Speakers & Presenters

General Session Speakers

Jaime Casap
Education Evangelist
Jaime Casap is the Education Evangelist at Google. Jaime evangelizes the power and potential of technology and the web as enabling and supporting tools in pursuit of promoting inquiry-driven project-based learning models. Jaime collaborates with school systems, educational organizations, and leaders focused on building innovation and iteration into our education policies and practices. He speaks on education, technology, innovation, and generation z, at events around the world.

In addition to his role at Google, Jaime serves on a number of boards for organizations focused on education, innovation, and equity. Jaime is an adjunct professor at Arizona State University, where he teaches classes on policy, innovation, and leadership. He also teaches a high school communication class at the Phoenix Coding Academy.
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Tony Carvajal
Executive Vice President
Florida Chamber Foundation
Tony Carvajal serves as Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation, the research and solutions development arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Working in partnership with state business leaders, the Foundation advances initiatives that envision a vibrant and sustainable economy in the Sunshine State. He is regularly called on to provide guidance and insights into state-level plans and has served on numerous policy steering committees covering topics as varied as education, early learning, workforce development, economic development, transportation, healthcare, volunteerism, civic infrastructure, philanthropy, and smart justice.
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Dr. Jerry D. Parrish
Chief Economist and Director of Research
Florida Chamber Foundation
Dr. Jerry D. Parrish is the Chief Economist and the Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation. In that role, he is responsible for conducting in-depth analyses on economic trends, Florida’s industry clusters and on solutions to help secure Florida’s future. Dr. Parrish is currently an Adjunct Instructor in the Masters in Applied Economics Program at Florida State University. He earned an M.B.A. from Bellarmine University, an M.S. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Auburn University. He has published many research reports and articles on the Florida economy, Florida’s competitiveness, Florida’s property and casualty insurance system, and other economic topics of interest to Floridians.
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John Pisan
Regional Managing Director, Southeast Region, North Central Florida Market
Wells Fargo
Mr. Pisan is the Regional Managing Director for Wells Fargo Wealth Management in North Central Florida. As a senior leader in the region, Mr. Pisan is accountable for delivering an exceptional experience for clients of Wealth Management and Wells Fargo Private Bank; driving business planning and execution; and recruiting, retaining, coaching and developing talent. He actively leads advisors who help clients meet their wealth management needs through a variety of wealth planning, investment management, private banking, trust services, insurance, and integrated financial solutions.
Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Mr. Pisan worked at Citigroup for 13 years, where he held a number of leadership positions in the Investment Services Group throughout the United States. He has been in the financial services industry for nearly 25 years.
Mr. Pisan earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from State University of New York at Old Westbury. He has also obtained his Certified Financial Planner Designation through the Denver College of Financial Planning.
John is the Board Chair for Heart of Florida United Way. He is also on the Board of City Year Orlando chairing the development committee. John makes his home in Windermere, Florida and has been married to his wife Meena for over 27 years. They are very proud of their 2 children John, attending Medical School at Temple University and Lindsay, pre-dental at the University of Florida. John has earned his First Degree Black Belt in Tai-Kwon-Do and has completed both the Disney Marathon and Disney Half Marathon.


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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 T. Barkowitz
Assistant Vice President, Financial Aid and Veteran's Affairs
Valencia College

Daniel Barkowitz is Assistant Vice President of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs at Valencia College, a position he has held since July of 2017.  While new to Florida area, Daniel is not new to financial aid having served nearly 30 years in institutions of higher education.  Previous roles include Director of Financial Aid at MIT, Dean of Financial Aid / Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering at Columbia University in the City of New York, Director of Operations and Training for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, and Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Boston College.  Daniel earned his Bachelors of Science in History from Northeastern University and his Masters of Education in Human Resource Education from Boston University. Daniel has led presentations on Financial Aid and College Financing to many audiences (more than 500) ranging in size from 2 to 2000. He has been interviewed for television, radio and newspapers on the topic of financial aid. Daniel lives with his wife and two children in Orlando, and is a published poet, musical theater actor, and Tarot card collector.  He promises an enjoyable and informative presentation.

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Andrew Basch
Marriott Sand Key Resort
Andrew Basch is an ESE Student who attended Pinellas County Schools. He could not pass the state norm exams, so he graduated in 2003 with a special diploma. Andrew was working as a dishwater and had a strong desire to become a Chef. Immediately after leaving high school, he attended Hands On @ Hyatt at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. Andrew was hired full-time by Hyatt and began his culinary career in 2003. In 2005, he left Hyatt to help a friend open a new restaurant. Although it was great experience, the restaurant did not survive - so Andrew obtained a job at a Renaissance Hotel (owned by Marriott). He worked hard, and was promoted several times over the years. In 2011, he was named Executive Chef at the Renaissance Hotel and has since been promoted and transferred to the Marriott Tampa Airport and Marriott Sand Key. When he is now creating new menus and cooking for "foodies", he enjoyed spending time with his wife and 3 children. Andrew is a family man who is grateful for the opportunities that were offered by Vocational Rehabilitation, Hands On Education, and an industry that is focused on his strengths and passion for cooking.
Catherine Bekkedal
Supervisor - Graduation Rate Initiatives
Duval County Public Schools
Catherine Bekkedal, M.Ed. has served as a High School Counselor and then High School District Specialist for Duval County Public Schools (DCPS). Currently, she is a district Supervisor tasked with uniting multiple district departments to align with vision and mission statements, leading the district to historically high graduation and college readiness rates. She leads data centered dialogue with school and district leadership, streamlining interventions and systems of support for students and families. She believes in equity and access for all students and strives to provide all educators with the skills and knowledge needed to implement efficient and effective programs that support student achievement. Most recently, she was the Project Manager for the FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant, a partnership between the National College Access Network and The Kresge Foundation.
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Jill Black
Program Director - A-STEP
Goodwill of North Florida
Jill is from Atlanta, GA and attended Georgia Southern University where she studied Elementary Education. Jill graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Special Education - High Incidence Disabilities. Jill's 11 years of teaching experience focused on students with behavior, emotional, and learning challenges. After moving to Florida in 2005, Jill's passion for the "underdog" led her to a position with the Salvation Army of NE Florida where she spent 8 years as Public/Community Relations Director until moving to Goodwill Industries of North Florida in 2014. Jill is grateful for the opportunity to serve adults looking to transform their lives through education. Jill and Warren (husband of 24 years) are proud parents of 2 boys: Connor (23) senior- Univ. of Alabama and Kyle (19) sophomore- Ole Miss.
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Michelle Boehm
Research and Evaluation Analyst
Helios Education Foundation
Michelle Boehm is a Research and Evaluation Analyst under the Policy, Research, and Evaluation Center of Excellence (PRE) where she conducts research and evaluation activities to inform and support the Foundation’s strategic investment initiatives. Prior to joining Helios Education Foundation, Ms. Boehm led evaluations of child welfare, adult criminal, and juvenile justice and education programs in the government and non-profit sector. She also worked as a graduate research assistant on a grant-funded initiative assessing how bilingualism in Spanish-speaking Head Start students affects cognitive, social, and behavioral competence. She earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from Arizona State University and Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Health and Human Services with a concentration in Early Childhood from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Ms. Boehm is actively involved in the community, including serving on the Fast Pitch selection committee of Social Venture Partners Arizona.
Amy Bolick
Statewide Programs Coordinator
Florida College Access Network

Amy Bolick, Statewide Programs Coordinator, joined FCAN in 2017. Amy oversees FCAN’s College Ready Florida statewide initiatives, including Apply Yourself Florida, the Florida FAFSA Challenge, and Florida College Decision Day. Before joining FCAN, she worked directly with college students as a teacher and tutor in Freshman Composition and Professional Writing. Amy holds an MA in Rhetoric & Composition from the University of South Florida, a Graduate Certificate in Professional and Technical Communication from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. in English from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. In her free time, Amy enjoys traveling with her mother, aunt, and wife, all of whom share her goal of visiting all 50 states.

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Holly Bullard
Director, Financial Stability
United Way Suncoast
Holly Bullard serves as Senior Director of Financial Stability Initiatives at United Way Suncoast, where she oversees the planning and implementation of financial stability programs, strategies, and collaboratives. Prior to joining United Way Suncoast, Holly worked as Legislative Aide to U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, a senior member on the House Financial Services Committee and Chair of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus. She served as his lead advisor on financial services and housing issues, with a focus on financial empowerment for low-income Americans. Previous to her work on Capitol Hill, Holly worked on data quality at the U.S. Department of Education and on financial stability strategies at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. Holly has a Master's in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Emory University.
Tamar Cassagnol
Assistant Director
Valencia College Dual Enrollment
Currently, Tamar Cassagnol is employed by Valencia Community College as Assistant Director of the Dual Enrollment Department. Her responsibilities involve the design and implementation of outreach services that promote dual enrollment opportunities. Tamar recently assisted with the facilitation of a dual enrollment summer pilot program, which acclimates students to college expectations. As the Assistant Director of Dual Enrollment, Tamar strives to provide optimal services for the continued enhancement and promotion of dual enrollment opportunities. Her mantra: Great things are possible through hard work, dedication, and belief.
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Deborah Chapman
Senior Program Director
CareerEdge Funders Collaborative
With over 25 years of experience in the consulting field, Deborah has spent her career working with organizations, teams, and individuals to achieve their transformational goals. As the Senior Program Director at CareerEdge, Deborah develops and manages the non-profit’s workforce development initiatives which range from employer training grants and funded high demand certifications, to an internship reimbursement program and targeted college access strategies. CareerEdge partners directly with employers in fast-growing sectors, to help them fill skills gaps and meet their employment needs, while at the same time assisting individuals in entering the workforce and moving up career ladders. Deborah graduated from Florida State University cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, and received an MBA from the University of Alabama, where she was awarded the Graduate Council Fellowship.
Dr. Jesse Coraggio
Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services
St. Petersburg College

Jesse joined St. Petersburg College in 2006 and has had increasing levels of responsibility since that time. He received his doctorate in Educational Measurement from the University of South Florida. His research interests include instrument development, psychometrics, setting performance standards, and various item response theory applications. His work has been published and he has presented over 30 papers in the area of assessment and measurement at conferences including the American Educational Research Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the Association for Institutional Research. He is current the president of the Florida Association for Institutional Research.

Luz Corcuera
Executive Director
UnidosNow, Inc.
Luz Corcuera is Executive Director of UnidosNow, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the growing Latino population to achieve the American Dream through Education. Luz has extensive experience in community-based programs and is recognized for building strong community partnerships in the region to reverse negative education, social, and health disparities in the Latino population. Luz is passionate about education, health, cultural competency, and understanding the social determinants of well being. Her significant work includes developing and overseeing diverse community-based initiatives to empower underserved communities via prevention and education. As an immigrant woman, Luz knows the challenges of integrating into a new community and sees education as the path out of poverty. She also understands the struggles of talented young people who may not have had the same opportunities that her children had to realize the American Dream. She is committed to working with any individual and organization that promotes these opportunities for our young population. Luz has been recognized with numerous awards for building strong relationships in the Manasota region with private, public, faith-based, and civic organizations to close the education achievement gap, reversing negative health trends, and empowering people to civic integration.
Tiffany Criswell 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 coordinated 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).
Laura Dickerson
Director Business Development
Sallie Mae
Laura Dickerson has worked in the financial aid community for over 28 years, specifically assisting families and schools with saving, planning, and paying for college information. Laura has worked with Sallie Mae for the last 18 years, bringing college affordability and resources to Florida schools and families. She lives in Tampa, FL with her family and enjoys all things Florida.
Anna Dilernia
Research and Evaluation Analyst
The Children's Trust
Anna Dilernia serves as a research and evaluation analyst for The Children's Trust youth enrichment portfolio supporting evaluation, research, and impact measurement for programs focused improving the lives of adolescent youth. She is a proud AmeriCorps alumna, who served for two years with City Year Miami. Anna earned a Master of Business Administration with a focus in management and strategy from Western Governors University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Florida.
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Dr. Deborah Douma
Dean of Grants and Federal Programs
Pensacola State College
Dr. Deborah Douma, Dean of Grants and Federal Programs at Pensacola State College in Florida, has an AA from Irvine Valley College, a BA in Communication Arts and MS in Administration from the University of West Florida, and an EdD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Florida. Dr. Douma’s research focused on factors leading to engagement of community college faculty in grant writing activities. She was the Council for Resource Development 2013 Grants Professional of the Year. Dr. Douma serves on the Florida Association of Colleges Foundation Board, and locally on boards of the Escarosa Coalition on the Homeless, the Escambia 4-H Foundation, and the First City Art Alliance. Dr. Douma is a critical member of the Achieve Escambia Data Team, Career Readiness Collective Action Network, and Local College Access Network
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John Ficca
Program Director
Hands On Educational Services
John Ficca is a certified educator in Special Education / Behavioral Disorders. John has over 27 years experience in education and vocational training for individuals with unique abilities. He is also a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, and worked 5 years at a residential treatment center for abused and neglected children. John's professional life has been devoted to serving others - on the sea and in the community. When he is not traveling/working at Hyatt Hotels, he enjoys outdoor activities with his wife, daughter, family, and friends.
Raquel Figueroa
Managing Director, Program Implementation
College Summit
Raquel is the Managing Director of Program Implementation with College Summit and an expert in leveraging peer influence to increase college access opportunities 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 oversees a team of coaches to provide program implementation support, coaching, and oversight for over 100 partner high schools across the county.  Raquel holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the City University of New York.
Dr. Sue Gallagher
Chief Innovation Officer
Children's Services Council of Broward County
Sue Gallagher, Chief Innovation Officer, Children’s Services Council (CSC) of Broward County, has been with the CSC for over 10 years providing opportunities for all children “to realize their full potential, their hopes and their dreams, supported by a nurturing family and community.” She leads efforts to support community partners to collaborate on improving programs, service systems and communities, including the advancement of racial equity, so young people and their families can thrive. She worked in non-profits serving people with developmental disabilities prior to coming to CSC. Dr. Gallagher is also an adjunct professor at Florida International University where she teaches organizational and community strategic planning.
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Jennifer Grove
Community Development Manager
Gulf Power Company
Ms. Grove has worked with The Southern Company for over 23 years. As Gulf Power’s Community Development Manager, she is responsible for leading Gulf Power’s engagement in partnerships that grow Northwest Florida’s competitiveness. The program of work includes education, workforce development, regional partner support, key industry sector support, and support of efforts that move citizens from poverty to prosperity. Ms. Grove serves on boards of many organizations including the Center to Advance Career and Technical Education, Leadership Florida, the Florida Education Foundation, the Florida College Access Network, as Chair of the Florida Chamber Business Alliance for Early Learning, and as a founding Executive Committee member of ECARE (Every Child A Reader in Escambia County). Jennifer is also currently deeply engaged in Achieve Escambia, a cradle to career education collective impact effort in the Pensacola area. Jennifer has recently completed two terms as a Governor appointed board member of CareerSource Florida where she served as Chair of the Strategic Policy Council. Ms. Grove holds a Master of Science in organizational communication from Purdue University and bachelors’ degrees in political science and communications from Birmingham-Southern College. She is a graduate of Leadership Florida Class XXXIII and lives in Pensacola.
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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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Mark Havard
Area HR Director
Hyatt Regency Orlando
Mark Havard has worked for Hyatt Hotels for 25+ years. During his career in Human Resources, he has partnered with Hands On Education for 17 years, at 3 different Hyatt Hotels. Mark is a champion and visionary when it comes to training / hiring individuals with disabilities. He values the unique abilities of the Hands On Participants, and he has included PWDs in all of Hyatt Diversity Initiatives. Mark is married and lives in the Orlando area, and his daughter is attending the University of Miami.
Terry Hollingshead
Sr. Associate Director of Student Recruitment
Florida State College at 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 Senior 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.
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Dr. Michelle Horton
Director, Complete Florida
University of West Florida Innovation Institute
Dr. Michelle Horton is the Director for Complete Florida at the UWF Innovation Institute. As part of the statewide degree completion initiative, Dr. Horton focuses on program development designed to support the adult learner returning to college. She has a Master’s Degree in Administration with an emphasis in Human Performance Technology from the University of West Florida and a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Horton began her career in higher education in 2006 at Pensacola State College. Prior to her position with the University of West Florida, Dr. Horton served as the Director of Pensacola State College South Santa Rosa Center. Her background includes student and community development. She serves on the Board of Directors for Innovation Coast and the Articulation Committee for the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program.
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Dr. Melissa Irvin
Assistant Dean of Advising and Analytics
University of South Florida
Dr. Melissa Irvin is the newly appointed Assistant Dean of Advising and Analytics at the University of South Florida, employed within the Office of Undergraduate Studies. In addition to supporting the advising community across campus, this position provides strategic leadership for USF's multiple technology and analytics systems include an internal case management program, a degree audit tool and more. She also provides leadership for the Office of Academic Advocacy, a unit specifically designed to address barriers preventing retention or graduation. During her time at her former institution in Tennessee, Dr. Irvin implemented the campus’ early alert attendance program, oversaw the launch of the EAB's student success management software, directed a micro-grant program and worked closely on the expansion of advising resources across all academic units. She has also given presentations across the country on current issues in advising and student support as well as on the effective use of data in the design and assessment of student success programming. Dr. Irvin holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke University in North Carolina as well as a master’s in administration and supervision from Middle Tennessee State University and a doctorate in education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
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Kathryn Jacobs
School District of Osceola County
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Dr. Paula Kohler
Executive Director and Professor
FCSUA/University of Central Florida
Paula D. Kohler, Ph.D. is Professor and Executive Director of the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities at UCF. 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 received 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 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. In 2017, Dr. Kohler received the Research to Practice award from the American Education Research Association.
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Kimberly Krupa
Achieve Escambia
Kimberly Krupa joined the Achieve Escambia team as director in July 2017. Kimberly brings to this role more than 15 years’ experience in community and coalition building, fundraising, communications, nonprofit management, executive leadership and strategic planning. Her expertise centers on developing and implementing strategies to strengthen and expand the ability of teams to actively create the conditions for change. Kimberly works with networks to embrace the use of data as a means to inspire innovative thinking about how to make improvements that put students at the center, and ultimately transform how our education and workforce training systems serve learners of all ages. Born and raised in New Jersey, Kimberly moved to Louisiana in 2002 and was actively involved in rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Kimberly now lives in Pensacola with her husband and three children.
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Chris Laney
Director of Education & Community Investment
CareerSource Suncoast
Chris Laney is the Director of Education & Community Investment for CareerSource Suncoast. Laney oversees unique initiatives to increase the talent pipeline in our community. He does this through unique experiences like the State of Jobs Conference which welcomed over 800 high school students this year, the State of Talent Conference that welcomes over 100 employees to learn how to recruit, train and retain better talent, and other student initiatives geared towards developing them into career-ready leaders. Laney received his bachelors in technology management from State College of Florida, a masters in business administration (MBA) from Saint Leo University, and is currently working on his doctorate in leadership and professional practices from Trevecca University. He is married and has three amazing children. They lived in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
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Donovan Lee-Sin
Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement
The Children's Trust
Donovan Lee-Sin, M.P.A., serves as the Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement at The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of funding in Miami-Dade County that promotes the well-being of children and families. His work emphasizes collaboration and partnership while helping to foster networks that support children and families most in need to promote sustainable change across the community. Mr. Lee-Sin has 16 years of experience in the field of philanthropy. Prior to joining The Trust, he worked previously for the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in Atlanta, GA. As senior program officer, Donovan oversaw the Foundation’s grant initiatives portfolio that focused on expanding community engagement, employment and economic stimulation, early education, parks and green-space, and support for the arts in the Greater Atlanta area. Arthur Blank is the co-founder of Home Depot, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons and the Blank Family of Businesses. Donovan earned his bachelors' degrees in psychology and business administration from Belhaven University in Jackson, MI and a master’s in public administration with a specialization in urban development and management from Florida International University in Miami, FL.
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Dr. Latishua Lewis
Valencia College Dual Enrollment
Dr. Latishua E. Lewis serves as the Director of Dual Enrollment at Valencia College. Her ten years of education experience spans multiple areas in student and academic affairs. She has a proven track record in developing, implementing, and assessing programs and services that support student learning and personal development in and outside of the classroom. She adds value to programs and services by identifying comprehensive learning outcomes, developing training modules, critically analyzing assessment data, and establishing internal and external partnership opportunities. Dr. Lewis prides herself on operating from a foundation of data driven decision-making, which in turn influences collaborative efforts to address student needs. Student access, persistence, and degree completion are her top priorities.
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Gary Linnen
Managing Director, Program Operations and Innovation
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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Leah Lynch
Chief Development Officer for Career Services
Goodwill of North Florida
Leah moved from Canada to the state of Washington where she earned a B.A. in Primary Education/endorsement Special Education at Washington State University. With encouragement from family and friends, Leah created 'Let Us Play!' - a four day celebrity sports camp for 150 girls (ages 12-15) and a 2 Kilometer run in downtown Jacksonville for over 3,000 children(ages 5-12). Leah remained Executive Director of Let us Play! for over 15 years. Her passion for children has led her on a journey in the educational and non-profit world throughout her career. Leah was Development Director for Communities in Schools, Executive Director for the scholarship mentoring program, Take Stock in Children- Duval, and currently Chief Development Officer for Career Services for Goodwill of North Florida. In 2014, under the direction of Leah's leadership, Goodwill of North Florida implemented the A-STEP program with hopes of moving low-income and low-skilled adults into the middle class through education. In addition, Leah coordinated the transition of the “Take Stock in Children” program to Goodwill Industries of North Florida in 2014. Leah is the proud mom of 3 children: Colin (24), Trevor (22),and Kilty (19). Leah enjoys cross fit and running on the beach in her spare time.
Brett McNaught
Chief Executive Officer
Educate Tomorrow
Brett McNaught, PPP Supervisor, is CEO of ET, a Miami-Dade County based 501c3 that serves disadvantaged and foster youth through education, mentoring, and life skills training. Brett has an M.S.Ed in Community and Social Change from the University of Miami. He is on the board of buildOn and Learning 1 to 1 Foundation, and was on the board of the Miami-Dade County Community Based Care Alliance from 2012-2016. He is co-chair of the Education and Employment committee for the Miami-Dade County Homeless Youth Collective Impact.
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Maggie Miller
Florida Lead Field Trainer
MyCareerShines powered by Kuder
Maggie Miller is a lead field trainer representing the Florida career planning system MyCareerShines, powered by Kuder®. Maggie holds a Master’s in Education and is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator. 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 throughout Florida for staff members on how to assist secondary students with career planning and leads training for college advisors and faculty members on how to assist students with college and career planning.
Dakota Pawlicki
Strategy Officer for Community Mobilization
Lumina Foundation
Dakota began his career as a music teacher on the southside of Chicago. After launching his own nonprofit agency focused on urban teacher development, Dakota joined Illinois State University as a program administrator, developing future urban teachers. Dakota then re-joined Chicago Public Schools where he served in a dual role as director of strategic partnerships and projects and director of college access. There he was responsible for developing and driving a city-wide vision of postsecondary access, support, and success for over 400,000 students and the creation of the Chicago Higher Education Compact, an initiative with the expressed goal of increasing Chicago Public Schools’ four-year college graduation rate to 60% by 2025. In April 2017, Dakota joined the Talent Pathways team at Lumina Foundation where he leads the Talent Hub Designation and the Community Partnerships for Attainment network. Bringing a practitioner lens to philanthropy, Dakota focuses on building community efforts that rapidly accelerate postsecondary attainment for the nation's most underserved populations.
Dr. Paul Perrault
Vice President & Director of Research and Evaluation
Helios Education Foundation
Dr. Paul Perrault is the Vice President & Director of Research & Evaluation for Helios Education Foundation. 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. Dr. Perrault comes to Helios with nearly 10 years of research and evaluation experience. Prior to joining Helios, he 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 Masters Degrees, one in Educational Administration and another in Secondary Certification. He also earned a JD at the University of Detroit Mercy and a BA in Journalism at Michigan State University. Dr. Perrault’s currently serves as a Board Member for Touchstone Health Services and is co-chair of the Data Impact Group for Grantmakers for Education. Most recently he was selected as a fellow to Arizona’s prestigious Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy.
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Dr. Michael Preston
Executive Director
Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities
Dr. Michael Preston has served as Executive Director of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities since July 2015 where he works with Florida International University, The University of Central Florida, and The University of South Florida on collaborative projects designed to increase retention, improve graduation rates, and ensure graduates are career ready. Previous to taking on this unique role, Dr. Preston served the students of The University of Central Florida since 2011 as the Director of the Office of Student Involvement where he oversaw a comprehensive involvement program including entertainment programming, student organizations, volunteer and service programs, and student government. Dr. Preston has worked in higher education for nearly 20 years and is commonly asked to speak and present on topics such as student affairs assessment, personal career development, student engagement practices, and developing student leadership competencies. In addition to his work in student affairs at UCF, Dr. Preston is also a faculty member in the Higher Education and Policy Studies department where he teaches on the subject of Organization and Administration in Higher Education.
Dr. Karen Rasmussen
Associate Vice President
University of West Florida
Dr. Karen Rasmussen is a Professor and Associate Vice President at the University of West Florida, Division of Research and Strategic Innovation. She leads initiatives related to academic policy, innovative practice, and career and technical education. At the state level, Dr. Rasmussen works in the area of adult degree completion. In addition, she led the launch of MyCareerShines, a statewide career and technical educational tool for K-20 students and citizens of the state of Florida. She co-edited the Handbook of Research on Competency-Based Education in University Settings and is co-author of Web-Based Learning: Design, Implementation and Evaluation. Dr. Rasmussen works closely with on-campus teams to implement innovative distance learning models, taking programs to scale while maintaining high quality outcomes.
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Dr. Steve Rios
Senior Director
Educate Tomorrow
Dr. Steve J. Rios, is Senior Director of Florida Positive Pathways, a program sponsored by the Florida Department of Children and Families and Educate Tomorrow, a nationally recognized mentoring organization. Dr. Rios is a veteran K-12 administrator and post-secondary educator and researcher who has mentored three former foster children through a college education and runs a statewide network of campus and community based professionals that serve youth in foster care in college.
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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, 501(c)(3) non-profit, private-public partnership 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 for promoting students’ non-cognitive skill set development to improve academic achievement and increase students’ readiness for post-secondary education and employment. 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. Judy has had 25 years of extensive experience in the areas of education, fundraising and non-profit management, volunteer mentor management, sales and marketing, within the non-profit and travel and tourism sectors. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Jacksonville University and attended California State University Long Beach, earning credits for her Community College Instructor Certification. She is also an alumnus of Georgetown University’s Executive Nonprofit Management Program.
Dr. Rebecca Schumacher
Executive Director and School Counselor Educator
Florida School Counselor Association
Rebecca A. Schumacher, Ed.D., former teacher and school counselor at all school levels, as well as a district-level administrator, currently serves as the Executive Director for the Florida School Counselor Association and Visiting Professor in the School Counseling Program (UNF). State-wide, she is involved in college access and career readiness programs for every school level student and family. She has extensive experiences working with Jacksonville’s most challenged schools with an emphasis to close information and opportunity gaps, and the urgency for postsecondary planning. Locally she has served on the Form Your Future Steering Committee (previously College Goal Sunday), and recently on the advisory council for DCSP FAFSA Challenge. She represented Florida at the White House The FAFSA Summit, served on the Florida team for the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative, and conducted over 200 presentations and trainings across the county, as well as authored on school counseling issues.
Sara Schumacher
School District of Osceola County
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Isabel Sousa
Membership Director
FL Immigrant Coalition
Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to Miami with their family at the age of 6. They began community organizing against deportations and for immigration reform in 2007 and has since become the Membership and Organizing Director and the Florida Immigrant Coalition. While teaching at the City University of New York, Isabel published academic articles detailing the effects of legal status and marginalization on undocumented mothers and on immigrant adolescents in the transition to adulthood. From 2015 through 2016, they were the state coordinator of New York's Mexican Initiative on Deferred Action. They also serve on the national selection committee of the DREAM.US Undocumented Youth Scholarship Fund.
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Hector Tejeda
Director of Education
UnidosNow, Inc.
Héctor is a Guatemalan immigrant who arrived in the United States as a baby with his sixteen-year-old mother. He went on to graduate from Marist College with an accounting degree and obtained CPA certification while working for Deloitte in New York City. Héctor continued his education at Harvard Business School where he received his MBA in general management. He joined Pfizer upon graduation and then worked over 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry in a wide range of marketing, finance, strategic planning, and general management roles. After retiring from Merck, he became an MBA career advisor at the Wharton School, where he advised students on careers in the healthcare and consumer industries. Héctor moved to Florida in 2013 and wanted to give back to the community. He found his passion with UnidosNow, where he has actively been involved in changing the lives of students since 2014.
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Martha Tellez
Lead Case Manager - A-STEP
Goodwill of North Florida
Martha Tellez was born and raised in Colombia, South America. Martha was an elementary school teacher in her country of origin. She came to the United States 13 years ago. Martha holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Florida and she is currently in her second year of law school at Florida Coastal School of Law. Martha has two children, Kevin (21) who is in his last year at Florida State University; and Daniella (13) who is 7th grader who enjoys dancing and algebra.
Chuck Tiernan
Director, LEAP College Access Network
Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
Chuck came to Tampa after spending the last 18 of his 27-year professional career in non-profit education leadership positions, designing and implementing strategies for community and fund development at both a career and technical college, as well as at the national leader in K-12 dropout prevention. As the statewide Director of Development for the Washington State chapter of Communities In Schools, he oversaw the collaborative fund raising strategy for a network of 12 local affiliated organizations, implementing those tactics through a collective impact model. His community development work helped to launch the 12th CIS affiliate in the state, pulling together professionals from two counties and three school districts to form one cohesive dropout prevention organization serving 10 schools in the Tri-Cities area of Central Washington.
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Stephanie Wall
Community Organizer
FL Immigrant Coalition
Stephanie Wall was born in Sogamoso, Colombia and came to the United States at the age of four with her immediate family. After graduating from high school, Stephanie attended the Miami Dade Honors College where she became an active member and leader in the immigrant rights community. Soon after, Stephanie transferred to the University of Central Florida where she studied psychology and sociology. She then joined City Year, an education nonprofit organization aimed at closing the graduation gap in high-poverty communities. She is currently pursuing a Master degree in Nonprofit Management at UCF while working with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. Stephanie's work with FLIC involves providing Know Your Rights trainings, Access to College presentations, civic engagement consulting, and organizing. In her leisure time, Stephanie enjoys going to amusement parks with loved ones and cuddling with her dog, Tobi.
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Stacey Watson
Executive Director
Achieve Palm Beach County
Stacey Watson is the Executive Director for Achieve Palm Beach County, a Collective Impact College Access initiative addressing the post-secondary needs of over 192,000 students. Watson joined Achieve PBC with 17 years of non-profit management and education experience after serving as COO of the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology and Founder / ED of the South Buffalo Education Center. Watson’s curriculum geared at supporting underserved communities resulting in an appointment to the Governor’s Team on School Engagement and Drop-out Prevention and the New York Statewide Alternative Education Committee. Watson successfully aligned members of the secondary and higher education community, human services and arts non-profit organizations, legislative bodies, service organizations, faith-based partners, and trades representatives to improve education and career outcomes in the City of Buffalo. Her most recent Collective Impact work Tonawanda Tomorrow is a US EDA funded Economic Action Plan focused on a first ring suburb of Buffalo, New York to address the future of a community historically dependent on an industrial and coal centered economy. Watson served on the convening Advisory Committee and as Chair of the Workforce Development Stakeholders Group.