Board of Directors
Samantha Vance, Board President
Bold. Passionate. Dedicated. Samantha Vance, migrated from a first-generation college graduate to a social entrepreneur, business owner, author, and Commissioner on the Status of Women and Girls for the City of Tallahassee and Leon County. She started her businesses while working full-time, exuding perseverance and resilience. Samantha’s focus is in small business and nonprofit development, and her greatest passion is developing young women into future leaders. She believes in spreading LOVE, and light, and standing on the principles of GOD.
As the Founder and Executive Director of Ladies Learning to Lead (L3), an organization that prepares young ladies in middle and high school for college, careers, and life, Ms. Sam as the youth call her, provides mentorship, professional development training, and life plans for young ladies.
Samantha was selected as one of Tallahassee’s top professional African American’s of the year for 2019 to be featured in the African American History Calendar created by Tallahassee Community College. Samantha is the President of the Leon County Alliance for Girls, Fundraising Chair for Tallahassee Healing Prayer Ministries and functions as a board member for AMI Kids Tallahassee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, and Whole Child Leon. Samantha is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science, minor in Public Administration and holds a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Management from the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship.
Chicarla Williams-Pye, Interim Vice President
Chicarla Williams Pye was born and raised in Havana, Florida. She received her early education in the public schools of Gadsden County where she graduated as Valedictorian with honors from Havana Northside High School in 1993. Upon graduation, Chicarla attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where she obtained a B.S. degree in Social Work, with Honors; she continues to pursue a Master of Applied Social Sciences.
Currently, Chicarla is the Legislative Aide to State Representative Ramon Alexander, of District 8. She formally served as an Aide to former State Representatives Alan Williams, and Curtis Richardson. In addition she is a managing partner of Community Innovative Solutions, LLC a consultant management & grant development firm. She serves as the Chief Financial Officer for several non-profits, such as the Alpha Educational and Leadership Foundation, Inc., Council of Church Based Health Programs, Inc. and Health Promotion Program Initiatives, Inc. Chicarla lives by the motto, “Faith without work is dead”. To that end, she offers her time to many community charities and organizations. Her dedication to her church, family and community is evident by her involvement of servant leadership; she sings praises to God in the gospel group Compassion. Chicarla enjoys event planning, reading God’s Word, and mentoring young women. She received several awards for her service to the State and has elected membership in several civic associations. Chicarla is married to Thaddeus Pye who has made it a life mission to serve and inspire youth.
Glenda Thornton, Secretary
Glenda Thornton is a Vice President for Accretive Health. Previously, she was General Counsel for the Florida Lottery after practicing law for over 20 years, including many years as a partner at the International law firm, Foley & Lardner. Very involved in her community, Glenda has served as chairman of the boards for Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, the Greater Tallahassee Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Big Bend, Workforce Plus, Leadership Tallahassee, the American Heart Association and Capital City Bank’s Leon Community Advisory Board. She has also served on the following boards: Community Foundation of North Florida, Tallahassee Memorial Foundation, Seminole Boosters, Southeastern Community Blood Center, Downtown Redevelopment Commission and the Southern Shakespeare Festival.
A graduate of Florida State University College of Law and the 2005 recipient of the law school’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Glenda is also a graduate of Leadership Florida and Leadership Tallahassee and was the 2001 Recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Awards’ Pacesetter Award. Among her honors, her hometown, Mobile, Alabama and her current home, Tallahassee, Florida have both proclaimed Glenda Thornton Day. Also, the Leon County Career Resource Center was renamed the Glenda L. Thornton Career Resource Center.
Bob Asztalos has lobbied on health care issues at both the state and Federal levels since 1985. Currently, Chief Lobbyist for the Florida Health Care Association and owner of the lobbying firm of Asztalos & Associates. In addition to lobbying, Bob works with FHCA staff at the long term health care desk in the State Emergency Operations Center during hurricanes and disasters. Bob is the former Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Health Care Association in Tallahassee and the Senior Congressional Affairs Representative for the American Health Care Association in Washington DC. He previously served as Associate Director of Government Affairs with the American Physical Therapy Association and a Legislative Specialist with the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. Bob has a Master’s degree in Legislative Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from George Washington University. He completed twenty-nine years active and reserve service as a Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve and currently serves in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Pam is married 43 years to Professor Dr. Dennis Ridley, has two grown sons Andrew & Jon one grandson, Patrick (4 1/2) & a grand daughter Alicia (1 1/2)
Pam was born on 9/11 in Trinidad & was an avid sports woman representing both Trinidad & Jamaica national field hockey teams at the International level and the University of the West Indies tennis team.
Upon marriage, Pam moved to Jamaica in 1975 and graduated in applied chemistry minor in Math (BSc) from The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. Taught Chemistry, math and science at St. Andrews Girls High school in Jamaica before relocating to Clemson SC. In 1979 where she once again was in the classroom at TriCounty Tech teaching Chemistry.
Pam has lived in other countries and states and relocated to Tallahassee some 31 years ago. She taught Chemistry at TCC before becoming an entrepreneur & business owner of Sentry Self Service Storage since 1992(25+years now).
Pam's daily life focuses on service & paying it forward to her Golden Eagle neighborhood, Good Shepherd Catholic Church and the wider Tallahassee community.
Board member past: Club 25, Refuge House PACE Center, Riley House, Zonta Club of Tallahassee, Golden Eagle Ladies Tennis, Good Shepherd Council
Present: Golden Eagle Ladies Club, Capital Area Community Action, 2nd Harvest of the Big Bend, Caribbean American Heritage Council, Capital City Chamber of Commerce
Among her many accolades she is most proud of:
-Named in 2008 a "25 Woman you need to know" by the Tallahassee Democrat
-A 2009 runner up for "Volunteer of the Year"
-2013 small business of the year receiving the Parks and Crump community service award
-2015 TCC woman of distinction & a Girls Scout "Distinguished Leader of the Year"
to mention a few
Pat Smith was raised in Kingsland, Georgia as one of seven children. After graduating high school, she attended Florida A&M University where she studied Journalism Broadcast.
In July 2019, she was appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet under the leadership of Florida’s First Lady, Casey DeSantis.
Prior to her recent appointment, she worked at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) for nearly two decades within the office of communications where she coordinated the department’s community and faith-based outreach initiatives and routinely represented the department at various stakeholder events.
She is known for her commitment to supporting and mentoring youth. A true Public Servant who she wants to motivate others with her passion for service and believes that through community engagement her fellow Floridians will be driven to serve their neighbors in need.
She is a Certified Public Manager (CPM), and no stranger to Northwest Florida. Community recognitions include being named by the Tallahassee Democrat as one of Tallahassee’s “Top 25 Women You Need to Know” and served on the inaugural Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. She currently serves on the Governor’s Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council as well as the Renaissance Charter School Board. She is deeply grateful for the privilege to inspire others to be the change they wish to see in the world.
Stephanie Eller Vaughn
Stephanie Eller Vaughn is a nonprofit executive with more than 20 years of professional experience working with arts organizations and institutions of higher education. A native of Asheville, NC, Stephanie moved to Tallahassee in 1996 to work on a PhD in Arts Management at Florida State University. Ms. Eller-Vaughn then returned to her employer of 13 years, the Brevard Music Center and Festival, where she served as Director of Marketing, Public Relations, and Corporate Sponsorships as well as Development Manager and Manager of Admissions. She later relocated to Tallahassee working as Director of Development at Florida State University where she was presented with the “Outstanding Service Award for Fundraising Excellence” from the Marching Chiefs Alumni Organization.
After getting married and having her son, Connor, Stephanie taught graduate arts administration students as an adjunct professor in her department. Choosing to put her career on hold to be a stay-at- home mom, Stephanie has served as a volunteer with several Tallahassee organizations including the Guardian ad Litem program, the Women4FSU, Cornerstone Learning Community, Voces Angelorum, and the FSU Autism Institute Advisory Council.
Prior to relocating to Tallahassee permanently, Stephanie served as an elected board member of the Brevard, NC, Chamber of Commerce and a public relations committee member with both the Asheville, NC, and Hendersonville, NC, Chambers of Commerce. She has volunteered extensively with both SC and NC public radio stations during fundraising drives and served as a mentor with the Boys and Girls Club of Hendersonville, NC.
Stephanie has sung professionally with the Asheville Lyric Opera, various universities, and numerous churches.
Stephanie graduated from Furman University with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance and earned a master’s degree in performing arts management from The American University in Washington, DC.
Johnitta Wells is the Conference and Communications Manager at the Florida Housing Coalition. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating the logistics for the Coalition’s annual conference, assisting affordable housing advocates with the tools needed to advocate for affordable housing through the Sadowski Affiliates, and handles the Coalition’s communications, including messaging to internal and external audiences, and the Coalition’s website. Prior to joining the Coalition, Wells served as communications coordinator with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and editor at Florida A&M University. She brings a wealth of experience in public relations, marketing and publications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Florida A&M University.
Dr. Marcella Torres, Immediate Past President
Dr. Marcella Torres is an author, educator, motivational speaker, expositor, trainer, workshop facilitator, esteem lecturer, life coach and an advocate for children and families. She is a well sought after speaker who has graced many platforms and changed many lives. Marcella holds a ministerial license and has been in ministry for over 30 years. Her motto is, “Life is not defined by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that have been breath taking.”
Having conducted many life changing workshops such as, Leadership 2000, Unmasking Sexually Con- Games, Understanding My Child, Parenting 101, Creating a Safe Environment, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Diversity, Understanding the People I Work With and Money Management and Goal Setting, she considers herself to be on the cutting edge; using old fashion principles and simple practices to make positive change.
As the Founder and CEO of Let’s TALK Training and Consulting Group, she has over 30 years of experience in working with families and at-risk youth. She is currently employed as Principal and Director of Symphony Seven School of Arts and Technology.