Executive Director, aka Team Captain
As team leader, Mandy is a busy lady. She oversees Ability1st staff and programs, grant management, directs consumer services, fundraising, community relations, and human resources. Though she was born in Norfolk, Virginia, she was raised in Tallahassee and is an active member of the community. A typical day in the office for Mandy includes at least one Zoom meeting, lots of phone calls with community partners and prioritizing where she can be most helpful to our organization. She is inspired each day by her family and her personal motto is to remain focused, flexible and friendly in all situations.
Housing Services Manager
Andrea was born in Fort Lauderdale, raised in Jefferson County, and has lived in Tallahassee for more than 10 years. In her position at Ability1st flexibility is key, because each day is different. She works to secure housing for Big Bend families by conducting housing site visits, helping consumers complete applications, and working to secure necessary housing supplies and furniture. Her favorite moment at Ability1st was completing a zip line team building exercise at the staff retreat. “I have a fear of heights, so just considering making the climb, then making it to the top felt great,” she said. Andrea's hero is her mother and she is inspired everyday by life and hope.
Independent Living Program Coordinator
Bruce is originally from Chicago, IL and has called Tallahassee home for nearly 30 years. His typical day at Ability1st is spent assisting consumers complete applications and locate housing. He also trains consumers living with a disability on how to use the Tallahassee public transportation system, which is essential to living independently. Bruce’s favorite moment at Abilty1st was participating in a Torch Relay race, an American with Disabilities Act celebration held with staff, community members, and consumers together. He is inspired by the opportunity to make a difference in his community and his hero is Jackie Robinson. When asked about his special skill, Bruce, who has a visual impairment, jokes he is the agency palm reader.
Youth Services Coordinator
Chris is originally from Clermont, FL, but most importantly 30 minutes from Disney. He has lived in Tallahassee for nine years, which is unfortunately much further from Disney. As Youth Transition and HSHT Coordinator, Chris spends his days setting up fun activities, guest speakers from the community, and providing career and life skills training for the young adults in his programs. He has worked in education for his entire professional career and is excited to continue that work with this fantastic organization. Chris’ hidden talent is being the best Connect 4 player this side of the Mississippi and his favorite ice cream is the hot fudge sundae from McDonald’s.
A Place Called Home Housing Coordinator
Dee has worked at Ability1st for 15 years. In her current position, she helps those who have been chronically homeless find and remain in stable housing. This includes providing wrap-around services such as addressing the factors that lead to homelessness, and teaching the budgeting and social skills necessary to live independently. Her favorite moment at Ability1st is receiving the 2010 Celebration of Human Services Above and Beyond Award from the United Partners for Human Services. Dee is inspired by people who are excited by life no matter their circumstances. She claims to have no hidden talents, but makes a green smoothie each morning her Ability1st teammates have nicknamed “Dee’s swamp juice,” which seems to ensure a positive attitude and a smile for everybody in the office.
Ability1st Deputy Director, Jackie, was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa. She moved to Tallahassee ten years ago to attend Florida State University and has called it home ever since. Her duties include providing program and staff management for three Ability1st programs including, VOCA, High School/High Tech and Access to Independence. Jackie’s motto is “perseverance; life is not always easy, but never give up.” Her hero is her mom, and her favorite junk food is pizza.
Victims' Advocate Specialist
During a typical day Kimberly assists consumers who are victims of crime. Her responsibilities include providing supportive and peer counseling; assisting with housing and benefits applications; and supplying necessary referrals. Originally from Opp, AL, Kimberly enjoys being a part of the Ability1st team and is inspired by helping people in the Big Bend area. Her hero is her mother and her favorite ice cream is Blue Bell Butter Pecan. Kimberly says she does not have a hidden talent, but we believe she just hasn’t discovered it yet.
Human Services Manager
Originally from Alabama, LaTunya relocated to Tallahassee in 2014 after spending ten years in Connecticut. As Human Services Manager for Ability1st, her typical work day is spent conducting outreach in the community and providing services to our consumers who need them. LaTunya's heroes are her mother and her sister. She is inspired by the love of God, hope, health and her spouse. Her favorite junk food is Butterfinger candy bars and she says she hasn't discovered her hidden talent yet -- but we know she's got one and promise to keep you posted.
Originally from Greenville, NC, Renee's typical day includes stopping into the office to check phone messages and emails before going into the community for her scheduled appointments with consumers. Her favorite part of her job is being able to meet with consumers outside of an office setting and helping them obtain stable housing. Renee's hero is her father, and she is inspired by her family and friends. Her hidden talent is riding her horse to practice improving jumping him.
Access & Mobility Specialist
Savannah was born and raised in Tallahassee, FL. She starts her day at Ability1st by returning phone calls and catching up on paperwork. She spends much of the afternoon assisting people who require durable medical equipment (DME) loans or want to donate items to our DME supply closet. Savannah is inspired by spouses who become caregivers and says everyday she has the privilege of witnessing what real love looks like. Her hidden talent is she can read backwards and upside down at the same speed she reads right side up. Her favorite ice cream is cookies and cream and her hero is Lakey Love, a local advocate.
Operations & Human Resources Manager
Shelley is originally from Miami, FL but has lived in many parts of the country including Reno, NV; Kansas City, MO; Omaha, NE; Atlanta, GA; and Emerald Isle, NC. Each workday at Ability1st is an adventure as she assists consumers and staff with requests, qualifies SHIP consumers and provides modifications to their homes to help them continue to live independently. Her favorite moments at Ability1st are the smiles, hugs, blessings, and thank yous she receives from consumers who have received services. She inspired by people who show love and understanding no matter what their circumstances are and people who feel weak or scared, but still take a leap of faith and try something outside their comfort zone. Shelly's favorite ice cream flavors are mint chocolate chip and Ben & Jerry’s Everything But The.
Access to Independence Program Coordinator
Timmy was born and raised in Jasper, Florida, and now resides in Madison. As Access to Independence Coordinator, he oversees all ramp building projects. He spends his workday identifying consumers with the greatest needs, coordinating volunteers, fundraising, and completing paperwork. What he enjoys most about his job is serving people by getting out of the office and constructing ramps. Timmy’s favorite hobby is cooking, especially barbeque and his favorite ice cream is cookies and cream. He is inspired by his relationship with Jesus. “He served continuously, and I hope to be more like Him daily.”
Tina was born and raised in New Jersey and has lived in Florida since the mid-90s. She currently has two jobs; one as Administrative Assistant at Ability1st and the other as family caregiver. In each role, she helps people living with a disability handle issues that arise throughout the day so they can live happier, healthier lives. Her favorite moment at Ability1st was comforting a fellow caregiver who was struggling. It was a bonding moment she won’t forget. Tina's inspiration comes from her Christian faith as she admires the generous spirit of the saints throughout history. Her secret skill anticipating what people need before they ask for it
Mental Health Outreach Benefits Specialist
Wanda operates at a fast-pace as she works to assist and link Ability1st consumers to resources in the community they need to live independently. She advocates on their behalf and helps them apply for Social Security benefits. Wanda has many hidden talents including making diaper cakes, planning parties, crocheting and making cake pops. Her heroes are her mother and grandmother and she is inspired by her faith and being able to help individuals improve their circumstances in life.