denese carty                                      

Business Development Manager for FBC Mortgage, LLC

Denese Carty has been active in the Mortgage industry for 26 years.   She has a progressive sales career building and leading top-producing partnerships in real estate, retail, correspondent, and wholesale mortgage. Combine expert skills in assembling strong teams, strategic sales planning, needs assessment, presentations, client relations, and staff development within complex markets. Personal record of consistently closing deals for top-digit gains in revenues and market share, for competitive multi-million dollar marketplaces. Creative mindset fueling new ideas and go-to-market strategies that create value, regardless of the type of work engaged.  Denese is currently the Business Development Manager for FBC Mortgage, LLC.  She is in charge of growing new markets within the business.  
Denese has previously worked with Habitat for Humanity, Mortgage Bankers Association, Home Builders Association & Women’s Council of Realtors.
She is a very active Longwood, Florida resident and single mother of two, Alexandra (17) & Cooper (13).



kim barna                                        

Vice President of Operations for The Pelletier Group

Kim Barna is Vice President of Operations for The Pelletier Group, a residential appraisal company that is owned and operated by herself and her husband.  Kim is a graduate of Bowling Green State University, where she received her BS in Restaurant Management.

After enjoying a successful career in both the restaurant and banking industry, Kim has turned her sights on becoming a Certified Residential Appraiser along side her husband in order to help expand their company.


mellissa slover-athey                                        

VP / CRA Officer at Center State Bank

Mellissa Slover-Athey has been in banking for 17 years and is currently a Vice President and Community Reinvestment Act Officer for CenterState Bank.  She is actively involved in several community groups and professional organizations.  She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Florida – Go, KNIGHTS! 

Her passion is educating others on financial knowledge to provide the tools necessary for a successful life. She encourages and recruits others often to give back to their communities with time and talent - a gift more precious than money.


amy wacker                                         

director of ioa risk services at insurance office of america

Amy Wacker has been with Insurance Office of America for the past 5 years and is the Director of IOA Risk.  She works hard to build successful risk management programs for organizations that IOA Insurance Brokers protect.  She is a valuable team player and knows that helping organizations can never be a one size fits all.  

Amy has been a resident of Seminole County for one year and loves spending time serving at her kids schools Sable Point Elementary, Rock Lake Middle School and helping with the various activities that they are involved including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  She also has helped with Habitat for Humanity Build Projects, Harvest Time, Feeding Children Everywhere, and volunteering on a weekly basis teaching 1st graders at Journey Christian Church.  

Amy is also serving as an Interim Board Member for her Homeowners Association and has enjoyed assisting and participating in several of the activities.  She is excited to help build healthy communities for others to enjoy and build memories in.  Amy is honored to be serving as part of the 25 Women Strong initiative.


holly sheets                                          

Personal Banker at The Citizens Bank 

As a Personal Banker at The Citizens Bank of Florida, Holly embraces active citizenship and community spirit, both of which are foundation principles at CBF. The Seminole County native has been in banking roles ranging from Teller to Head Teller, Mortgage Operations to her current responsibilities as the Longwood Branch Manager. She is driven by her love of helping those in need, her community at large and discovering each new life chapter as it arrives. Holly, her husband and their two year-old daughter reside in Sanford.

stephanie colwell                                                                 
Patient Access Manager at Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital

Stephanie serves as the Patient Access Manager at Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital.  She has been with Orlando Health for five years, and fully embraces the organization’s mission:  to improve the health and quality of life of the individuals and communities we serve. 

Stephanie earned a bachelor’s degree in Management and an MBA in Human Resources Management from Nova Southeastern University and has been the recipient of the Arnold Palmer gold star award for exceptional customer service.  When she is not with her team or meeting with patients, she can be found teaching group Spinning classes.  A Seminole County resident since the age of ten, Stephanie is proud to help make a positive difference in the lives of those in her community.  

paula dunkman                                          

ceo of Dunkman Paint & Wallcovering

On February 25, 1996, Dan & I started Dunkman Paint & Wallcovering. Dan ran our field operations and I handled the office functions and financial matters. Through the past 20 years Dunkman Paint & Wallcovering has evolved and grown. I have always emphasized the fact that we as owners do not use our business as our personal checkbook.

We have a responsibility to everyone we employ to be fiscally accountable. As we phase ourselves into retirement, our business will be in excellent hands. 

evelyn black                                    

Human Resources Manager for J. Raymond Construction Corp

Evelyn is the Human Resource Manager for J. Raymond Construction Corp., a general contractor specializing in commercial builds and operating out of Longwood, FL. She is a graduate of UCF where she earned both a B.A. in Business Administration and a M.S. in Change Management with a concentration in Human Resources.

Born in New Jersey, Evelyn spent her childhood in Colombia, South America and migrated to Central FL at the age of sixteen. A proud resident of Seminole County, she is grateful for the privilege of raising her 3 children in a community that provides abundant opportunities for safety, education, fulfillment, growth, and economic stability. Through her volunteer efforts, Evelyn hopes to help and empower other local families to build thriving homes and communities.  

julia howard                                         

Customer Service Staff Manager, Farmers/Bristol West Insurance

Julia joined the Farmers family in 1998, and has held many roles within the company since that time. She is currently the Customer Service Staff Manager for the Bristol West First Notice of Loss department. She also oversees the Glass, Coverage and Tow department.

Julia serves as the local lead for Farmers Community Cares Corp., the community service arm of Farmers. She is also currently spearheading Community Outreach and Networking initiatives for the Farmer's Women's Inclusion Network in Lake Mary. Julia is also very active in the community, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Rescue Outreach Mission in Sanford.   



Carolina Otalvaro                                          

Senior Vice President BSA/Compliance Officer
Florida Bank of Commerce

Carolina Otalvaro started her banking career as a Bank Examiner for the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, where she learned the value to promote a safe and sound financial marketplace to contribute to the growth of Florida’s economy. Carolina is a Senior Vice President at Florida Bank of Commerce, where she has been overseeing all compliance and regulatory oversight for the bank since 2007. 

Carolina has been an active member and part of the Board of the Central Florida Compliance Association (CFCA). She has been intimately involved in the coordination of the Association’s consumer compliance education meetings and annual conferences. Carolina graduated from Northeastern University with dual degrees in Finance and International Business. 

Carolina loves being part of a community bank with strong core values that encourages the active participation and leadership roles of our bankers in our local community to promote economic success and financial stability. 


Tifni Welch Neidhardt                                          

VP of Technology, Service, Training, and EIP at

I am proud to say I have had three amazingly strong woman shape my life.  I learned a different, yet invaluable lesson from each of them.  The dedication to physical labor, balancing finances to achieve home ownership, and the fulfillment of giving back to those who that are still striving to grow when I am fortunate enough to be able to do so.  I am honored to be a part of 25 woman strong and the Habitat for Humanity vision for these families and their new homes.

joyce odongo                                                                 
Vice President/Central Florida Senior Community Development Officer

Joyce Odongo is the senior community development officer for central Florida. She represents the company in community and economic development activities.  In her role, she establishes and maintains relationships with community organizations, such as activist groups, community agencies, nonprofits and minority organizations.  

She has over 10 years’ experience both in the corporate and not for profit industries.  She has been instrumental in developing key relationships within the community, managing philanthropic efforts, addressing the needs of the low- and moderate- income families, and providing financial education seminars. 

Prior to her career at Wells Fargo, she spent several years at Fifth Third Bank as vice president for Community Affairs. She also worked in the not for profit industry as a community advocate for   affordable housing, seniors, small business, and neighborhood revitalization efforts. She has a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance from Wayne State University, and a master’s degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
She currently serves on the following boards: Bethune Cookman University Board of Trustees, the City of Orlando Affordable Housing Advisory Commission, the African American Chamber of Commerce, UNCF Local Advisory Board, and the Florida Prosperity Partnership Board of Directors.

Her passion is working with not for profit organizations and providing financial education to empower others to obtain financial stability. Joyce will be working with the Global Fellows program in the 2015-2016 year as a volunteer coordinator for the Dubai team. 





elizabeth phipps                                          

Claims Counsel at Farmers/Bristol West Insurance

Beth is currently Claims Counsel for the East Zone for Bristol West Insurance.  She provides legal support to the claims operations.  Beth is also the current Chapter Lead of the Farmer's Women's Inclusion Network for Lake Mary.  Women Build has become a very important annual event for the members of the Network, and everyone is greatly looking forward to participating again this year. 



suzanne breitwieser                                          

finacial advisor with security financial management

Suzanne Breitwieser has been a Financial Advisor for the last 16 years and has been with Security Financial Management since 2009. My many years of experience in the financial industry have given me the building blocks and knowledge that I need to serve my clients. I understand having someone you can trust, who understands goals, and listens to you is critical when it comes to building your financial future. These are key elements, as you navigate through stages of wealth accumulation, retirement and leaving a legacy to the next generation.

Suzanne is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) with a degree in Psychology. She also holds a Real Estate Brokerage License and holds a Wealth Management Specialist (WMS) Designation from Kaplan College. Suzanne holds her security licenses 7, 63 and 66 along with her Life and Variable Annuity License.
On a personal note Suzanne is married and has a grown daughter and a step-son. Away from the office she spends time with her family, and enjoys her long morning walks at the beach, gardening and has a passion for sailing!
Suzanne is involved with the community through the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Executive Women’s Counsel, a supporter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), is part of the Feed the Need event for the Christian Service Center and Habitat for Humanity 25 Women Strong.


gwen timmons                                                                    
Realtor with Keller Williams Real Estate – Oviedo

Having grown up in Southern Mississippi, few things are more important to REALTOR® Gwen Timmons, than hospitality, and fellowship. Gwen puts her whole heart into each and every task she sets out to accomplish. While integrating her love of design, with her passion for helping people and her intense love of learning, Gwen has discovered the perfect formula for both personal and professional success. She embodies the following quote by Henri J.M. Nouwen: “Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.” 



trish walden                                                                 
CCIM, Broker at FBX Commercial, Inc.

A professional with a history with financial and sales work. Her professional career began in residential real estate and has  grown to a Commercial Real Estate and Business Brokerage market. Trish earned her CCIM,  prestigious commercial real estate designation to those  brokers with a portfolio of business  deal and classwork. 

Economic and Business development are the catalysts in her career. She participated in the Business Advisory Council with Seminole State College, Chaired the Economic Development Committee for the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce. She also held a Seminole County Commissioner appointed Advisory Board Member for the Seminole County Parks and Preservation Committee for 4 years; held a seat on the Board for the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, and now have an appointed position as an Advisory Board Member for the City of Casselberry Economic Development Advisory Board.  

Trish has the ability to understand the global needs of a situation while working to help create holistic response to meet the needs and/or create answers to solve issues.




jenelle schmidli                                                                    
Project Manager at
Allen and Company 

Tears of joy and inspiration overwhelmed me when I was nominated to be part of 25 Women Strong –Habitat for Humanity.  As a single mother, I know how challenging it can be to find affordable and adequate living arrangement to maintain a stable environment for a family to flourish.  My heart has been touched and I truly feel blessed to be able to pay it forward and be part of this amazing organization that helps change the lives of families! 



wendy sellers                                                                    
Managing Partner: Human Capital– BlackRain Partners

Wendy has a keen sense for HR practices that manage business risk, respect people and attract top talent. This has been acquired through years of HR experience in companies of different business categories, sizes, and ownership types.

She has a  master’s degree in human resources and master’s in health care administration.   Wendy offers BlackRain Partners’ clients honest, open, business-minded consulting with a sense of urgency. She guides them through change management, recruiting and talent management, benefits, cost control and employee relations. She is highly skilled at assessing organizational roles, processes and procedures, and extremely passionate about Strategic Human Resources, which means analyzing the big picture and delivering sound solutions that address real-business issues.    

But, her focus always remains on the bottom line.  

 Before joining BlackRain Partners as the Managing Partner of Human Capital Strategies in 2012, Wendy directed change management and HR in national and international companies – often during critical growth periods, such as mergers and acquisitions. As exp US consolidated 30 companies under one brand, she ensured HR programs and services were consistent and accessible to all employees throughout the highly diversified and decentralized engineering firm. She also implemented 401(k) risk strategies and a sustainable health-insurance structure. These efforts significantly reduced voluntary turnover from a high of 19.5 percent to 8.8 percent.    

When not meeting the business needs of clients, Wendy can be found volunteering with the Seminole Advisory Board Council, Shepherd’s Hope Program Committee, The Greater Sanford Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) @ the Oviedo-Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce. She has served on the Board of Directors of The Mustard Seed of Central Florida and in volunteer positions for American Cancer Society, March of Dimes and Big Brothers Big Sisters. 



sarah pape                                                                    
at Zimmerman, Kiser, & Sutcliffe, P.A. 

Sarah is an attorney with the law firm of Zimmerman, Kiser, & Sutcliffe, P.A., where she handles a variety of business litigation matters. Sarah has consistently been recognized as a Rising Star in Super Lawyer Magazine, and was named a “Woman to Watch” by the Orlando Business Journal. Sarah grew up in Central Florida, and is committed to dedicating a portion of her time to giving back to her community. Sarah lives in Seminole County with her husband and 3-year old daughter. 



sara meyer mercado                                                                    
Financial Advisor with Thrivent Financial 

Sara Meyer Mercado is a financial advisor with Thrivent Financial, a 100+ year old Fortune 500 financial services organization that educates individuals and families on being wise with their money in order to live generous lives. Sara is passionate about serving her community and being a leader in bringing innovative solutions to the world of social responsibility. She envisions a world where all families are in a position of financial surplus to be able to make a difference in causes they care about.



nan mann                                                                    
Senior Vice President and
Loan Compliance and CRA Officer at Floridian Bank  

Nan began her banking career with the OCC as a Bank Examiner in Orlando. She later joined Sun Banks, Inc. as Statewide Compliance Manager before moving into commercial lending and branch management. She started a community bank by managing Loan Administration and later Special Assets and in 2013 joined Floridian Bank. Nan received her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.



susan fernandez                                   

Corporate Communications and Government Relations at
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas

Susan directs Corporate Communications efforts at Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas (MHPSA) which includes Internal and External Communications and Community Relations. She also serves as lead on MHPSA Local and State Government Relations and manages Federal Government Relations efforts.

Susan served previously as Regional Director for United States Senator Marco Rubio representing Senator Rubio in the Central Florida region. She was an integral part of the Consensus Communications team for 16 years that had run nine successful statewide campaigns and numerous local, state and federal candidate campaigns and served as Senator Mel Martinez’s campaign finance director from 2007-2008. 

SUsan defreese                                                                    
Senior Vice President and Compliance Manager at IBERIABANK

board chair, 25 Women strong 

Susan A. deFreese is a career banker and is a Senior Vice President and Compliance Manager at IBERIABANK. She also serves as the Central Florida Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Liaison. In 1974, Susan began her career with the U.S. Treasury as a National Bank Examiner. She transitioned to being a banker and established successful compliance programs for de novo and existing financial institutions. Susan has been in the Central Florida market since 1988. 

Susan is actively involved in several professional associations serving in officer and Board positions. Personally, she is an active member of the Board and finance committee of Habitat for Humanity of Seminole County & Greater Apopka. Also, she is the chair of the 2016 Women Build program for this Habitat group. Susan graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Accounting. 

carla hogan                                                                    
Owner at Look Local Marketing  

Carla and hubby Greg have 3 kids and 2 grandkiddies. After many years in Corporate America, Carla now co-owns Look Local Marketing.  She is happy to provide value in our Central Florida community by promoting local businesses and supporting local non-profit organizations with Look Local Magazine.  

Carla is proud to donate, fundraise and volunteer for Habitat, resonating with Habitat’s core values of providing affordable home ownership for local families who need “A Hand Up, not A Hand Out,” while also improving the health of our local economy!


elizabeth hale                                                                    
Director of Enterprise Application Development at the University of Central Florida  

A member of the Central Florida community for over 25 years.  Participant in community and church activities supporting education, the arts and fund raising.

An Information Technology professional with the University of Central Florida.  A long-time supporter of the Habitat for Humanity organization and its’ mission.  Having been a single mom, understands and is an advocate for creating a familiar, safe  and loving environment for children to grow.


Brandy Blackwell                                                                    
Senior Marketing Manager at Tijuana Flats Restaurants  

Brandy Blackwell, Senior Marketing Manager, oversees all social media, public relations, local store marketing, and new store opening efforts for Tijuana Flats Tex-Mex restaurants, a Central Florida based restaurant chain with 115 units spanning six states.  Blackwell joined Tijuana Flats in 2008 which has since tripled in unit count and exceeded $100 million in annual sales. Prior to joining Tijuana Flats, Brandy served as a Public Relations Coordinator at Anson Stoner Advertising Agency.

Brandy currently serves in several leadership positions including Secretary for Tijuana Flats Just In Queso Foundation, Board Member for The College Park Partnership, and the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee.  

Additionally, she is a member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Florida and has mentored a “little” for last three years.  Blackwell is a graduate from the University of Florida and a lifelong Gator fan