Our Team

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Tammy Gustafon

Tammy Gustafson, President

Gustafson graduated from the Ohio State University and began her career in Marketing and Sales as an account executive for a local FOX affiliate in Columbus, Ohio. After moving to Orlando in 1995, she spent three years in related Marketing and Sales roles as an account executive for a UPN broadcast affiliate and managed major publicity accounts for Gilbert and Manjura Marketing, including St. Johns County, Florida, Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Gustafson is currently an Executive with Universal Parks and Resorts and is responsible for Sales Integration across the global sales divisions and works with International teams located in Latin America and the UK. She joined Universal Orlando in September of 1997 as part of the Universal Studios Marketing team and was responsible for building the Universal Studios Florida brand on a global basis- growing to three theme parks, a night-time entertainment complex and eight onsite resorts.

Appointed by the Governor’s office to the Florida Commission on Tourism, Gustafson served as President of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors from 2014-15 and has been on the board since 2005. She currently serves on the Florida Council of Tourism Leaders. She has also served on the board for the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce/Osceola Resort Area Council and served as a Past President and Treasurer of the Florida State Parks Foundation.

Gustafson brings years of experience and extensive travel industry knowledge to these organizations and has been a part of Leadership Florida, Leadership Orlando, the Greater Orlando Sports Commission and the Central Florida Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

“Throughout its history, the Florida Parks greatest strength has been its volunteers. I am honored to be asked to serve in this capacity,” said Tammy Gustafson, Board of Directors. “The best and brightest minds are coming together to help guide and preserve the Real Florida. Its an exciting time for the Foundation as we work toward the Strategic Goals for the coming year.”

Kathleen Brennan, President-Elect

Kathleen Brennan has a long history of volunteer work for non-profits in a variety of areas. Currently, she is a member of the Florida Urban Forestry Council Executive Committee. She is also a Founder and immediate Past President of the Oasis Center for Women and Girls in Tallahassee. Kathleen held many leadership positions with the GFWC Tallahassee Junior Woman’s Club culminating in President.

She was elected the President of her Leadership Tallahassee class, and is the former Chair of the LT Board of Governors. Under her leadership, lifetime membership tripled. She served as President of her local American Heart Association, as well as Secretary-Treasurer of the statewide Florida-Puerto Rico American Heart Association, establishing a matching program for their Boggy Creek Camp which resulted in full funding for three years.

Kathleen owned a graphic design company in Tampa before going to Florida State’s College of Law where she was an Associate Editor of Law Review and a Design Editor for the Journal of Progressive Legal Thought, graduating in the top 15% of her class.

Three weeks after taking the Florida Bar, she gave birth to the first of her four children. Her husband of 31 years, Claude Hendon, is a Staff Director at the Florida Senate. They both enjoy playing tennis together. Kathleen serves as the B League Coordinator in the North Florida-Georgia Tennis League, serving on its Executive Committee, as well as the captain of two USTA tennis teams.

Emily Lewis

Emily Lewis, Secretary

Emily Lewis joined the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners in 2006 and currently works in Administration as the Deputy County Administrator. Emily is a diligent advocate for the interests of Charlotte County.

Prior to joining Charlotte County, Ms. Lewis worked as a Human Resources executive for a Fortune 500 company and as the Director of the Educator Preparation Institute for Edison State College, now Florida Southwestern State College. She received a Sterling Award for her role in developing the college’s first post-baccalaureate program to provide teacher certification programs and working with the Florida Department of Education to ascertain the necessary approvals. It was this work that inspired her love for public service.

Emily holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Florida and a Master’s in Public Administration from Hodges University. She has been recognized as one of Gulfshore Business Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 in Southwest Florida. Emily is currently an affiliate member of both the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) and the Florida City County Manager’s Association (FCCMA) and serves on FCCMA’s legislative committee. She is also a graduate of the Emerging Leaders program through ICMA.

Emily is a fourth-generation Floridian and currently lives in Punta Gorda, Florida with her husband and three children. As a native Floridian, many of Emily’s fondest childhood memories include time she spent with family and friends at Blackwater River State Park. She and her husband are committed to passing on their love and appreciation for the outdoors to their children and they enjoy vacationing in many of Florida’s State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas.

Audine Finnerty

Audrine Finnerty, Treasurer

Originally from the Washington, DC area, Audrine Piasecki Finnerty moved to Tallahassee from Ohio in 2009 to be closer to her late parents (Ronald and Angret Piasecki). In Ohio, Audrine was on the board of several non-profit organizations, including a grassroots watershed group that evolved into a major Ohio land conservancy.

Audrine’s passion for the environment and state parks began early, first as a young child visiting parks around the country, later as a law clerk for the National Park Service in Washington, DC, and finally as a volunteer in local environmental organizations.

Audrine has been on the board of the Friends of Wakulla Spring since 2011 and served in the position of secretary for four years. Since her arrival in Florida, Audrine has worked managing and monitoring federal grants for the Florida Department of Community Affairs, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and Florida Department of Education. She has traveled extensively throughout the state and enjoys visiting local state parks during her trips.

Audrine is following in her father’s passionate footsteps to protect Florida’s state parks and support the state park Citizen Support Organizations who do so much to protect our unique and special places.

Gil Ziffer

Gil Ziffer, Immediate Past President

Gil has been a Tallahassee resident since 1983, and owns Ziffer Stansberry Communications, a marketing/public relations company he started in 1990.

After many years in the private sector, he joined the Tallahassee City Commission in 2009 and served for 9 years. Gil has a solid history of assuming an active leadership role with a diverse range of issues and projects throughout Florida.

Closest to his heart is the work he does for those in need. Much of his focus has been to develop and implement solutions for the Tallahassee area homeless, increased efforts for early childhood learning, housing for those with limited cognitive or physical disabilities and a greater awareness of the needs for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Gil is a Past President of the Florida League of Cities and served on the National League of Cities Board of Directors in his capacity as the Chair of the National League of Cities, Human Development Federal Advocacy Committee.

Born February 12, 1957, he is one of five children and grew up in Winter Park, Florida. He graduated in 1975 from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs. He continued his education at the University of Florida. He and his wife, Gail Stansberry- Ziffer, married since 1990, have two sons and six grandchildren.

Board Members

Dr. Dale A. Brill

Dr. Dale A Brill

Dr. Dale Brill serves as Orlando Economic Partnership’s Senior Vice President of Research and the Foundation for Orlando’s Future. “The Partnership” serves as Central Florida’s catalyst driving economic growth and broad-based prosperity. Dale’s background includes executive positions in the private, public, and independent sectors.

His recent consulting work as founder and principal of Thinkspot focused on intergenerational poverty and economic development reform. Previously, he served as president of the Florida Chamber Foundation, the public policy research and development arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. In public service, Dale served as the Director of the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development in Florida. His marketing experience includes tenure as Chief Marketing Officer for VISIT FLORIDA, during which the Sunshine State’s tourism marketing corporation earned the “Atlas Award for Best Destination Branding” from the Association of Travel Marketing Executives. He also served as General Motor’s first Dean of e-Commerce and as a Global Business Leader for General Motors-Europe.

Dale has been recognized by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds and selected among the inaugural class of Fast Company Magazine’s “Fast 50 Innovators.”

Dale and his wife, Stephanie, are doting parents of two and devoted Chicago Cubs fans.

Derek Bruce

Derek Bruce

Derek Bruce is the Managing Shareholder of the Orlando Office of the Gunster law firm. With over twenty years’ experience in the practice of law, Derek primarily represents clients before state and local governments throughout the state of Florida on land use, procurement and administrative or regulatory issues.

No stranger to community involvement, Derek previously served on the Orange County Board of Zoning Adjustment; Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission; Chairman of the Orange County Redistricting Advisory Committee; and as a member of Gov. Rick Scott’s Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection.

He has also served on the boards of numerous statewide and local community organizations, including Leadership Florida; Central Florida Foundation; African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida; and the Randy Roberts Foundation. Derek also had the privilege of serving as President of the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida and Chair of Business Force, an independent, nonpartisan organization composed of business and community leaders across Central Florida.

Derek is a graduate of the University of Florida and currently sits on the University of Florida’s Law Center Association.

Matt Caldwell

Matt Caldwell

Matt Caldwell is a 7th generation Florida native whose family came to Micanopy in 1826. In his private life, Matt enjoys the outdoor lifestyle that Florida offers: fishing, golfing, kayaking, hunting, and camping, to name a few. He is a deacon in his local church and spends time focused on his small timber and cattle business.

After attending local schools in Lee County, Matt received his Associates Degree from Edison College and his Bachelor of Arts in History from Florida Gulf Coast University. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Geomatics from the University of Florida.

While an undergraduate he began his career as a real estate appraiser, ultimately joining the firm of Maxwell, Hendry, Simmons in 2004, where he remains of counsel. He has attained the highest state certification in his field and is qualified as an expert witness in multiple states and federal court.

From 2019-2020, Matt was also a partner at TM Strategic Consulting, focused on political consulting, where he remains of counsel, as well.

Outside of serving in elected office, Matt volunteered for appointment to various governmental committees regarding financial oversight, audits, Everglades restoration, land use and transportation, as well as the constitutional review of the Lee County Charter in 2008, the OPPAGA Local Government Efficiency Task Force in 2021 and is a current board member and past chairman of the FGCU Center for Agribusiness Advisory Committee.

Matt was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2010-2018, serving on and chairing several committees including: tax policy, redistricting, insurance & banking, agriculture & natural resources/public lands, transportation & infrastructure, local, federal, & military affairs, and oversight of government operations, such as pensions & elections. He is proud to have sponsored, and have the Governor sign into law, dozens of bills, including those related to agriculture, natural resources, public safety, cannabis reform, medical care, criminal justice reform, pensions and term limits, among others. He also served on the Board of the Assembly of State Legislatures, a national organization focused on the implications of Article V of the US Constitution. In 2018, Matt was the Republican nominee for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

In 2020, Matt was elected to serve as the Lee County Property Appraiser, the office he currently holds.

Lynn Cherry

Lynn has been a small business owner for 17 years. As President of Carpe Diem Community Solutions, Lynn has served as public information officer, trainer, program developer, and leader. Her extensive community-based experience in training, moderating and facilitating group discussion encompasses focus groups, board retreats, strategic long-range planning, visioning, and community forums.

Lynn has a solid track record and the unique ability to plan and implement appropriate public awareness tools and involvement experiences. She creates public engagement and awareness strategies that focus on and garner community approval. Flexible methodologies are adapted to meet the needs of the community and the site. Lynn has received numerous awards from local and state organizations for her leadership in community-based programs. What began as a Girl Scout, Lynn now has a passion for Florida State Parks. In 1995, she led the state acquisition process to acquire and support the development of Camp Helen State Park in Bay County, Florida. These efforts lead to the first in the nation partnership between a state park and a community college. Lynn is the recipient of The Nature Conservancy Florida Chapter Grassroots Leader, Bay County Audubon Society Conservationist of the Year, Florida Parks Citizen Support Organization of the Year, and the Florida Parks Best in the District awards. Additionally, Lynn has served in a leadership capacity, including president, and major donor of the Friends of Camp Helen State Park for over ten years. Lynn recently was awarded the first-ever emeritus award from the Friends of Camp Helen State Park for her 25 years of servant leadership style volunteerism at the park.

Lynn also pioneered and created the first partnership between the Kettering Foundation and a community college. Subsequently, she served as director of the Kettering Foundation’s Public Policy Institute. Lynn created and directed the Kellogg Foundation’s national award winning Citizen Leadership Institute, a statewide citizen-based leadership training program. Lynn is an accomplished trainer in moderating, leadership, strategic planning, visioning, and community development. She is certified by the National Charrette Institute as a charrette facilitator. Lynn has a Master’s Degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Auburn University.

Paula Dockery

After a successful 16 years in the Florida legislature, Paula Dockery is now a popular syndicated columnist. Her weekly political insights appear in a growing number of Florida newspapers. Her blunt, honest and informed columns stand out in the crowded field of political commentary.

She’s earned a reputation as one of Florida’s leading public truth-tellers, unafraid to challenge powerful people or lazy conventional wisdom.

Dockery’s first foray into political commentary was writing a weekly column for Florida Voices, an online editorial page, chronicling her final year in the Florida Senate. When her term ended in November 2012, she continued writing at the request of many of the papers that were publishing her “inside the legislature” look at politics and political players. Dockery’s approach to writing echoes her distinguished legislative career. Elected to the Florida Senate in 2002, Dockery served 10 years and held numerous leadership positions including two stints as Senate Majority Whip, Chair of the Law Enforcement Council; the Environmental Protection Committee; the Criminal Justice Committee and the Home Defense and Seaport Security Committee.

Dockery was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1996 as the first Republican to serve that district. In her six years in the House she served as House Majority Whip, Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, and Chair of the General Government Appropriations.

Richard Goldman

Richard Goldman

Richard Goldman is the President & CEO of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB), a Destinations International accredited organization, where he is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the area’s success as a popular tourism and meetings destination.

Under his leadership, the Bureau advanced advertising and marketing programs, including a rebranding, which drove significant measurable tourism growth across all lodging metrics and Bed Tax collections.

Prior to joining the VCB in 2009, Richard served as the senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Amelia Island Plantation where he managed a 13- member in-house advertising and marketing operation. A past chairman of VISIT FLORIDA’s Board of Directors and with company executives, Richard facilitated the reorganization of VISIT FLORIDA into a more streamlined marketing company. He continues to serve on VISIT FLORIDA’S Global Media Committee and Council of Tourism Leaders made up of past chairmen of the Florida Commission on Tourism. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Florida State Parks, Northeast Florida Hotel & Lodging Association and Jacksonville SKAL Club (an international tourism organization). He also serves on the board of and is a past chair of Florida’s First Coast of Golf, a regional destination marketing organization.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Richard started his career at Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency in New York and spent 17 years working for Ryder & Schild Advertising in Miami, including 10 years as the firm’s vice president for marketing and research. With a passion for metrics, Goldman brings a focus on accountability to marketing tourism.

Richard is a second-generation native of Florida, his wife Sharon, an artist and author, live in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with their three daughters. Their eldest daughter is in law school and their twins are students, one at University of Florida the other at Georgia Tech.

Robert Larkin

Robert E. Larkin, III has practiced labor and employment law exclusively since 1996. In 2003 he was certified by the Florida Bar as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law and has held that designation since. Robert is a partner with Allen, Norton & Blue, P.A., the largest labor and employment law firm representing management and devoted solely to Florida.

He received his Juris Doctorate degree cum laude, from Tulane School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana and both, his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Florida State University. He is a shareholder with Allen, Norton & Blue, P.A., and resides in Tallahassee, Florida, where he represents a variety of corporate and governmental clients, including the Office of the Governor and the State Attorney General in matters pertaining to labor and employment law.

Robert is a member of the Florida and Louisiana State Bars and is certified by the Florida Bar as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law. He is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubbell which denotes the highest level of professional excellence as determined by a lawyer’s peers. In 2007, he was recognized by the Florida Trend magazine as a Legal Elite Attorney in Florida specializing in Labor and Employment Law and has held that designation since.

He is a distinguished lecturer on a variety of Labor and Employment matters, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Public Employees Relations Act, and State and Federal Discrimination Laws. Robert also conducts supervisor training and human resource audits as part of his employment litigation and labor practice.

Ryan Matthews

Ryan Matthews

Ryan is a shareholder at GrayRobinson with an in-depth knowledge of the function and operation of local governments, municipal utilities, and Florida’s regulatory and permitting processes, Ryan concentrates his practice on environmental, land use, and local government issues. He is a recognized expert in environmental policy concerning natural resources and water supply.

Prior to joining the private sector, Ryan served as the Interim Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under the Rick Scott Administration, where he oversaw 3,000 employees and a $1.6 billion budget to protect Florida’s natural resources. During his time at DEP, he also served as Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs, where he oversaw the air, water, and waste divisions, as well as director of the Office of Water Policy, where he led the coordination and implementation of Florida’s statewide water policy. Ryan also served in the general counsel and legislative affairs offices of the Florida League of Cities.

Liza McFadden

Liza McFadden

Liza McFadden is an entrepreneurial-minded leader with 20+ years of achievement in designing strategy to achieve vision. Liza’s portfolio of work includes having served as the CEO of four foundations, managing a public relations firm, advising key leaders in government, and serving on a public board.

She is president of Liza and Partners which provides advisory services to philanthropists. Her background includes 20-plus years serving as the chief executive officer of foundations, most recently as the president of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. During her tenure, she transitioned the foundation from a traditional grant-making entity to the single largest provider in the United States of literacy services to low-literate adults.

A former advisor to Governor Jeb Bush, Liza provided counsel on policy and program issues in education, and community and faith-based issues.

A lifelong advocate for education for all, Liza is a board member of K12, a publicly-traded education management organization that provides online education for public school students. She also serves on the national board of Reading Partners and the advisory board of Foundations, Inc.

In her hometown, Liza is recognized as one of the “25 Women You Need to Know” and a “Women Who Mean Business Award/Service” by Tallahassee Woman Magazine.

For her long-time advocacy of families and volunteer efforts, she has received numerous awards including recognition by Florida Veteran’s Affairs, Governor’s Award, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Leadership Award, Take Stock in Children’s Champion of Children’s Award, Adult and Community Education Award Winner, Florida Commission on Community Service’s Apple Award, Department of Education’s Leadership Award, and Tax Watch’s Davis Productivity Distinguished Individual Award Winner.

A longtime advocate for the state parks, Liza previously served on the Friends of Florida State Parks Board. She’s pleased to share that both of her university-aged children are seeking degrees to support the environment.

Tom Pennekamp

Tom Pennekamp serves as Senior Vice President, Government Relations for Truist Financial Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for the enhancement and protection of the bank’s interest in state legislative and regulatory matters.

Tom began his banking career in 1987 after serving as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army. He joined SunTrust, now Truist, in November 1996, and has served in this Government Relations position since 2000 and was City President from October 2007 to October 2020.

Tom serves on the Florida Bankers Association’s Government Relations Council and Political Action Committee, the Florida Chamber Political Institute Advisory Council, the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors and Past President and current board member of the Florida State Parks Foundation. He has served on the Boards of the United Way of the Big Bend, the Florida Bankers Association, Communities in Schools of Leon County, Woodland Hall Academy and the Make a Wish Foundation of South Florida.

Tom graduated from Florida State University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. He and his wife Jana have two children and live in Tallahassee.

José C Romano

José C Romano

Mr. Romano is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Medical Center at Ocean Reef (MCOR). As such, Jose’s role is to provide leadership in the development, implementation, and oversight of standards, systems, policies, and procedures in alignment with the organizations strategic initiatives.

As COO, Jose is responsible for all departments of the Medical Center including Front Desk Registration, Physical Therapy, Primary Care, nursing, lab, diagnostics and visiting specialists. As COO, he is also actively involved in the strategic analysis of service line expansion and financial planning.

Prior to his role as COO, Jose served as AVP of Business & Government/Community Relations. Jose was responsible for over 250 of Baptist Health South Florida’s community partnerships. He also worked closely with the Corporate VP of Government Relations advocating on behalf of BHSF at the local and state level. Under his leadership, BHSF Corporate Relations launched the Healthcare at Work on-site clinic solution along with the Pineapple Rewards affinity program that rewards participation in corporate and employee wellness.

Jose is an experienced executive with a successful track record in developing go-to-market strategies for companies in a wide range of industries. He has experience in general management roles as well as functional expertise in marketing, market and financial analysis, corporate communications, business development, fundraising and strategic planning.

Prior to joining Baptist, Jose was the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Digital Signergy, a company that provides turnkey solutions for digital signage networks in targeted environments throughout the US and Latin America. Jose has also served as the Sales & Marketing Director at Sharp Electronics Latin America Group. Prior to Sharp, José held a number of marketing and sales positions at Miami-based companies, including GDA, S.A., The Miami Herald and Ryder System, Inc.

Jose has his MBA in Marketing from the University of Texas and an International Finance degree from Georgetown University. Jose serves on various community Boards, including The Zoo Miami Foundation as Chairman and the Orange Bowl Committee as President and Chairman and will preside over the 2019-2020 Festival. He is a Trustee Member of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and is Chairman of the Sports Committee. In addition, he was named to the CNC Board of Advisors and future Chair of the American Heart Association for Miami-Dade and Broward. Jose is happily married to Joanna and they have three children ranging from 13 to 3 years old. Jose spends his free time with family and friends enjoying the outdoors; mostly fishing, mountain biking, camping and playing sports.

Wendy Spencer

Wendy Spencer

Wendy Spencer serves as the President and CEO of Leadership Florida assuming her duties on March 1, 2017. Leadership Florida is celebrating its 37th year of convening Florida’s top leaders to enhance and recharge their leadership skills, and to educate and inspire them to work towards a better Florida.

She recently completed a five year term as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This federal agency role was a nomination by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. CNCS is a $1.1 billion agency which invests an additional $1.26 billion in matching local support to annually engage 345,000 Americans in service through AmeriCorps, VISTA, Senior Corps in local service to communities. The agency also supports community organizations through their Social Innovation Fund. The agency’s investments are made locally in all 50 states, D.C. and the U.S. territories.

Wendy has a proven track record of 36 years in administration, volunteer management, fundraising, disaster response and recovery work, marketing, legislative, and environmental work. She has worked in or closely with these sectors: corporate, industry, small business, nonprofit, faith organizations, and local, state and federal government. She has given over 1,800 speeches, presentations, and trainings throughout her career.

From 2003-2012, Wendy served Governors Rick Scott, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush as the CEO of the Florida Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism, commonly known as Volunteer Florida. As the leader of this bipartisan, governor-appointed commission, Wendy managed between $18 million and $23 million in federal, state, and local grants each year. During the state’s record-breaking 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, the agency coordinated donations worth more than $85 million and more than 252,000 volunteers, the largest mobilization of volunteers in the history of U.S. natural disasters at that time. Wendy received the prestigious 2005 Governor’s Award from Gov. Jeb Bush for her leadership of this effort.

Wendy has been recognized nationwide for her leadership in the volunteer sector. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Wendy to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. She was recognized in 2013 as the NonProfit Times Top 50 Leader, and in 2016 received nationwide recognition as Influencer in Aging by Public Broadcasting Service’s Next Avenue program. And in 2010, she was elected by her peers to chair the American Association of State Service Commissions, the nonprofit association that advocates for 54 state service commissions promoting national and community service across the United States.

Before joining Volunteer Florida, Wendy served as the director of the Florida Park Service, where she oversaw natural resource and recreational management for 158 state parks spanning 600,000 acres. Wendy’s career includes a decade of service at the United Way of Big Bend in north Florida, and she credits her time there with teaching her the principles of recruitment, recognition, and retention of volunteers.

Wendy holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and Speech Communications from Valdosta State University. She and her husband Ron have four sons, three daughters-in-law, two granddaughters and a chocolate lab. She enjoys golf, snow skiing, travel, playing croquet, and watching all sports, especially Florida State University!

Board Members Emeritus

Sally Hess

Sally Hess has been volunteering for Florida State Parks since she first moved to Florida 20 years ago. She helped establish Friends of the Island Parks CSO at Honeymoon and Caladesi Island State Parks and acted as first president and fund-raising lead for the Honeymoon Island Nature Center.

Sally’s work experience stretches from large corporate environments to non-profits to entrepreneurship. Since 2007, she has volunteered for a variety of organizations including holding the position of both president and secretary of Friends of Florida State Parks board.

Sally is in love with the diversity of Florida State Parks. Their current ability and future potential for teaching us about the incredible value of our natural environment and how to protect, sustain and improve that environment is unmatched.

Marylou Klein

Born in Connecticut Marylou Sullivan Klein has a B.A. from the University of Connecticut where she was member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.L.S from Long Island University. She retired from her position as a department head from a large suburban public library in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, and has lived in Dunnellon, Florida since 1996.

She became a volunteer at Rainbow Springs State Park in 1998, and has been active there since. As a member of the Friends of Rainbow Springs she has served as Vice President, chair of several large events, and is currently Secretary. As a volunteer, she was invited to attend four Florida Park Service’ Ranger Academies as a volunteer assistant. Then the Director of Florida State Parks asked her to represent all of the Citizen Support Organizations (CSOs) and volunteer as ‘CSO and Volunteer Ambassador’, where she traveled and became familiar with and worked with volunteers around the state. She served in this capacity for three years. During this period, she was an ex-officio member of the Friends of Florida State Parks, working on the Awards Committee. She was elected as voting member and then became Chair of the Awards Committee, where she still serves, and serves as the Secretary for Friends of Florida State Parks. In 2005, Marylou was awarded Florida Park Service’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year, received the Director’s Special Service Award in 2011, in addition to the Irene DeLaby Award for volunteering 10,000 hours to the Florida State Parks.

She has been a Florida Master Gardener since 2000, and received a communications award from the University of Florida-IFAS, and Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) Volunteer of the Year in 2013, and currently serves as volunteer Committee Chair of the FFL Committee.

Amy Rodriguez

With over 22 years of experience in the U.S. Hispanic market and Latin America, Amy is a consummate Hispanic marketing professional skilled at analyzing client needs and providing insightful, highly researched strategic solutions that are culturally relevant to Hispanic consumers.

Amy has come full circle at The Rodriguez Group: She began her career managing national and international efforts for American Airlines in the Caribbean, Latin America and U.S. Hispanic markets. Amy was then was tapped as vice-president, strategic planning for Accentmarketing, guiding such large regional accounts as Physician Healthcare Plans, and launching Chevrolet's first major effort in the U.S. Hispanic market. Amy returned to V&A in 1994 - later named The Rodriguez Group - and was named partner in 1998 when they were named agency of record for Visit Florida for both the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets.

Amy completed her Bachelors in Business from Marymount University in 1984 and her MBA in International Business from George Washington University in Washington in 1989.

Ex-Officio Board Members

Chuck Hatcher

Chuck Hatcher, Park Service Director


Julia Gill Woodward

Julia Gill Woodward, Chief Executive Officer

Julia Gill Woodward is a ninth-generation Floridian whose love for our state and our award-winning park system runs deep. She is honored to serve as the Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer as we seek to help protect, preserve and sustain our state’s natural treasures for generations to come.

Julia is a dynamic leader with more than ten years of campaign and government experience. She has worked across the spectrum in Florida politics – including managing multiple campaigns, serving as a Congressional Chief of Staff in Washington and most recently, managing Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial bid.

Campaigns under her leadership have been recognized nationally as the best-run operations in their cycle. In 2014, Roll Call named the campaign she managed one of “The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014” and the Cook Political Report ranked the campaign as one of the “Most Impressive Campaigns”. The Tampa Bay Times even named Julia the “newest star consultant in Florida."

In addition to her campaign and governmental management experience, Julia has helped raise more than $25 million dollars for candidates and organizations throughout the course of her career.

Julia is a graduate of Florida State University. She currently resides in Tallahassee with her husband, Paul, and two sons, John and Mark. She enjoys hiking with her family, craft beer and watching the latest mountaineering documentary.

Email Julia Woodward

Paula Russo

Paula Russo, Grants and Programs Administrator

Paula's family moved to Florida from Long Island, New York in 1956. "Before the age of air-conditioning and when it wasn't uncommon for a moccasin or rattlesnake to cross your path -- a much different Florida than most people know today,” she says. While she is not a native Floridian by birth she thinks of herself as one by choice and believes there is no better place to live, then, or now.

Most of her working life was spent employed by a growing veterinary practice in South Florida where she began as a ‘night attendant’ cleaning cages and mopping floors eventually becoming hospital administrator for her employer’s chain of five practices.

In 1989, Paula next went to work for the Center for Independent Living of Palm Beach County as Director of Advocacy and Community Education. She rallied local support for the successful passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Then, conducted numerous presentations, training's, and surveys for local businesses and government entities to help them understand and comply with the new law.

Moving to Broward County in 2001 her most recent employment was with Broward County Parks and Recreation at the Anne Kolb Nature Center. She conducted environmental education programs for children and adults to teach the value of mangrove estuaries.

Paula has been involved with the Florida State Parks Foundation almost since its inception in 1993 and served many terms on the board of directors. "I am passionate about protecting the environment. No matter where you live or travel in Florida there is a Florida State Park nearby. Lands set aside and managed for preservation and for the benefit and enjoyment of Florida's citizens and its many visitors. We must work to make sure this is always so."

Email Paula Russo

Courtney Nomina

Courtney Nomina, Director of Communications

Courtney is a Florida native who has spent her entire life in the sunshine state hiking Florida’s trails, swimming in the state’s springs, and kayaking down its rivers. She has a strong interest in advocating for environmental sustainability to ensure Floridians for generations to come can enjoy the significant historical, cultural, and recreational aspects of Florida’s award-winning state parks.

Prior to joining the Florida State Parks Foundation in 2022, she worked at a statewide advocacy nonprofit, the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, as the agency’s first Communications Manager for more than five years. She developed and implemented statewide communications efforts, worked alongside the policy team, and coordinated various events like the agency’s 2018 and 2020 biennial conferences and led Sexual Assault Awareness Month events.

Courtney spent several years working at a public relations firm representing statewide clients on various issues using a range of communications tactics including planning news conferences and media events, leading proactive reporter outreach, and crafting engaging narratives.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Political Science from Florida State University. Courtney currently resides in Melbourne, and in her spare time, enjoys reading, traveling and hiking, and sampling new restaurants or coffee shops.

Email Courtney Nomina

Sarah Campbell

Sarah Campbell, Director of Institutional Giving

Sarah has enjoyed working with non-profit organizations for the past 20 years. She attended Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and received her degree in Anthropology. A passion for human services and her competitive nature led Sarah into the grant-writing world, where she started out finding funding for children's programming, then services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

After working as the executive director for the Council on Domestic Abuse, Inc. for seven years in Terre Haute, Indiana, it was time for a sunny change. In 2020, Sarah and her husband Jim moved with their two kids to Polk County, Florida, where she worked as the Grants and Project Development Specialist for the Polk County Board of County Commissioners.

Sarah is an avid Disney fan and has been thrilled to live closer to the theme parks. She loves to get in her walking steps at Animal Kingdom or any other place outside in beautiful Florida. She has gone from being a landlocked Hoosier to a beach-loving Floridian. She still has slight shark anxiety, but nothing can keep her away from visiting the coastal state parks!

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Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth Harris, Executive Administrator

Elizabeth was born and raised in Florida, and grew up experiencing all that our state parks have to offer. She loves nature, and has a strong passion for the preservation of Florida's wildlife and beautiful natural environment.

Elizabeth has a Bachelor's degree in Legal Studies from the University of Central Florida, and prior to joining the Florida State Parks Foundation, she worked for five years at The Florida Bar as a legal secretary, assisting attorneys in the Lawyer Regulation department. Since moving to Tallahassee from the Central Florida area in April of 2022, Elizabeth has enjoyed hiking and biking the many trails around our capital. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.

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