Children First’s dynamic female leadership shares a collective expertise that creates a program-wide culture of empowerment, guiding the achievement of robust outcomes for pregnant women, children ages birth to 5 years old, and families living at-risk.
As a Children First parent and member of the agency’s parent-comprised Policy Council, Vanessa Diaz-Petit advocates for family engagement and helps make decisions for the entire program. Originally from Venezuela, she worked hard to find success with her family and has three beautiful children ages 10, 5, and 2.
Vanessa aspires to share her knowledge and love of flamenco dance with children throughout the community. “The joy of traveling through different countries and learning from other cultures helped me understand how dance is a wonderful channel of communication.”
Katressa Wilson coined the phrase, “It’s always a great day at Children First!” Originally a Head Start parent, the mother of three transitioned from relying on the agency’s services to playing a vital role in the daily operations at 15 sites.
As Facilities Coordinator, Katressa oversees site inspections, insurance requirements, execution of special projects and more. Throughout the pandemic, she worked onsite daily to ensure delivery of services never stopped. Katressa is pursuing a certification in site management after earning her associate degree from State College of Florida.
Board member Elizabeth Stamoulis is a partner at Williams Parker Attorneys at Law, leading the firm’s intellectual property practice. A five-time Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce 2020 Young Professional of the Year, and 2019 winner of the Business Observer’s “40 Under 40,” Liz helps advance the agency’s mission through governance experience and a passion for serving her community. She earned her J.D. from Stanford Law School and her B.A. from Dartmouth College.
“I really love the feeling of helping and contributing to the success of others,” she says.
- The Children First mission is to strengthen children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being
- Designated as a four-time National Head Start Association Program of Excellence (2006-2020)
- Launched The Challenge for Changing Lives, a $1,060,000 matching campaign led by Children First’s Diamond Circle supporters in honor of the agency’s 60th anniversary
- Recognized as a top 50 nonprofit employer nationwide in the 2021 Best Nonprofits to Work For competition
- 2021 Best of SRQ Local Platinum Winner, “Best Children’s Nonprofit,” “Best Nonprofit Leader,” “Best Organization to Provide COVID-19 Support,” “Best Nonprofit to Adapt,” and “Best Preschool.” Silver Winner, “Best Local Nonprofit”
- Earned the 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.org, the world’s largest resource for nonprofit information, helping to inform charitable decisions
- Named a Best Place to Work in Sarasota-Manatee for three consecutive years (2019, 2020, 2021)
- 2019 WEDU PBS Nonprofit of the Year, selected from a 16-county viewing area of Tampa Bay’s most esteemed organizations
Children First, Inc.
1723 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, FL 34234