Dr. Jeanne O’Kon, 2022-2023 CSWG Vice-Chair 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. Jeanne is a graduate of Florida State University, receiving her B.S. and M.S. in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She 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. Jeanne 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.” Jeanne 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 the 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.
Nikki Nicolas, 2022-2023 Education Committee Chair, was born and raised in Tallahassee. Nikki is an art and technology teacher at Griffin Middle school. Nikki is also the 8th-grade team lead. As the team lead, Nikki serves as both the organizer and sponsor for all 8th-grade fundraising, activities, and field trips. Additionally, she is the School Advisory Council chair for Griffin – a decision-making committee that includes community members and school leaders who use school data to make informed decisions. She is a graduate of TCC, FSU and in 2020 earned a master’s from UF in Education Leadership. She is married to Marcus Nicolas and they have 2 children, Noah and Naomi. Nikki is committed to serving in the community and has a heart for helping students realize their potential.
Gabriela Limones-Borja, 2022-2023 Economic Security Committee Chair, presently works at the Florida Senate. Currently, she is doing legislative research for the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee and did similar work, previously, in the Banking and Insurance Committee. Her senate work involves analysis and summarizing of committee legislation, research involving statutes, codes, and regulations and she assists in drafting bills, amendments, and resolutions. In addition to her work at the state Capitol, Gabriela is pursuing a Master’s degree at Florida State University. She is seeking a degree in International Affairs with a focus on Latin America and US Intelligence. She has traveled to South America and Europe.
Gabriela moved to Tallahassee, in 2017, to begin her undergraduate studies at Florida State University. She was active with the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity while also working at the Pennington Law Firm as a legal assistant. During this time, she was an organizer for the 2018 Tallahassee March for Science. Additionally, Gabriela has worked as a server and as a manager at Mimi’s Table, a fine dining establishment in Old Town Tallahassee.
Gabriela involves herself with a number of civic activities ranging from working in the local soup kitchen to volunteering for local political campaigns. She loves taking her rescue-dog Luna to the dog park, working out at the gym, and then canceling the results of her workout by keeping up with the local restaurant scene.
Adela Ghadimi, 2023-2024 CSWG Chair, is a doctoral candidate in the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. The proud daughter of immigrants, Adela is the first in her family to be born in the US and has always taken great pride in wanting to serve others in any way she can. Above all, equity and inclusion encompass everything she does, whether performing diversity trainings for nonprofits and union leaders, or within her doctoral research. Adela’s research interests span the impacts of representative bureaucracy on undocumented individuals, veterans, people living with disabilities, first-generation individuals, in addition to voter suppression and access issues across the nation, as well as the role of public sector unions in the policy process. She currently serves as the volunteer Chapter Director of New Leaders Council Tallahassee and serves on the National Program Committee of New Leaders Council as the national Advancement Chair. Prior to beginning her doctoral work, Adela lived in Washington, DC and worked in education policy and government relations and has prior professional experience in nonprofits, grassroots organizing and political campaigns. Adela is passionate about labor union activism, having served three terms as President of her union local, UFF-FSU-GAU, Graduate Assistants United, and is actively engaged in union work within UFF, FEA, NEA, and AFT. She currently is a lead fellow for the UFF Fellows Program, working to advance union engagement and leadership across the state of Florida. Adela has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics in International Relations and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, where she triple majored in International Studies, Political Science, and Geography. In her spare time, Adela has taken up an affinity for gardening, loves to cook and try out new recipes, and (when the world is fully functional) is an avid international traveler.
Dr. Jazmyne Simmons-Bryant, 2023-2024 CSWG Vice Chair and Health and Development Committee Chair, is a proud native of Tallahassee. She is a faculty member in the School of Allied Health Sciences, Division of Health Science at Florida A&M University (FAMU). Simmons earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication with a specialty in Health Communication from the University of Miami. She holds a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Education from FAMU’s, Institute of Public Health. Jazmyne also possesses Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Criminology from the University of South Florida. Simmons has conducted research at Moffitt Cancer Research Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is committed to using evidence-based research to improve the lives of disproportionately impacted populations. Her research interests lie at the intersection of sexual and racial minority health and interpersonal and mass communication. To date, her research has been awarded nearly $50,000 in federal and institutional funding. Most recently, Simmons, served as Co-Principal Investigator for a clinical trial (NCT03898063) funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This funding was awarded via the University of Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute to investigate effective interventions for HIV prevention and care. Beyond her academic pursuits, Jazmyne enjoys developing meaningful mass-mediated content. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, she produced and hosted a local television talk show entitled, The Jazmyne Show. When Jazmyne is not working, she can be found watching black and white television, coloring, and spending time with family. She is the daughter of Mr. Craig Simmons and Dr. Mary Simmons. Jazmyne is engaged to her high school sweetheart, Tevin “T.J.” Bryant. They have a chocolate-tri English bulldog named, Time. Simmons is also an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Katie Britt Williams, 2023-2024 Political Equity Committee Chair, is a 7th generation Floridian from Winter Haven, Florida, where she grew up fishing and paddling on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes and Peace River. She received an undergraduate degree from the Florida State University in Environmental Science in 2014 and a Master’s of Science in Forestry and Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Florida in 2017. She has experience working for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Transportation. Katie currently does environmental permitting work for Cummins Cederberg, a statewide Marine and Coastal Engineering Firm. She spends much of her free time with the Junior League of Tallahassee, recently nominated to be President Elect, as well as attending Access Tallahassee events and other local initiatives! Katie loves traveling and doing anything outdoors with friends and family!
Janel Robinson believes that a world free from gender-based violence is possible. As the Violence Prevention Coordinator at FSU’s Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness, she leads initiatives to combat sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on campus. In her role, she coordinates the university’s Green Dot Bystander Intervention program, creates innovative programming on consent, healthy relationships, and trauma-informed care, and builds awareness month campaigns. Prior to this role, she served as the Program Coordinator for FAMU’s Center for Interpersonal Violence Intervention and Prevention, leading FAMU’s educational efforts on culturally responsive violence prevention and bystander intervention. Nell’s dedication to a violence-free future has been recognized through several accolades, including Tallahassee Democrat’s 25 Women You Need to Know and the Oasis Center’s Unsung Shero Award.
Carrie Boyd is a proud Tallahasseean who became exposed to and interested in people and politics from a young age. She has worked with people from all walks of life as a lobbyist, lawyer, business leader, political campaigns director, elected official, and nonprofit executive. Carrie’s plans for a career in medicine changed in college when she experienced firsthand the realities of domestic violence and sexual assault, and she has never looked back from her service to women, juveniles, and directly impacted Black and brown communities. Carrie is particularly interested in juvenile reform work and ending the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately impacts girls of color and students with disabilities, as well as reducing adult recidivism through educational training and workforce development.
Carrie currently serves as the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Florida (LAF) and CEO of LiveGive850, a real estate company. The Legal Aid Foundation mobilizes and educates volunteer attorneys and provides direct legal services to those in need. Carrie has served as an executive director, private practice attorney, real estate professional, and elected prosecutor. She has co-directed campaigns for local, senate, and gubernatorial races, as well as led regional efforts for presidential races. One of her most challenging and beloved roles was serving as the Director of Policy for a statewide domestic violence coalition where Carrie joined her coalition members and allies to lead the lobbying efforts of over 50 domestic violence agencies to successfully secure over $18.635M in crucial funds during a time of political gridlock and no state budget.
Carrie was formerly appointed by the governor to serve on one of the premier policy, legislative, and criminal justice administration boards in the country with an annual budget of approximately $130M. As a board member and elected official, Carrie helped pass initiatives to increase funding for diversion programs and juvenile justice reform. Carrie has spearheaded numerous successful legislative initiatives, including immigration law victories such as the landmark Trust Act and VOICES Act, criminal justice reform measures including the elimination of the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault survivors and incentive rehabilitation programs, the Equal Pay Act, and enhanced state and federal funding initiatives for survivors of sexual assault, human trafficking, and domestic violence.
Marisa Button is the Managing Director of Multifamily Programs for Florida Housing Finance Corporation, where she oversees of the allocation of state and federal resources for the development of affordable multifamily rental housing throughout the state. Marisa joined Florida Housing in 2016 as an Assistant General Counsel, having previously served in the same capacity for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Department of Health. Prior to relocating to Tallahassee in 2013, she was in private law practice at CGA Law Firm in York, Pennsylvania. Since moving to Tallahassee, Marisa has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Oasis Center for Women and Girls, Planned Parenthood of South East and North Florida, and Tallahassee Women Lawyers. She grew up in Elmira, New York, and is a proud graduate of Dickinson College and the University of Baltimore School of Law. Marisa and her husband, Jim Curry, are avid Florida State University fans and have a daughter Quinn, and a son, J.J.
Gina Giacomo has served as the CSWG 2018-19 Chair. She has been in the field of criminal justice for thirty-three years and has vast leadership experience gained through holding a variety of key positions. Ms. Giacomo is currently serving as the Director of Administration for the Commission on Offender Review. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from SIU and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from FAMU. Ms. Giacomo has received many recognitions including 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, a 25 Women You Need To Know and 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. Ms. Giacomo is a Past Vice-Chair of PACE Leon Center for Girls Board, Past President Zonta Club of Tallahassee and current Board member, Florida Counsel on Crime and Delinquency Statewide Past President, Executive Director and currently the Chief of Staff, Past President Capital American Italian Organization, member of the Capital Women’s Network, Women Wednesday, United Partners Human Services, Keiser University Advisory board, Village Square, OASIS Center for Women and Girls 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. Judy Mandrell is married to Dr. Gerald Mandrell. They have been married for thirty-nine years, and are the Pastors of Life Changers Church of God in Christ. She is the Host of her own radio show “REAL TALK WITH JUDY LIVE RADIO SHOW”. The Founder of “REAL TALK SISTER GIRLS NETWORK,” designed to bring women from different ages, ethnicities, political affiliation, and economic statuses together. She is the Executive Director of Dream Builders Greatness Center, Inc, a NONPROFIT 501C(3), which encompass the Dream Builders Greatness Youth Leadership Summer Camp, Afterschool Program, Leaders and Navigators Academy and the Family Affairs Program designed to strengthen the family system and to help families to make “HOME SWEET HOME” again. She is Chief Executive Officer of Dream Builders Greatness Child Development Center. All the programs are designed to empower, motivate, inspire, and help the individual and the family to bring forth the greatness and gifts they possess and to help them dream and work the process of making their dream a reality. She’s in partnership, with the Tallahassee Peacemakers, South City Foundation, The Life Center, The Tallahassee Police Department, The Leon Sheriff Department, Life Changers Church of God in Christ, and other organizations for the betterment of Tallahassee and the awesome people in the community. She is a renowned speaker in both the religious and social community. For 20 years she worked for the Florida Department of Children and Families. She graduated from Florida A & M University, with a Bachelor of Social Work, received a Master of Executive Leadership and Doctorate of Christian Leadership from Clarity International Christian University. She’s a certified John C. Maxwell, Coach, Teacher, Trainer and Speaker; a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee Class 36 and a 2019 Tallahassee Democrat’s 25 Women You Need to Know. She’s a member of Tallahassee Branch of NAACP serving on the Executive Board of Directors, and Women in the NAACP Committee Chair; the Big Bend Homeless Coalition Board of Directors; Spiritual Advisory Committee for the Tallahassee Healing Prayer Ministries; and Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Dr. Mandrell has received many honors and accolades for her leadership and service.
Dr. Mandrell’s motto: “If, I can help somebody, then my living will not be in vain.”
Bernice McMillan, MBA is the co-founder of Divine Revelations Ministries, Inc., a 501c3 organization that partners youth and seniors learning technology; and provides anger management and substance abuse classes at local correctional facilities and for Leon County/Tallahassee court-ordered clients. Bernice serves on the Board of NAMI Tallahassee, is a council member of the TPD Citizens Advisory Council, a certified CompTia Project Manager, and is the Training & Research Manager for the Bureau of One-Stop and Program Support at DEO. Bernice has over 20 year of experience in training/curriculum development, community development, mentoring, coaching, child/youth development, parenting education, volunteerism, prison ministry and customer service. She has received several recognitions for her community development and volunteerism, including the Outstanding Woman of the Year-Racial Justice (Utica YWCA), Accent on Excellence Award (Northland Communications/Utica Observer Dispatch), Mother Lavender Award, Person of the Year (Cornhill Community for Change), Extra Mile Award (Cornell Cooperative Extension), and Family of the Year (Capital Outlook/Tallahassee). Bernice is also a licensed minister.
LaQuisha Persak is originally from Orlando, Florida, and has been residing in Tallahassee for well over 20 years. She is the Corporate Recruiter for Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs, and in this role she works to identify and recruit both rising student talent and experienced candidates for the firm. She enjoys fostering relationships with universities, engaging with student organizations, and working with community partners who have an interest in the career field of public accounting.
LaQuisha’s passion to see students achieve their professional goals flourished in her previous roles a Recruiter, Admissions Officer, and Assistant Director in the Office of Admissions at Florida State University. These roles afforded her the opportunity to work with diverse student populations, while effectively collaborating across several university departments to connect students with needed resources.
Additionally, with nearly 10 years of state legislative experience, LaQuisha has worked closely with Florida’s legislators and executive staff. Her positions have included trusted roles with oversight in communications, legislative affairs, administration, public records, and staff training and professional development.
LaQuisha serves on the board for the FSU National Black Alumni as a Regional Representative for Northwest Florida, is a ProfessioNole Mentor, and a breast cancer survivor and women’s health advocate. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and enjoys serving her community on the local and regional level to help implement the organization’s service initiatives.
LaQuisha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy, both from Florida State University.
LaQuisha is married to her husband, Jon, and they have one daughter, Aralyn. The family enjoys a weekly family movie night and are avid Marvel movie fans.
Vickia “Kia” Rosier is a Tallahassee native, 2x nominee with the ‘Tallahassee Women Magazine’, and a 2020 Golden A.C.E Award Recipient, is not only a mentor but a licensed nurse with an unwavering passion for the youth and the community she serves. Miss Kia devotes her time to numerous outreach initiatives such as being a volunteer at the Juvenile Detention Center, Whole Child Leon Popup Preschool and is a member of the National Council of Negro Women, Tallahassee Network of Young Professionals, and the Big Bend AHEC Scholar (2020-2022).
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University awarded her a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management. On top of being a supervisor at a local healthcare facility, she is a Christ-follower who is pleased to work as the nursery director and hospitality assistant at the Family Worship Praise Center. Miss Kia, a meek and humble woman with many “crowns”, develops fresh methods to engage with youth in the community.
Dr. Marcella Torres is a long-time resident of Leon County and has lived in Tallahassee, Florida for more than thirty-five years. She is currently self-employed as the CEO and Founder of Let’s TALK Training and Consulting, where she serves as a Life Enrichment Coach and Counselor. She is also the principal of Kingdom Life Preparatory Academy K-12th grade. She has been in Education and Counseling for over 35 years. I am an author, educator, motivational and public speaker, expositor, trainer, workshop facilitator, director, mediator, life coach, community organizer, and advocate for human rights. With straight talk and classic humor, her delivery is transforming and powerful; provoking immediate change. She considers herself to be on the cutting edge; using old fashion principles with innovative methods and simple practices to make positive change. Her current goals are to enhance her current skills in leadership, program operations, social services, staff development, community partnerships, counseling, and education, in order to better the community and surrounding areas.
Dr. Inika Williams, for more than a decade, Dr. Inika Williams has worked with communities to improve service delivery systems supporting children and youth. She is the Associate Director of Policy with Attendance Works, a national nonprofit think tank that advances student success through policy and practice. Dr. Williams is responsible for developing and executing a national public policy agenda, working closely with government and advocacy leaders to advance student outcomes. Her previous professional roles include serving as the Director of Pre-Collegiate Programs at Florida State University where she notably acquired over $1.3 million to build pipeline tutoring and mentoring programs to prepare underrepresented students for higher education. She also served as Statewide Director of the College Reach-Out Program and Project Director for a $1.6 million federal initiative to develop school-based mental health programs and services in the Florida panhandle with the Florida Department of Education.
Dr. Williams serves on the board of directors of the Big Bend Habitat for Humanity, the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation, the Tallahassee National Pan-Hellenic Council, PACE Center for Girls Leon, and was appointed to the City of Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. She is a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 39 and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Fostering learning opportunities for young people is a personal passion for Dr. Williams who has expertise in youth development and programming. She has been recognized as one of the “25 Women to Know in Tallahassee” by the Tallahassee Democrat, a “Future Five” award recipient by Access Tallahassee, and awarded with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Valerie Bryant Justice Award for her commitment to women and children.
Williams completed her doctoral studies in educational leadership, having recently earned her M.S. and Ed.S in Counseling from Florida State University and her B.S. in Education from Florida A&M University.
Dr. Cicely Brantley, 2022-2023 CSWG Chair, 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. Cicely is a Charter Member of the Greater Tallahassee Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Cicely serves as the 2020-2021 chair of the CSWG Girls Committee. 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. 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.”