500 HISPA Role Model Program sessions and has hosted 19 Youth Conferences. In 2011, HISPA extended its programs to San Antonio, Texas, in 2013 to New York City, and in 2015 to Florida.

Díaz-Claisse is an active HISPA Role Model herself, leading by example and having shared her educational and career experiences with thousands of students nationwide. She has spoken at AT&T, ETS, J&J, Ogilvy, Novartis, Merck, Microsoft, UPS, Verizon and Viacom, among other companies. She has also spoken at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers and Princeton universities, and at many national conferences including the College Board’s “Préparate: Educating Latinos for the Future of America,” and the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute.

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Maribel Diz
Vice President, Human Resources
Visa Inc., Latin America and the Caribbean Region
Maribel joined Visa in April 1996. She is responsible for all aspects of Visa’s human resources business in the Region. Her professional career in human resources spans in the employment service sector managing high profile accounts, the hospitality industry and as an adjunct professor for Florida International University teaching Human Resources Management to undergraduate students. Maribel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Nova Southeastern University and a Master’s of Science in Human Resources Management from Florida International University.
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Dr. Paul Dosal
Vice President for Student Affairs and Student Success
University of South Florida

Paul Dosal is the Vice President for Student Affairs and Student Success at the University of South Florida. In that position, he is responsible for directing the university-wide student success initiative, a strategic campaign to raise retention and graduation rates, boost student satisfaction, minimize financial indebtedness, and prepare all students for success in their careers or graduate and professional schools. Under his leadership, the university has made remarkable gains in undergraduate student success, raising the six-year graduation rate from 51% to 68% while also eliminating the achievement gap by race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. As the leader of a newly consolidated unit, he is forging a team that touches on all aspects of the student experience, including Enrollment Planning and Management, Undergraduate Studies, Dean of Students, Housing and Residential Education, Health and Wellness, and Career Services.

Dr. Dosal is also a Professor of Latin American History at the University of South Florida, specializing in the modern history of Cuba and the Caribbean region. He is the author of four books, including Comandante Che, a study of the military career of the legendary Latin American revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, and Doing Business with the Dictators, a history of the United Fruit Company in Guatemala in the early 20th century.

Born and raised in Tampa, he is a fourth-generation descendant of Cuban immigrants who settled in Ybor City in 1889. He earned his B.A. in International Politics at St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He received his M.A. in Latin American Studies and Ph.D. in History at Tulane University in New Orleans. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of South Florida, he taught for nine years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Jana Ertrachter
Principal Consultant
Ertrachter Group
Jana Ertrachter is a proven leader who has been principal consultant at the Ertrachter Group since 1999. She has an MBA combined with more than 29 years experience in the for-profit and nonprofit arenas including a proven record in the following areas: Organizational Development, Action-oriented Planning, Facilitation and Customized Training/Education.
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Niurka Ferrer
Director, Transitions Planning
Valencia College
Niurka has been working in higher education for over ten years in the areas of college access, transition, recruitment, student services, community outreach, public relations and marketing. She is passionate about the life-changing impact that the community college has in the lives of many students who would never think they are college material. She is also dedicated to building efficient, collaborative and innovative teams that exemplify the principles of a learning organization.
Raquel Figueroa
Program Director
College Summit
Raquel is a Program Director with College Summit and a pioneer in leveraging peer influence to improve college enrollment rates in high schools serving low-income students. Prior to working with College Summit, she held several roles at Miami Dade College including teaching for the School of Education, managing the Florida State Teachers Certificate Program and coordinating college access programs. Today, Raquel provides program implementation support, coaching and oversight for over 100 partner high schools across the county. Raquel holds a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing her Doctorate in Instructional Technology and Distance Education at Nova Southeastern University.
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Tiffany Givens
College Success Coach
Take Stock in Children
Tiffany Criswell Givens is the Project UNISON College Success Coach for Take Stock in Children's Investing in Innovation Grant (i3) at Columbia High School in Lake City, FL. Tiffany also serves as a TSIC mentor, a member of the TSIC Leadership Council and the UNISON Collective Impact team.

Prior to her current position, Tiffany was a Financial Aid Specialist at Florida Gateway College for 12 years; where she coordinate the FFELP, William D. Ford Federal Loan programs, Private Loans, Financial Literacy, and Default Prevention/Management.

In addition to her role with TSIC, Tiffany is active in community and professional organizations that include Haven Hospice (volunteer), Shiloh (emeritus youth director), Altrusa, and the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC).
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Amy Grunder
College Success Coach
Take Stock in Children
Amy Grunder is the Project UNISON College Success Coach for Take Stock in Children’s Investing in Innovation Grant (i3) at Ft. White High School in Ft. White, FL. Amy also serves as a TSIC mentor, a member of the TSIC Leadership Council and the UNISON Collective Impact Team.

Amy began her career as an educator in 2011 after receiving her Bachelors Degree in Social Science Education from Florida State University. As a faculty member at Fort White Amy taught 10th and 12th grade World History, U.S. Government, Economics and several elective courses including Holocaust and Contemporary History.
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Nicole Gurley
College Transition Counselor
Orange County Public Schools
Nicole has been working in high schools since 2008. She was formerly a guidance counselor before taking on the role of college transition counselor.
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La Toya Hodge
Assistant Director
Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities
La Toya Hodge joined the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities as assistant director. She brings over 12 years of strategy, partner relationship management and project management experience to the Consortium.
Terry R. Hollingshead
Associate Director of Student Recruitment
Florida State College of Jacksonville
Terry R. Hollingshead is a twelve-year veteran of post-secondary admissions and recruiting with professional experience in both private and public institutions of higher education. In 2015, Ms. Hollingshead joined Florida State College at Jacksonville as the Associate Director of Enrollment Management. This year, she began serving as the Associate Director of Student Recruitment focusing her efforts on strategic initiatives and outreach to underrepresented populations.

Ms. Hollingshead is a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Education & Social Policy. During her time at Northwestern, Terry majored in Social Policy with an emphasis on urban inequalities. She went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix and is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership.
Michelle Horton
Director, Complete Florida Enrollment and Retention Management
University of West Florida Innovation Institute
Michelle Horton is the Director of Enrollment and Retention Management for Complete Florida at the UWF Innovation Institute. She has a Master’s Degree in Administration with an emphasis in Human Performance Technology from the University of West Florida and is completing a Doctoral Program in Higher Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Michelle began her career in higher education in 2006 at Pensacola State College. Prior to her position with the UWF Innovation Institute, Michelle served as the Director of Pensacola State College South Santa Rosa Center. Her background includes student and community development.
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Mark Hunt
Executive Director Career, Technical and Adult Education
Pinellas County Schools

As a lifelong resident of Tampa and Plant City, Mark began his career in technical and career education in 1990 as an automotive technology teacher at Erwin Technical Center in Tampa. Since that time he has served career, technical, and adult education as a district curriculum resource teacher; Supervisor of Industrial and Technology Education; Assistant Principal for Technical Programs at Tampa Bay Technical High School in Tampa; Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education in Osceola and Orange Counties; and most recently as the Executive Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education for Pinellas County Schools.

Mark has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Technical Education and a master’s degree in Career and Technical Education from the University of South Florida. He is certified as a Vocational Director and an automotive technology teacher.

Jessica Kleinberger
Destination Graduation Manager
Heart of Florida United Way
Jessica Kleinberger is the Program Manager for Destination: Graduation, an innovative partnership program between Heart of Florida United Way and Seminole State College of Florida. Destination Graduation aims to support low-income/ first generation students from dropping out of school for nonacademic reasons. Jessica graduated from the University of Central Florida with an M.A. in Applied Sociology. Before joining the Heart of Florida United Way, she worked as a part of Florida Hospital initiative to improve the health and reduce the rate of diabetes in the Community of Eatonville. Jessica has an enormous passion for social change, and is excited to be a part of the movement to increase access and attainment in higher education for all students.
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James Knapp
Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships
Florida International University
James Knapp is the Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships within the Office of Engagement at Florida International University. In this role, Knapp serves as the lead relationship builder, strategically connecting FIU with partners in the community. He manages and oversees some of FIU’s most important initiatives, including Life Sciences South Florida, the Talent Development Network, the Academic Leaders Council, and the Engagement Advisory Council; works alongside the vice president for Engagement in managing the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce disruption taskforce; and is tasked with identifying and establishing new relationships, initiatives, and partnerships in key areas.
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Dr. Christine Koehn
Executive Director
The Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation, Inc.

Dr. Christine Koehn currently serves as the Executive Director for the Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation where she oversees regional and national grantmaking in the areas of education, health, arts and culture. She has extensive experience in the grantmaking arena with more than 20 years in primarily leadership roles, most recently providing the oversight of programmatic investment at the United Way of Palm Beach County.

She is a results-driven executive whose expertise includes the facilitation of partnerships and collaboratives, identifying and addressing service system issues, and executing large-scale research and evaluation projects. Her areas of focus are health care access for the underserved, community health and well-being, academic achievement, child abuse and neglect prevention, and arts and culture.

Dr. Koehn holds a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from the Florida International University. She has been published in professional journals and books and has presented at national conferences on many subjects. She also currently serves on national and local boards and committees, such as the National Center for Family Philanthropy Issues Advisory Committee, Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Citizens Advisory Committee, and Palm Beach County Education Funders Collaborative.

Dr. Paula Kohler
Executive Director and Professor
Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities
Paula D. Kohler Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities and Professor of Exceptional Student Education at the University of Central Florida. She also serves as co-director of the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) funded by the U. S. Department of Education. Dr. Kohler conducts research regarding effective transition education and services for youth with disabilities across a range of topics, including college and career readiness. She has accomplished this work with support from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and state departments of education. Her Taxonomy for Transition Programming is recognized as an effective model for planning, implementing, and evaluating transition-focused education, and has influenced the implementation of transition education across the U. S. The Taxonomy provides a heuristic for organizing the evidence-based and promising practices at the core of NTACT’s work. Dr. Kohler has a background in business administration, educational leadership, career and technical education, and special education. In 2001, 2006, and 2016, Kohler was recognized for her work by the Council for Exceptional Children‘s Division on Career Development and Transition, WMU College of Education, and the Association on Career and Technical Education Research.
Tessa LeSage
Director of Social Innovation and Sustainability
Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Tessa LeSage, MPA, LEED AP BD+C is on the Southwest Florida Community Foundation team as director of social innovation and sustainability. LeSage formerly served as sustainability programs manager for Lee County. Prior to joining Lee County, LeSage worked for a local nonprofit organization developing and implementing policies to address a variety of community challenges, including mental health, substance abuse and criminal justice issues. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, and a Masters of Public Administration degree from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). During 2011, she was recognized as one of Southwest Florida’s accomplished young leaders, receiving Gulfshore Business’ ‘40 Under Forty’ award, and received the Urban Land Institute’s Trailblazer Award. In 2016, she was awarded the Women In Business APEX Award.
Gary Linnen
Program Implementation Director
College Summit
Gary Z. Linnen has more than fifteen years’ experience in education, youth development and test preparation. He currently serves as the Program Director for College Summit, a national non-profit that connects high schools to college and career, where he oversees the mobilization and execution of youth-led teams to foster the college-going culture in school communities. Prior to joining College Summit, Gary worked with The Princeton Review to manage its test-prep and tutoring programs for thousands of students throughout NYC and Long Island. Mr. Linnen is a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government.
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Kim Long
Executive Director
Polk Vision
Kim Long as the Executive Director for Polk Vision leads a county-wide collective impact organization dedicated to aligning resources across Polk County. Prior to her current position, Kim’s varied career spans the corporate, non-profit, and private sectors and she has built expertise through strategic planning, mission advancement, cross-sector partnerships, organizational structure, resource development, grants management, and program implementation. In her role with Polk Vision, Kim aligns the resources and expertise of key stakeholders across Polk County including business leaders, college and school district personnel, and members of county and city government. Through these collaborations the development of powerful, innovative strategies have emerged focusing on systemic change with outcomes pointed towards increasing high school graduation rates, college and career readiness, a healthier community and engaged citizens with the over-arching goal of improved community prosperity.
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Sean Malott
President and CEO
Central Florida Development Council
Sean is responsible for leading and implementing the economic development plan for Central Florida Development Council, Inc. and Polk County.

Sean became the President/CEO of the CFDC in September of 2016. He originally joined the organization as Vice President in November of 2015, where he led the business development team. Prior to the Central Florida Development Council, Sean was the Director of Industry Partnerships at Florida Polytechnic University. Sean was responsible for developing collaborative partnerships and alliances with leading companies in the research, technology, and engineering fields. Throughout his career, Sean has had the opportunity to direct economic and business development initiatives for a variety of organizations, including Enterprise Florida and Pasco Economic Development Council. He has been directly involved in the successful recruitment and expansion of a diverse set of companies throughout the region and the state of Florida. Sean has also worked in private industry for Outsource Partners International, a global finance and accounting outsourcing firm and as a real estate consultant for Keller Williams Realty. Sean earned a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Management from Purdue University.

He lives in Lakeland with his wife and their two daughters.
Kathleen McDonald
Network Partnerships Manager
Florida College Access Network

Kathy McDonald is the Network Partnerships Manager for the Florida College Access Network (FCAN), and co-author of Creating Your Life Collage: Strategies for Solving the Work/Life Dilemma (Three Rivers Press). She has been in adult learning and leadership development for the past 16 years and has led workshops for Fortune 500 companies including Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Accenture, and for leading conferences including Working Mother magazine's Work/Life Congress. Prior to joining FCAN she grew enrollments for Eckerd College, Villanova University and Florida Tech and held increasing levels of responsibility in finance and marketing at Oracle and Kraft Foods.

Kathy has appeared on CBS's The Early Show, and Fox News and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and the LA Times. She is a Certified Leadership Coach and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Robin McGowan
Vice President
Pinellas Education Foundation
Robin McGowan, VP, Pinellas Education Foundation and Director, Ford NGL Innovation Center, is responsible for business partner engagement, marketing, events and revenue generation at the Pinellas Education Foundation. In 2015, she also accepted responsibility for leading the Ford NGL Innovation Center. McGowan has over 20 years of experience in creating and implementing marketing, employee, crisis and external communications strategies for global corporations in the engineering, construction and technology industries. In those leadership roles, she was able to bridge the space between business objectives and corporate citizenship. She was the architect of a “Construction Camp for Girls,” which created an opportunity for hands-on mastery of electrical, carpentry, welding and construction safety skills in rural Alabama communities. She also created “Project Eyebeam” an engineering and construction challenge that paired students with industry professionals to design large sized art installations as part of the Magic City Arts Festival. Hundreds of urban high school students were exposed to careers and mentors through the program which successfully merged art, math, project management, and construction skills. McGowan's skills in community engagement were honed while navigating the permitting of large-scale real estate developments and she negotiated over one million in impact fees for a neighborhood group.
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Laurie Meggesin
Executive Director
Florida College Access Network
Laurie Meggesin joined Florida College Access Network as its Executive Director in 2013. Florida CAN is a statewide network of leaders and organizations that are collectively devoted to dramatically increasing college and career readiness, access and completion for all Florida students. Laurie started her career as an English teach and job skills coach for recent immigrants working to assimilate into the American workforce. She also worked in community development and as a program manager serving at-risk youth. Laurie later became an attorney and was a partner with a national law firm before joining Florida CAN.
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Dr. John Meyer
Dean of the School of Business and Technology
Florida SouthWestern State College

Dr. John Meyer holds a DBA in Management He has served in public and private education for over 16 years. He also has over 20 years of business and leadership experience where he owned and operated privately held automotive ventures, conducted corporate training, and practiced managerial consulting. His areas of academic interest include person-organization fit and the relationships that organizational and occupational cultures have on human behavior and, by extension, the success of organizations. His areas of personal interest include almost everything automotive.

Dr. Meyer is an active researcher and author on the Workforce Now project. He believes that Workforce Education has never been more significant and appropriate than it is today and he passionately looks forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to continue to grow Florida SouthWestern State College’s School of Business and Technology while keeping its programs academically rigorous, applicable, practical, and professional.

Maggie Miller
Lead Trainer, Florida
Kuder, Inc.

Maggie Miller is a lead field trainer representing the Florida career planning system MyCareerShines, powered by Kuder® Maggie works with state superintendents, principals, administrators, counselors, resource specialists, and teachers on how to meet goals, frameworks, and standards for career and education planning and exploration. She leads training sessions for workforce and adult education staff members on how to assist adults with career planning and leads training for college advisors and faculty members on how to assist students with college and career planning.

Prior to joining Kuder, Maggie served as an inclusion facilitator and professional developer with the Florida Inclusion Network. Previously, she spent 16 years as a fourth-grade teacher with Polk County public schools in Lakeland, Florida. During this time, she was named the 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year and received the 2009 Exemplary Science Teacher Award for Polk County.

 Maggie is a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education from Florida Southern College and a master’s degree in education, curriculum, and instruction from Grand Canyon University. She is an executive board member of the Central Florida Autism Institute and executive board member and scholarship chairperson for Lakeland Sister Cities International.

Troy Miller
Associate Director for Research and Policy
Florida College Access Network
Troy Miller is the Associate Director for Research & Policy at the Florida College Access Network. Troy leads Florida CAN’s work on effective policies and practices that contribute toward improving college and career readiness, access and completion in Florida. His work entails research and policy analysis through briefs, blogs and data dashboards as well as technical assistance to Florida CAN partners in data analysis, goal-setting, and evidence-based practices.

His research and analyses has been featured in media outlets such as PolitiFact Florida, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times. Troy is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of South Florida’s College of Education and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Central Michigan University. Troy is also a recipient of the University of South Florida Outstanding Staff Award and National College Access Network’s Dr. David B. Swedlow Memorial College Access Practitioner Award of Excellence.
John Moreno-Escobar
Director of Operations, Florida
John Moreno-Escobar is a successful social entrepreneur, community leader, and executive innovator. His passion is education equality and access to higher education for all. John is a native Colombian from Bogotá. His expertise is creating and maintaining multi-sectoral partnerships and high-level relationships based on the collective impact model. John received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Baruch College - CUNY. He is currently the president and founder of JME Consultants a firm that specializes in helping organizations, people, and governments to create and maintain successful partnerships.
Patrick Murphy
Manager, Workforce Development
Earn Up
As the workforce development manager, Patrick focuses on connecting Northeast Florida businesses to regional K-12 career academies. He also leads the Earn Up initiative, a collaboration within the JAX Chamber with a goal of increasing Northeast Florida’s college attainment rate to 60%.
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Dr. Paul Nagy
Special Assistant to the President, Strategic Planning & Analysis
Hillsborough Community College

Dr. Paul Nagy serves as Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Planning. His division has functional responsibility for strategic and tactical planning, academic and non-academic program review, grants management, institutional research, information management & reporting, and SACS accreditation. Prior to his service at Hillsborough Community College he worked in the Provost’s Office at the University of Florida; Durham Technical Community College in Research Triangle Park, N.C.; and the state department of community colleges in Raleigh, N.C.

Paul has presented at numerous national, regional, and state conferences and served as president of the North Carolina Association for Institutional Research. His Ph.D. is from North Carolina State University in Educational Research & Policy Analysis. His doctoral research led to development of an artificial neural network to project enrollment for the North Carolina Community College System. He is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute of the League for Innovation in the Community College and The Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

Keith Oswald
Chief Academic Officer
Palm Beach County School District

Keith Oswald, a twenty-two year employee of Palm Beach County School District, has been privileged to hold the following titles: Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal of both elementary and high school; Restructuring Administrator; Assistant Superintendent, Safety & Learning Environment, Assistant Superintendent, Teaching and Learning; Area Superintendent and presently, as the Chief Academic Officer.

As Chief Academic Officer, Mr. Oswald’s areas of responsibility are the Divisions of Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Access; Professional Development; Teaching & Learning. Mr. Oswald holds an Associates of Humanities, Liberal Arts; a Bachelor of Science, Exceptional Education and Elementary Education; Masters of Education, Educational Leadership; and Education Specialist, Educational Leadership.

The Chief Academic Office ensures that quality academic programming and initiatives are offered to all students as part of a mission to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and ensure students are college and career ready.

Dr. Paul Perrault
Vice President & Director of Research and Evaluation
Helios Education Foundation
Dr. Paul G. Perrault is the Vice President & Director of Research & Evaluation for Helios Education Foundation under the Policy, Research and Evaluation Center of Excellence (PRE). Dr. Perrault is charged with the development of a coordinated research and evaluation agenda around Helios’s three impact areas of Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness, and Postsecondary Completion. Prior to joining Helios, Dr. Perrault was a research faculty member at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan where he served as a lead investigator on Arizona’s Move On When Ready evaluation and as principal investigator on Yuma’s Ready Now Yuma evaluation. Dr. Perrault received his Ph.D. in Educational Foundations and Policy with a specialization in research methodology at the University of Michigan along with two master's degrees, one in Educational Administration and another in Education with Secondary Certification. He also earned a JD at the University of Detroit Mercy. Dr. Perrault’s research interests focus on educational reforms to reduce the achievement gap as well as studies in research and evaluation methodology. His most recent work Alignment: It’s Role in Standards-Based Reform and Prospects for the Common Core was published in Theory into Practice, Summer 2014.
Dr. Kathleen Plinske
Campus President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses
Valencia College

Kathleen Plinske serves as Campus President of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. Prior to joining Valencia in 2010, Plinske began her career at McHenry County College, a community college in her hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois where she served in a number of different roles, including Interim President. Actively involved in her community, Plinske has served as Board Chair of the Education Foundation of Osceola County and as President of the Rotary Club of Lake Nona. She has also served on the Board of CareerSource Central Florida, the Osceola Center for the Arts, Junior Achievement of Osceola County, and the Lake Nona Education Council.

She was named 2012 Woman of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 competition, and in 2014 received the Compadre Award from the Hispanic Business Council of the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce and the Don Quijote Hispanic Community Champion Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. Plinske was selected as an Aspen Presidential Fellow in 2016.

Dr. Michael Preston
Executive Director
Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities
Michael Preston, Ed.D. is the executive director of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. He coordinates the strategic direction of the Florida Consortium and facilitates the projects they undertake. Also, he has done extensive research on how campus engagement impacts student employability and teaches in the Higher Education Preparation program at the University of Central Florida.
Dr. Karen Rasmussen
Assistant Provost, Chief Academic Strategist
University of West Florida Innovation Institute
Dr. Karen Rasmussen is the Chief Academic Strategist for the UWF Innovation Institute and also serves as Assistant Provost. She holds tenure and is a Professor in the discipline of Instructional Design and Technology at the University of West Florida. She leads initiatives related to career and readiness, distance learning, academic policy, and academic infrastructure. As part of statewide initiatives, Dr. Rasmussen works with academic, agency, and industry colleagues across the state of Florida to build systems for program completion and career readiness through Complete Florida and My Career Shines. She has worked on the implementation of mobile learning program delivery in the areas of Performance Technology and Technology Systems Support as well as competency-based education. Dr. Rasmussen has co-authored a text on web-based instruction, as well as many articles, papers, and technical reports. She conducts research on the variables affecting learning in distance environments and persistence and success in program completion. Dr. Rasmussen has served as Department Chair and Associate Dean.
Steve J. Rios
Rios Research & Evaluation
Dr. Steve J. Rios, president of Rios Research & Evaluation, is a veteran educator, activist, and longtime mentor of foster care alumni through Educate Tomorrow, a Miami-based mentoring organization. Dr. Rios is a co-founder of Florida Reach, serves on the network’s steering team, and is a member the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Independent Living Services Advisory Council (ILSAC). Dr. Rios’ doctoral work on the educational journeys of college students who grew up in foster care has informed campus-based initiatives that aim to improve educational outcomes for emancipated foster youth and young adults from homeless settings. Dr. Rios can be reached at Steve@riosresearch.com.
Judy Saylor
Director of Program Growth and Innovation
Take Stock in Children
Judy Saylor is the Director of Program Growth and Innovation for Take Stock in Children, a state-wide, nonprofit organization in Florida focused on high school graduation and college completion for low income, at-risk youth. In her current capacity, Judy directs and manages TSIC’s 3 million, US Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant focused on a unique, whole-school mentoring project that builds strong evidence of success in promoting students’ non-cognitive skill set development to improve academic achievement and increase students’ readiness for post-secondary education and employment. Judy also served as the project director for TSIC’s 2010 i3 grant which successfully created and implemented an innovative college readiness and retention advocacy model throughout TSIC’s 45 programs statewide. Formerly, Judy was the Director of Mentoring Programs for Communities in Schools in Jacksonville where she managed both Take Stock in Children Duval and United Way’s Achievers for Life mentoring programs.
Dr. Rebecca Schumacher
Executive Director
Florida School Counselor Association
Rebecca A. Schumacher is a past school counselor educator and current Executive Director of the Florida School Counselor Association. Her teaching focused on extensive field work in the Jacksonville schools, intentionally focused on developing college-going cultures. Involved in work for college access and career readiness for every school level student and family, she sits annually on the College Goal Sunday Steering Committee for the Jacksonville sites has represented Florida on the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative and at the White House FAFSA Summit.
Pauline Simmonds-Brown
Program Facilitator
Florida Prosperity Partnership and College 4 Everyone (FPP-C4E) Network
Pauline Simmonds-Brown started a personal journey to increase career and college attainment within her community and circles of influence while helping her son during his high school junior year navigate the processes toward post-secondary education. In her role at FPP-C4E she collaborates with leaders, parents, students, and educators on improving post-secondary attainment in Polk, Highland, and Hardee counties. Pauline holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Florida and a Master of Science degree in Administration from the University of Central Michigan. In the healthcare arena, she has been a Team Leader, Director of Technical Services, Director of Quality Assurance, District Executive Director, and Collection Area Director in the blood banking and healthcare system for various organizations. Pauline’s volunteer engagement has allowed her to serve on various boards and committees including United Way of Central Florida from 2009 through June 2016, serving as Board Chair from 2014-2015.
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Nancy Stellway
Executive Director
Take Stock In Children Palm Beach County
As Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County’s Executive Director, Nancy Stellway provides strategic planning, board enhancement, organizational management and executive leadership and innovation to the organization. Mrs. Stellway holds a B.S. in Business Management and a Master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Florida. Her involvement with the organization began in 2006 when she joined the program as a volunteer mentor, it was at that point that Mrs. Stellway knew the incredible opportunity the program provided to underprivileged youth and has since then held various leadership roles within the organization and dedicated her career to the long-term success of the program. Her ability to collaborate between businesses and nonprofits to create social innovativeness and awareness has gained the Take Stock in Children Palm Beach program state recognition by its state corporate office for exceeding program standards and thus presented with its highly acclaimed Excellence Gold Level award, as well as the President's Award for collaboration. Mrs. Stellway’s major highpoint with Take Stock in Children was in 2013 when she spearheaded a growth project resulting in a remarkable 100% program growth. She actively engages in community awareness projects throughout Palm Beach County and is presently the co-chair for Achieve Palm Beach County's post secondary advising group for high school students. On her free time Mrs. Stellway enjoys family life with her husband and two children and volunteering with Wellington High School's cheerleading team.
Yalitza Torres
Jerome Dunn Academy School No. 9

Yalitza Torres is a principal at Jerome Dunn Academy School No. 9 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She has been serving the Elizabeth community for fourteen years. Yalitza holds a Master’s degree from Kean University in Educational Leadership and an undergraduate degree from New Jersey City University. Yalitza has served as a Bi-lingual teacher, Dean of Discipline, and Vice-Principal.

Yalitza is involved in multiple organizations including the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA), Elizabeth Administrator and Supervisors Committee (EASC), the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and the International Elizabeth Lions Organization. Yalitza believes that all children can learn; each at their own pace and in different ways. She believes that with hard work and perseverance we can support students to achieve excellence.

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Dr. Aysegul Timur
Dean, Johnson School of Business
Hodges University

Dr. Aysegul Timur joined Hodges University in 2000, and she currently serves as the dean of the Johnson School of Business and chair of the Business Administration programs. Dedicated to educating aspiring business professionals, her areas of expertise include business policy and organizational development, quality control, statistics for strategic planning, health, and international economics.

Her career at Hodges began in 1999, serving as a teaching assistant in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Introduction to Business. Since then, Timur has served as an instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, vice chair of the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program and director of the Business and Public Administration graduate programs at Hodges.

Timur holds membership in Leadership Collier Foundation, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce – Opportunity Naples and Steering Committee member, SCORE Leadership Council, The Journal of American Academy of Business Editorial Advisory Board, Clute Institute, Southern Economic Association, International Health Economics Association, American Society of Health Economists, Naples Council on World Affairs, WorkforceNow research team member, APEX Circle – Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.

 In her spare time, she enjoys contributing to the community by volunteering with Junior Achievement of SW Florida; Leadership Collier Alumni Association; GCHS, NAP Academy, Engineering Program Advisory Board; and Collier County Public Schools Business Plan competition; speaking at civic organizations and participating in chamber of commerce and other community organizations’ research projects.

Dr. Christopher Westley
Director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Gulf Coast University
Christopher Westley, Ph.D. is the Director of the Regional Economic Research Institute (RERI) and a Professor of Economics at the Lutgert College of Business. He joined FGCU from Jacksonville State University where he held the rank of Professor of Economics. He is an associated scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. A native of Naples, Florida, he studied at the University of Florida and St. Mary's University of San Antonio, Texas, before receiving his Ph.D. in economics from Auburn University.
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Tina Wirth
Vice President, Workforce Development
Earn Up
As vice president of education and workforce development, Tina is responsible for supporting economic growth in the region through career and work-readiness programs. Her department supports the needs of local employers, business prospects, k-12 schools and higher education. Tina has served in the education and workforce fields for 15 years.
Becky Youngman
Manager, K-12 Curriculum: College Readiness
School District of Palm Beach County

Becky Youngman has served as a teacher and administrator in the School District of Palm Beach County for 31 years. In her current role as Manager for College Readiness initiatives, Ms. Youngman oversees programs that support a college going culture and promote students' post-secondary success. Since 2008, Ms. Youngman has been responsible for leadership in expanding and improving student participation and performance in accelerated coursework. Ms. Youngman also plays a key role in coordinating Palm Beach County’s district-wide school day SAT test administration.

Ms. Youngman has also served as an educational leader in many roles within state, national and international organizations. As a representative of the Florida Foreign Language Association and member of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL-NCLIS), Ms. Youngman served as a lobbyist for language education issues. Ms. Youngman has also served as a workshop leader, assessment writer, examiner and advisor for the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Since 1998, she has presented at local, state and national conferences and workshops. Ms. Youngman holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in French, an Educational Specialist’s degree in Gifted Education, and was a National Board certified teacher. In 2010, Ms. Youngman was bestowed a knighthood in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Government. She is currently a candidate for an Educational Doctorate degree.


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John Hovancak
Vice President
One Community One Goal (OCOG)
Joe Hovancak is Vice President of One Community One Goal for the Miami-Dade Beacon Council. He is responsible for leading the One Community One Goal initiative to create an environment in Miami-Dade County where significant higher-paying job creation occurs along with substantial investment growth. He also leads the Beacon Council Foundation which is a not-for-profit organization created for charitable, educational and economic development purposes.

Hovancak is the brand champion of the One Community One Goal strategic plan and has rallied thousands of residents in Miami-Dade County around a common and collaborative vision. He took the plan from concept to implementation with more than 450 companies and non-profits engaged driving 6.6 percent average target industry job growth since 2012. Hovancak sparked this community growth and engagement by identifying, prioritizing and implementing strategic economic development, entrepreneurial and educational opportunities throughout the County. His leadership resulted in an unprecedented collaboration of top business, education, and government leaders with significant achievements in educational, entrepreneurial and job growth.

Hovancak’s broad business experiences reflect successes, ranging from Fortune 100 Corporations to establishing the foundation of start-up companies. His background includes an extensive tenor at AT&T where he was a Sales Vice President responsible for leading a four-state 150 million-dollar territory as well as leading Comcast's expansion of its corporate business division into South Florida.

Hovancak is an active member of the South Florida community. He serves on the Board of Governors for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; the Board of Directors for Greater Miami and Conventions Visitors Bureau and is co-chair of the Financial Stability committee and Golden Wishes committee at United Way.