The Foundation Team is composed of individuals who have devoted their personal and professional lives to advancing the equity movement.
Innovation is supported by the pursuit of diverse thoughts and ideas, and the Foundation team has been consciously curated to include people from a variety of backgrounds. Staff range in age from 20s-60s, many with deep Pinellas and St. Petersburg roots. The team has experience from public, private, faith and non-profit sectors, and many have achieved the highest certifications possible for their fields. 60% of Staff are BIPOC, and there is representation from colleagues of color throughout all levels of power and decision making.
Years of Combined Experience in Equity Work
Full-time Foundation Staff Members
Hours of Collective Equity Training Completed
The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg Team
Carrie Y. Hepburn-Brown is the Senior Director of Engagement for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. In this role, Carrie establishes and facilitates execution of the listening framework, manages the listening portfolio for the organization, including coordinating key convenings that emerge from community ideas. Carrie has responsibility to strategically expand the advocacy and antiracist networks on behalf of the Foundation and serves as the lead staff member for the Pinellas Race Equity Leadership Council, and other key initiatives.
Previously, Carrie served as the CEO & Principal Consultant at Onyx Strategic Consulting, LLC, a boutique firm committed to creating a more equitable world.
Carrie has vast experience working with organizations to advance racial justice and develop and execute strategies to reduce health inequities. Her scope of work includes designing and implementing impactful programs, coordinating engaging events, cultivating meaningful relationships, facilitating, and training.
Select highlights from Carrie’s portfolio include supporting a national network to improve oral health access and outcomes, managing a local nonprofit focused on improving community (population) health and wellness, working as the project director for a large multi-year federal grant program, supporting a community consortium, coordinating a countywide coalition, and implementing youth development programs.
Prior to joining the non-profit sector, Carrie was employed as a business consultant for a worldwide management and consulting firm. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Molecular Biology and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science – both from Florida A & M University.
Harold Bryant Jr. is a Community Engagement Coordinator. He brings 15 years of experience in program and events management to daily operation at the Center. He also has expertise in political campaign marketing, program management and logistics, and graphic design and branding.
Harold is a St. Petersburg native. He attended the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School and the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale for Broadcasting and Promotions. He holds an Associates Degree in Business Administration and Management with a focus on Marketing from St. Petersburg College.
Belinda Childs is the Controller at the Foundation where she serves in the leading staff role for financial operations, financial reporting, and HR operations. She also supports the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer in financial analysis, contract execution, and administrative functions.
Belinda has over 20 years of experience in healthcare and nonprofit organizations. Previously, she was the Accounting Manager at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Assistant Controller at Largo Medical Center, Financial Analyst at St. Anthony’s Healthcare, and Financial Analyst and Senior Financial Analyst at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. She also worked at the Foundation for 5 years—from its inception in 2013 through 2018—in the roles of Lead Accountant, Director of Finance, and Consultant before returning in 2021 as the Controller.
Belinda holds a Bachelor of Science and Fifth Year in Accounting from the University of South Florida.
In her role as Community Engagement Advocate, Kyandra Darling works collaboratively across the Foundation team to deepen connections to South Pinellas County leadership and residents and engage new audiences who are not yet connected to the health equity movement. She is most excited about the opportunity to effectively communicate the Foundation’s initiatives while directly influencing change for our most vulnerable residents.
Kyandra’s previous positions include Legislative Aide in the Office of City Council, Assistant to Outreach Director at Florida’s 13th District Congressional Office, and Marketing Team Member for Red Bull North America. She is a St. Petersburg native from a family actively engaged in community service. She is a proud graduate of Gibbs High School and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of South Florida. She enjoys spending time outside of work exploring our city’s best parks and green spaces with her young son and her dog.
Nathan Gil is responsible for grant administration and compliance as well as data management and maintenance across platforms for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. He also assists in streamlining processes and maximizing the potential for technology solutions which is imperative in advancing the mission of the Foundation.
In addition to his core responsibilities, Nathan assists with planning events at the Center for Health Equity and advancing the Latinx Engagement Strategy. He has been trained in the Courageous Conversation About Race Protocol 1 and 2 and attended the Pacific Education Group LatinX Summit in 2019. Nate also attended the 2019 Foundation staff tour of civil rights museums and historical sites to advance his understanding of the history of race equity and social change.
He has been a member of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee of Technology Association of Grantmakers (TAG), a philanthropy sector support organization.
Nathan holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Florida with a focus in Cultural and Public Health and earned an MBA of Healthcare Management from St. Leo University in 2021.
In his role as Chief Equity Officer, Carl R. Lavender, Jr. guides community investments including grants, partnerships and program design, in alignment with the Foundation’s mission of racial and health equity. Lavender works with President and CEO Randall H. Russell to plan, assess, and direct Foundation strategy and resources to advance race equity to achieve health equity in Pinellas County. He will serve as a resource and sounding board for staff and community partners seeking the most effective and impactful ways to build a race equity movement in the region.
Lavender’s previous roles with the Foundation include Senior Director of Programs and Chief Engagement Advocate Officer. He has made a notable career leading nonprofit organizations in Pinellas County for the past 20 years and served in high level community advancement and fundraising positions in Chicago and Cleveland nonprofits prior to that.
Lavender holds a bachelor’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from The Ohio State University and a master’s in Human Services – Non-Profit Organizational Management (cum laude) from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
Omar A. López is an experienced Human Resources professional with expertise in areas of Employee Relations, Leadership Development, Talent Management, and Cultural Equity. He joins the Foundation to help with Human Resources functions, including benefits, compensation, recruitment and more. Along with his responsibilities in HR, Omar also helps oversee the Administration of the Foundation office and facilities.
Omar brings with him years of consulting work, helping organizations working to improve employee engagement and development, as well as lead initiatives meant to improve workplace culture, recruitment and hiring practices, and internal communication.
Omar has a certification as a Senior Certified Professional from the Society for Human Resource Management as well as a certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources from the HR Certification Institute. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Business Management and Cognitive Psychology, as well as MBA’s in HR Management and Organizational Psychology.
Omar is also a professional musician, playing saxophone, piano, and drums and enjoys performing throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Carol Martin Brown will serve in the leading finance staff role at the Foundation, handling all day-to-day revenue and expenses related to operations. Carol is a senior financial leader with experience in both the financial services industry and the social sector. She previously served in Chief Financial Officer (CFO) roles at the following organizations: Transamerica Fund Advisors, Inc., in St. Petersburg, Innovation Education at the University of South Florida, and The New Teacher Project, a national nonprofit based in Brooklyn, New York. Early in her career, Carol worked in New York at Ernst & Young as a senior auditor and in financial management roles at Morgan Stanley Trust Company and J.P. Morgan Chase Investor Services.
She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration – Accounting and Finance from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Dr. Susie Paterson (she/her) is the Research and Evaluation Manager at the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. In this role, Dr. Paterson is responsible for research and evaluation efforts in partnership with community groups and organizations, as well as those led by the Foundation. In addition, she will drive the learning strategy of the Foundation through a race equity lens.
Dr. Paterson is a trained community psychologist with over a decade of experience conducting community-based research and program evaluations. She approaches her work through a participatory, justice-centered lens, believing that community members most impacted by social and economic problems, programs, and policies should be leading and designing community solutions. Dr. Paterson has expertise in a variety of methods including mixed-methods research, community-based participatory research, and social network analysis. She has worked with organizations and community groups on a variety of topics including homelessness, arts and music equity, youth leadership, community and civic engagement, and has given presentations both locally and nationally on her work.
Prior to joining the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, Dr. Paterson worked as a Senior Program Evaluator for the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County and cofounded and operated a research and evaluation consulting firm, Collaborators Consulting Group.
Dr. Paterson earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Smith College, her Master’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in Community Social Psychology, and her PhD in Community Well-Being from the University of Miami.
Julie A. Rocco is engaged in a portfolio of initiatives that includes food systems, housing and homelessness, behavioral health, microtargeted LGBTQAA efforts, environmental quality, economic development, and the arts. Julie helps to facilitate projects, connects funded partners to resources, and identifies opportunities and partners. She describes her work as a balance of community engagement and challenging the traditional status quo.
Julie is trained in Courageous Conversation About Race Protocol (sessions 1 and 2) and Facilitation for Social Change Masterclass. She also attended the 2019 Foundation staff tour of civil rights museums and historical sites to advance his understanding of the history of race equity and social change.
Julie is a seasoned grants writer, special project manager and administrator with an extensive record of service in the Tampa Bay area. Her prior roles include grant writer and STEAM Manager for the Tampa Housing Authority and Vice President of Resource Development and Special Projects at the Corporation to Develop Communities (CDC) of Tampa, Inc. She also worked for the sheriff’s office for ten years.
Julie holds a B.A. in Criminology from the University of South Florida and a Master’s in Public Administration from Hodges University in Fort Myers.
Julie’s service to the community also includes membership on the Homeless Funders Council and the Pinellas County Health and Human Services Grant Review Committee. Julie is a 2019 graduate of Leadership St. Pete.
Esteban Vidal is a Community Engagement Advocate for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, specializing in LatinX outreach and engagement.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Esteban started his professional career connecting local and international audiences for advertising agencies such as Young & Rubicam and BBDO. He produced communications and branding strategies for fields like banking, automotive, spirits, non-profit organizations, and retail.
After more than eight years developing markets and positioning brands, he shifted his efforts to the non-profit sector accepting the role of Regional Developing Director, Bilingual for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – ALSAC. In 2018, Esteban transferred to Tampa, FL where he led the creation and strategy implementation to involve the Hispanic/LatinX community with the hospital’s life-saving mission. He oversaw the production of yearly fundraising events such as walk/runs, radiothons (English & Spanish), galas and golf tournaments collaborations, to name a few. Esteban also worked alongside the marketing and media teams to execute brand plans for Central/North Florida and Puerto Rico.
He has expertise in marketing, advertising, communications, strategy , events, community development and non-profit fundraising.
Esteban enjoys spending time with his wife Gabriela and son Esteban Daniel.
In her role as Senior Administrator at the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, Kewa will provide high level executive support to the President/CEO, leadership team, and serve as secretary/parliamentarian to the Board of Trustees.
Kewa previously worked as a Legislative Aide for the City of St. Petersburg City Council’s Office, where she served over 30 Council Members in her 22.5-year career.
She comes from a family who is very active in the community and shares a passion for social change. Kewa has dedicated many hours of her personal time with community and local nonprofits, including Advantage Village Academy, Matters of the Heart Radio Ministry, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Feeding Tampa Bay. She is an alumni of Gibbs High School and holds a B.A. in Criminology.
In her role as Senior Project Manager, Lisa Yacso plans and executes the Foundation’s primary strategic initiatives effectively and ensures their alignment with strategic goals. She coordinates with critical partners and stakeholders and plans communication and outreach to broaden our reach and amplify our messaging. Lisa works directly with the President and CEP Randall H. Russell, Chief Equity Officer Carl R. Lavender, Jr., and Strategic Director of Engagement Carrie Y. Hepburn-Brown. Together, we work to ensure our projects center the voice of the community we serve and promote our mission of race equity to health equity.
Lisa is a seasoned administrator, project manager, and grant manager. She previously served as Online MBA Program Administrator for the USF Muma College of Business. Lisa curated innovative co-curricular programming, developed and implemented strategic initiatives, advised students, and provided academic administration. While at Muma, she also served as Director of the Women and Leadership Initiative Mentorship program for graduate (primarily female) business students. After the events of 2020, she redesigned the program into the Mentorship Forward program, which supported graduate business female students of color and their allies. She was also an adjunct instructor there.
Before that, she served as federal grant manager and budget supervisor for $6 million in the Carl Perkins IV grant at St. Petersburg College. This grant supported academic workforce education and focused in part on expanding access to diverse populations. She also administered an innovative workforce education program at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Her academic experience is complemented by nine years in leadership roles in energy management, working closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and public housing authorities. She served as chief operating officer and vice president at two small businesses she co-owned and was a director at Constellation Energy, then a Fortune 125 company.
As a former officer of the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area, advocacy, activism, and civic engagement are part of her core values. She also served on the Women United advisory committee and the Investments committee for United Way Suncoast for several years. She is a 2022 graduate of Leadership St. Pete.
Lisa holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Florida. She also has a Master of Education in Counseling and Guidance, specializing in College Student Affairs/Higher Education Administration, and a Bachelor’s degree in English – both from Texas State University.