Meet Our Team

Employment Opportunities


Jessica Davis
President & CEO

More About Jessica...

Ever since she was a young girl, Jessica wanted to help her community and the children within it. She earned a BS degree in Human Development and Family Science from Florida State University and has spent her entire career working in the non-profit industry. Over 25 years of those years, she served in multiple leadership positions for children and family services, including case management, residential group care, early childhood education, mental health, substance abuse treatment programs, and community solutions programming. During this time, she also obtained a MS degree in Business Leadership from NOVA Southeastern University. Jessica brings a strong balance of a nonprofit heart and a business mindset. She most recently served for 4.5 years in executive leadership for Children’s Home Society, where she administered 14 programs in 11 counties with a 10.5M annual operating budget and over 150 employees. Jessica has served on many boards, committees and work groups to improve the outcomes for children and families in Florida, including her current role on the Board of Directors with First Tee of Central Florida. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her fur baby – Harley, listening to live jazz, traveling to Caribbean islands and reading.


Cathy Bicknell
Director, Finance

More About Cathy...

Cathy Bicknell is the Finance Director of United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties. Her educational background includes a Bachelors in Business Administration that laid the foundation for her years of experience in various finance roles and positions. In fact, Cathy joined us with a great deal of familiarity with the United Way financial model, having served in a financial capacity at the United Way of McLean County and the United Way of Marion County.

A goal of Cathy’s is to consistently, and with the highest degree of compliance quality, grow this United Way to heights it’s never reached before, including the achievement of a new UWW Metro ranking and an excess of $4M in revenue, along with, of course, pristine, accurate, and compliant audits and 990 documentation.

Nishika Stafford
Director, Family Stability Services


More About Nishika...

Nishika Stafford earned her undergraduate degree in Social Work at the University of Central Florida with a minor in Aging Studies. In addition to an Alumni of Florida International University with her Masters in Health Administration. While achieving her degrees, she worked in long term care. Nishika has volunteered through UCF with assisting the homeless population and an active volunteer in Lake and Sumter counties non-profit events.

Nishika is a native of Central Florida and resides here with her two children. She finds joy in helping individual and families within her community who are born with societal disadvantages and fighting an up-hill battle. She enjoys encouraging youth to strive towards goals and making them aware of their potential to achieve all dreams.


Victoria Durham
Finance Coordinator


Tracey Schoonmaker
Mission United Coordinator

More About Tracey...

Tracey Schoonmaker is currently serving as the Coordinator of Mission United of United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties. Mission United is designed to assist veterans in six key areas, which include: Health, Education, Employment, Financial Stability, Legal and Housing.

Tracey spent 24 years with the US Army rising to the rank of Lt. Col with successive assignments in various military assignments. He then was employed for the next 24 years in several positions in post-secondary education ranging from Campus Director, Vice President International operations, Vice President Brazilian operations, Regional Financial Director and Faculty member. Has also established and developed campuses in Orlando, Brazil, and India. He and his family currently reside in Howey in the Hills.


Danielle Heider 
Community Impact Coordinator

More About Danielle...

Danielle is our Community Impact Coordinator. Community Impact is achieved through the cooperation of area non-profits, for-profits, individuals and government agencies in solidarity towards specific social service program goals. United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties focuses on education, income, and health as the building blocks for a good life and a strong community. Danielle’s  goal is to create lasting change through Community Impact initiatives by addressing the underlying causes of problems that stand in the way of families striving for a better life.


Thawanna Hurge
Director, Community Impact

More About Thawanna...

Thawanna worked in the Department of Corrections for 10 years after graduating High School. She then started volunteering at Head Start only to realized how much I loved watching the children learn and grow.  Accepted a full time position there in the year 2000,and  it became very evident that she was following what she was passionate about.  Thawanna has been in Early Childhood for 21 years.  Most recent was serving staff and families as Director of Little Buffalo in the Villages.

I am a proud mom of two amazing sons and a beautiful granddaughter.  I firmly believe that all children can learn.  We must create environments they feel safe and accepted in.  There is no greater feeling than watching the change in little learners.  I believe that when teachers are supported with resources and knowledge they can make a difference.  Pouring into our little learners will in turn produce productive well rounded confident citizens.  I hold a Child Development Associates, Florida Daycare Directors Credentials and a Bachelors of Religious Arts in Biblical Studies.  Also a member of Florida Association of Childcare Management.

There is Nothing as Powerful as a Changed Mind” Thawanna Newton


Angela Parvu
Data Entry Specialist

More About Angela...

Born in Holland, Michigan, Angela has resided in Lake County since 2000. Angela graduated from Seminole Community College (now Seminole State College) with her AA in 1995, and eventually came to know of United Way and how we assist the community. Upon seeing an opportunity at UWLS as a Data Entry Specialist, she sought it out as a way to help people as she loves to do.

Angela regards raising her three children aged 22, 19, and 16 as her most proud accomplishment, two of whom now thrive in the world as working adults. Her leisure activities are fishing with her son, or relaxing at home with her two cats and a good book or movie.

Fun fact: she knows all her states and capitals!


Veronica Whetro

Grant Specialist

More About Veronica...

Veronica is a native Floridian who grew up in Eustis, Florida. As an avid horseback rider and former barrel racer, she approaches grant writing with the same enthusiasm and tenacity that she did each and every equestrian event.

A graduate of Eustis high school, Veronica also has an AA from Lake Sumter State College. Her non-profit background includes multiple local agencies and her experience in grant writing is growing exponentially. When not writing grants or pursuing additional funding opportunities for our United Way, she enjoys family time and spending the precious moments with her three children and hubby on their local farm.

Keia Brown
Keia Wilson
Case Manager

More About Keia...

Keia Wilson is a Case Manager with United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties. She holds a BS in Business and Accounting and has had 18 years of experience in the medical field. Her passion is in raising morale and establishing strong communication along with a trusting therapeutic relationship with clients of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures.

She has worked with youth as a mentor, clients in need with funding options, and even helped clients assess the risks and outcomes of many of their decisions, using skills learned from when she was a data analyst. Keia tends to roam both counties in our service area, so you may spot her in Sumterville, Mount Dora, or even the South Lake area, as well as her home base of right here in Leesburg.

Connie Driver
Case Manager, Family Stability Services

More About Connie...

Connie Driver graduated from the University of Central Florida with her undergraduate degree in Social Work. Connie began her position as a Case Manager for United Way through an internship for college, she then obtained a full-time position with the agency. As a social worker, she has a passion for helping meet the needs of those in her community facing hardships. In addition, being bilingual in English and Spanish has made it possible to connect with more individuals from different cultures in her community. 

When not in the office or out in the community helping meet the needs of residents of Lake and Sumter counties, Connie enjoys working out, dancing salsa, and spending time with her friends volunteering at church events. 


Edward Melendez
Mission United Driver

More About Edward...


We value diversity…

At United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of who we are. Our commitment to these values is unwavering – across all of our work in both of our two counties we have the pleasure of serving. They are central to our mission and vision, as well as our community impact. We know that having varied perspectives, backgrounds, and points of view, are able to help generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a changing—and increasingly diverse—world.