Caring for foster families. Creating a better tomorrow.
MEET OUR AMAZING BOARD MEMBERS!
Founder & President
Meet Aubrie Simpson-Gotham, President and Founder of Fostering Connections St. Johns!
Aubrie was born and raised in suburban Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and has been a St. Johns County resident for the past fifteen years. Aubrie has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Flagler College and a Master of Science in Pre-K/Primary Education from Nova Southeastern University. Aubrie began her career as a preschool and kindergarten teacher in high poverty schools. With a strong passion for volunteer service and helping those in need, she wanted to do more. Aubrie left her public school teaching career to work in the nonprofit sector. She has enjoyed volunteering with many local nonprofit organizations and works for a local nonprofit social service agency. Aubrie saw a need to connect and provide support services for local foster children and foster families, which gave her the inspiration to found Fostering Connections St. Johns. Aubrie is a member of the Rotary Club of St. Augustine Beach, a St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and serves on the board of the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida. She is happily married to her husband, Steve, an environmental specialist and Adjunct Professor at Flagler College. In her spare time, Aubrie enjoys baking, shopping, playing bunco, and traveling.
Micah is an accountant and partner of Clukey&Tebault, a local accounting firm. A St. Augustine native, Micah is passionate about working with local businesses and giving back to the community.
Adrianne was born and raised in Gulf Breeze, Florida. She relocated to St. Augustine, Florida in the fall of 2004 after being accepted to Flagler College, where she would earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with minors in Spanish and Legal Studies. While at Flagler College, Adrianne completed a semester of Spanish studies abroad at Intercultura Language School in Costa Rica. Adrianne was also a member of the English and Pre-Law honor society chapters at Flagler College, Sigma Tau Delta and Phi Alpha Delta. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, Adrianne went on to achieve her Juris Doctor degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2011 and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2012. During her legal education at Florida Coastal, Adrianne was an active member of the Family Law Society, worked as a Certified Legal Intern at Florida Coastal’s Family Law Clinic and earned a Family Law Certificate for her achievements in the program. Adrianne also interned at the Office of Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel for the 1st DCA while attending Florida Coastal. Following law school ,Adrianne practiced at a statewide civil litigation law firm for five years before opening her own firm. Today Adrianne's practice and passion are centered on family law. Adrianne lives in St. Augustine with her husband, Tim, and their sons Ashton and Pierce.
Tricia Hare is now enjoying her sixth year as a St. Augustine resident and has been volunteering in the community since she moved here from Northern Virginia. She believes nothing brings you more meaning, friendships and connections than finding places to jump in and help where it is needed within the community. Currently, Tricia is glad to be serving on the Board of Fostering Connections of St. Johns. In addition, she is serving as the Co-President of the Palencia Elementary School PTO and will take on the role of President for the next two school years. Tricia was a proud member of the Junior Service League of St. Augustine for five years (2013-2018). She served on the board as the Recording Secretary for two years and chaired their annual gala fundraiser twice. While not officially employed, Tricia is working on a new entrepreneurial venture that is expected to open for business this year. Right out of high school, she left Northern Virginia for the sunshine state to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Space Science at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. She also holds Masters degrees in Computer Science (Florida Institute of Technology) and Psychology (The New School for Social Research in New York City). Tricia met her husband Paxton when they worked together as Software Engineers at Harris Corporation in Melbourne, FL. Lucky for her, when she moved to New York City to pursue Psychology, Paxton moved up there for a new job. They got married in 2009 for the whopping sum of $25 at NYC City Hall. Now they are happily settled here in St. Augustine with their two kiddos, daughter Devon (age 9) and son Loden (age 5).
A random list of Tricia’s favorite things include: learning new skills, traveling to new places (road trips!), making fancy cakes and desserts, science fiction books and shows, philosophy and psychology, promoting empathy and environmental awareness, snuggling her kids, obsessing over chocolate, and riding roller coasters (the bigger, the faster, the better!). Some random facts: Tricia was a competitive baton twirler in her youth. She has been trained as a volunteer EMT. She loves community theater and has acted in/directed/worked on more than 20 productions (despite being an introvert!). She has been a bridesmaid more than 10 times (hence her $25 ceremony).
Amanda is a Jacksonville native. Her family recently moved to St. Augustine after spending several years living around the United States.
Amanda earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southeastern University and a Master of Education in School Counseling from the University of North Florida. She has over 20 years of teaching experience. Amanda has served as a high school English teacher, a school guidance counselor, tutoring center director, and program director. Currently, Amanda serves as Development & Membership Director of the Professional Educators Network of Florida and as the Founder of MindRise Learning, a local tutoring company.
Amanda worked with youth in foster care as the Founding Program Director of the Bridge, a program of Mission West Virginia. She helped mentor youth in foster care and helped the students with college planning. Amanda is excited work with St. Johns County youth in foster care and help with our outreach programs for teens.
Emili-Erin Puente was born and raised in beautiful St. Augustine, FL. After earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of North Florida (UNF). For the past 10 years, Emili-Erin has worked within the mental health community developing acute inpatient and residential treatment programs in her various roles. She enjoys working with a vast array of ages, and has worked with previous clients as young as 20 months of age and as old as 102 years of age.
She opened St. Augustine Behavioral Health, LLC, and currently has an outpatient practice, where she facilitates individuals, couples, family counseling as well as group therapy.
A Jacksonville native, Melissa has been a resident of St. Johns for several years. She joined our board last year to give back to the community and support our local foster families.
Melissa is the Director of IT at Flagler Health +. She is a mom of three children and very active in supporting their athletic and extracurricular activities. Melissa loves to do crafts and enjoys sharing her artistic talents with her family and community.
Joel Abo’s journey began when he was born on a U.S. military base in Keflavik, Iceland. His father was a career Navy Seabee (Vietnam Veteran) who retired after 23 years of service but not before passing along his do-it-yourself knowledge and strong work ethic. His mother was the domestic engineer of the family and managed Joel along with his three older sisters while earning the unofficial title of “greatest chef of Philippine cuisine!”
He spent a few years of his childhood in Cuba as his father’s apprentice learning how to throw a net, cast a line, and lure in all types of different fish. This time spent outside of Florida also continues to inspire him to learn about the people, food, and communities at the heart of the world’s various cultures.
Joel’s educational achievements include a Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of North Florida and a Master’s in Business Administration from Jacksonville University.
Although his career began in the risk management and insurance industry, one of his greatest passions came to fruition when he began working for St. Johns River State College as an instructor and the Director of Business Education. Since joining SJR State, Joel has completed the Chamber of Commerce Leadership programs for Clay and St. Johns Counties. He currently serves on the Small Business Council of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, the Vystar Business and Finance Academy for Clay and St. Johns County School Districts, and the River House/Council on Aging Advisory Board. He provides corporate training to assist companies in achieving their missions and goals. He also teaches the business capstone course where he helps students focus on the various skills needed to acquire, maintain, and advance their career.
Joel and his wife (a veteran high school English teacher) not only share a passion for education, but are also very passionate about foster care youth. They adopted their now 21 year old daughter when she was 10 years old and have truly enjoyed watching her realize her dreams of working in the equine industry with therapeutic horses.
When the weather is favorable you will often find Joel with his toes in the sand and his pole in the water accompanied by his wife and their four canine kids.
Steph is the Community & Connections Guide at the Women's Business Development Council of Florida and the owner of Steph McFee, a coaching and consulting firm that works with businesses and individuals to help them increase engagement and build connections.
Steph is a curator of people. She believes every person is a masterpiece and she works to curate you to help people connect with the person the world wants to know.
Originally from Alabama, Steph has an extensive background in marketing and communications. She has a Bachelors Degree in Fashion Merchandising and a Masters Degree in Consumer Affairs, both from Auburn University. Steph served as a college professor at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia and worked for many years in the nonprofit sector and a large corporation before opening her consulting firm.
In addition to her board position with Fostering Connections St. Johns, Steph serves as a board member of the St. Johns County Chamber of CommerceWomen with Vision Council.
Steph's passions in life are empowering women,sharing a message of equality, and sustainability. Steph has several close friends that have been foster and adoptive parents. She is passionate about supporting foster families and ensuring that all children in foster care have all of the resources they need to reach their full potential.
Steph is the proud mom of a young daughter. They love to travel and explore new places together. Steph loves Disney and frequently visits Disney , her "Happy Place", with her daughter.
Born in Georgia and raised with his three siblings, Bill learned early on the value of hard work, teamwork, and perseverance since moving to NE Florida in 1972. He graduated near the top of both his high school and college and was Student Body President for both. He worked full-time to pay his own way through college.
He has always been an entrepreneur, starting his first business by turning an old car wash into a drive-thru convenience store just off the campus of the University of Florida, when he was 18 years old. After college, He spent the next decade building successful Healthcare Information Technology companies, which allowed him to invest in companies within our communities, as well as volunteering for a variety of charitable causes, including serving as a Guardian ad Litem. Bill served as a St Johns County Commissioner from 2012 - 2016.