Gina Giacomo, 2018-19 Chair: Gina Giacomo has been in the field of criminal justice for twenty-nine years and has vast leadership experience gained through holding a variety of key positions. She is currently serving as the Director of Administration for the Commission on Offender Review. Gina earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from SIU and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from FAMU. She has received recognitions including the Superior Accomplishment Awards from both FCOR and DCF, the Criminal Justice Distinguish Service Award and the Louie L. Wainwright Distinguish Service Award from the Florida Counsel on Crime and Delinquency, Girl Scouts Women of Distinction Award, Tallahassee Community College Women’s Trailblazer Award and has received ten Davis Productivity Awards for increasing productivity and improving services while reducing cost. She is dedicated to serving her community and improving the lives of women and girls. Gina is a PACE Leon Center for Girls Board of Directors Treasurer, Zona Club of Tallahassee Past President and current Board member, Florida Counsel on Crime and Delinquency Statewide Past President and currently the Executive Director, Capital American Italian Organization Past President, member of Keiser University Advisory board, Capital Tiger Bay Club , Women Who Mean Business, Association Fundraising Professional, Village Square and a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee Class 33. A perpetual optimist, whose license plate reads “Carpe Diem” Gina sees herself as a servant-leader getting out of bed each day looking forward to serving others.
Dr. Elizabeth Jakubowski, 2018-19 Vice Chair: Elizabeth is a faculty member in the School of Teacher Education at Florida State University. Her focus is on mathematics education and teacher education. Her current work is focusing on issues of access to and equity in mathematics for females and students with disabilities. She has assisted Florida colleges and universities in their development of quality teacher preparation programs and currently serves in leadership roles the Florida Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and Florida Association of Teacher Education. She has worked with girls at the middle and high school levels in building self-efficacy for success in mathematics and science.
Dr. Cicely Brantley is an Associate Professor in Behavioral Sciences at Tallahassee Community College. She is also a Therapist and Family Educator currently serving the Oasis Center for Women and Girls – where she started as a volunteer and transitioned to contractor – as Counselor and Single Moms Group Facilitator. Cicely is a graduate of both Florida A & M University and Florida State University, having earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from FAMU, and her Masters’ (in both Music Therapy and Counseling), Educational Specialist’s (in School Counseling) and Doctorate (in Marriage and Family Therapy) degrees from FSU. Prior to joining the TCC faculty, Cicely worked in the public school system for almost ten years as an elementary Music Teacher and a Guidance Counselor, and she has contracted with local mental health care agencies for several years. Cicely serves on several committees/councils at TCC, and is a Charter Member of the Greater Tallahassee Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Additionally, Cicely has served with several other local agencies and community service organizations and has had the pleasure of speaking at many professional and community-based conferences and events.
While her passion for serving and empowering others – especially those in historically oppressed and underrepresented groups – is undeniable, Cicely’s most important roles are as wife to her husband Robert, and mother to their five awesome children. Together, they love music, Marvel movies, good books, good fun and good food. Cicely’s dedication to the work of the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls is fueled, in part, by a quote from one of her (s)heroes, educator Mary McLeod Bethune: “The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.”
Wendi Cannon received her bachelor’s degree in information studies from Florida State University. After working for the State of Florida, she began her career at the newly created FSU College of Medicine as the web technology coordinator in 2003. As the college grew, she transitioned to various positions within the IT office, and currently she is the director of information technology. She provides leadership and direction for the 30 person IT office which includes mission-critical services such as application development, database administration, server management, and statewide videoconferencing.
Wendi is a board member of Girls on the Run of the Big Bend, the former chair of the TalTech Alliance and Leadership Tallahassee Class 35 graduate. She is also a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend and a member of the Kate Sullivan Elementary Parent Teacher Association.
April Dietz has 10 years of experience in strategic communications and branding with expertise in the healthcare and information technology industries. She has managed all aspects of strategy, change management, public relations, community outreach, branding, budget and policy, from development to implementation. Currently, April serves the community in her role as Director of Accounts for Paul Consulting Group (PCG). Prior to joining PCG, she led projects at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and managed all aspects of communications strategy and branding for the Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic. April holds a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Advertising from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is an advocate for children with unique abilities, with a passion for women’s issues and children. April is a member of The Economic Club of Florida, the Challenger Learning Center Board, Leadership Tallahassee, Independence Landing, KEYS (Keys to Exceptional Youth Services), the Hang Tough Foundation, and the Gilchrist Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. April has two daughters (Emma and Isabelle) who inspire her every day.
Dr. Rebekah L. Dorn is from Tallahassee, FL, where she graduated from North Florida Christian School. She went on to Florida State University where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Communications, Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration, and her Doctorate in Philosophy in Education. After a short stint at WCTV as a producer and special topics reporter, she began working full time in Student Affairs at Florida State University. In 2011, she became a Business Analyst for Information Technology Services (ITS) at FSU. Rebekah now serves as the Assistant Director for ITS, for User Experience of the enterprise systems and mobile services.
Rebekah has been involved with the Junior League of Tallahassee for more than 10 years, with multiple positions on the Board of Directors, including Membership VP and President. She served as part of the See Tallahassee team as a 2015 Community Catalyst with the Knight Creative Communities Institute. Rebekah is married to Joseph, has three young children (Ella, Finleigh, and Abraham), and is an active, founding member of Redemption Hill Church.
Khari James, Esq. is a Tallahassee native, and firmly believes in giving back to her community in part by increasing safety for women and girls. She is currently an Attorney with Legal Services of North Florida (“LSNF”). She specializes in providing legal services to survivors of Human Trafficking and conducting outreach to educate the citizens of Leon County and surrounding areas on Human Trafficking. Additionally, Khari is a current board member for the Children’s Home Society.
Khari graduated from Lincoln High School. She then attended the University of Central Florida where she received her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on Victim Advocacy. After college, Khari worked in Chicago and Washington D.C. before moving back to her home, Tallahassee, and attending the Florida State University College of Law, where she received her law degree. Prior to working at LSNF, Khari was an Assistant State Attorney for the State Attorney’s Office, 2nd Judicial Circuit. In this position, Khari prosecuted cases involving juvenile, misdemeanor, and felony crimes committed in Tallahassee.
Her past experience includes working for the Department of Juvenile Justice as a Human Trafficking Coordinator, and at the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, where she assisted in drafting the “Human Trafficking Prosecutions” section of the 2017 Florida Strategic Plan on Human Trafficking. Prior to this Khari worked at the White House in the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic in Chicago, the Department of Homeland Security: Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and for the Honorable Virginia M. Kendall at the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois.
Jane E. Johnson is the Director of Advocacy and External Relations for the Florida Council for Community Mental Health. She came to the Council after serving for four years as Chief of Staff for the Florida Department of Children and Families. Prior to joining DCF, Johnson was the Health and Human Services Policy Coordinator for the Executive Office of the Governor. In that role, she developed and coordinated health and human services policies and oversaw the development of agency budgets for six state agencies including DCF. She also previously served as the Executive Director of Children’s Home Society of Florida’s North Central Division. She was the Director of the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities and Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology. Johnson has served as a Guardian ad Litem for 10 years and is a volunteer with the Life Connectors and FSU Women’s Soccer Team mentoring programs. She is a member of the Capital Women’s Network, the Health Council of United Way of the Big Bend and the Gulf Winds Track Club, where she served as president for two years. Johnson is a volunteer interviewer with the Georgetown University Alumni Admissions program and she has also served on the Statewide Child Abuse Death Review Committee, the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, the Governor’s Task Force on Autism, the Affordable Housing Study Commission and the State Health Improvement Plan Steering Committee.
Andrea M. Jones is a graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Civil Engineering and is retired from the Tallahassee Fire Department as the Division Chief of Operations. She works as a consultant in the areas of management and structural disaster preparedness. She is also a freelance videographer and photographer. Her community involvement includes serving on the board for the Oasis Center for Women and Girls, of which she is a Founding Member, the Tallahassee Rowing Club and serving as an executive member of the board for the Big Bend Homeless Coalition.
Dr. Jeanne O’Kon is a psychologist and college professor at Flagler College-Tallahassee. She served previously as the Program Chair of the Tallahassee Community College Behavioral Sciences department. Dr. O’Kon is a graduate of Florida State University, receiving her B.S. and M.S. in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.
Dr. O’Kon has instructed classes in Psychology of Women, General Psychology, and Teacher Education at TCC, Flagler College, and Florida State University. She chaired the TCC Women’s History Month Committee for many years and still serves as an active committee member. She directed the Taiwan Sister School Program and traveled to Kaohsiung many times to teach English with TCC and Flagler College students in the summer. She gives annual presentations at the University of Florida Women’s Leadership Conference and at other professional meetings.
Dr. O’Kon has served as the race director for the Girl Scout Council fundraiser, the “Run for the Cookies,” for the past 25 years. Because of her volunteer work with the Girl Scout Council, she was selected as a “Woman of Distinction” in 2003 and was elected to the Girl Scout “Hall of Fame” in 2008. She is an active member of Gulf Winds Track Club, volunteering countless hours with local road races which raise funds for charitable organizations such as Refuge House, the Girl Scouts, and the Kearney Center. In 2009, she was selected by the Tallahassee Democrat as one of “25 Women You Need to Know.” In 2018, she was selected for the Tallahassee Community College “TCC Alumni and Friends Hall of Fame.”
She was appointed by Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge to serve on the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls in 2011, and served on that CSWG for six years. She was previously appointed to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, and currently serves on the FCSW Foundation Board.
Kelly Otte is the Executive Director of the PACE Center for Girls in Leon County. She is the
Founder and former Executive Director of The Oasis Center for Women & Girls and was the organizer and first Chairwoman of the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls. For 9 years Kelly was the Executive Director of Refuge House and she has worked in domestic violence centers, rape crisis programs, and women’s centers in Carson City, Nevada, Norfolk, Virginia, Jacksonville, Florida & Tallahassee. She was a founding board member of the Women’s Center of Jacksonville and Faculty Advisor to the Women’s Center at Florida State University. In addition to her work with women and girls, Kelly has a passion for the nonprofit sector. She co-writes a column “Notes on Nonprofits” for The Tallahassee Democrat and was the first Executive Director of United Partners for Human Services, a coalition serving 90 human service organizations in Tallahassee. Kelly has been an Adjunct Professor at FSU in both the Askew School of Public Administration and the College of Social Work and formerly at the University of North Florida. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Florida.
Michelle Personette is the Executive Director of the Challenger Learning Center, the K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) outreach facility of the Florida A&M University – Florida State University College of Engineering. In this role, Michelle oversees all aspects of the Center’s operation, including the operation of the facility, fiscal management, fundraising, as well as marketing and public relations. Michelle previously served as the Center’s Marketing, Sales and Communications Manager and in that role planned the pre-opening promotions, marketing, group sales and fundraising efforts of the center. Michelle began her career working on promotions and marketing in the entertainment & tourism industries, developing campaigns for The Florida Everblades (an ECHL hockey team), Florida Gulf Coast University Office of Recreation and Leisure Services, Universal Orlando, Holiday Inn Family Suites and others. She received much of her fiscal experience while working for the University of Central Florida College of Arts and Sciences in the Budget Office.
Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida Gulf Coast University and a master’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in advertising and public relations from the University of Central Florida. Michelle is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee, Class of 25 and volunteers her time writing and reviewing grant applications for the Community Human Service Partnership, Community Redevelopment Agency, and Visit Tallahassee. Michelle is also a current or former board member of the Tallahassee-Leon County Tourist Development Council, Council on the Status of Women and Girls, The Village Square, Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle, Tallahassee Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kleman Plaza Design & Review Board and others.
Jacqueline “Jack” Porter like most Floridians, Jacqueline “Jack” Porter isn’t originally from Florida. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Jack moved to the Fort Lauderdale area when she was twelve years old. She received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion at Florida State University and is now a master’s student at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy. Jack was appointed to the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls by Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, an advisory board to Tallahassee and Leon County on the impact of local policy on women and girls. In addition, she serves as a Leon County Literacy Volunteer at Refuge House and as a member of the League of Women Voters. Jack knows the names of all the counties of Florida and knows some other things, too. In her spare time, she enjoys following local Florida politics, watching Bravo, and being a proud Virgo.
Janel Robinson is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Interpersonal Violence Intervention and Prevention at Florida A&M University, where she coordinates the University’s educational programming regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Prior to this role, she served as an Abuse Counselor for the Florida Department of Children and Families. In 2016, Janel co-founded the nonprofit, Black Women Empower Collective (BWEC). BWEC seeks to explore, encourage, and affirm the empowerment and solidarity of the sisterhood of the African diaspora. Currently, she serves as the Programming Director of BWEC and as the Institute Chair for New Leaders Council Tallahassee. She has received numerous recognitions, including Tallahassee Democrat’s 25 Women You Need to Know, the Oasis Center’s Unsung Shero Award, and FSU Alumni Association’s Notable Noles. Janel is an alumna of the Florida State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Sociology with minors in Psychology, African-American Studies, and Child Development. Janel is a graduate student at FAMU, working towards her Masters of Social Work. In her free time, she bakes cupcakes under the name of her home-based bakery, Baked Expectations.
Antoneia Roereceived her B.S. in Political Science from Florida A&M University and obtained her J.D. from the University of Miami. She returned to Tallahassee and began her legal career in the Office of the General Counsel at Florida A&M University. Antoneia later advocated on behalf of abused, abandoned and neglected children at the Department of Children and Families and subsequently became Supervising Attorney for the Second Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. When an opportunity presented itself, she excitedly returned to Florida A&M University, where she currently serves as Interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Antoneia continues to advocate on behalf of abused, abandoned and neglected children as a guardian ad litem volunteer, primarily working with teens. She also serves as a Youth advisor in her church and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Darby Kerrigan Scott is a Visiting Clinical Professor at Florida State University College of Law, where she directs the Immigration and Farmworker Project within the Public Interest Law Center. She previously served as Executive Director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Tallahassee, managing all programs, staff and development; as Program Director of the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, concentrating on immigration and human trafficking matters; as an associate with Hopping Green & Sams, P.A., focusing in the areas of appeals and special taxing districts; and as a Senior Law Clerk to the Honorable Robert T. Benton, II, of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.
Darby Kerrigan Scott graduated from FSU College of Law in 2007 with High Honors, earning a Certificate in International Law with High Honors and admission into Order of the Coif. She previously served on the Board of Directors of PACE Center for Girls (Leon County) as Secretary, on the Board of Directors of the Young Lawyers Section of the Tallahassee Bar Association as President, and on the Board of Directors of the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center (STAC). She is the recipient of the 2016 Thomas M. Ervin, Jr. Distinguished Young Lawyer Award and the 2016 Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency Chapter 2 Judicial Distinguished Service Award, and was recognized on the Florida Trend Legal Elite list in the area of Government/Non-Profit attorneys in 2016 and 2017. She is a proud member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 33 – the most social class ever!
Gwendolyn Singleton is Chairperson and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Florida A&M University (FAMU). Dr. Singleton received her Ph.D. in Neuropsychology from Howard University. In August 2011, she was elected as the Chairperson of the Department of Psychology at FAMU, becoming the first FAMU alumnus elected to this position. She is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor; She serves as the institutional representative for the ACE Women’s Network of Florida at FAMU. Dr. Singleton serves on a host of other university committees, as the faculty advisor and mentor for several student organizations, and in community services initiatives. She is also a group facilitator and workshop presenter for the Institute for Academic Leadership, hosted by Florida State University, for department chairpersons, deans, and academic administrators of the State University System of Florida.
Amber R. Tynan has more than 13 years of non-profit management experience and is currently the Executive Director for United Partners for Human Services. She has spent most of her career consulting with nonprofits ranging in asset sizes of $100K to five-hundred million – finding ways to improve their operational efficiency and revenue streams while creating alternative solutions to meet the needs of their target demographic and local communities.
Amber has been recognized for her demonstrated commitment and performance in our nonprofit community as the Fundraiser of the Year by the Big Bend chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, “Leader of the Year” by the Leadership Academy of North Florida, Tallahassee Democrat’s 25 Women You Need to Know, Golden A.C.E. Recipient, the Tallahassee Magazine’s Women Who Mean Business Rock Star Award Recipient, Girl Scout Council of the Panhandle’s Women of Distinction Nominee and a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 35.
A philanthropist at heart, Amber enjoys volunteering within the community and serves on multiple boards sharing her personal philosophy of “together we’re better.” Amber is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.A. in English and Communication. Amber and her husband Ray welcomed their daughter Finnley-Ann Harper in 2016 and when she is not at the office, you can usually find Amber SCUBA diving or on their boat in the Gulf of Mexico.
Samantha Vance is the Executive Director of Ladies Learning to Lead (L3), a leadership development organization that prepares teen girls for college, careers, and life. Samantha has a passion for youth, developing young ladies into leaders, and helping them achieve their goals. She is also the owner of a leadership consulting firm serving as a leadership mentor to women and girls, and providing small business and nonprofit development services. Samantha is a first-generation college graduate, who worked her way through school at Florida State University, graduating with a BS degree in Political Science, and minor in Public Administration. She serves as the President for the Leon County Alliance for Girls, and board member for Adullam Entrepreneurship School, AMI Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, Tallahassee Healing Prayer Ministries, and Whole Child Leon. Samantha is a certified Sexual Risk Avoidance trainer with the National Abstinence Education Association. She serves in her local church, and is known as a strong believer. Samantha resides in Tallahassee, originally from Las Vegas.
Rebecca Weaver is an advocate for positive community change. In her current position, she serves as the Director of Impact Strategies for the United Way of the Big Bend. In this role, she is responsible for the oversight and management of the United Way’s collective impact initiatives. She also serves on the Community Health Improvement Planning team for the Leon County Department of Health as well as on the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Council of the Big Bend. She is heavily involved in her community where she is a member of numerous community and civic organizations that work towards strengthening the lives of children, women and families across our region. Her passion for youth development is evident in her work with the Close Up Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based program that informs, inspires and empowers young people to exercise their rights and accept the responsibility of citizens in a democracy. Through the Close Up Foundation, Rebecca has served on numerous panels where her guidance has assisted youth from across the state of Florida with the development of informed policy.
She is a graduate of Florida State University where she holds her undergraduate degree in Criminology with a Psychology minor. Working to be a double alumna, Rebecca is currently attending the Florida State University College of Law where she is pursuing a dual focus in government relations and administrative law as well as business law.
Rebecca is a proud mother to 3 amazing boys, one of which is a social entrepreneur and founded his own nonprofit, French Fries & World Peace, at the age of 13 where he was recognized by the Walt Disney Company and Youth Service America for his community service work.
Her goal is to aid in creating strong, safe and healthy communities where all citizens can thrive.