Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Leadership Team

Braham,SandraClrDr. Sandra Braham – President/CEO

Dr. Braham, selected through a national search, brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in the not-for-profit sector. Most recently, she served for 10 years as Chief Executive Officer of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) El Paso del Norte Region, the largest YWCA in the nation. In this role, she led 450 employees, managed an annual budget of more than $30 million and supported a $9 million foundation.

Prior to joining the YWCA, Dr. Braham served in the capacities of Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Vice President for Outreach Programs at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) from 1992 to 2006. At UTEP, she secured more than $20 million in federal and state grants focused on helping low-income youth access, enroll in and succeed in higher education.

Dr. Braham will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s more than 500 staff members and working within 67 different programs that cover a 37-county service area throughout Florida. GCJFCS’ programs protect the vulnerable, strengthen families and empower individuals by serving abused and neglected children, helping newly arrived refugees resettle in the United States, assisting the unemployed with jobs and life skills and providing a continuum of services for the elderly and disabled in communities across Florida. The agency also offers internationally recognized models of community-based care for those with serious medical, physical and psychiatric disabilities and provides holistic services to the Jewish community, including a Holocaust Survivor Program that provides essential care to help improve the quality of life for Holocaust survivors throughout West Central Florida. Dr. Braham will oversee the successful implementation of these service areas and will position the agency to continue to grow.


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Terri Balliet – Chief Operations Officer

Ms. Balliet began her tenure with the agency over a decade ago as a Case Management Supervisor and was promoted within the agency to her most recent position in 2014. Ms. Balliet has been instrumental in the expansion of existing programs, as well as the planning and implementation of newly developed Case Management and Diversion programs throughout the State of Florida.  She currently oversees a 27 million dollar budget, which consists of oversight of operations for Community Based Care (CBC) Case Management/Diversion/Licensing and Placement in Broward, Hillsborough, Lee, Osceola, Pasco, and Polk County as well as Behavioral Health Services in Tampa Bay,  Broward and Miami/Dade. In addition to the programs she directly oversees, Ms. Balliet also helps to oversee the daily operations of the entire agency.

Terri has her Master of Arts Degree in Guidance Counseling from Argosy University, a  Bachelor Degree in Criminology at the University of South Florida and is a Certified Child Protective Professional (CCPP).  She has over 20 years progressively responsible experience in Child Welfare Protective Services, Foster Care and Adoptions, Child Protective Investigation and Juvenile Justice Probation in both Hillsborough and Pinellas County.

On May 10, 2010, Bob Henriquez, former Circuit Administrator from the FL Department of Children and Families, presented Terri with the “Community Champions Award” for her efforts to safely reduce the number of children in Foster Care in the 6th Circuit.

Ms. Balliet is an active committee member of the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC) and supports their mission to advocate for Florida’s abused, abandoned and neglected children and supports the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf.


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Laurence Roberts – Vice President/CIO of Information Services and Technology 

Mr. Roberts joined the staff of Gulf Coast in 2008. During his tenure, he has overseen 100% growth in information technology, including the implementation of the Netsmart Avatar EHR system. He is responsible for supervising 8 IT staff members and managing the information systems for the entire organization.

Prior to joining Gulf Coast JFCS, Mr. Roberts served as Chief Information Officer for large social service agencies in Florida and Indiana during a career spanning over 25 years.

Laurence has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management from Michigan State University and a Masters Degree in Information Systems from Ball State University. He is an adjunct professor of Informational Systems at the University of South Florida, and is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences.

Mr. Roberts began working with the Netsmart product line in 1990 and has implemented and supported Avatar products for over 5 years. He is an active member of the Netsmart community, currently serving as co-chair of the Avatar National Technical Committee.  He is past Chair of the Florida and National CMHC Users Groups and a Past Chair of the Florida Council Information Technology Workgroup.

Laurence currently lives in St. Petersburg with his spouse.


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Lisa Circle – Vice President of Quality Improvement

Ms. Circle began her tenure at Gulf Coast in 2004 as a Case Management Supervisor in the Child Protection program in Pinellas County.  She left Gulf Coast in 2006 to pursue other professional opportunities.  Lisa returned to Gulf Coast JFCS in 2014 in her current capacity. She is responsible for the development, coordination and implementation of the agency’s quality improvement, utilization management, risk management and compliance programs.

Prior to re-joining Gulf Coast in 2014, Lisa served as the Director of Child Safety at Directions for Living.  Ms. Circle has over 20 years of experience in Child Welfare programs in Miami-Dade, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

Ms. Circle has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Barry University, located in Miami Shores, FL.

Lisa resides in St. Petersburg.


Michelle Backlund – CFO

Ms. Backlund has joined the leadership team of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services as Chief Financial Officer.

She is an accomplished health care executive specializing in operations and finance who brings to Gulf Coast demonstrated leadership, strategic decision making, as well as expertise in creating innovative care models for the under-served and at risk populations. Her success includes strengthening organizations through influencing and leveraging relationships as well as optimizing the delivery of community based and Medicare/Medicaid health services for the elderly, children, and disabled patient populations.

Michelle was most recently Chief Operating Officer for a statewide ancillary service provider for managed care organizations. Her past roles include Executive Director for Chapters Health Senior Independence in Tampa, and Vice President of Administration/CFO for Neighborly Care Network, Inc.

Michelle is a St. Petersburg native and graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor of science in Accounting. She earned her MBA from Webster University in Tampa.

She is a member of the Florida Council on Aging, is a Certified Senior Advisor, and also currently serves on the board of directors for Meals on Wheels of Tampa.


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Valerie Bogar – Director of Human Resources

Ms. Bogar has been with Gulf Coast JFCS since April of 2013 and was appointed Director of Human Resources in January 2014. She is responsible for all human resources activities for nearly 600, including employee relations, procedures and unemployment hearings.

Prior to joining Gulf Coast, Valerie served as the Human Resources Director for a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company, and has over 15 years of experience as a human resource professional.

Ms. Bogar is a graduate of St. Pete College and the University of South Florida and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Technology Management with a specialty in Personnel Management.

Valerie is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and is active in the local Suncoast  Tampa Bay chapter. She also volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House – All Children’s Hospital, Toys for Tots Tampa Bay, and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Ms. Bogar resides in St. Pete with her family.

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