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:

Our seven member Board of Directors includes a Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, two LCSWs, a Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse who is also a retire colonel from the United State Army, a researcher from the psychology department of University of Florida St. Petersburg, a former Resource Coordinator for Healthy Families, and the Assistant Director of the Pinellas Technical College. Sixty percent of our Board of Directors is African-American.

 

 

President, Ms. 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. Karen is trained in The Incredible Years having attended the training course offered in Seattle, Washington.  She has implemented the curriculum with over 20 home-visitors of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program offered by the R’s Club of St. Petersburg.

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.  

 

 

Vice-President, Ms Marlaina Satcher

Marlaina Satcher has been in the Non-Profit and Human Services field in Pinellas County for over 16 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Secretary/Treasurer: Ms. 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, Angela 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 leader for The Incredible Years Program and successfully completed The Incredible Years training in Seattle, WA.

 

 

 

Treasurer: Ms. 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 having attended the training in Seattle, and she is currently working toward certification in Dr. John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

 

 

 

 

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: Ms. Kemesha Gabbidon, PhD, MP
Kemesha Gabbidon is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. Kemesha earned her PhD in Public Health from Florida International University in Miami, FL.  Her interests are youth and young adult sexual and reproductive health and health disparities. Her research at USFSP examines parent-teen interactions that influence teens’ sexual development, and investigates the health determinants of youth living with HIV. Kemesha earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Florida State University and later earned her Master of Public Health from the University of South Florida in 2011. As a part of her graduate training, she became nationally certified in Public Health and in 2016 completed a research fellowship in the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

 

 

 

Board Member: Ms. Radiah Dent-Palmer, Ph.D.
She is an educational leader and counselor. She completed her undergraduate education and graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and Psychology. Her graduate work has allowed her to achieve a Masters in Education in Guidance and Counseling, a Ph.D. in Christian Psychology, and a Ed. S., in Educational Leadership. She has served in multiple levels in the education field from classroom teacher to administrator. She has also worked in school and community counseling and has served as consultant and guest speaker for different organizations around the country.  Raydiah is currently the Assistant Administrator of the Pinellas Technical College. She serves on the board of The Red Tent, a local organization working to support women incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail. Raydiah believes that success is attainable and enjoys helping others find their success.


OUR STAFF:

 

CEO: Vicki Draeger, Ph.D.

Vicki Draeger, Ph.D. is our CEO and she will serve as the Project Director for the CHAMPS project.  She is a state certified secondary school teacher, who taught high school for 5 years and middle school for 18 years prior to entering the non-profit sector. Dr. Draeger is trained in Total Quality Education by Dr. Myron Tribus of MIT and is therefore skilled in data collection, analysis, and the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) approach to continuous improvement.  She has served as Project Director on over 15 Foundation, State, and Federal Grants. Prior to moving to Hawaii and working for two Native Hawaiian non-profits, for twenty years she administered County Day Montessori Academy overseeing 230 children ages 2-13, and a staff of 35. She is certified by the American Montessori Society, and is a certified Coordinator for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngster (HIPPY).  She is also a certified Supervisor of Parents As Teachers, (PAT). She is also trained in The Incredible Years having attended the training in Seattle, WA.

 

 

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.