The Columbus Organization is a Florida Medicaid Waiver provider specifically for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waiver. The Columbus Organization is committed to supporting the citizens of Florida with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and will continue to offer the highest quality care.
CDC+(Consumer Directed Care Plus ) is an alternative option for persons participating in the State of Florida ibudget Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid Waiver. The program provides the opportunity for individuals to improve the quality of their lives by being empowered to make choices about the supports and services that will meet their needs and to help them reach their goals.
The Columbus Organization of Florida has well trained and qualified staff with years of experience providing Consultant Services to those individuals who choose to participate on the CDC Plus program. We provide a team support of resources to help support you in this program.
To find out more about the CDC+ Waiver Program go to apdcares.org—Waivers Tab–Consumer Directed Care Plus
or view more information on this Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjz6llFWPf4
Through our person-centered approach, the individuals and families we support have more choice, personal power, and control of their lives. We believe individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be valued and given the same opportunities to reach their potential as those without disabilities. With a dedication to quality, experience, and compassion, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to have a meaningful life.
Florida Monthly Newsletters
Executive Director of Care Coordination
Lynda DeBenedet, CBIS
Florida Director of Program Development
Kristie Teal (Regional Director)
Central/Suncoast Tampa Office
Chiquitta Nash (Regional Director)
Suncoast St.Petersburg Office
Mark Groutage (Regional Director)
Suncoast Region Office
16112 N. Florida Ave
Lutz, FL 33459
Click the link below to fill out our satisfaction survey!
Meet Our Florida Team
Lynda (Florida Director of Program Development): Prior to joining the Columbus team Lynda was Co-owner of Support Associates of Tampa Bay for over 19 years which provided Case Management services and Community education to individuals with disabilities. She has worked in the field providing supports to individuals with disabilities for over 35 years. Her experiences range from working with Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury, medially at Risk and Development Disabilities. She holds a certification as Brian Injury Specialist from the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialist/Brain Injury Association of America. Migrated to Florida from Canada in the mid 90’s with her family. Originally a Graduate of the University of Western Ontario. She has dedicated her career to working with and supporting individuals with disabilities.
Wendy: Wendy grew up in Old Saybrook on the coast of CT. Wendy is a graduate from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Wendy moved to Florida soon after graduating college. Her first job in the field was at Tampa Bay Academy working with Adolescents and Children with various mental health needs. She worked PRN, then 6 months later found a job with Mental Health Care, Inc as a Case Manager working with Adults diagnosed with Mental Illness. She worked there for 7 years until she had her second child became a stay at home mother. During the time she was at home, she kept busy volunteering at the preschool as a substitute teacher, then joined the PTA when my children were in elementary school. My position was Special Events Coordinator, planning and organizing all the events at the school throughout the year. During the 7 years at home, Wendy also tutored Algebra and worked at the YMCA in the Nursery. When Wendy decided to go back to work, she was hired as a Waiver Support Coordinator with Support Associates of Tampa Bay. She celebrated 10 years in August, 2019. She has worked as a Support Coordinator in the APD HCBS waiver as well as the ACF and TBSCI Waivers. Wendy has 2 grown children, her daughter is 19 and her son is 17. She loves to go fishing and is in a fishing club based in Apollo Beach, FL. Wendy participates in fishing tournaments and has placed in a few. Her favorite place to be is on a boat fishing whether in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic off the coast of New England.
Amelia: Amelia was born and raised in Dominican Republic. People always said I was a people person but I never knew what that was until I got my first job at a group home for kids with Aids. That’s when life itself started to make sense to me. I went to law school in Dominican Republic and served as a lawyer for some years. I worked at the UN in Haiti for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. I moved to Florida not too long ago where I decided to work as a Waiver Support Coordinator. I joined the Columbus Organization in February, 2019. I have 2 children and a great supporting husband that will never understand why I walked away from my law background.
Amy: Amy has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has a lifetime of experience working and living with persons with developmental disabilities. She has a variety of experience involving family support, case management, and program administration. She has worked in a variety of public and social service settings with diverse populations. Amy believes everyone is uniquely special and should have the opportunities to grow and pursue the life they imagine. Her resourceful and creative nature is a plus in helping others reach their goals.
Brian: Brian earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at FAMU. Brian has a variety of experience in case management and mental health services. Brian has devoted many volunteer hours to programs such as Red Cross, Farm Share, DJJ, Leon county health department and 211 Big Bend. Brian has a history of caring for clients with mental health issues and brings compassion and caring to HMS. Brian joined Habilitation Management Services in 2014.
Juli: Juli began working as a Support Coordinator with Habilitation Management Services in 2014. Prior to joining HMS, Juli worked with people with developmental disabilities in Illinois for 5 years as a QIDP at a Day Program, and for 10 years as a Support Coordinator. She has a degree in Philosophy, and graduate work in Communication Disorders. Juli has participated in numerous trainings over the years, with a special focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Juli also has past experience working with special needs children as a music and creative movement/dance teacher.
Karen: Karen has a degree in sociology and has over 20 years experience working with developmental disabilities. She has extensive experience with individuals with multiple disabilities and has worked in the ICF/DD setting. Karen sees herself as a strong advocate and is always able to see a person’s strengths and talents. She believes that strong family and community supports are important to all people including those with developmental disabilities. Karen has worked at Habilitation Management Services since 1996.
Karla: Karla has a variety of experience working with people in all stages of their lives. Karla has been working with people with developmental disabilities for many years now and finds her job very rewarding. Her love for people is obvious by her hard work and dedication to her consumers and their families. Karla’s positive outlook on life drives her relationships with those around her, encouraging them to want all that life has in store for them. She advocates strongly for people with developmental disabilities to receive the care they particularly need to experience life in its fullest capacity. Karla has worked for Habilitation Management Services for over 18 years.
Katie: Katie graduated from Florida State University where she obtained her Undergraduate degree in Social Sciences. Katie has a long history in her community of being a vigilant and effective advocate for a variety of vulnerable populations. Over the last 10 years Katie has been active in the field of Community Based Care and Case Management. Katie currently works as a Medicaid Waiver Support Coordinator. Katie assists individuals with disabilities, though a variety of services; including educating about resources available in the area; as well as promoting good health and wellbeing. Katie is passionate building community relationships and helping the individuals she works become more self-sufficient and progress as active members in their communities. Katie joined the HMS/Columbus team in October 2019.
Lisa: Lisa has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida A&M University. Lisa is driven to live with purpose and strives to help others achieve their goals and attain contentment. Lisa has years of experience ensuring the wellbeing of others. She has been an advocate for children and families as a Case Manager with Children’s Home Society. She also has years of experience working to protect the public as a Regulatory Specialist for the Florida Department of Health. Lisa enjoys living in this community and cherishes the natural beauty of the parks and greenways of Leon and surrounding counties. Lisa appreciates the importance of individual freedom of choice and self-determination. Lisa aims to help ensure that individuals feel safe, supported, and integrated in their communities. Lisa came to Habilitation Management Services in 2018.
Pat: Pat has a degree in education and has devoted over 25 years to teaching in public schools. She has also worked in an inpatient psychiatric program that specializes in individuals with developmental disabilities. In this program, Pat had the opportunity to work with individuals with cognitive challenges, autism, and other disabilities. Rearing her own child with disabilities, Pat understands the challenges and joys families face working with different agencies, people, and programs. Pat believes in the unique talents of every individual and the right to nourish that talent. Pat has worked at Habilitation Management Services for 14 years.
Shannon: Shannon graduated from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She has experience in case management and working with children and adults with disabilities in a variety of settings. Shannon believes in educating her consumers on life skills to help them live as independently as possible. Shannon also strongly believes in the importance of educating on responsibility and safety in the community. Shannon joined Habilitation Management Services in 2017.
Stacye: Stacye has a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and earned her Certification as a Rehabilitation Counselor. She worked for several years as a Rehabilitation Counselor assisting individuals with various disabilities to obtain employment or continue their education. She also worked as a Case Manager in a Domestic Violence Shelter. Stacye enjoys helping people and truly believes everyone has a right to pursue their dreams and enjoy life to the fullest. Stacye came to Habilitation Management Services in 2017.
Suzi: Suzi earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology from the University of Sunderland in the UK. Suzi has worked as a direct service provider and support coordinator in the UK and USA since 1994. Suzi has supported individuals with developmental disabilities in a variety of community settings and has extensive experience supporting persons with profound developmental disabilities and autism. Suzi has lived in the USA since 2007, but still retains her British accent, much to the amusement of others. Suzi joined Habilitation Management Services in 2017.
Tracy: Tracy has been a long time resident of Tallahassee, and she graduated from Florida State University in 1993 with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Tracy began working for the Department of Children and Families in 1994 as an Adoption Facilitator. Tracy worked for DCF for over 20 years and in that time she served clients with both developmental and physical disabilities and placed many children in forever homes. Tracy joined Habilitation Management Services in 2017. Her sparkling personality is appreciated by everyone.
Wanda: Wanda graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management with a minor in Psychology. She later graduated with a Master’s of Science in Theology from Covenant Bible College and Seminary in Tallahassee, Florida. She has worked for a number of years in social services with diverse population of families through Section 8 rental assistance program throughout the Florida Panhandle helping families acquire decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Wanda has also worked with families with developmental disabilities striving to maintain independent living by use of rental assistance and networking with resources in the community to help achieve that goal. She is passionate about individuals having a freedom of choice to live independently and have access to services to help them make an informed decision on life skills that enhance their quality of life. Wanda joined Habilitation Management Services in 2012.
Brandy: Prior to joining The Columbus Organization, Brandy was a Support Coordinator for Community Support Network for the past two years. Before that She was a Service Coordinator in Rochester New York. Brandy has a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Ottawa University. After earning her degree, she spent time working in behavior focused group homes before becoming a Support Coordinator.
Ranae: Ranae’s passion to advocate for others began when she was in Junior High School. After volunteering with the Special Olympics, she knew then that she could help change lives just by being supportive. After High School, she went straight into the work force. During the past 26 years, Ranae has worked as a direct care staff in an ICF and then became a supported employment coach for Richmond High School in Indiana. It became clear to Ranae that to be able to truly effect change, she herself needed to make changes. Ranae earned her Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Social Sciences in 2009 from Indiana University East. Later that same year, she moved to Florida where she started working as a Waiver Support Coordinator for Community Support Network, Inc. in early 2010. Ranae is a strong advocate for everyone she supports. She is committed to improving people’s lives so that they can reach their dreams while assuring health and safety are protected. Ranae looks forward to her partnership of advocacy with The Columbus Organization.
Jamiee: Jaimee has been working to improve resource coordination in Health and Human Services for over twenty years. Jamiee earned a B.S. in Public Administration and began her professional career as a Direct Supports Provider and later working her way up to an executive position as a Supportive Living Administrator. Jamiee is extremely passionate about advocating for equality and self-sufficiency through effective case management and strategic utilization of community resources. As an outspoken advocate with practical on-site-support, Jamiee is comfortable working in a variety of atmospheres, both as a team member and independent purveyor of the greater good of human services. Jaimee looks forward to joining a group of talented professionals, who, like herself want to make the world a better place.
Mark: Prior to joining The Columbus Organization, Mark was the Vice President of Community Support Network, Inc. where he had worked for nearly 27 years. Mark began his career at the age of 17 working in a variety of settings to support individuals with developmental challenges. Throughout his professional career, Mark has been dedicated to providing quality community-based supports and services, and he brings that experience forward each day. Having secured a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development, Mark’s professionalism, abilities as an administrator, as well as his extensive knowledge of statewide policies, are pivotal in our successful day-to-day operations.
Jennifer: Jenny graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Alfred University in Alfred, New York. Shortly after, she started a family and ran a daycare from my home named “Developmental Day Care”. I focused on curriculum supporting physical, social, and emotional growth of children ages 6 weeks to 7 years old. In 2001 Jenny went back to school to learn American Sign Language and incorporated sign into the daycare curriculum. In 2006 she began working at Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida, Inc. in Pasco County, FL. Jennifer worked with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) population to help them navigate public service systems, read mail, make phone calls and advocate for their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA. Additionally, she did program management of the Signing for Everyday Living program and the Deaf Literacy Program for our area. In 2012 she became employed at Disability Achievement Center in Largo, FL, and enjoyed helping with disabilities in Pasco County, and the DHH in Pinellas County, to achieve independence. Jenny spent the last 3 years in the frozen north in Cincinnati, Ohio where she worked for Talbert House in the Youth Behavioral Program as a Wraparound Facilitator. At Talbert House she helped families with a child that had a mental health diagnosis to coordinate services and improve communication between all services and natural supports in the child’s life. She came back to Florida, it was too cold and grey up north, in July of 2019 and currently works as a Waiver Support Coordinator.
Cathy: Cathy brings 40 years of experience in human services supporting families and people living with disabilities across the life span, including IDD and dementia. Her experiences as an educator, administrator, program development specialist and social worker have focused on creating and advocating for quality of life for people living with disabilities.
Dani: Dani has a bachelors degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an accredited focus on Family Services. Before living in Florida, Dani has lived in Illinois as a teacher assistant working in a special needs classroom and coaching high school competitive cheerleading. Dani and her husband moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 2015 where Dani was a Community Coordination Specialist for the Department of Health and Human Services – Developmental Disabilities division. Dani is also a yellow belt in Lean Six Sigma. While in Nebraska, Dani also coached various all-star competitive cheerleading teams along with assisting the Cheer-Abilities program for her gym. In July 2018, Dani and her husband moved to Florida where Dani began her journey as a support coordinator for Community Support Network. In December 2018, Dani and her husband got married in Illinois and are expecting their first child in September 2020. Dani is excited to begin her journey with The Columbus Organization and continuing to serve the Suncoast region of Florida.
Toni: Toni was born and raised in Pinellas County. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree. Toni has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities and children and family services for over twenty years as a case manager and supervisor. She is compassionate about working with others and helping them problem solve and reach their goals. Toni is dedicated to working and supporting those with disabilities to ensure their health and safety while advocating for them to be able to live their lives to their full potential.
Amy: Before becoming a Waiver Support Coordinator in FL, Amy gained a wide range of experience in different capacities with individuals with developmental disabilities. Beginning in Ohio in 1993 Amy began a part time job as a personal support staff and found herself in a new career that has carried her to the present. Amy has worked in a variety of positions from a personal support provider, habilitation specialist, program director for a supported living provider and eventually support coordination in Ohio and FL along with experience as a Substitute Teacher and DCF Adult Services Coordinator. This gives Amy the perspective of the different services and the quality each position can bring to the individuals we serve. Listening to and connecting with individuals and families to learn the supports needed for the individual to thrive is a passion. Finding what works and the pieces that go together to increase the success of the individual is the ultimate goal in every case. Amy is a graduate of Houghton College and The Ohio State University achieving a Master of Music degree and enjoys playing her oboe and violin in various community groups in the area in her spare time.
Jennifer: Jennifer graduated from Ohio University with a BA in Psychology and an associate degree in Applied Science. Through-out her career she has worked as a teacher and a case manager to a variety of different populations. She is married; And they are proud parents of four adult children; their eldest son was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality called Unique Syndrome. Due to her personal experience with getting and receiving supportive services for her son she became an advocate for developmentally disabled individuals. Jennifer has been employed for ten years in Florida as a Med-Waiver Support Coordinator. She has a tremendous amount of personal and professional experience with individuals receiving Med Waiver services. Jennifer describes herself as an exceptional advocate who cares to see an individual’s success by ensuring medically necessary services are delivered in an efficient and professional manner. When she is off work you will likely see her gardening, paddle boarding, surfing, biking, running or at the gym. She is a pet enthusiast and has two large dogs and three cats. She takes her vacation time very seriously; She loves to travel, particularly out of the USA!
Theresa: Prior to joining The Columbus Organization, Theresa was a Support Coordinator and Consumer Direct Care Plus (CDC+) Consultant of Community Support Network, Inc. where she had worked for nearly 14 years. Theresa was hired in April 2016 as a Support Coordinator of Community Support Network. From July 2018 to June 2019, Theresa worked for Louise Graham Regeneration Center, Adult Day Program as a Program Manager. Theresa was rehired with Community Support Network in July 2019. Theresa began her career in 1995-2001 volunteering in a variety of settings to support individuals with developmental/intellectual challenges. Theresa worked in the field starting as a Direct Care Provider from 2002-2006, working as a Supported Living Coach, Companion, Behavioral Assistance, and Live-in staff. Throughout her professional career, Theresa has provided quality community-based supports and services, and she brings that experience forward each day. Having secured an Bachelors degree in Psychology, and Associates of Science, Early Childhood Development, in addition, completing an Associates of Science, Opticianry, and obtaining a Florida state license as a Licensed Optician. Theresa’s professionalism, abilities as a support coordinator, as well as her extensive knowledge of policy and procedures according to the Florida state guidelines, are important in her successful day-to-day functions.
Kathy: Prior to joining The Columbus Organization, Kathy was a Med Waiver Support Coordinator for Community Support Network, Inc. where she he had worked for nearly 6 ½ years. Kathy began her career as a Probation Counselor working with misdemeanor offenders. Kathy subsequently moved on to the become a Forensic Case Manager with a Community Mental Health provider designated by the court to provide advocacy and sentencing recommendations for defendants adjudicated Incompetent to Proceed to Trial or Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. Throughout her professional career, Kathy has served the community by coordinating community resources for referrals and providing the resources for positive outcomes. Kathy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Kathy is professional, resourceful and has a diverse background in social work and the judicial system.
Jolene: Jolene graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While in college, Jolene began supporting individuals with disabilities in community settings and knew that this is what she wanted to do! For the past 26 years, Jolene has dedicated her professional life in a variety of different positions that included direct management of residential, day and employment programs, implementing and conducting quality assurance measures and providing proficiency-based training. In all of the past held positions, Jolene’s main focus centered around assisting the individuals to achieve the highest quality of life. After Jolene moved to Florida, she connected with Community Support Network in 2015 and became a Waiver Support Coordinator prior to joining The Columbus Organization. She looks forward to continuing to make a positive impact on the lives of those with different abilities.
Joi: Joi holds a bachelor of Arts Degree from the Missouri State University Department of Theater and History. Shortly after graduating from college she moved to South Korea where she worked as a Kindergarten teacher and Middle School history instructor for four years. In 2000 she began her journey fighting for individuals with special needs at the ARK of the Ozarks in Springfield, MO. She has worked with individual’s with Intellectual Disabilities in a variety of settings. In 2016 Joi moved to Florida to continue to work in the field of Case Management. She has a passion for working with people with special needs, a desire to give the individuals and their families the resources to live independent and successful lives, and the knowledge of how they can advocate for themselves more effectively.
Robin: Robin has a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services and over 20 years of experience providing intervention and case management services for at risk and special needs populations in the South Georgia and North Florida area. Her work experiences range from working as a Case Management Director and Certified Vocational Evaluator with Easter Seal of North Florida, to a Certified Fraud Examiner in the HCBS Medicaid Waiver division at AHCA. She has a 26-year-old son and enjoys gardening. Robin believes that it is important to focus on a person’s abilities and everyone should be given the opportunity to lead life to the fullest.
Jessica (Support Coordination Supervisor): Jessica was born in Chicago Illinois and moved to Florida in 1991. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida receiving her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Gerontology. Jessica has over 25 year of experience working with individuals with disabilities. Jessica is committed to being a strong advocate and leader for her staff and the people she works for. Prior to joining the Columbus Organization, Jessica was the Supervisor of Community Support Network where she has worked for nearly 21 years. Jessica has developed many professional relationships through the years and is excited to be part of the Columbus Organization.
Cheryl: Cheryl received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Southeast Missouri State University in 2006. Cheryl began her educational career as an elementary education major, but after landing her first job working with the developmentally disabled population as a direct support professional in 2002, she fell in love with the mission of improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. This resulted in a change in her educational path and sparked the beginning of a lifelong dedication to ensure these individuals are treated with dignity and respect. Cheryl has worked with other populations, such as those with co-occurring disorders as a Care Coordinator and counselor, but her passion to help the individuals we serve today, always led her back. Cheryl considers herself a person with compassion, patience and one that has a love for seeing all people live their lives to their fullest potential, and in a manner of which they choose that is healthy and safe. Cheryl has worked as a Support Coordinator in Missouri, Louisiana and now the lovely and sunny state of Florida.
Carolyn: Carolyn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social and Behavioral Science and has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities and other diagnoses for over 30 years. Her work has been directly with individuals residing in group homes and apartments as well as doing support coordination with people in a wide variety of living settings. She has experience working with individuals in Maine, New York and Florida. In her spare time, Carolyn loves to go to Walt Disney World, read Stephen King and listen to music.
Dominique: Dominique graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 2016. In May of that year she began working as an Office Clerk for a Case Management company. Within four years she advanced to an Administrative Assistant. Dominique spends her days assisting the Coordinators in her office with various activities that aid them in the support of their individuals. She is experienced in handling office duties and she is proficient in multiple computer programs, multiline phones, and fax and copy machines. She is efficient, hardworking and always willing to lend a hand.
John: John first began working with individuals with developmental disabilities when taking a Special Education class his Senior year at Stetson University. He went on to teach French and English in a parochial school, but he felt the calling to work with this population. John has been a Support Coordinator for individuals with Developmental Disabilities in Florida for over 24 years. As one of the most experienced Support Coordinators in the State of Florida, John has strived to help the individuals he serves to live quality lives and is a strong advocate for them and their families.
Chiquitta (Regional Director): Chiquitta has Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Business Administration and has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities since 2005. Prior to joining The Columbus Organization, she worked for Rendon Support Services, Inc. as the agency supervisor. Her philosophy and mission are helping others to achieve their goals based on their definition of independence.
Ruth Anne: Ruth Anne has a bachelor’s degree in Business Admin. and has been working as a WSC for 6 years I Lee and Charlotte counties. She has 18 years’ experience in Montessori education and prior to that was a Medical Assistant in a large internal medicine practice. Ruth Anne loves working with people and assisting her consumers in finding ways to improve their lives and find meaning for them. She also loves fighting for their budgets and ensuring that they have the resources available to support their needs.
Adriann: Adriann graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Arts (Double Major) degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and Anthropology. In addition, she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Master of Arts degree in Physical Anthropology. Adriann moved from Ohio to Florida ten years ago. Shortly after moving to Florida, she began her career in Florida working with a diverse population in a variety of capacities. She was an Educator for students with various developmental disabilities in both the public and private sectors for several years. Afterwards, she became a Life Skills Instructor and Job Coach for a non-profit organization. Prior to joining the Columbus team in July 2020 as a Support Coordinator, Adriann worked with Rendon Support Services for three years as a Support Coordinator for the Suncoast Region. She is excited to continue her career as a Support Coordinator with Columbus Medical Services. Adriann is passionate about helping persons with developmental disabilities reach their goals and dreams as well as living a meaningful, safe, and healthy life. In her spare time, Adriann enjoys spending time with her family and playing in weekend Poker Tournaments.
Melissa: Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in exceptional education specializing in specific learning disabilities. She has utilized her years of training and study for the betterment of her community. As a leading member of her local St. Vincent De Paul society she continues to serve her community in every facet of her life. Melissa has four beautiful daughters who she has shepherded through their own educational and vocational journeys. Melissa’s benevolence, leadership and lifetime of experience lends itself to her natural abilities making her uniquely qualified as a coordinator for her clients.
Guy: Guy has been working as a waiver support coordinator for just over three years, having spent the prior fifteen in education and leadership positions. He earned a Master’s in Latin from University of Florida in 2002, and taught a wide variety of individuals of all ages. From both his education and his own personal familial experience over many years, Guy has come to realize the importance of worthwhile support and interaction for all individuals, the difficulties presented by aging, and doing the utmost to provide them with meaningful and dignified personal care. Guy and Kelly, his wife of 23 years, live in Riverview, Florida and he has enjoyed amateur astronomy as his hobby for over two decades.
Larry: Larry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from Eckerd College. He is a veteran of the United Stated Air Force with 5 years active duty and an Honorable Discharge. Larry has also served as a missionary for 5 years with Youth With a Mission in the United States and several countries including Mexico, Chile, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. He has been in Human Services for 0ver 20 years including the roles of teacher in Eastern Europe, Coordinator of the Deaf Program at a residential psychiatric treatment facility for children and adolescents, and has been a Waiver Support Coordinator for over 15 years serving individuals who live with a developmental disability. Larry believes all persons can contribute to a better society and that each person should be given the opportunity to live to his/her life to a maximum potential.
Marlena:Marlena has a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Services Administration. She has been working with our most vulnerable population since 2011. She has worked closely with individuals diagnosed with Dementia and then transitioned to Support Coordination to work with individuals who are developmentally disabled. Marlena builds special bonds with individuals, families, and providers and uses her compassionate heart to ensure the wants and needs of individuals are achieved. She is an advocate for safe, healthy, and meaningful life for those she serves.
Lynn: Lynn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and has been an advocate for persons with developmental, physical, behavioral and mental healthdisabilities for over 30 years both personally and professionally. She has a variety of experience involving family support, case management, and mental health therapy. She has worked in a variety of public and social service settings with diverse populations. Lynn believes everyone is uniquely special and should have the opportunities to live, work and play in their community and enjoy the right to choose where and how they will do so. Her knowledge of local, state and national resources and passion for the rights of others is a plus in helping others reach their goals.
Tammy: Tammy received her M.S Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2015 along with her Certified Nursing Certificate in 1993. As a CNA Tammy has 13 years of experience in Nursing Homes and 11 years in hospitals. While working in the hospital she was stationed in the trauma unit or the ICU. Tammy worked at Park Royal Behavioral Hospital as a Clinician, Directions for Living in the Family Works program, and as a Counselor at Caring Community. Tammy has worked with all population and ages from all walks of live. She has a passion for helping others to be the best version of themselves and live their live to the fullest.
Jessie Joy: My career journey has been a life-long commitment to focus on the needs and rights of people and promote positive family dynamics within our culturally diverse population. I graduated from Eckerd College in 2002 with a BA in Human Development. The next 16 years was focused and dedicated to children in protective services with Devereux andhigh risk youth with Success for Kids. During this time, I was involved in extensive dependency court legal proceedings. In 2016, I became a Waiver Support Coordinator (WSC) in Pensacola, Florida. Upon moving back to Clearwater, Florida in 2018, I became a WSC with Rendon Support Services until July 1, 2020, whereupon, I joined the Columbus Organization to continue to work with Persons with Disabilities. Continuing to work, I still remain committed to the needs and rights within our culturally diverse population focusing on our special persons with disabilities. It is a needed service and their smiles touch your soul and that is a very good thing!
Julia: Julia has worked withindividuals with intellectual and physical disabilities for over 40 years with a varied spectrum of experience in family support, mental health, case management, homeless and inmate populations and with program administration of a residential housing program. Past community affiliations have included serving on the GA Governor’s Council on DD, serving as the GA Family Voices State Coordinator, member of the St. Pete Police Road Patrol, Order of the Eastern Star, graduate from the GA Partner’s in Policymaking program and GA Advocate of the Year for multiple years. Julia is currently a member of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Alumni Program, A Rotarian with the City of Seminole FL Club, owner of a company named Andrew Rocks, facilitator for a suicide loss survivor group and FL Chapter Director of Suncoast Yellow Ribbon, a training non-profit for suicide awareness, education and prevention.
Jenna: I am from San Antonio, Texas, and graduated in 1998 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Sociology from The University of the Incarnate Word. I began teaching Special Education in 1998 and received my lifetime certification to teach Special Education in 1999. I was awarded a full scholarship to Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, and graduated in 2006 with my M.Ed in Educational Psychology with the focus on Low-Incidence Disabilities and Transition Services. I taught for 14 years in Texas, primarily in Life Skills, working with many students having profound learning and physical disabilities. I relocated to Fort Myers, FL in 2016 and taught in Special Education for 3 years before deciding to create an alternative path while remaining in the field of helping others. I was blessed to come on board with The Columbus Organization in August of 2020, and I look forward to helping others find their strength, independence, love of life, and anything that helps them to feel like a productive member of their community while learning and developing the skills of self-advocacy. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my exciting, non-boring, and extremely supportive husband, Tayo, and our 5 kids in this journey through life, while being tethered to my pup, Norman.
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