Meet The Parenting Program Staff

Parenting Education Director, Laura Josephson, M.A., in Early Childhood Education and Childhood Education from Manahattanville College and a B.A. in Fine Art and Education from The University at Albany. Laura is responsible for overseeing the Parenting Education groups in both Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  Laura came to the Parenting Program in 2012 with a background in Early Childhood and Middle School Education with over 8 years of teaching experience.  Previous to a career in education, Laura was in corporate marketing and advertising.  In addition she was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education in 2010. Laura co-facilitated Partners In Play® parenting groups at Gocio Elementary, Our Mothers House, Soar in 4, as well as Sarasota and Manatee Libraries.  Prior to becoming the Director she was the Parenting Program Administrator. Laura completed her Graduate Certificate in Infant Family Mental Health from USF in 2017.

Alissa, BFA in Dance Performance and MS in Early Childhood Education and Special Education Birth-2nd grade. Alissa has participated in Partners In Play® groups in-house and at the libraries.  In addition, she has been a teacher in our Preschool working in various settings.  She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Camille, MS joins our team with a MS in School and Agency Counseling and a MS in Women’s Studies from Old Dominion University. Camille has an extensive background working as an educator in Sarasota and Manatee counties focusing on prevention and awareness education for school aged children. In addition she worked as a case manager working in a non-profit program supporting homeless families. She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting educator groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Emily, M.S., in Child and Family Studies and a B.S. in Psychology. Emily has over six years of experience working with families in the child welfare system. Her passion has always been helping mothers and fathers feel empowered in their role as parents. As a Parenting Educator, she facilitates parenting groups at the Parenting Center and Partners In Play® parenting groups at the Sarasota and Manatee libraries. Emily is the face behind Forty Carrots Facebook page, keeping families and professionals informed with the latest research in child development and parenting education. Emily is certified Circle of Security Parenting™

Erika, M.S., LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She earned her Master of Science degree in Applied Clinical Psychology from the University of South Carolina and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. She has experience working in community mental health and as an adjunct professor teaching at the undergraduate level. Erika joined the team as a Parenting Educator and as a Mental Health Therapist, providing individual and family therapy services and co-facilitating parenting education groups at the CYESIS Teen Parent Program at Riverview High School. She is also a registered Circle of Security® Parenting™ provider, co-facilitating this series to families working towards reunification. Erika has completed her Infant Family Mental Health Graduate Certificate from USF.

Jennifer, MSW, is a Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern. Jennifer earned her Masters of Social Work degree and Bachelors of Social Work degree from the University of South Florida.  Jennifer has over 15 years of experience working with children and families in both public schools and non-profit organizations. She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and as a Mental Health Therapist, providing individual and family therapy services and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Jody, M.S.W, LCSW. Jody is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked in the mental health field since 1984. Jody’s focus for over 20 years has been with children and families working as a Mental Health Therapist. She was first involved at Forty Carrots as a parent with her twins and now, as a Therapist, is co-facilitating parenting education groups at First Step Mothers and Infants Program for mothers recovering from addictions and their babies and at SOLVE Maternity Homes, for young homeless expecting mothers at their Manatee facility. 

Kristin, BA in Art Education from the University of Florida.  Kristin taught in the elementary school setting for over 5 years teaching grades Kindergarten through fifth. Kristin attended Partners In Play® groups with her children, where she first learned about Forty Carrots and how we serve our community.  She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Lauren, M.S.W., is a Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern. Lauren earned her Master's of Social Work degree and Bachelor's of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. As a native to Sarasota County and bilingual communicator (Spanish), Lauren has cultivated a specialty of working youth and their families in Sarasota Schools and non-profit organizations in the community. Most recently, Lauren joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator, where she will be co-facilitating parenting education Partners In Play® groups in Sarasota and Manatee Counties libraries. Lauren is also joining the Forty Carrots Child & Family Therapy Center as a Mental Health Therapist.

Leslee, BA in Psychology with a Minor in Education.  Leslee has over 18 years of experience working with families in diverse settings as a Coach and Director. Her passion has always been supporting development, mentoring and coaching. She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Lisa Marie, MA, BCBA, joins our team with MA in Forensic Psychology, ABA Certification from the University of Colorado at Denver and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  Lisa has extensive background as a case manager and behavior specialist.  She participated in our Partners In Play® program with her child where she discovered Forty Carrots and how we serve our community.  She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

Lyndsie, MS  in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling with a concentration on Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of South Florida and a BA in Psychology.  Lyndsie previously worked in various counseling centers in a clinical role and in addition has worked with young children as a caregiver for over 10 years.  She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education groups at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Sonia, B.A., in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  Sonia has over 35 years of experience in the early childhood field and has presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference. Sonia co-facilitates bilingual Partners In Play® parenting groups at Gocio Elementary and In-House PIP series groups. She is certified in “Abriendo Puertas”, an evidence-based parenting program for Latino families, and offers this series at Title 1 Elementary Schools, Parent University to incoming Kindergarten families.  In addition she is the Program Administrator supporting the Parenting Program team. 

Tesha, B.A Social Sciences/Psychology.  Tesha has a background as a case manager in the Orlando area working with DCF.  Prior to that she was a counselor in a children’s home working on crisis intervention.  She joined the Parenting Program as a Parenting Educator and co-facilitates Partners In Play® parenting education at various library locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Wendy, M.S. in PreK/Primary Education from Nova Southeastern University; B.S. in Communication from Florida State University. Wendy has experience in early childhood education as a Preschool and Kindergarten teacher. She has been a Parenting Educator since 2008. She holds The Happiest Baby on The Block certification and is a registered Circle of Security® Parenting™ Educator, co-facilitating the evening series and as the Circle of Security Program Coordinator. Wendy co-facilitates weekly parenting education groups at First Step Mothers & Infants Program, SOLVE Maternity Homes, the CYESIS Teen Parent Program at North Port and Riverview High Schools, and at the Teenage Parenting Program (TAPP) in Manatee County. In 2017, she completed her Infant Family Mental Health Graduate Certificate from USF.