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 postsecondary education opportunities, and essential household goods.

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 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.

Board of Directors

Jamie Bennett LMSW, ACC

Jamie Bennett LMSW, ACC

President

Jamie Bennett is the co-founder and President of Cetera, Inc. 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, a clinical license in social work, and a coaching certification through the International Coach Federation. 

Jamie is currently pursuing an Ed.D. 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.

Melodie Menzer

Melodie Menzer

Vice President

Melodie “Dee” Menzer is a co-founder of Cetera and serves as the organization’s Vice President and Treasurer.  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.

Kasandrea Sereno Ed.D

Kasandrea Sereno Ed.D

Director

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

Victor Sims

Director

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. Check out his Tedx Talk here.

Jeremy Dobes

Jeremy Dobes

Director

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.

 

Youth Advisory Committee

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