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 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.
AUBRIE SIMPSON GOTHAM
Brittany is a Jacksonville native. She currently works as a Litigation Paralegal at The Gillis Law Firm. Brittany has worked in the legal field for many years. She is excited to join the board of Fostering Connections St. Johns as a Founding Board Member and get involved in the St. Augustine community. Brittany loves children and supporting children in need. She is the proud mother of two sons, Chris and Bryce. In her spare time, Brittany loves visiting Disney World and spending time with family and friends.
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 the newly founded Fostering Connections of St. Johns. In addition, she is serving as the Vice 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).
Dr. Eliana Melendez is the owner of Changing Tides Chiropractic & Wellness. She provides chiropractic and wellness care to children and adults in a compassionate and friendly atmosphere. Dr. Melendez specializes in treating patients with neck and back pain. sports injuries, and headaches and migraines. She believes in the importance of health and wellness as a component of chiropractic care. Dr. Melendez provides nutritional counseling services for her patients. Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Melendez moved to Florida to attended Palmer College of Chiropractic. She graduated in 2018 from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, FL. Dr. Melendez opened Changing Tides Chiropractic & Wellness in 2018. Dr. Melendez loves living in St. Augustine and enjoys its beauty and culture. She is excited to be a Founding Board Member of Fostering Connections St. Johns. Supporting children in foster care is a cause dear to Dr. Melendez’s heart. Her uncle spent time in foster care before he was adopted by her grandparents in Puerto Rico. Her uncle’s experiences give her a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of local children in foster care. Dr. Melendez is engaged to Dr. Andrew Warren, who is also a local chiropractor. They enjoy living an active lifestyle participating in sports and outdoor activities.
DR. ELIANA MENENDEZ
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.
EMILI ERIN PUENTE
Hi! My name is Jen Lee. I moved to St. Augustine almost 5 years ago from York, Pennsylvania. My husband, son and I moved south for a job opportunity and to enjoy more outdoor time with the warmer weather. After moving to Florida, we felt called to become foster parents and got our license. We fostered several children, one turning into a long-term placement and we adopted Kooper. I witnessed the different emotions children go through when entering a foster home, visitations with parents, attending and testifying in court hearings, and working with a support team that includes a caseworker and Guardian Ad Litem. This experience has changed my life and these children will always have a special place in my heart. I am honored to be part of the board as I am passionate in helping children feel loved and care for. I started a small non-profit in February 2018 that provides care packages to children transitioning into foster care. Having experience as a licensed foster parent and a non-profit that works with foster children, I am excited to be part of this great cause with Fostering Connections St. Johns!
Katy Gillis is a high-character leader and proven business developer who strives for excellence while keeping relationships her top priority. With over 14 years as an entrepreneur, she owns and operates a global organization in the fitness industry with several business layers including personal fitness coaching, fitness leader training, business mentoring, group coaching, and retail sales. Her team of over 500 fitness coaching leaders serves thousands of people in hundreds of cities and towns across the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. Staying teachable, flexible, and creative, Katy enjoys delivering quality results and increasing the value she brings to the people in her family, community, and business. “I would say that I’m pretty dedicated to personal and professional development and developing those around me. There’s nothing like watching your people grow and win! I am extremely motivated to serve well. I love living my brand, and partner with people and organizations who feel the same way. When who we are, what we do, and what we say align, work is a joy and effort (as well as results) are maximized. I believe that providing an unforgettable experience where people know and feel valued is the true winning achievement, and staying grounded to my beliefs keeps me inspired to bring fresh energy and ideas to the table.” Since 2017, Katy has been a member of the Board of Directors for tag! Children’s Museums of St. Augustine and serves as Governance Chair and is a member of the Marketing and Capital Campaign committees. She is excited to be a founding Board Member of Fostering Connections St. Johns. Originally from Atlanta, Katy lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband Andy and their three children Livy (10), Liam (7), and Tory (4), where they enjoy living an active lifestyle
Michael Boen is a Sales Executive with Golden Hammer Roofing and Co-Director of US Majesty Scholarship Pageant. He has been a St. Augustine resident for six years. Originally from Arkansas, Mike has been a lifelong entrepreneur, working in sales and owning businesses in Tennessee and Florida. Mike and his wife Shane have been married for eleven years and have one teenage son, Brandon. They are members of Anastasia Baptist Church and are very active in volunteer service in the local community. Shane was Mrs. American Dream 2016 and is very passionate about raising awareness about human trafficking. You can often find the Boen family leading youth small groups at church or volunteering at local events on the weekends. Helping children in foster care and supporting foster parents is a passion for Mike and his family. Mike and his wife Shane adopted their son Brandon from foster care. Mike and Shane are in the process of adopting their second child from foster care. Mike is excited to be a Founding Board Member of Fostering Connections St. Johns and lead efforts to support children in foster care and local foster families.
Adam is a Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Properties. He provides customers with success in buying and selling Real Estate. Adam has been a St. Augustine local since 1998. Raised in South Florida, when he first came to St. Augustine, he yearned to be back in the big city. It wasn’t until later in life and after moving several times, that he realized his love for this unique little town. Now Adam can’t see himself living anywhere else. His most recent venture took him to Philadelphia for his career, but he returned home when his mother lost her battle with breast cancer. On December 15, 2013, Adam lost his mother, but gained his niece, Kayla, who had been in her care. Adam’s next chapter started by going from single bachelor to single father. All that changed when he met his wife, Lindsay, in January of 2015. They married in March of 2017 and welcomed their son Carver Austin Lynn in May of 2018. Adam began his real estate venture in May 2016. Already known around town by many, from the popular local restaurants he previously ran, this transition was a great way for Adam to utilize the many connections and relationships he had developed over the years. Adam’s loyalty, hard work ethic, great customer service and “treat people the way you want to be treated” attitude has gained him much respect in this town. When not working, Adam enjoys being with his family and friends, which he also considers to be family. Adam enjoys giving back to the community and mentoring youth. He founded the Island Christmas Drive in 2015, an annual drive to find sponsors and donors for local families and children at Christmas. He is excited to be a Founding Board Member of Fostering Connections St. Johns. Adam also loves sports, anything Miami, and soaking up this beautiful Florida sunshine. The Lynn family is active in sports, with Kayla playing lacrosse and Adam being a former coach. They love taking weekend trips to Orlando whenever time allows and enjoying concerts at The Amp.