Board of Directors

Board Members Biographies


Pamela Blackwell
Board President

First Citizen Bank

Pam Blackwell is currently with First Citizens Bank where she is the Vice President of the Immokalee Road Office. She’s been with First Citizens Bank since 201 and has held various positions, including Business Banker and Corporate Trainer for the company.  Pam has twenty nine years banking experience.  A native of Boston Massachusetts she earned her B.S.in Finance from Suffolk University in 1990.  Pam is active in our community; currently serving on the Women in Business Committee of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.  She donates her time and expertise to many organizations such as the American Heart Association, March of Dimes: March for Babies, and the United Way.  Pam lives in Bonita Springs and enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.


Debbie McCarthy, ARNP
Board Vice-President

Hendry Regional Medical Center

Debbie McCarthy is a family nurse practitioner at Hendry Family Care Center working there for the past 10 years concentrating in pediatrics. She also worked for the Hendry Glades Health Department for 7 years concentrating in pediatrics and teen health. She graduated with an AA degree from the University of South Florida a BSN and MSN ARNP from Barry University. While at Barry University Debbie served as the President of the local Florida Nursing Student Association and was subsequently elected state President of the FNSA. She was a clinical instructor for Palm Beach Community College. She has also been involved in many youth and community activities including President of the Clewiston Performing Arts Center, on the Board of AYSO soccer also acting as the Safety Director and on the Hendry County Cancer Society board. She has also been very active in the annual Lions Club Scholarship Dance/Silent Auction fund raiser.


Blair Fretwell
Board Treasurer

Community Cooperative

Blair Fretwell is the Chief Financial Officer and Administration Officer for the Community Cooperative and has served on the Healthy Start Finance Committee for a couple years.  Prior to this, she was an auditor with Tuscan and Company which included being the lead auditor for the Healthy Start Coalition for several years.  Her professional affiliations include American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, FICPA Florida Gulf Coast University Accounting and Tax Committee, and Healthy Start Finance Committee.

Blair is a Certified Public Accountant and received her Bachelor of Science in 2005 as well as her Masters of Science in 2013 from Florida Gulf Coast University.


Robert Bobo
Board Secretary

Community AIDS Network, Inc.

Robert Bobo is presently the Quality Assurance / Quality Improvement specialist for the Community AIDS Network, Inc. with 24 sites throughout the State of Florida offering services from Miami – Dade (south) to Jacksonville (north), Daytona Beach (east) to Sarasota (west) and points in between. Mr. Bobo hopes to bring regional and national recognition to the quality work done by CAN.

Robert Bobo was the HIV/AIDS/STI Program Manager for the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), Hendry 2006 -2016.   He enjoyed the ability to manage a program that served to bring people a better quality of life while dealing with a chronic illness.

Through collaboration with Healthy Start, he helped to ensure that HIV positive moms didn’t have HIV positive babies.  A former colleague says, “Through his abundance of knowledge, Mr. Bobo has secured Ryan White Part C funding for two separate organizations, managed and oversaw the entire operation of the AIDS Resource Council of Southwest Florida, Inc.”  Mr. Bobo is most proud that the FDOH continues to be honored regionally and nationally for the quality work his team does.


Keisha Burchell

Glades Media Group

Keisha Burchell is a native Floridian who grew up in Belle Glade and graduated high school as a Clewiston Tiger. She is also an United States Air National Guard Veteran  She is the Glades Media Groups’ Director of Public Affairs and is on the air with Big Lake Now every Tuesday and Thursday just after the 8 o’clock morning hour on 100.5 FM, 92.5 FM, 590 AM Classic Hits WAFC.

She relocated to Clewiston from Atlanta where she worked for Turner Broadcasting Company (TBS). Since returning, she has become part of Leadership Hendry/Glades Counties, Westside Elementary PTO, and Clewiston Chamber of Commerce. With a B.S. in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration, she is looking to build relationships that will inspire and educate our social and cultural communities.


Denise Henning, CNM, MSN

Healthcare Network of Southwest FL

Denise Henning is the Administrator of Women’s Health Services at Healthcare Network of SW Florida.  Prior to this she was the Clinical Operations Director for Women’s Health at Family Health Centers in Fort Myers.  She has also served as the Midwifery Service Director/CNM at the Bond Clinic in Winter Haven and worked in Labor & Delivery at Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Denise is a member of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FOQC).  She has also served as a Commissioner on the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, the President of the Midwifery Business Network, the Chapter Chair for SW FL Gulfcoast Chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, a member of the Florida Infant and Maternal Review, and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Mortality Alliance.
Denise received her MS in Nursing from the University of Florida, her BS in Nursing from the University of Florida, and a BS in Business Management from Nova University. 


Nadja Lieberwirth

Nadja Lieberwirth was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and French.  She has an AA in Chemistry, and a Business and Bachelor in Anthropology.  Nadja has been volunteering on the Board, committees and task forces for more than ten years.  Nadja states, “Healthy Start has a very special place in my heart.  The commitment of assisting mothers and babies in achieving a better life, through education and support, and the high response received from volunteers and the professional medical community, is the core to the success of Healthy Start.  I am honored to serve in the Board of Healthy Start.”


Joe Paterno

Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board

Joe Paterno is the Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, Inc., Region 24. His responsibilities include coordinating all activities for a volunteer Board of Directors that oversees the following initiatives (in coordination with local community & business partners, school districts, and state agencies): the Workforce Investment Act, One Stop Career Centers, Welfare Transition, High Skills/High Wages and other state and local initiatives.

Prior to that appointment, he served as the Executive Director for the Southwest Florida Private Industry Council for thirteen years. He came to Southwest Florida from Kentucky, where he oversaw an employment and training program in a ninety-two county area and was responsible for administering an annual budget of approximately 4.5 million dollars.

Joseph is a graduate of West Virginia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Accounting and Economics. He has been a member of the Florida Employment and Training Association since 1985, a member of the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida since 1986, a graduate of Leadership Florida Class XII, and past President of the Collier County Chapter of the American Red Cross. In 2002 he was recognized as one of Collier County’s “Men of Distinction.”


Lasheba Travis, Ph.D.

Keiser University

Dr. Lasheba Travis is the Program Chair for Biomedical Science/Natural Sciences at Keiser University, which combines biology and medicine to enhance the health of humans and animals.

Prior to Keiser University, Dr. Travis worked in public health providing services to Hendry and Glades counties.  The teen pregnancy rates and high school dropout rates dropped dramatically in youth that participated in the teen health programs that Dr. Travis managed in Hendry County.

Another aspect of Dr. Travis’s work was to manage care coordination of Healthy Start services. In 2012 under her leadership, over 500 mothers and babies received services in Hendry and Glades counties with the majority of those services received being face to face.  Dr. Travis also performed research entitled “Teen Pregnancy Prevention in a Rural County” which was published in 2012 by ProQuest and was placed in the Library of Congress. She was also an adjunct professor teaching biology, chemistry, and healthcare systems online at Grand Canyon University.


Marietjie Van Der Heyde, HonsBSocSc, MCur, MBA RNC-NIC

Golisano Children’s Hospital

Marietjie Van der Heyde is a registered nurse in the NICU at Golisano Children’s’ Hospital of South West Florida. She has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, both in the USA and South Africa, with many of those years working in neonatal intensive care units. She holds several nursing degrees, including Bachelors’ degrees in general nursing, nursing education and nursing administration, a Master’s Degree in Neonatal nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She has previously occupied several management positions, including that of a hospital administrator and national operations manager in a large private hospital group in South Africa. She immigrated to the USA in 2008, and moved from Washington DC to Fort Myers in 2012.


Lorna Washington

Put Them First, Inc.

Promoting positive social and economic growth in our communities. Lorna Y.  Washington has been a resident of Fort Myers since 2000 and is a graduate Barry University with a Bachelor of Professional Studies, specializing in Business Administration.   Lorna is a motivational preacher, speaker, and teacher who has traveled the globe empowering others to recognize their greatness. An expert in small to medium business growth and development, Lorna has over 20 years experience in leadership training and development.

Lorna is Co-Founder of Put Them First Academy, a preschool located in the City of Ft Myers that offers 24 hour childcare services to the residents of Lee County. She is the Founder of New Beginnings Westcoast Center, a ministry that encourages many to overcome today’s challenges and empowers them to be “Champions For Life” and ABC Solutions Inc, a local advertising and marketing consultant firm.

She has volunteered her time and talents on other community based organizations:  Accelerated Learning Solutions Charter Schools, Dunbar Festival Committee, SW Florida Minority Contractors Association, Mt Hermon Ministries, Ft Myers Jr Firecats, YMCA of Lee County.

She is the mother of three – Gerren, Shanell and Theo and grandmother of Courtney and Kasia


Jillian White

Hendry County School District

Jillian White is the Pre-K and 6th grade ESE Specialist for the Hendry County School District.  This is her 10th year as a teacher, 5 years in New York and 5 years in Hendry County.  Jillian is a 2006 graduate of State University of New York at Potsdam with a Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education Grades 1-6.  She is also a 2011 graduate of the State University of New York at Albany with a Master’s Degree in Reading Grades 5-12.  Jillian is also currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education Grades K-12 from Saint Leo University. 

Ms. White has had a passion for working with children of all ages since she was a child herself.  She was employed as an assistant dance instructor since the age of 14, and was the first student at her studio to be in charge of her own classes prior to graduating from high school.  While pursuing her Bachelor’s degree, Jillian was employed at the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club as a staff member.  She currently volunteers for Special Olympics Florida, serving as the Hendry County Special Olympics Unified Cheerleading Coach. 

In order to continue to serve children as well as their families, she has partnered with grant funded programs like SEDNET (The Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities), PEN (Parent Education Network) and PEP (Parents Educating Parents) to bring training to parents of all students in Hendry County.  Jillian is also currently going through the licensing process to become a certified foster parent.