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. 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. She is currently on the Youth Leadership Team with The Pollination Project working to "Seed the Change" for our youth across the United States.
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. 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 13 years.
Education has been extremely important to Barbara. Now retired, she taught everything from fourth-grade to Adult Literacy. She was born in San Diego and now lives in the Villages. She describes herself as a Navy brat who moved every 1 to 2 years, except in WWII when she moved twice. She credits this for preparing her to work with foster care youth who are often moved while in the system. She volunteered for 7 years with the Guardian Ad Litem Program. She currently spends her time advocating for those youth she served who have now aged out. She encourages others to give their time to Forward Paths, saying that volunteering with these youth takes no special skill set, the hours can be few or many. She says that it may be the most rewarding giving in your life as it has been for her.
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 Lake-Sumter 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.
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 36 years. They have grown children, Laura and Donnie. She enjoys reading, and the movies, and has a black belt in Karate.
d.e.s.k. (Denise's Evil Side Kick)
Shay joined the Forward Paths' Family in 2014. Shay says she couldn't be one of our youth so this why she does what she does (which is just about everything). Shay became blind at 24, survived three kidney transplants, and believes that her life experiences have prepared her to work with our youth. She says that she has been blessed by a wonderful family which helped her through her illnesses and she wants to see that our youth have the same support. When she is not at work, Shay enjoys time with her husband, Adrian, and their three cats.
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?"