About Us

 
 
 

Mission: To develop strong communities by empowering families with the knowledge and skills necessary for healthy functioning and self-sufficiency in the 21st Century

 

Vision: We envision a State of Florida with well-functioning families, thriving individuals, and strong communities.

 

Core Beliefs: 

  1. There is strength in diversity
  2. Well-functioning families form the foundation of strong communities
  3. All people benefit from the 5-Rs: Reflective abilities; Regulation of Self; Respect for Self and Others; Relationship Skills; and Responsibility-taking

Our Board of Directors:

President, Mary Morel LCSW

Mary graduated from the University of South Florida with a Masters in Social work.  Her aim was to work in a private practice setting where she could use her skills to help adults and children reach their fullest potential.  Mary has been working in private practice in Pinellas County for 27 years specializing in children 2 to 11.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, trained as a play therapist and a cognitive behavioral therapist.  She is also a certified workshop leader of The Incredible Years and working toward certification in Dr. John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

 

 

 

 

Vice-President, Karen Chambers Col. USA (Ret.)

Karen proudly served the United States Army for more than 28 years and retired at the rank of Colonel as a Deputy Surgeon of the US Army Medical Command. Karen is an Army trained, certified instructor. A licensed Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse, with over 30 years in the field of Nursing. She served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm as Operations and Training Officer of a 300 Bed Combat Support Hospital. She is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Karen holds a Master’s Degree in Religious Arts in Christian Psychology and Nursing Degree from Texas Woman’s University. Her passion is to work to restore, rebuild and maintain the family unit.  Her goal is to provide families with an array of tools and paradigms such that they avoid failure without understanding and provide them with an opportunity to cultivate a continuous initiative to refocus and grow as a family unit.

 

 

 

 

Secretary/Treasurer: Angela Gibson LCSW

Angela has been a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Largo, FL for over 30 years.  She was born in Texas and as a child in a military family lived in several states including New Mexico, California, and Louisiana.  Angela attended Louisiana State University where she earned her BA in Social Sciences.  She then went on to earn her MSW in Clinical Social Work.

During her first job, Angels worked at a Run-a-way shelter in St. Petersburg, FL serving run-a-way teens and their families.  For several years, while in private practice, Angela taught Psychology as an Adjunct Professor at what was then St. Petersburg Junior College. Angela is a seasoned therapist who specializes in working with adolescents and adults. She is a certified group  lead for The Incredible Years Program.

 

 

 

Board Member: John Draeger, MD.

John Draeger was in private practice in Pinellas County for fourteen years prior to moving to Maui, Hawaii, where for ten years he was Chief of Behavioral Health for Kaiser Permanente for the region. Also, while in Hawaii, John worked with the University of Hawai`i, John A Burns School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, supervising residents and 1-2 times annually participated as faculty in mock board exams. John is once again working with children and families in Pinellas, County.

For close to a decade, John has served as a board member of Keiki o ka `Aina Family Learning Centers, a Native Hawaiian community-based agency providing family strengthening, toddler and preschool programs (including Hawaiian language immersion), and promoting traditional Hawaiian values.  John has helped to organize and implement The Incredible Years workshops offered at Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii. John is Board Certified in both General and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  He is a certified Incredible Years Leader, dedicated to the health and well-being of children and families.

 

 

 

Board Member: Marlaina Satcher
Marlaina Satcher has been in the Non-Profit and Human Services field here in Pinellas County for over 15 years in many different capacities. Her professional experience ranges from working with the Florida Department of Health and Human Services as the Resource Coordinator for Healthy Families, to her current role at a local Housing Authority as a Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator/Housing Choice Voucher Home ownership Coordinator. Marlaina’s goal is to reach as many people as she can and offer them the tools and resources needed to help them and their children lead a successful life.

 

OUR STAFF:

 

Executive Director: Vicki Draeger, Ph.D.

Vicki has over 35 years of experience working to support children and families.  She is the founder of Country Day Montessori Academy in Largo, Florida where she administrated for over twenty years prior to moving to Maui.  In Hawaii, Vicki has worked for Keiki O Ka Aina Family Learning Center and Maui Family Support Services, two Native Hawaiian serving agencies.  She is certified as a coordinator for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a certified supervisor of Parents as Teachers (PAT), as well as a certified workshop leader for The Incredible Years.  Vicki is a co-author of “The Vegetable Storybook for Readers and Eaters,” and has served as a presenter for the Department of Health for the State of Hawaii.  She will be working in Pinellas County to help provide family strengthening programs.

 

 

 

 

Childcare and Facilitation Support Coordinator: Natasha Toney

Natasha was born and raised in Ohio where she studied early childhood education. She has always had a heart and compassion for others, which led her to take a position working with the elderly.  In Pinellas County, Florida, Natasha has served as a childcare provider at a local church as well as a community volunteer.

Currently, Natasha works as an administrative assistant for a mental health counseling service in Largo, Florida.  She is one of the first faces to greet clients from all walks of life.  Due to her various life experiences, Natasha is excited to be a part of LEADS where she has the opportunity to use her skills in support of the community in which she lives and from which she comes.

 

Currently five volunteers are working with us, but we plan to train more volunteers in schools and churches as the program grows. We’re starting in Pinellas County, Florida, but hope to extend the program statewide.