5th Annual Florida Family Leader Network Summit

Leveraging Literacy Tools

Sep. 14-16, 2022

Tampa, FL



Danita M. Gainer is a member of the UF Health Shands Human Resource Development team. She serves as a coordinator responsible for coordinating and facilitating classes such as New Employee Orientation and Service Culture, Building Rapport, Communication Basics, and Listening with Empathy. Danita has been with Shands for over 25 years. In her career, she has learned to navigate processes, procedures, team dynamics, and project management. She believes the key to success in many of life’s opportunities is interpersonal communication and begins with a genuine respect and appreciation for all involved. She likes to have fun while getting the job done and is eager to work with the Florida Family Leader Network Summit for the 5th year! She feels it is a privilege to be involved and engaged with the FFLN and the people who are a part of it. Over the years, Danita has learned so much and looks forward to the next segment of this journey!





Sarah Goldman’s life with Cerebral Palsy has been about overcoming barriers and not letting them stop her from achieving her goals. Sarah has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in social work, and has used both her education and personal challenges to advocate for others with disabilities. Sarah represented the United States as an ambassador at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, and in 2014, was appointed to serve on the Governors Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities. She now serves on the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council as Chair of the Public Policy and Self-Advocacy Leadership committees. Sarah worked as a legislative aide for four years where she contributed to disability policy initiatives within the Florida Legislature. Currently, Sarah is an Adjunct Instructor at Florida State University in the College of Social Work, and also works as the statewide Director of Youth Initiatives for the Florida Independent Living Council. Sarah has been awarded on several occasions for her personal and professional achievements in advocating for community integration and inclusion for those with disabilities. She has a passion for helping individuals with disabilities find their voice and recognize their strengths to use to impact the world.



Dr. Mimi Graham is the Director of Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy,a center of excellence in trauma, infant mental health, human trafficked pregnant teens, and policy & best practices during the pivotal first 1,000 days of life.  She pioneered a statewide infant mental health movement building clinical capacity, co-founding the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health and infusing infant mental health across systems as showcased in Florida’s Cutting-Edge Trauma Initiatives.  As a member of the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Children, she helps spearhead Florida’s Early Childhood Court Initiative, integrating mental health into courts to break the multigenerational cycle of ACEs.  She is a Fellow of Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers & Families and recipient of the 2019 Voice for Children Award, 2017 Florida Tax Watch Productivity Award for Early Childhood Court, and the Children’s Advocate Award, Legal Services of North Florida and the Florida Bar’s Medal of Honor.


Denean Greene-Rivers is a global patient advocate, inspirational speaker, and medical social worker.  Her expertise is maximized throughout the Carolinas and abroad with emphasizes on children’s health, minority health disparities, and health equity. 

Recognized for over 20 years of promoting healthcare advocacy, volunteerism, mentoring, and empowering patients and families to use their voice. 

Healthcare membership and service include:

Prisma Health-Midlands Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council, Prisma Health Patient Care and Safety Committee, PFA network Advisory Board, DEI Leadership Council, and PFCC partners.

Denean believes, “Quality Healthcare is a Right, Not a Privilege!”



Dr. Laura Guyer, PhD, MEd, RDN is the Associate Director of Global Health Education Programs and Adj. Associate Professor in the UF College of Medicine. She is known as a creative problem solver who uses systems thinking and an interprofessional framework to generate novel, outside-of-the-box solutions that promote health equity. Her career is distinguished by several noteworthy “first” accomplishments: (1) in undergraduate education, she established the first undergraduate academic program in the U.S. dedicated to the elimination of health disparities, Health Disparities in Society in 2012 and (2) in clinical nutrition practice, she transformed the Handbook of Medical Nutrition Therapy: The Florida Diet Manualby creating a new system of grassroots authorship and review by registered dietitians and nutritionists (n=100+) throughout Florida.

Dr. Guyer’s deep and long-standing commitment to education, diversity, inclusion, and equity has been recognized by numerous awards including the National Diversity Council’s Dr. Harry Gibbs Legacy Award (2022), UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Achievement Award (2019), UF Superior Accomplishment Award for Diversity and Inclusion, Division III(2017), UF Faculty Advisor/Mentor of the Year Award (2016), UF Faculty Leadership and Service Advocate Impact Award (2016), and College of Agriculture Advisor of the Year Award (1993). Her commitment and service to the dietetics profession in Florida was recognized by the 1995 President’s Award.

Before joining the College of Medicine, Dr. Guyer spent ten years in the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research where she established the Health Disparities in Society minor. She is the former Associate Director at Suwannee River AHEC and tenured Associate Professor and Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and Combined Master of Science Degree-Dietetic Internship Program at the University of Florida. Dr. Guyer has experience as a clinician in acute care, wellness nutritionist, and rural nutrition consultant; she is published in numerous peer-reviewed and consumer publications, and she maintains professional registration with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The hallmarks of her career include leadership, innovation, creativity, community engagement and collaboration.


Pam Kissoondyal enjoys her job as a Family Engagement Coordinator with the Florida and Virgin Islands Deaf Blind Collaborative - working with families who have children with special needs; including DeafBlindness. Pam partners with agencies and professionals in related fields. She has presented on a variety of topics disability related at local, regional, state, national and international conferences including keynotes. As a collaborative partner with other Deafblind programs, Pam serves as a mentor and facilitator on several activities to enrich and enhance Family Engagement. Her first-hand experience of parenting a child with special needs makes an easy transition into the shoes of a sympathetic and empathetic guide, to help parents navigating complex and stressful situations. Familiarity and experience with multiple community programs and organizations for families with special needs children is an added bonus when working with families. Pam loves to learn! She has over 20 years of experience and continues her education by attending conferences, webinars on topics with family centered/partnership approach. She has received training in the INSITE, SKI-HI and VIISA models and is a Florida Partners and Policy Making Graduate. Pam is also a Certified Infant Massage Teacher, Certified Life Coach and Certified Success Principle trainer.


Linda Starnes has spent her life actively involved in the disability community as a special educator, parent, speaker, and advocate. After working in special education and at the U.S. Depts. of Justice and Education, she began her most important role: Mother of two with very different, rare, complex conditions. Linda managed 24-hr. home nursing, worked with physicians and therapists in 15 medical specialties, and oversaw over 40 hospitalizations or surgeries for her children. She has served on numerous boards of disability, healthcare, and educational organizations, and presents at conferences each year. Currently, Linda is the Statewide Family Leader for the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) Children’s Medical Services and Specialty Programs, Title V Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program, and serves as the FDOH family delegate to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs ( AMCHP). She was a part of AMCHP’s Leadership Lab from 2020-2022, is on an Orlando Health interdisciplinary team as part of the National Care Coordination Academy, and advises on a national  PCORI-funded study on health care transition. She also serves on the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development Advisory Council and is on the Board of Directors for Disability Rights Florida. As well,  Linda especially enjoys being a  member of the Florida Family Leader Network.


Nicole M. Sutton, MPH, CPH, CHES has been in public health for more than twenty years and has presented for conferences, university courses, trainings, and workshops across the globe. Her expertise includes health equity, community-based participatory research, community organizing, media and health literacy, and transformative social change. Over the years she has worked in several areas including tobacco control, maternal & child health, LGBTQ+ health, youth homelessness, family literacy, and intimate partner violence. She has held roles with University of Hawai’i’s Cancer Research Center, University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, and University of South Florida. Currently she works with the Office of Health Equity at Florida Department of Health – Hillsborough where she focuses on increasing implementation of Health in All Policies framework.