Prior to founding Forward Paths, Denise was a certified Guardian Ad Litem with the 5th Circuit Court, State of Florida. She is the mother of eight children, two of whom were internationally adopted. She also has two beautiful grand daughters and a wonderful grandson. Denise and her husband, Jimmy, own an independent retail pharmacy, Burry's Pharmacy, in Leesburg, Florida. In 2017, Denise was awarded the Mayors Award by the City of Leesburg and the Humanitarian Award by the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, the Leesburg Partnership presented her with the Community Service Award and in 2019, she was awarded the Anna H. Settles Leadership Award at the Altrusa International Convention in Reno, Nevada. She currently serves as the Chair for the Salvation Army's Senior Housing and Homelessness Committee for Lake and Sumter County.
Jacob is a native of Lake County, born and raised in Leesburg, Florida. As one of eight children, he is a strong believer in the "It takes a village..." mentality. While attending the University of Florida, he developed a passion for helping others as he volunteered with the Arts in Medicine program at Shands Children's Hospital. Jacob is currently a Realtor with Olde Town Brokers in Orlando, where he remains active with other non-profit organizations. When he isn't working or volunteering, he's probably traveling, eating Indian food, or enjoying live theatre.
Sharon Wooten has served as a board member since Forward Paths inception; she see's the need in our community and feels Forward Paths is helping to change the lives in our at risk young adults. "The most rewarding feeling is to see these kids accomplish milestones and reach their goals," says Sharon. Sharon and her husband Richard love traveling and spending time with their four adult children, and beautiful grand daughter. She loves reading, the beach and coming home to be greeted by their three dogs. As a realtor with ERA Grizzard she loves working with people and helping them with their real estate needs. Sharon is a graduate of the University of a Florida with a degree in Psychology. She has worked as a physician's assistant, managed a medical practice, taught high school and has been a realtor for the past 15 years.
Sara is dedicated to helping young adults become the best versions of themselves. She has been mentoring teenagers since the beginning of her undergraduate career at the University of Florida. She received her Bachelor's degree in Advertising with a minor in Leadership, and later received her Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management from University of Central Florida. She has worked in full-time youth ministry, taught in the public school system, has run a high school mentoring program, and worked seasonally with Partnership for Strong Families to ensure every local foster kid had an unforgettable Christmas. She currently works at Palm Beach State College helping manage their baccalaureate and workforce programs and teaches the Nonprofit Managers class. In her free time, she loves to travel, try new foods, work out, attempt DIY home projects, read and spend quality time with her family and friends.
Andrew is a graduate of Leesburg High School and holds a bachelor's degree in Finance from the University of Mississippi. He operates a financial advisors business operating throughout Lake County. Andrew and his wife, Morgan, have two children and continue to reside in Leesburg. He and Morgan are passionate about philanthropy and giving back to the community.
Larry is a Financial Representative with Thrivent Financial which was named in 2016, for the fifth year in a row, as one the "World's Most Ethical Companies". He graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA and is married to Dr. Linda Dolan. They have one daughter. He is active in our community and recently served as President of the Leesburg Sunset Rotary Club. He has participated in or led 38 Thrivent Action Teams, which have supported philanthropies such as The Genesis Center and Habitat for Humanity.
Director and Founding Board Member
Julie believes the only way to make the world a better place is to pass on good to the next generation. She is passionate about helping the youth of today find happiness and develop an eagerness about life, learning, and passing goodness onto others. That is what moves her. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, with a B.S. degree in Liberal Arts. She began her career in television and print advertising, and later became a high school science and math teacher. Now she volunteers her time tutoring students. In addition to Forward Paths, she dedicates her time to the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Kiwanis, youth sports, and the local food bank.
Dinah is a Family Nurse Practitioner, a graduate of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA and is currently working as a volunteer at the Lazarus Medical Clinic in Wildwood. Dinah began her career in Nursing in 1984 with an A.A.S. in Nursing from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA, then received her B.S.N. degree from Georgia College where she attended evening classes while working full-time during the day as an R.N. She was born in Panama City, Panama and was raised by her widowed mother in Panama after her father died in Vietnam. She has a strong desire to give back to her community and feels the mission that Forward Paths has for our youth gives them a real chance for success in life. Dinah has been married to Don for 38 years. They have grown children, Laura and Donnie. She enjoys reading, and the movies, and has a black belt in Karate.
A retired government and business executive whose career included over 25 years in city and community management and 10 years as a community newspaper publisher, Pat received his undergraduate and graduate educations at Centre College of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. His civic leadership and work with youth has included two stints as a Chamber of Commerce president, president of multiple PTAs and school advisory councils, sole sponsor of a high school academic lettermen's program, moderator of high school quiz bowls in three counties, founder of two youth recreational sports programs, service on the board of a state municipal league, a community college foundation, a YMCA, and a nature center, and chairmanship of a county recreation advisory program, a community festival, an arts council, and a Boy Scout troop. He was awarded the UNC-Wilmington Razor Walker Award for contributions to young people and the North Carolina Governor's Volunteer Award, and he currently volunteers, in addition to Forward Paths, at the Deliver the Difference food ministry, as a mentor for Take Stock in Children, and as Finance Committee chair for First United Methodist Church in Eustis.
Barbara is a wife, mother of three, and grandmother of six. She is passionate about issues involving seniors and our homeless youth. She loves to read, work with closed circuit TV programming, run candidate forums, provide meetings for seniors on topics they need to know and interact with our Forward Paths youth. She says, "if people do not get involved with and help our homeless youth to become independent, what do they think will happen to them?" Barbara recently started a Speaker's Bureau for Forward Paths so that we could advocate for change by going out into the community and giving talks to groups who are interested in homeless youth and what they can do to help.
Senior Director of Student Development
Cristy is so excited to be with the Forward Paths' family. She is a loving wife and mother of three children, two grown boys and a mini me (girl). She comes to us with a vast knowledge of at risk youth. Her background is in domestic violence, sexual assault and homelessness. She believes that our youth are our future and your past doesn't define who you are but molds you to being a better you. Cristy loves to bring out the creative side in everyone. She loves to plan parties and celebrate small and large milestones!
Director of Student Development
Nicole is a proud mother of two. Her son has been a licensed Minister since the age of 17, and her daughter attends Leesburg High School. Nicole is originally from Detroit, Michigan but moved to Leesburg in 2010. She has over 20 years experience serving the public and is also a two-time cancer survivor. She is a Sunday school teacher and worship leader at the Leesburg Church of God in Christ and member of the Voices of Celebration, a local community choir. Her hobbies include spending time with family, shopping, and singing.
Prior to joining Forward Paths as Volunteer Coordinator in August 2018, Arlene was a retiree of Lake Sumter State College, but a very active one. She worked on various committees in her community, and currently serves as Vice President of her sorority, collects food for the Leesburg Food Bank, and volunteers at the Morrison United Methodist Church's Opportunity Shop. When not out and about, Arlene likes to sew, entertain and read. Mother of two daughters and grandmother of two girls, she looks forward to coming to the office, spending time with, and growing closer to the youth we serve every day. Arlene believes it is so meaningful to be a part of the team that helps to positively influence at-risk youth continue on their paths to independence and invites others to join us in our mission.
Maggie Denk, MS, LMHC
Mental Health Counselor
Maggie is a licensed mental health counselor originally from Buffalo, New York with nearly 20 years experience in the mental health field. Maggie has her master's degree in mental health counseling and is currently in the final stages of completing her doctoral studies in Counseling Education & Supervision. Maggie is a dedicated ally to the LGBT community and enjoys celebrating diversity within our community. She is committed to improving and enhancing LGBT-focused services in Lake County. She is also a member of the ALGBTIC division of the American Counseling Association. Maggie is the proud soccer mom of a 12 year old son, Jay. She and her family love Disney, campfires, and messy art projects. Maggie and her boyfriend Logan are also the fur-parents of three rescue dogs and four cats. Maggie is also the Director of Camping and Recreation for Easterseals Camp Challenge where she oversees the programming for children and adults with disabilities.