Organizational Vision & Objectives

Youth leaving foster care in the Tampa Bay area will have access to a broad network of organizations, supportive adults, and peers who will increase opportunities to connect and thrive and that promote well-being.

 

  • Partner with community stakeholders to raise awareness and increase access to resources and opportunities for transition age youth from foster care.
  • Serve as a liaison between transition age youth from foster care and community service providers in the areas of education, housing, transportation, and supportive relationships.
  • Coordinate basic needs by providing access to resources for transition age youth from foster care, in areas such as personal care products, school supplies for post-secondary education opportunities, and essential household goods.

Our History

Cetera was founded in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018 by Dee Menzer and Jamie Bennett. The organization was founded with the following outcomes in mind:

  • Members of the Tampa Bay area will be aware of the barriers faced by youth leaving foster care, particularly in areas of education, social connections, and housing.
  • Youth leaving foster care in the Tampa Bay area will be connected to supportive organizations, adults, and peers who increase access to resources that promote well-being.

Cetera is run by volunteers and funded by private donations and grassroots fundraising. Our volunteers help to:

 

  • Collect and distribute of emergency funds and care packages.
  • Convene stakeholders and community partners on a monthly basis to strengthen safety nets within communities.
  • Plan and host events for community awareness and fundraising.
  • Support the work of community partners by offering training, thought partnership, and consulting.

What Does “Cetera” Mean?

Cetera (pronounced set-er-uh) translates to “the rest”.

The founders of Cetera feel that it is important to support youth aging out of foster care in a holistic manner that promotes well-being in all areas of their lives.

From this perspective, Cetera aims to support the needs and wants that all young people have, such as postsecondary education, reliable transportation, connections to the community, and adequate personal, household, and academic supplies.

For young people, we aim to help fulfill the “rest” of the needs they may face while transitioning from foster care with limited social connections.

Our Team

 

 

Dr. Jamie Bennett
Executive Director

Dr. Jamie Bennett is the co-founder and President of Cetera. Jamie has a decade of experience in training and consulting for organizations who aim to improve outcomes for young adults leaving foster care.  She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, and a coaching certification through the International Coach Federation. 

Jamie also holds a  Doctor of Education in Program Development and Educational Innovation from the University of South Florida, with a research agenda focusing on coaching methods for college support staff working with students from foster care. As an alumna of the foster care system, Jamie is passionate about improving outcomes for young adults who have experience in the system.

Mallory Sellers
Youth Engagement Liaison
 

Mallory Sellers is our Youth Engagement Liaison. Mallory started her work with foster care alum at Western Michigan University where she served as a Campus Coach for the Seita Scholars Program. She continues to work for The Center for Fostering Success at WMU as an Associate Trainer for the Fostering Success Coach Training Program as well as the Coordinator for the Training Program. She will also be receiving her ACC Certification through the International Coaching Federation in 2021. When not working, Mallory enjoys spending time with her three favorite guys: her husband Nick, her three-year-old Malachi, and her one-year-old Levi. According to her, they keep her busy enough that hobbies aren’t really much of a thing.

 

 

 Meghan Arrigo
Senior Youth Engagement Consultant

Meghan Arrigo is our Senior Youth Engagement Consultant. Meghan has over fifteen years of experience coaching and collaborating with young people to re-imagine and create communities centered in equity and justice. Prior to becoming a Senior Youth Engagement Consultant with Cetera, she served as Director of Policy and Youth Leadership with FosterEd Arizona advocating for educational rights and equity in K-12 spaces for students and families experiencing foster care. She also served for six years as the Arizona lead for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s national effort, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, partnering with alumni of foster care and communities to center services around the well being and connection of young people. Additionally, she spent six years working with Girls For A Change and Kotex, collaborating with schools and community centers throughout the country to support young people on creating social change in their communities using a body+ lens. She is a graduate of Leading for Change and holds a degree in International Relations and Social Policy from James Madison College, Michigan State University. She also obtained a certification in Positive Youth Development from the University of Arizona and is currently pursuing her coaching certification. When she isn’t working, Meghan spends lots of time with her toddler son baking, painting, racing cars and trainspotting.  

 

Antoinette Rucker
Associate Youth Engagement Consultant

Antoinette Rucker is a child welfare consultant based out of Atlanta and is currently a Master of Public Administration candidate at Clayton State University. Antoinette is the founder of Fostering Through College (FTC), a comprehensive support program that strives to empower foster youth transitioning into post-secondary education at Albany State University. She strives to empower agencies and organizations to rethink the ways in which they service young people impacted by the child welfare system. Antoinette has served as a Jim Casey Young Fellow for six years and in 2018, she was selected as a participant for the first round of the Results Count Leadership training hosted by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Results Count leadership program was born out of a conviction that results-driven leaders are vital to achieving measurable and lasting improvements for kids and families. Antoinette has also served as a member of the National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council and as a board member for a girls empowerment initiative out of Atlanta called G.E.M.S (Girls Empowered and Motivated to Succeed). Antoinette believes that giving back is a universal opportunity regardless of a person’s background and she holds that anyone who cares has the capacity to create change.

 

Melodie “Dee” Menzer | Chairwoman of the Board

Melodie “Dee” Menzer is a co-founder of Cetera and serves as the organization’s Chairwoman of the Board.  Dee also serves as a Guardian ad Litem, is a Board Trustee and the Treasurer for the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation, and a member of the Leadership St. Pete Planning Committee for the Class of 2020. 

In her spare time, she works as an attorney at Trenam Law, focusing on tax and business planning for entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals. She is a member of the Florida Bar and North Carolina Bar, and is an alumna of the University of Miami where she earned a Bachelor of Science. She attended Elon University School of Law  for her Juris Doctorate, and the University of Florida Levin College of Law for a Master of Laws in Taxation.

Dr. Kasandrea Sereno | Vice President & Board Member

Kasandrea Sereno is a college advisor from Tampa, Florida. She is an alumna of the University of South Florida, holding a bachelor’s degree in business management and industrial psychology, an MBA, and a Master’s in EducationCollege Student Affairs. She recently completed her doctorate in Higher Ed Organizational Leadership & Policy at Vanderbilt University and currently works as a certified career counselor and university academic advisor.

In addition to her work with Cetera she also sits on the board of the National Institute of Social Media and runs the organization HigherEdSocial; the largest world-wide professional network for social media managers in higher education.

Victor Sims| Secretary & Board Member

Victor Sims grew up in Florida’s foster care system without the stability of a permanent home and supportive family prior to his adoption in 2007. Mr. Sims works at SailFuture in St.Petersburg, Florida, and is active as an advocate for children in foster care. From his work helping to improve children’s experiences when they are removed from their parents to his TEDx Talk on the importance of social capital for youth in care, Mr. Sims is focused on bringing about positive changes to the foster care system.

Mr. Sims travels throughout Florida and the country speaking to legislators about creating reform for youth in care. He has advocated for a bill of rights for children in foster care as well as efforts to ensure that every child has a plan for permanency. In addition to serving on the National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Council and he has met with legislators in support of the Family First Prevention Services Act. In June 2019, he was recognized by the American Bar Association as a Reunification Hero. Victor shares his experiences to ensure that children have a chance for reunification and beyond. He was recognized this year as 2020 Casey Excellence for Children Award as an Alumni in care. 

Jeremy Dobes | Treasurer Elect & Board Member

When not volunteering with Cetera, Jeremy Dobes is the VP of Financial Analysis & Reporting at PSCU.
PSCU is a Credit Union Service Organization that supports over 2,000 financial institutions throughout the United States.
Jeremy is responsible for supporting PSCU’s core lines of business and product organization in order to achieve profitability targets, cost structure optimization, vendor financial health assessment and a long-term planning strategy.

Jeremy joined PSCU in 2016 and has since made significant contributions to the relationships with our partners in Advisors Plus, Analytics, Plastics, Bill Pay, Fraud and Mobile solutions. His strategic mindset and ability to influence have positioned PSCU for continued growth, profitability and Owners satisfaction. For his contributions, Jeremy was also a recipient of the 2019 President’s Award. Prior to joining PSCU, Jeremy held positions in the investment banking industry with J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Jeremy holds a bachelors degree from Eckerd College and a master’s degree in Accounting and Finance Management. He is also a Certified Management Accountant and Certified Strategy and Competitive Analysis from the institute of management accountants (IMA). In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, wife Sarah Dobes; former “Pinellas Country  Teacher of the Year” and his two year old daughter.

Dr. Luz Randolph | Board Member

​​Dr. Luz D. Randolph is responsible for the college-wide fundraising efforts for at St. Petersburg College. Since her arrival in January 2020, she has guided the fundraising efforts surrounding the recently established Helios Titan Achievement Program (H-TAP), the Social Justice Institute Microgrant awarded by the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, the SPC Emergency Fund among other initiatives. Prior to her role at SPC, she served as Assistant Director of Development, Diversity Initiatives. Her primary focus was to assist in cultivating relationships between USF constituents and the Tampa Bay community that will enhance the university’s diverse students’ experiences. Since her arrival in 2016, she has successfully fundraised over $3 million for diversity initiatives and assisted in the development and implementation of the Black Leadership Network which aims to provide financial and mentoring support to African American students at the University of South Florida.

Before coming to USF, Luz served as Director of the Candidate Empowerment Center (CEC) at Florida A&M University. In this role her team increased FAMU’s College of Education’s Teacher Certification passage rate by 75%. She also served as Assistant Director of the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Miami where she coordinated services and programs that challenged, motivated, and supported ethnically diverse students in their development at the University of Miami and seek to bring issues of diversity and multiculturalism to the foreground of campus conversation.

She is a double alumna from the University of South Florida with a B.A in Interpersonal Communication and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – College Student Affairs. She completed her Doctor of Education in Higher Education and Leadership Administration degree from Nova Southeastern University.

 

Youth Advisory Committee

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