Board of Directors
From our Staff to our Board of Directors, Big Brothers Big Sisters has a compassionate and dedicated group of individuals on our side that are willing to do whatever it takes to help change children’s lives for the better.
MaryRose has 26+ years’ experience in telecommunications policy, regulatory and legal affairs, internal and external relations, and visionary programs for community involvement. She has held a position with AT&T as External Affairs Manager since 1998. She was the recipient of the President's Volunteer Service Award in 2012 and 2014 and has been a Big Brothers Big Sisters Board Member since 2013.
Immediate Past Chair
Adam Watson is a shareholder at Watson & Associates, PA, CPAs. He has been in public practice for over 15 years working with individuals, small businesses, and non profits. Adam is a Big Brother and has been on the Board since 2010.
Samantha Sexton joined the board of directors in 2016 after volunteering as a Big Sister for three years. She currently acts as the Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida. Past positions include the Director and Associate Director of Government Affairs with the PACE Center for Girls. She is an active member of the Junior League of Tallahassee and Immediate Past President of the Capital Area Gator club. A distinguished recipient of the Ralph Gonzalez Memorial Award, she was recognized in 2015 as one of the '30 under 30' rising stars of Florida politics. Samantha is a strong believer in fighting for children, civil rights, economic empowerment and education and is honored to be part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Board of Directors.
Brent Hartsfield was named National Big Brother of the Year in 2012 and earned a trip to the White House. An engineer by trade, Brent has been a board member since 2013 and has also served as a mentor and tutor with the Leon County School System.
Brian joined the board of directors in 2016. Since 2008, Brian has been providing tax compliance and consulting services and currently works for Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs. A graduate of Florida State University with a Master's degree in Accounting, Brian has experience working with corporate, not-for-profit, trust, and high-net worth individual clients. He has provided services to clients in the automotive, real estate, construction, medical, manufacturing, and wholesale import/export industries. Brian also has specific experience working with clients on international issues and litigation support.
Zackery was elected to the board in 2015. An attorney, he earned his JD from Florida State University in 2010 and is a member of the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court. He has also been a Big Brother in our community based program since August 2015. Zackery is married to wife, Rachel and enjoys running in his spare time.
Blake Dowling is Chief Executive Officer for Aegis Business Technologies headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida. He has been with the firm more than 10 years. In the past, he has worked with Platinum selling recording artist Sister Hazel, as an artist manager. In addition to his duties with Aegis, Blake is a regional columnist contributing business and technology columns to the Tallahassee Democrat, Influence Magazine, Context Florida and others. He enjoys spending time with his family (a bunch of cats, beautiful wife Jeanne and 2 step children). He can be reached at [email protected] or www.twitter.com/aegissales
Samantha joined the board in 2017. She is the co-owner and Managing Partner for Vance Strategies, a business consulting firm specializing in nonprofit development, small business management, real estate investing, branding, and more. She also serves as the Executive Director of Ladies Learning to Lead (L3), a professional development organization that prepares teen girls for college, careers, and life. Samantha has a passion for youth, developing young ladies into leaders, and helping them achieve their goals. She was a dedicated BIG for 4 years. Samantha is a first-generation college graduate, who worked her way through school at Florida State University, graduating with a BS degree in Political Science, and minor in Public Administration. She serves as the President for the Leon County Alliance for Girls, and board member for Adullam Entrepreneur School, Code Caravan, and Generation Now Youth Ministries. Samantha is a certified Sexual Risk Avoidance trainer with the National Abstinence Education Association. She also serves as a youth leader for her church and runs a Praying Wives group. She is known as a strong believer in JESUS.
Matthew Williams is a partner at Akbar Law Firm where he focuses on criminal defense and personal injury matters. After attending law school at Florida State University, he began his legal career at the Public Defender's Office and he's remained actively engaged in the Tallahassee community. He is currently serving his first term on the Board after recently joining in 2017.
Delaitre J. Hollinger is Executive Director/CEO of The National Association for the Preservation of African-American & Culture, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of historical properties and preservation advocacy. Professionally, he was employed with The Florida Senate where he served as District Legislative Aide to Senator Geraldine F. Thompson. He presently works with the Tallahassee Urban League, Inc., where he is founding Curator and Associate Director of the Taylor House Museum of Historic Frenchtown. He has also been Curator of the Wells'Built Museum of African-American History and Culture. Due to his efforts, the 123-year-old Taylor House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. On January 8, 2016, Hollinger was appointed to the Utility Citizens Advisory Committee by Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez.
Hollinger was Student Body President, Black Student Union President, Black Male Achievers President, and Student Organizations Council Chairman for Tallahassee Community College. He has also served in various capacities as a Community Reporter, and a Legislative Intern. He has been recognized with the prestigious Cherry Hall Alexander African-American History Calendar, and the NAACP Citizen's Award among numerous other honors. He has published two books, including "And This Too Shall Pass - The Story of Aquilina C. Howell," (2012-Bookstand Publishing) and "STAND UP!: 75 Young Activists Who Rock the World and How You Can Too!," (2013-Publishing Syndicate) which received both an IndieFab Book Award, as well as a Nautilus Book Award for Young Adult Non-Fiction.
Marcus Nicolas moved from Atlanta, Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Media Arts from Clark-Atlanta University, to Tallahassee, Florida to purse a Masters of Fine Arts from the Florida State University Film School. While studying professional writing at the Film School, Marcus found his passion in teaching. Shortly after graduating with an M.F.A from Florida State, Marcus began teaching at Amos P. Godby high school in Tallahassee, Florida. While at Godby, Marcus earned a Master’s of Education Leadership and Policy Studies. Thereafter, he moved to Tallahassee Community College and taught English and Literature courses before accepting a position at the College as the Associate Dean of Academic Partnership and College Success.
Marcus currently sits on the Leon County Sheriffs Citizen Advisory Council and the Southern Shakespeare Company Board of Directors.
Lindsey Magura joined the school based mentoring program and the Board of Directors in 2017. Lindsey is a University of Florida graduate and a licensed building contractor. She has a passion for building and years of experience in construction, development, and real estate. Lindsey is currently a Project Manager with North American Properties. Being able to contribute to such a worthy organization is a rewarding experience and one that she is thankful for.
Graham Demont joined the Board of Directors in 2017. Graham is originally from Tallahassee and attended Leon High School. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 and is now the President at Demont Insurance. He is currently engaged to Sarah Proctor.
Kyle Phelps is a regional banking executive at Capital City Bank. In addition to his role at the Bank, Kyle serves on the executive board for the Foundation for Leon County Schools. His past involvement includes serving as a community catalyst with the Knight Creative Communities Institute, board member with the Tallahassee Builders Association, and is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee. A chartered financial analyst, Kyle earned an MBA from the University of Florida and has an undergraduate degree in finance from Liberty University. He is married to Kirsten and is the father of two daughters, Savanna and Sienna.
Brian joined the Board of Directors in 2018. Brian has been in the financial services industry since 2002 and currently works as a Financial Advisor with The Robinson Group at Merrill Lynch in Tallahassee. Brian has provided wealth management and investment advisory services to non-profits, businesses, and high net worth individuals and families and has made Tallahassee his home for more than 20 years since moving here to attend Florida State University. His interest in Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend began when his children entered elementary school and he saw first-hand the need for positive role models in the lives of so many of their classmates.
Michele has been a big sister in the school based mentoring program since 2017 and joined the Board of Directors in 2018. She is an experienced teacher and trainer who is committed to education at all levels. Michele is passionate about helping others continue to work towards their goals through connecting and mentoring opportunities.
Ella Schwarz Parisi
Ella joined the board of directors in 2018. Currently, she works at Comcast Spotlight as the National and Regional Sales Manager for Tallahassee and Panama City. Prior to Tallahassee, Ella worked in Miami, NYC and Detroit (her hometown). She is married to Dan, is the mother of two grown daughters, and enjoys running with her dog BlueBelle. Ella’s interest in BBBS was sparked by her daughters mentorship in the program.
Nathan Adams IV
Nathan "Nate" Adams IV joined our board in 2017. He is a partner at Holland & Knight practicing in complex commercial and appellate litigation with a special emphasis on healthcare, education and hospitality, as well as nonprofit and religious organizations. Dr. Adams is a Florida Bar Board Certified Education Lawyer. Before joining Holland & Knight, Dr. Adams worked for the Florida Executive Office of the Governor and the Florida Department of Education, including the Division of Florida Colleges and Board of Governors.
Matt Brown is the General Manager of WTXL-TV, the ABC affiliate in Tallahassee. Matt has over two decades of experience in local television stations, including in Tampa where he was previously news director. During his four years in Tampa, Matt volunteered as a Big Brother for the Tampa Bay BBBS and also served on the Hillsborough County Leadership Council for BBBS.
Matt began his career as a reporter and anchor, eventually serving dual roles as news director and primary anchor until 2006. Of his 24 years in local TV, Matt has held a management role for 20 of those years. He has experience in growing diverse & talented teams, creating collaborative workplaces and achieving ratings and revenue success.
Matt is a graduate of the 2018-2019 class for the Broadcast Leadership Training program, an MBA-level executive training program put on by the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation. Matt and his wife Jackie have two daughters in college.