Are you looking for a mentor?
The Women for Florida State are proud to share their collective wisdom and talents with the next generation of women leaders. Below is a list of women eager to help you in your next steps after graduation or in your career. If you are interested in forming a mentoring partnership with one of the following mentors, please click on the plus sign to read her brief biography or on the email button to contact her directly.
If you would like more information about being a mentor, or to join The Women for Florida State University, please contact Laura Glenn at (850) 644-2313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Sutz Pienta
Rachel Sutz Pienta, Ph.D., is a College of Education professor at Valdosta State University. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University where she has also taught women’s studies courses as an adjunct professor since 1999. She has served as the co-chair of the Big Bend Anti-Bullying Task Force with Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda since November 2010.
Her career in education has included working as legislative policy analyst, independent governmental affairs consultant and as a classroom teacher. Her research interests include education policy and reform, teacher professional development, curriculum and instruction, gender equity, Title IX, diversity issues and social justice. In 2010, she served as a research associate for the Georgia School Superintendent Association and the Georgia School Boards Association for the project A Vision for Public Education in Georgia to author policy on aligning services and stakeholders for children from birth to age five. She is also a contributing writer on gender issues, politics and public policy for the Florida Progressive Coalition. In 2011, her writing on women and political advocacy was featured in the edited collection The 21st Century Motherhood Movement: Mothers Speak Out on Why We Need to Change the World and How to Do It. Additionally, she currently serves as the communications chair for the Democratic Women's Club of Florida, Inc.
Brigette Bahniuk graduated from Florida State University in the fall of 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance. While in school, she learned about sustainable design, psychology of design and the history of interiors. She also learned about furniture design by building a full-scale cardboard chair for pre-k students, and she designed a concept hotel, approximately 23,000 square feet in size, for the city of Shanghai, China. As a volunteer at the Master Craftsman Studios, she discovered Women for FSU and was very happy to help the cause because she understands the importance of women working together. For Bahniuk, it is a wonderful honor to be a part of this committee and to be able to help other women through their journey at Florida State and thereafter.
Lisa Bristol graduated from Florida State University in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. After working in human resources with the state board of regents and the Department of Corrections, she left her job to raise her two sons, who have since graduated from college. After leaving state employment, Bristol became an active volunteer.
Bristol served as P.T.O. president, volunteer coordinator and tutor train coordinator at her sons’ elementary school. At her sons’ middle and high schools, Bristol was one of three parents who created the first Band Boosters; she served on the board for the Crew team; and she acted in various leadership roles for the soccer and lacrosse teams. She has been a regular volunteer at the Lemoyne Center for the Visual Arts for the past decade working in the gallery and on special projects and events.
Bristol is a founding member and coordinator of a women’s group who meets monthly to participate in various outdoor and cultural activities in the area. In addition to her volunteer work and managing her family’s properties, she is currently pursuing watercolor painting and enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, biking, gardening and the arts. Bristol would love to have the opportunity to provide guidance and support to a college student in any aspect of college life.
Professor Jeanne Curtin lives in Tallahassee, Fla., where she is a faculty member in the Florida State University College of Law. Prior to joining the legal writing faculty at Florida State, Ms. Curtin worked in private practice and most recently served as managing partner of Hartman Curtin, LLC, and president of SE Consulting Group, LLC. Curtin has been a Tallahassee resident for more than 20 years with contacts in a variety of fields.
Sharon Ross Donaldson
Sharon Ross Donaldson has more than 25 years of experience in the field of human services in the areas of training, program planning, development and implementation, research, evaluation and data collection, community organization, understanding of multi-level systems and clinical supervision. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a national peer reviewer for Prevent Child Abuse America/Healthy Families America and the Council on Accreditation, a Hague evaluator and a reviewer for the United States Marine Corp. In her current role, she provides clinical supervision for Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work students interning at the Florida Department of Children and Families and local community-based care agencies that provide services including protective investigations, protective services, foster care, adoptions and independent living. She also teaches child welfare related courses. Sharon is a licensed clinical social worker, an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Specialist, an Infant Mental Health Specialist, a diplomate of American Board of Forensic Social Work and a Florida Supreme Court certified family and county court mediator
Jane Dwyer is a registered clinical social work intern for the State of Florida, and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, whose Big Bend Chapter named her Social Worker of the Year in 2008. Currently, Jane, who holds a Master of Social Work, is a full-time faculty member at the Florida State University College of Social Work, and in 2009 she was awarded the honor of Professor of the Year. Prior to her teaching career, Jane worked in the field as the supervisor of Social Services at Apalachee Center and as an individual, couples and group counselor at The Addiction Recovery Center. Jane’s areas of interest lie in working with the chemically dependent and their families, the mentally ill and their families, and women who have been incarcerated and are struggling with re-entry. In 1996, Jane was convicted of DUI manslaughter as a result of a tragic car accident that occurred while she was vacationing in the Florida Keys with her boyfriend, who was killed in the accident. After a year of rehabilitation in hospitals, Jane served a five-year prison sentence followed by 10 years of probation. These experiences give her a unique perspective as a counselor and a teacher. Jane speaks publicly about her experience, strength and hope in numerous forums, including schools where she shows students her biographical film and tells her story so that others can learn of the consequences regarding the deadly combination of drinking and driving. She has been involved in a Twelve Step Recovery Community for more than 14 years and has been invited to tell her story in eight states.
Angela Drzewiecki graduated from Florida State University in fall 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and went on to earn a master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy in 2008. After working on the 2010 Florida gubernatorial campaign, she accepted a position with a private lobbying firm as the legislative affairs coordinator. A native and current resident of Tallahassee, Drzewiecki also is the founder of an animal rescue organization, Last Hope Rescue, which is dedicated to saving the lives of unwanted, neglected and overlooked animals whose time is up in the high kill shelters of the North Florida area.
Pam Graham, LCSW, DCSW has been a faculty member at the FSU College of Social Work since 1995. She has held numerous administrative positions at the college, including director of field instruction, director of the MSW program, director of the BSW program and professional development, and assistant dean. Graham is a 1977 alumna of FSU and a diehard Seminole fan. Her social work practice experience was in the areas of medical social work, adolescent and family therapy, and bereavement issues. Having been a professional social worker, educator, and administrator, she has mentored students and other professionals and would be happy to assist with topics related to social work practice, administrative work or a career in academia.
Shelley B. Green
Shelley B. Green is a founding partner in Tidewater Consulting, Inc., bringing 12 years of experience in the political arena to the firm. Green began her career in the political arena by interning in the Tallahassee office of Senator Connie Mack. She then served as the executive assistant to the chairman and special events coordinator at the Republican Party of Florida for six years.
A native Floridian, Green was born and raised in Jacksonville, where she was an active participant in the arts community and an apprentice with the Florida Ballet. Green graduated from Florida State University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international affairs/political science, and she received her Master of Social Science in executive management from Florida State University in 2000.
Green is involved in numerous civic organizations and currently serves as collegiate district officer for Delta Delta Delta fraternity, and as treasurer for both Alumnae Panhellenic of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee alumnae chapter of Delta Delta Delta.
Green served as Mrs. Tallahassee 2001 and was second runner-up in the 2001 Mrs. Florida America pageant. She was also presented with the Mrs. Florida America Director's Award for 2001. Green previously served as a dance instructor at numerous dance studios in Florida and regularly participates in local community theatre productions. She and her husband Chris Green have been involved in several businesses, including the Protocol School of North Florida and Heidi's Bakery. They have three children, Jackson (9), Harrison (7) and Addison (5).
Karissa Marie Hazzard
Karissa Marie Hazzard graduated from Florida State University in April 2011 with a double major in International Affairs and History. Her history senior thesis awarded her with the opportunity to graduate with honors and the chance to be published with the university library system. As a student, Hazzard was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority and served as the Community Activities chair. She was also highly involved in the Student Government Association, serving in multiple roles such as the assistant director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Academic Affairs chair under the Student Body president. Hazzard currently resides in Tallahassee and works as the administrative assistant for Advancement Services at the FSU Foundation.
Jessica Leigh graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in 2003 after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in 2001 from the University of South Florida. She lives in Tallahassee, where she is senior attorney to the Division of Licensing at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In this capacity, Jessica represents the department in all aspects of Florida administrative and appellate law pertaining to concealed weapon and firearms licenses. Jessica is involved in many professional and community activities including Tallahassee Women Lawyers, the Florida Government Bar Association, Delta Delta Delta Fraternity and the Junior League of Tallahassee.
Leslie Mille is director of Alumni Relations for the Florida State University College of Business. Leslie develops, coordinates and manages special programs and events designed to engage the 53,000-plus graduates of the College of Business. She also is advisor to the college’s Women in Business student organization. Prior to joining the College of Business, Leslie served as the call center manager for the Florida State University Office of Telecommunications. She began her Florida State career as a coordinator for the Seven Days of Opening Nights Arts Festival in the Office of the Vice President for University Relations.
Originally from Boca Raton, Leslie moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University, where she was a four-year member of the Marching Chiefs. She graduated from Florida State in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in communications with an emphasis in media communications. Leslie is currently pursuing a master’s degree in higher education at the Florida State University College of Education. Leslie is passionate about the sport of soccer, playing in two local leagues and traveling to tournaments throughout the Southeast.
Nicole Leeper Piquero
Nicole Leeper Piquero, Ph.D., is an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State. Piquero joined the FSU faculty in the spring of 2010, and she has been on the faculty at several other universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, University of Florida and Northeastern University. Her research interests include white-collar crime, women and crime and criminological theory. Piquero received her doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland. She is eager to help women looking for assistance in the academic realm—applying for grad school, finding an academic job or conducting research.
Marie Prentice received her bachelor’s degree in Archaeology from the University of Tennessee in 1987. She has worked on field projects all over the southeastern United States with the National Park Service’s Southeast Archeological Center as well as projects closer to home in Tallahassee with the State of Florida and Cultural Resource Management (CRM) firms. Before leaving the field for an extended period to raise her children, she also worked in the collections management field with the National Park Service. After reentering the work force after being hired by a local CRM firm, Prentice was hired by the Division of Historical Resource’s Bureau of Archaeological Research in 2005. She happily assists in the management of the state’s extensive archaeological collection and administers its active artifact loan program. She works closely with archaeologists conducting research as well as museum curators and exhibit designers. Prentice sits on the board and is an active participant in the local professional/avocational group Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee (PAST).
Cassandra Rayne works in finance and administration at Florida State University's College of Visual Arts, Theatre & Dance as a part of the University Business Administrators program. She is a two-time graduate of Florida State University, having earned her Master of Business Administration in August 2012 and her undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management in 2010. Her first degree was in Baking & Pastry Arts from The Culinary Institute of America. Since she graduated with this degree in the height of the recession, Rayne understands the value of being adaptable and reinventing oneself in order to further personal financial and career goals. The mentorship she received from strong and capable women, including members of The Women for FSU, continues to be key to helping her navigate these transitions and emerge stronger and more capable. She currently volunteers with The Women for FSU and looks forward to becoming more active in promoting local arts. Her hometown is Blacksburg, Va., and she is the oldest of 10 children.
Dottie Roberts earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Florida State University in 1983. She resides in Tallahassee and works as a financial manager with a private lobbying firm. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Flagler College, TCC campus, and has taught marketing and management courses there since 2001. During her tenure at Flagler College, she has served as faculty advisor to the Management Club for several years. As a parent of two college-aged kids and teacher of young adults, Roberts enjoys all opportunities to provide guidance, interaction and support to students of any academic area. She is a founder and member of Outdoor Women’s Adventure Club (OWAC) and regularly participates in area hikes, kayaking, biking, art tours and other activities.
Phyllis Swann Underwood
Phyllis Swann Underwood is a visiting associate in elementary education with The Florida State University College of Education. Previously, she was employed with the Florida Center for Reading Research, jointly administered at FSU by the Learning Systems Institute and the College of Arts & Sciences, directing multiple federally funded grant projects including research examining child-by-instruction interactions in literacy for grades one through five. Her research interests include the examination of culturally-responsive teaching practices on reading skills growth of early elementary grade students. Phyllis is a three-time graduate of FSU. She earned her Ph.D. in reading and language arts in 2009, a Master of Science in Elementary Education in 2003 and bachelor's degree in criminology in 1985. She serves as the FSU faculty advisor and college chapter director of the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Delta Zeta Sorority. Additionally, she is involved in a variety of community service activities in the Tallahassee area.
Vicky Verano is a graduate from Florida State University with a Master of Social Work. Over the past 22 years, she has worked in the areas of substance abuse, mental health and medical social work as well as holding administrative positions with the Florida Department of Children and Families. Currently, she is on the faulty at Florida State University College of Social Work, where she teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs. Vicky is actively involved in her community and volunteers with Big Bend Hospice as a family patient volunteer and with Gulf Winds Track Club as the equipment manager. By volunteering she is able to show her students that giving back to the community is a vital part of social work.
Lonnie M. Wesley
Born and raised in Gadsden County Florida, Lonnie Wesley is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Tallahassee. With specialty areas inclusive of counseling, individual and group psychotherapy, she also is certified as a Level II Specialist in the use of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). Her professional services also involve relationship issues, providing employee assistance and evaluations and bereavement therapy. Lonnie earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Florida A&M University in 1970 and a Master of Social Work from Florida State University in 1972. In addition to her certification in EMDR, she is a registered internship supervisor and a Faculty Fellow II at Florida State University. She also has served as an adjunct instructor in social work at Florida A&M and Florida State University where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses. Currently, she is involved with the Florida State University School of Medicine as a psychotherapist for rural caregivers with the Alzheimer’s Project, a grant sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. Her professional affiliations include membership in the National Association of Social Workers, the Association of Black Social Workers, the Tallahassee Marriage and Family Therapy Association, the Florida Council of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Group Association and the International Black Alcoholism Council, among others. She is actively involved in the community and her services are frequently sought as a professional speaker, consultant and service provider. Some of her seminar presentations have dealt with life cycle depression and stress in women, adolescent education and health issues, alcoholism in the black community, strengthening communication between couples and the changing role of the black woman. She also has several publications both as a primary researcher and co-author.
Victoria Vangalis-Zepp is president and managing partner Clarity1st Consulting, Inc. in Tallahassee, Fla. She is a business owner, government and business development consultant, lobbyist and philanthropist with a background in public policy, technology, education, disabilities and healthcare. Vangalis-Zepp’s advice is if you’re in search of a mentor, then you’re already showing leadership qualities. Admittedly or not, the world’s best in any field recognize mentors help identify strengths, areas for growth, how best to harness natural skills and develop new talent toward greater success. Before selecting a mentor, Vangalis- Zepp suggests you enable yourself to be mentored, and take time to reflect on honest and constructive feedback to be respectfully shared.
Flagler Beach, Fla.
Morgan Champion graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Child Sciences in 2007. She continued her education in Counselor Education at the University of Central Florida, graduating with her master's degree in 2010. She currently works as a middle school counselor in St. Johns County. She loves working with students of all ages and helping them set realistic and attainable goals. She is also working toward earning the licensing requirements to become a mental health counselor in the state of Florida. Morgan resides in Flagler Beach, Fla., and enjoys running, reading, outside activities, the beach and volunteering.
Meredith Hinshelwood is a two-time ‘Nole and proud of it. In 2005, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Multinational Business as well as a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship, with minors in Spanish and Economics. As an undergraduate student, she was in the Honors Program, was an active member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, and received such awards as the College of Business Humanitarian of the Year award in 2005. Immediately after graduating, Meredith worked for a year as a missionary at an orphanage in Guatemala. She then returned to the United States and worked as a financial/business analyst for two years before deciding to become a lawyer. She began law school at the Barry University School of Law before transferring to her alma mater, the Florida State College of Law. She took advantage of being back in the state capital by working as an intern in the Florida Senate from August 2010 through May 2011. In May 2011, she graduated cum laude and received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State College of Law. Meredith is a member of the Florida Bar and currently works as an assistant public defender in the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Erin Hope Barker joined the Ringling Center for the Arts and Florida State University Foundation’s development team as associate director for development in July 2010. Her focus as associate director for development is centered on individual and planned giving for the Ringling Center for the Arts. Prior to joining the organization, Barker was an attorney in the Tallahassee office of Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell and & Dunbar, P.A. and was an attorney for a small Sarasota firm.
She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in English literature. While attending Florida State University, she was a member of the Marching Chiefs and played on the Big 8 Drumline. She went on to earn her law degree from the Florida State University College of Law. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Florida and is a member of the American Bar Association, Florida Bar and the Sarasota County Bar Association. Currently, Barker serves on the Charitable Action Committee for the Sarasota County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.
She is a member of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Group as well as an active member of the Junior League of Sarasota. Being a Sarasota native and former member of the Florida West Coast Youth Philharmonic in middle and high school, Barker finds it important to be involved and active in the community that helped shape her, and she strives to give back by supporting the arts in and around Sarasota.
Brooke Lively Crandall
Brooke Lively Crandall graduated from Florida State University in the fall of 2000 with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Varying Exceptionalities from the College of Education. While at Florida State, she was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority and served as the treasurer and assistant treasurer on the Panhellenic Board. After leaving Tallahassee, Crandall taught exceptional education and received her education administration certificate. She teaches third grade in Seminole, Fla., and is married with twin three-year-old daughters.
Lisa Wheeler Futch
Boca Raton, Fla.
Lisa Wheeler Futch is the executive assistant to the director of Digital Media Programs at the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts in West Palm Beach. Previously, Lisa was a faculty member serving as the assistant in research at the Florida Center for Reading Research, jointly administered at FSU by the Learning Systems Institute and the College of Arts and Sciences in Tallahassee. Lisa attended Florida State beginning in 2005 and was honored at FSU’s Torch Night ‘05 for her leadership experiences in high school. As a freshman, Lisa became an active member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. While in Theta, Lisa was vice president of Public Relations and vice president of Panhellenic as her sorority’s liaison. Lisa graduated with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in early childhood education in 2009. After college, Lisa became more involved in the Greek community as the Theta delegate and social chairman for the Alumnae Panhellenic of Tallahassee, and she also served as the advisory board chairman for Theta. In the FSU community, Lisa became involved in the public relations and event planning committees for FSU’s Civility Week, and in the Tallahassee community as an event planning and auction committee member for Boys Town North Florida. Currently in South Florida, Lisa serves as a board member for The Children’s Healing Institute.
Beth Azor lives in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Davie, Fla., and has worked in the commercial real estate field for the past 25 years. Azor coaches, consults and trains mostly in shopping center leasing. She attended Florida State from 1978-1983, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English. Azor was a Phi Mu and Lambda Chi little sister. Azor has many contacts in varied fields in the South Florida area. She is the board chair of a non-profit in South Florida and serves as a trustee for the FSU Foundation.
Fort Collins, Colo.
Amanda Meter is a two-time graduate of Florida State University. She received her B.A. in 2007, after double majoring in history and American & Florida studies, and her M.A. in 2009 in historical administration and public history with an emphasis in museum studies. While at Florida State, she served as a university ambassador and was a member of the Council of Honor Societies; the executive committee for Phi Eta Sigma; and the Bryan Hall Steering Committee. She also studied abroad with International Programs in Florence, Italy. Meter is the campaign manager at Colorado State University, where she provides logistics management and operational oversight of university’s upcoming comprehensive campaign as well as the operational management and administrative direction for the central development office. Meter currently resides in Fort Collins, Colo.
Alison Diefenderfer earned a M.S. in interdisciplinary social science (anthropology, geography and history) from Florida State University in 2006. She serves as an adjunct professor and college tutor in the Northeast, teaching cultural anthropology, sociology and standardized test preparatory courses.
While at FSU, she was active in anthropology, teaching and political and community service organizations. Diefenderfer is happy to assist current students, recent graduates and anyone interested in work in higher education, particularly within community college settings.