the promise Team
At Promise, our collective strength resides in the diversity, experience, and passion of our team. This dynamic group of professionals come from various backgrounds, each bringing a unique set of skills and expertise to support the mission of Promise. Each member is dedicated to ensuring that the Promise community thrives, offering the best possible services and support to our residents. As you get to know our team members, you will find that the common thread binding us is our unwavering commitment to enriching the lives of those we serve.
Jeff joined Promise in 2020 following careers at media companies Gannett and Knight Rider. He held senior leadership roles including Regional President, President and Publisher, VP/Sales, and VP/Finance and CFO. He graduated from the University of Florida Fisher School of Accounting and became a Florida CPA. In his early career, he worked with Ernst and Young, an international accounting firm.
Jeff has a long history of nonprofit involvement including United Way, Chambers of Commerce, Hospital Foundations, Special Olympics, etc. Most recently, Jeff served as United Way of Brevard County Board Chair and Countywide Fundraising Chair. Jeff proudly serves as an Advisor for Casa Familia, a nonprofit in Miami-Dade County. The organization plans a community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Jeff and his wife Gayle have two children.
Jeff was born in Brooklyn, New York, and spent most of his life in Miami and San Jose California. He moved to Brevard County in 2012 with his wife Gayle and their two children. Their son Ryan is married to Joanna with sons Brady and Ryder. Their daughter Alexa is married to Josh, with a daughter named Rowan.
Director of Finance
Mary was hired as Promise’s Finance Manager in 2020 after a 27-year career with Florida Today Newspaper/Gannet Co. Inc. She is honored to become part of the team at Promise. Mary was born and raised in Rockledge and has lived in Brevard all her life. Mary has three daughters – Sara, Alicia and Emily – and four grandchildren.
Donna began working at Promise in Brevard in 2015. As our Director of Development, Donna spearheads the planning of our annual fundraising events, including our Diamond Royale casino night and our Runway of Dreams fashion show. She has always been drawn to the non-profit world, with her first experience being a co-founder of Candlelighters of Brevard in 1990 where she was grateful to serve on the development team for five years.
Donna found her true passion for working with individuals with disabilities in 1987 while volunteering with Space Coast Early Intervention, now known as Space Coast Discovery, throughout the years. Later in 1997, she started working in the classroom and eventually moved into development in 1999 through 2004. Several of our Promise residents where students at Space Coast Early Intervention Center and Donna feels like she has come full circle, having known many of these residents and their families for over 30 years.
A Florida native, Donna graduated from Eau Gallie High School in 1982. She has four children and seven grandchildren. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially when it involves boating or fishing.
Donna feels very lucky to work with such a passionate team of people and witness firsthand the impact Promise has on our residents. She says it is gratifying to watch them grow, become independent, and have all the same things she has been afforded in life. Donna sees our residents as a gift and feels blessed to learn daily from some of the most humble, determined, and inspiring teachers on Earth.
Residents Services manager
Resident Services Manager Patty Knowles possesses over 30 years supporting individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. Patty spent most of her life in the Saratoga, New York area. She holds a Bachelors in Administration of Community and Human Services from Empire State College.
The bulk of her professional career in New York was spent with Saratoga Bridges, a chapter of The Arc New York, where she achieved the position of Assistant Director of Residential Services. Among her many achievements during her 24 years with the organization, she proudly developed and implemented the Saratoga Bridges Supportive Apartment program.
Patty’s commitment to serving the IDD community emanates from her family roots, as they have been serving this population for many years. Patty and her husband Nathan live in Cocoa. She has an adult son (Eli) and three stepchildren (Jessica, Nathaniel and Amanda). Patty enjoys performing arts and is a cast member at The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse.
Resident Community Program Manager
Cindi has more than 40 years in Education throughout the private and public sector. She holds an AA in Special Education, a BA in Developmental Psychology and English from Rollins College and an MA from the University of Central Florida in Applied Learning & Instruction. She has been supporting individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities since 2012.
Formerly an Education Administrator at Brevard Achievement Center, before coming to Promise, she developed the education program which focused on functionality, community interaction and improving clients lives as well as staff training and development. Her most valuable learning experience from BAC was the ability to participate in the ATHENA leadership program which she graduated from in 2019.
Cindi is proud, not only to be part of the leadership team at Promise, but also of her instructional team that supports the Resident Community Program. The most enjoyable part of her day is the time she gets to spend with the residents.
Cindi lives in Brevard County with her family and enjoys spending time with her great niece and nephews. Her downtime is spent sailing, gardening and woodworking. One of her passions is photography. A professional photographer for 15 years, she gained her certification from the New York Institute of Photography and specializes in weddings, family portraits and nature.
Registered dietician and personal trainer
Cassie started working at Promise in January 2023. Cassie teaches nutrition education classes, performs cooking demos, leads in-home cooking classes and offers 1-on-1 nutrition counseling to our residents. She also teaches yoga, aerial yoga, pilates and offers personal fitness training.
Cassie was born and raised in Deepwater, West Virginia. In 2011, she joined the U.S. Navy and moved to Norfolk Virginia. She completed two deployments on the USS Harry S. Truman as a Machinist Mate Petty Officer Second Class. She then moved to Melbourne, Florida in 2016.
In October of 2022, Cassie earned her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition from Kaiser University and this June she passed the Registered Dietician Exam and received her license. She is also certified in first aid, CPR and personal training.
Cassie lives with her husband Zach, their two dogs and two cats. Outside of work, she likes to cook, exercise, do yard work and generally be outside. A self-described nerd, she also loves playing video games, reading Manga and comics and collects figurines from her favorite shows and movies.
Cassie says that working with Promise residents in hands-down is the most rewarding experience she has ever been a part of, and she appreciates being part of a team that makes her feel heard, respected and like she is making a difference.
Resident services coordinator
Barby Hultgren was hired as the Resident Services Coordinator in December of 2021. She holds a Masters degree in Psychology from SNHU and has 23 years of experience serving this population. She has managed as well as owned and operated host homes for high-risk individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, in addition to her role as a social welfare advocate. She is eager to bring her skills and expertise to the Promise community.
Born in Washington, Barby moved to Brevard County in August of 2021. The quote she lives by is “Life can change so quickly.” It’s a reminder to treat everyone the way you would want to be treated – with kindness, dignity, compassion and respect – regardless of whether you think they understand or not.
Barby loves working at Promise and being able to support our residents in maintaining a meaningful, productive and independent lifestyle.
marketing and communications coordinator
Jordan took on the role of Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Promise in May 2023. She manages our online presence from social media to our website, designs marketing materials and assists with planning fundraising events.
Jordan has lived in Melbourne, Florida for most of her life. She grew up as the oldest of seven kids and has a younger brother with Autism. She previously worked at Club Esteem, a non-profit that serves youth from under-resourced communities. Prior to that, she has a background working in events, on both the event planning and marketing sides, for venues, catering companies and restaurants.
Jordan lives with her fiancé, Ian, and will be getting married in 2024. Outside of work, she enjoys hanging out with her fiancé, reading and writing fiction, visiting Disney theme parks, playing board games and watching TV and movies.
Jordan loves talking to the Promise residents and admires how they are 100% themselves, not shy about showing off their personalities or senses of humor. She takes pride in being able to share their stories and show them living their best lives. She also feels fortunate to work with a team of hard-working, compassionate people.
Vocational support specialist
Beth joined the Promise Team as our Vocational Support Specialist in 2022. She is responsible for offering vocational support to our residents, through training, interviewing and working with them to help them find employment in our Promise Social Enterprises, including the Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe and the Fulfillment Center.
Beth has a long history of working with individuals with disabilities. She taught Special Education in four states and before moving to Florida, also opened a coffee shop in Virginia employing adults with disabilities. Beth received her Masters of Education in Special Education from the University of Texas and her Bachelors in Vocational Education from Auburn University.
Beth moved to Brevard a couple of years ago after living in North Virginia for 17 years. Prior to that, Beth’s husband Harry was in the Air Force and their family lived in Alabama, Texas and Colorado. Beth also grew up in an Air Force Family and is from Alabama originally. Beth and Harry have been married for 37 years and have four children – Keegan, Kendall, Sadie and Grange – and eight grandchildren. She loves spending time with her family, running, swimming and being outside.
Beth says Promise is like a second home to her. She has a passion for working with individuals with disabilities and enjoy interacting with the residents as well as the staff.
Maria was first introduced to Promise in Brevard in 2018 as a caregiver and later became our Art Instructor. She loves being able to teach and learn from such a diverse group of individuals. Maria loves showing the residents that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. Getting to see them overcome challenges and create amazing work despite their disabilities brings her so much happiness. She also loves helping to plan and decorate for our Resident Community Program events.
Maria’s family is from Puerto Rico but she was born in Providence, Rhode Island and grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. She attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale for Media Arts and Animation. She has lived in Brevard since 2016. Maria is married to Edwin and has three children – Iyani, Isabella and Isaac. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her family, travel and visit amusement parks.
Maria says that working at Promise doesn’t feel like work. It’s a home away from home and everyone is always here whether they’re on the clock or not. She feels blessed to be a part of something so wholesome.
instructor & transportation coordinator
Nathan joined Promise in Brevard in 2022. He instructs a number of classes in the Resident Community Program., ranging from Music Appreciation and Musical Instruments to Social Issues and Creative Writing. In 2023, he took on the additional responsibility of Transportation Coordinator and is responsible for the maintenance and scheduling of the fleet of vehicles for Promise.
Nathan graduated with an Associates Degree from Hudson Valley Community College on the Presidents List and with High Honors. He was a professional musician and singer-songwriter for close to 40 years. He became less involved in the bar scene when he discovered his passion for working with the developmentally disabled, at-risk youth and dementia sufferers while teaching songwriting and recording at youth summer camps and Upward Bound students. Continuing in this pivot, Nathan began working at Saratoga Bridges Day Rehab Facility with developmentally disabled individuals. Upon moving back to Florida in 2016, Nathan used his knowledge of Big Band, vintage country and Western Swing to build a business performing for assisted living venues.
Nathan was born in Maine but calls upstate New York “home.” He is also very fond of New Mexico, where he lived for 14 years. He has lived in Florida on and off since his parents moved the family to St. Petersburg in the late 60s and has been residing in Cocoa with his wife Patty for 7 years. His son, Nathaniel, is a successful full-time musician, both here on the Space Coast and around the country. His daughter, Amanda-Lynn, lives in El Salvador and works in promoting Women’s Rights and combatting poverty. Nathan enjoys playing music, reading and traveling when he can, but his biggest joy is in being a new grandfather.
Nathan loves being a valued member of a real team at Promise and the support and respect that goes with that. He feels blessed to be in this position and have a positive impact on so many lives and he truly hopes this will be his last job.