Executive Director, aka Team Captain
Dan Moore wears many hats at Ability1st. He oversees staff and programs, grant management, directs consumer services, fundraising, community relations, human resources, and has even been spotted doing landscaping at Ability1st on the weekends. A team member for over 20 years, he is inspired by providing staff with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the Big Bend neighbors we serve. Among his favorite moments at Ability1st is learning enough American Sign Language to communicate socially with people who are Deaf. Moore’s hero is M.Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled and his secret skill is juggling.
Family Housing Coordinator
Andrea Wiggins 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. Wiggins hero is her mother and she is inspired everyday by life and hope.
Director of Finance
Barbara Groves's typical work day is spent working on grant management. Her favorite moment at Ability1st was attending a team-building retreat and her hero is her mother. Groves is inspired by giving to others and her favorite ice cream flavor is butter pecan.
Independent Living Coordinator
Bruce Weaver 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. Weaver’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, Weaver, who has a visual impairment, jokes he is the agency palm reader.
High School High Tech/Youth Transition Coordinator
Chris Carlberg 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.
Housing Coordinator, A Place Called Home
Dee Humose 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. Humose 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.
Elyse Brodeur was born in Port St. Joe, FL and has lived in Tallahassee for the past 55 years. Her typical day at Abiltiy1st is spent on budgets and details, details, and more details. She is inspired by her faith and helping others and her husband is her hero. Brodeur’s hidden talent is playing in the handbell choir and her favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla.
Victims Services Coordinator
A typical day for Jesse O’Keefe, includes providing outreach, supportive counseling services and advocacy to individuals who have been victims of a crime. She is often in the community or at outreach sites meeting with consumers directly. When not at work, Jesse is inspired by being connected to something greater than herself. She enjoys wheel throwing, playing with her dogs and running
Mental Health Outreach/Benefits Specialist
During a typical day Kimberly Blan assists consumers with accessing resources in the community as well as helping them apply for Social Security Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance.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.
Nursing Home Diversion Specialist/Youth Transition Specialist
A typical day for Marquesas Blimes is spent helping people living with a disability stay in their homes rather than move to a nursing home. Originally from Savannah, GA, her favorite moments at Ability1st are receiving phone calls from consumers who lives have been improved because of our programs. Blimes is inspired by hard work, kindness and forgiveness and her hidden talent is baking the world’s best chocolate chip cookie.
Victims Services Coordinator
Mental Health Outreach Coordinator
Pamela Sykes is originally from Newark, NJ. At Ability1st, she provides information and referrals to consumers with mental health and substance abuse issues. She is often in the community or at outreach sites meeting with consumers directly. When not at work, Sykes enjoys making jewelry and gardening. Her favorite ice cream flavor is butter pecan and her hero is her mother. She is inspired by LIFE.
Patti Horowitz was born and raised in Tallahassee, Fl. At Ability1st, she manages a range of outreach and supportive counseling services for individuals with disabilities. Her typical day may involve time in shelters meeting with women and children who have been victims of domestic violence or she may spend time overseeing programs for the High School High Tech students. Her favorite Ability1st moment was working with a woman who shortly after entering our program realized she was dying from cancer. She was estranged from her family and had spent many years homeless and abused. Prior to her passing, Horowitz was able to work with hospital staff to locate her family and arranged a proper burial. “Many would hear her story and feel sad, but this sweet lady passed with a home, with reasonable medical care and surrounded by family,” she explained. Horowitz is inspired by the people who have experienced horrible, traumatic things, and yet they are friendly, funny and hopeful things will get better for them.
For Rashida Ahmed, there is no typical day at Ability1st. Some days she is the receptionist, answering phones and greeting consumers who come through our front door. Other days she provides accommodation for Ability1st’s Independent Living Coordinator, who has a visual impairment. This often involves driving to appointments and taking notes during meetings with consumers. Rashida enjoys playing tennis any time of the day or night. Her hero is Christopher Reeves and she is inspired by her son.
Public Relations Specialist
Sally Failma is originally from South Bend, IN and has called Tallahassee home since 2003. She is inspired by the work her Ability1st teammates do in the Big Bend community and spends her day promoting it on social media, the internet, and to the press. Failma’s hero is her Aunt Sally and favorite ice cream is Sherman’s milky way.
Access to Independence Program Specialist
Savannah Middlebrooks 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.
Office Manager, SHIP Coordinator
Shelley Shaul 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. Shaul’s favorite ice cream flavors are mint chocolate chip and Ben & Jerry’s Everything But The.
Tina Ferfort 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. Ferfort’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
Tranesia Walker grew up in Live Oak, FL. Her typical workday is spent performing mental health outreach services in the community to homeless, indigent consumers with mental health diagnosis. One of Walker’s favorite moments at Ablity1st was assisting a consumer who had just given birth transition from being homeless to stable housing. Her hidden talent is photography and her hero Tonier Cain, a former addict turned educated community advocate. Walker’s inspiration stems from her passion to assist those in need and advocate against the injustices they experience in the community.
Mental Health Outreach/Benefits Specialist
Wanda McKenzie 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. McKenzie has many hidden talents including making diaper cakes, planning parties, crocheting and making cake pops. Her heros are her mother and grandmother and she is inspired by her faith and being able to help individuals improve their circumstances in life.