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Women of Distinction St. Johns County

Women of Distinction St. Johns County recognizes the movers and shakers in the St. Augustine area who positively impact and support their community.

Do you know a local woman who deserves to be honored for her professional accomplishments and community impact?
Nominate her today!

Event information coming soon!

Sponsorships are available.

2017 Honorees

Julia Click

Julia Click was a Brownie, Junior, and Cadette Girl Scout in Wellsburg, W.V. Her favorite leader from her time in Girl Scouts was Ms. Harris. Ms. Harris was a teacher at her school and she was single. The fact that Ms. Harris was single was eye-opening to Julia because she traveled on her own, bought her own home and was a Girl Scout leader. She is the first person Julia remembers being female and that independent. Ms. Harris inspired Julia; she was fascinating to her. She helped Julia realize that she could do anything she wanted to do…even if she was a girl!

Scouting allowed Julia to try out so many new things and develop new skills. Scouting allowed her to meet all kinds of girls and women who all excelled at different things and that was ok. Julia made friendships with girls who liked sports, or cooking or outdoor adventures and yet all were a part of the same troop and worked together on projects and traveled together. Girl Scouts showed Julia how individuality was important, and how learning to work together was key to success in life. 

Julia learned the art of selling, and sold a lot of cookies and was able to help fund a trip to the World’s Fair and to Disney. Girl Scouts gave Julia the opportunity to travel, something she probably would not have been able to do otherwise. Being able to venture out of the Ohio Valley gave her an amazing a new perspective on her future – she could travel, she could pursue an education in another part of country and she could be anything she wanted to be, just like her mentor Ms. Harris. And it was OK to be different — that had value too.

Julia graduated high school from Brooke High in Wellsburg, W.V. After high school graduation Julia pursued her dream that began in Girl Scouts of going to college outside of Ohio, and started out into her own adventure by attending college at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., where she earned a BS in psychology. After her undergrad at Tulane, Julia went on to graduate school at Troy State in Norfolk, Va. Upon graduation she had a MS in Human Resources

Julia is currently serving the community as the vice president of human resources at Flagler Hospital.

Community Activities:
• Ink Board, member starting in January 2017
• Leadership St. Johns, Class of 2017
• PEO member

This year in July, Julia will be married to the love of her life Damon for 10 years. Together they have 3 children, Elaina 16, Ashlyn 13 and Alex 7. Julia loves being a mom and feels very blessed to be their mom. Family is important and her mom and dad, Joseph and Gerry Henry, always encouraged her to be the best that that she could be and strive do whatever she wanted in life. Being the oldest of three sisters (Laura Legel and Gail Henry), she is blessed to call them her best friends. Julia’s passions run deep; she is an animal rescuer – 3 dogs, 2 cats and 1 blue fish. She also is an avid reader and loves spending time with her family traveling.

Jessica L. Evans
2Jessica L Evans

Jessica Evans was born in Midlothian, Va., and moved to the Jacksonville area in 1994. She was involved in Brownies when she was in second and third grades and had a fantastic experience! Jessica's dad helped out a lot with the troop, and she has vivid memories of getting her owl pin, camping and learning the chores that went along with camping, and Jessica’s personal favorite, selling Girl Scout Cookies.  Her dad was in sales, and he coached Jessica every night on how to develop and use a script.  He drove Jessica door to door in the neighborhood and taught her great selling techniques such as the close-ended sale (“How many boxes this year?”) approach. Girl Scouts gave Jessica the confidence to approach others, not be afraid to offer something of value, and ask for the sale. Girl Scouts also gave Jessica some of her favorite childhood memories with her father!

Jessica graduated High School from Nease High School in St. Augustine, Fla., and graduated from St. Leo University with a bachelor’s in Business Administration in St. Leo, Fla.  She received her real estate license when she was 19, and became a Realtor and property manager in the Ponte Vedra area.  Jessica felt a call to banking and began her transition in 2001.  She started with Regions (formerly AmSouth) in 2005 and loves her job as senior vice president of commercial banking.  She thoroughly enjoys advising business owners in growing their business, running more efficiently, and watching their success.  Jessica highlights having a client featured in a company-wide marketing campaign and another in the Regions Annual Report as two of her proudest moments in banking.  

Jessica and her husband Ron live in Ponte Vedra with their two children, Spencer, 8, and Annabelle, 3. Spencer is currently a Cub Scout, and Annabelle will be involved in Girl Scouts when she gets a little older.    

Community Involvement/Recognition
• Voted Best Banker in St. Augustine 2006-2009
• Past President of SBRN St. Johns
• Awarded at the North Florida’s SBA Lenders Conference
• SBA Lender of the Year for State of Florida 2011
• Top 50 Small Business Influencer in Jacksonville
• Small Business Development Center Volunteer of the Year
• Past St. Johns County Chamber Board member
• WJCT treasurer and Executive Board member, current
• Flagler College Business Advisory Board Member, current
• Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2015
• Past Cattle Baroness for American Cancer Society
• Past volunteer for Small Business Development Center Small Business Classes
• United Way volunteer
• Mentor in the Women’s Business Owners mentorship program
• Volunteer trainer for Trinity Fitness (nonprofit Christian gym)

Teresa Meares
3Teresa Meares

Teresa Meares has 20 years of law enforcement experience and is a retired patrol sergeant with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. As a young girl she had the privilege of being a part of the Girl Scout organization as a Brownie.

She is married to Gary and together they have four children. Teresa holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology, a master's degree in Public Administration and over 300 hours of advanced management training.

She is currently the CEO of DGG Uniform and Work Apparel where she manages 15 full-time and three part-time employees, who operate a wide range of uniform solutions.

DGG has been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in Northeast Florida, a Florida Company to watch by Grow Florida, among the top 300 businesses in Florida, and among the top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Florida.

Inspired by her 20 years in law enforcement, Teresa published “Think Safe 2 Be Safe.” The series is a compilation of stories focused on teaching children how to stay safe.

For her accomplishments with DGG, Teresa is on the Business Journal’s “List” as a top Women-Owned Business in Northeast Florida, she was the recipient of the 2009’s Jacksonville Business Journal’s Women of Influence and the 2010 Entrepreneur of the year for the North Florida Women in Business Awards.

Teresa is also a past president of the Women’s Business Owners of North Florida, current chair of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and chair-elect for the NAWBO Institute, a foundation supporting women’s education.

Teresa recently sold a portion of her business and launch a clothing line with her daughter Kayla, focused on the up-and-coming centennials, aka Gen Z. The clothing line offers positive imaging and promotes creativity and self-esteem.

Tania Schmidt-Alpers
4Tania Schmidt Alpers

Tania was born in Montreal, Canada, as an only child to a French mother and a German father who worked for the airlines. Tania and her family lived in Canada and then Ecuador until finally settling in Garden City, Long Island, New York.

Tania enjoyed participating in Brownies as an afterschool activity. Her Mother was a dedicated Troop Mother (Troop 1331) and in addition to working on badges and cookies sales she also taught French lessons to the Troop members. It was truly in this participation that Tania learned to work as part of a peer group with a focus on “making the world a better place”.

Tania attended the University of Connecticut and received a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Political Science-Pre Law and German. She graduated with honors from the Political Science Department. She then attended the University of Bridgeport School of Law (now known as Quinnipiac University School of Law) where she received her Juris Doctor degree.

In 2000, Tania received the Kolodinsky And Justice for All Award. In addition to individual advocacy for victims of violence, Tania has also been active in systemic advocacy through pro bono appellate cases resulting in the creation of new case law for survivors of domestic, sexual and dating violence throughout the state of Florida. This is truly her passion and life’s work.

Tania has also been awarded Pro Bono Awards in Flagler County from 1996-1998 and in St. Johns County in 2008-2012. Tania is a Florida Supreme Court Family and Appellate Law Mediator. She has also represented children as a guardian ad litem in various high conflict family law cases. Tania actively continues to volunteer at the St. Johns County Legal Aid Pro Bono Clinics. Every February, Tania teaches at The People’s Law School.

Tania is a Federal Law Enforcement Certified STAR (Small Town and Rural) Domestic Violence Instructor. She regularly presents at domestic violence conferences and trains law enforcement officers. In 2010, Tania was proud to be naturalized as a United States citizen. In 2012, Tania was blessed to be able to adopt the light of her life, Kadance, who is in sixth grade and an active member (for the past 6 years) of Girl Scout Troop 1441. Kadance is a Girl Scout Bronze Award recipient and on her way to earning her Silver Award.

In 2013 Tania received the President’s Pro Bono Service Award, which was presented to her before the Florida Supreme Court Justices at the Florida Supreme Court. During the 2014 National Victims’ Rights Week, Attorney General Pam Bondi presented Tania with the Attorney General’s Distinguished Victim Services Award. Receiving these two awards has been the highlight of her legal career. (Until being named a among Women Who Make a Difference, of course.)

Last summer, Tania was the coach of the winning team of the Deutsche Bank-Girl Scout Technovation Project. The Girl Scout team
collaborated to conceive, create, code, market and present their own app designed to improve their community.

It is in this public service that she hopes to improve the structure for the legal profession and the litigants therein. Tania has just recently closed her private practice to focus on “grassroots” by taking a full-time job with the Betty Griffin House, the domestic violence shelter for St. Johns County, representing victims in civil legal proceedings as well as doing community outreach and training. She hopes that this will also allow her more time to focus her “down time” on what is most important: her daughter. 

Community Activities
• Connecticut Bar Association (Member 1995-Present)
• Florida Bar Association (Member 1996-Present)
• District of Columbia Bar Association (Member 1997-Present)
• The Florida Bar – Family Law Rules Committee (2016-Present)
• St. Johns County Family Law Advisory Group Subcommittee (2016-Present)
• Florida Association of Women Lawyers (Member)
• St. Johns Association of Women Lawyers (Member)
• American Bar Association (Member 1994-1998)
• Flagler County Bar Association (Member 1996-2003; Secretary 1997-1998; President 1998-1999)
• Putnam County Bar Association (Member 1997-2006)
• St. Johns County Bar Association (Member 1997-Present)
• Volusia/Flagler Association of Women Lawyers (Member 1997-Present; Board Member 1997-1999)
• Volusia County Young Lawyers Association (Member 1996-1998; Board Member 1997-1998)
• The Florida Bar, Family Law Section - Domestic Violence Committee (Member 1998-2012)
• Judicial Circuit Article V Indigent Services Committee (2006-2007)
• FCADV Domestic Violence Advisory Panel (2007-2009)
• Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association (Member 1995-1997)
• American Trial Lawyers of America (Member 1995-1997)
• St. Johns County Community Task Force Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (1997-Present)
• St. Johns County Victims' Rights Committee (2000-2006)
• Betty Griffin House - Volunteer Training (Instructor - Injunctions and Enforcement of Injunctions, (1999-Present)
• First Coast-First Strike Team (2000-2003)
• Flagler County Community Task Force (1997-2000)
• Putnam County Domestic Violence Task Force (1997-2000)
• Helping Hands (1997-2000)
• Flagler County Adult Education-Certified Legal Assistant Program (Instructor, 1996-1998)
• American Institute of Family Law Attorneys “10 Best Attorneys” Florida 2016-2017, 2017-2018

Kelly Smith
5Kelly Smith

Kelly has always enjoyed learning from and mentoring other women. Growing up in Philadelphia as the oldest of four children, she assumed a leadership role in her family at a young age. She joined the Brownies with her younger sister and learned to truly appreciate the value of volunteerism and helping people in need. Not afraid to talk to people, she excelled at selling Girl Scout Cookies as a result of the connections she was able to make with people.

Today, her focus on people is a key driver of success at work. Kelly holds the highest position within Wells Fargo’s Community Bank in the North Florida region, serving as regional president since 2014. A 13-year veteran with the company, she also served as area president in Central Pennsylvania and in Raleigh, N.C., prior to her move to Jacksonville.

Fostering a caring and collaborative environment, Kelly views her team as a competitive advantage and is committed to gender diversity in leadership. As a result of her focused approach, the North Florida region boasts its most diverse leadership team to date. Kelly is a dedicated leader who actively seeks opportunities and advocates for all team members, including strong women leaders. Kelly serves as a mentor to many female team members at Wells Fargo and holds a position on the company’s Women’s Leadership Initiative to examine how to help women succeed personally and professionally.

Kelly is a working mom of three boys — Mason, Hudson and Hunter — and has been married to her husband Erik, a former teacher, for nearly 10 years. As a result, Kelly has a strong passion for education and supporting children to reach their true potential. She believes our kids are our future, and it is everyone’s duty to help make that future better for all children, in every neighborhood in our local communities.

She is also a champion of maintaining a true work-life balance and enjoys spending as much time as she can with her family.

Kelly earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and is also a graduate of the American Bankers Association’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Community Involvement
• Board Member and Chair of Workforce Development, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce
• Board Member, City Year Jacksonville
• Board Member, United Way of Northeast Florida
• Past Board Member, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council
• Women of Influence Award, Jacksonville Business Journal (2016)
• 40 Under 40 Award, Jacksonville Business Journal (2015)

Kelly Sullivan
6Kelly Sullivan

Kelly joined Girl Scouts as a 2-year-old tag-a-long to Troop 11 of Girl Scouts of Tombigbee Council in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where her mother was troop leader for her oldest sister’s Brownie troop. She remained active in Girl Scouts through her senior year of high school at Tuscaloosa County High in Northport, Ala. Kelly showed a diversity of interests as a Junior and Cadette Girl Scout, earning all but one of the then-available Merit Badges.

Kelly’s summers were spent at Girl Scout day camp and, later, overnight camp at her beloved Camp Cherry Austin where she was named Honor Camper in the camp’s last year of operation before losing its battle to local strip mining operations. She was fortunate to join a group of girls for a visit to Our Cabaña, the Girl Scout World Center in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Thereafter, in an effort to raise money for a new camp, she spent countless hours speaking to community business organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis that were then men-only. All these organizations financially supported the Boy Scouts. She implored them to support their daughters in the same way they supported their sons. Through this experience, she gained insight into the different treatment of women. As an adult, she made contributions to Tombigbee Council to help make their new camp a reality.

Today, Kelly is a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts. She invested 17 years as a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Gateway Council. She served as a troop leader, the Lake-Man-Jose service unit manager, which serviced 2,500 girls, and an event organizer for both her Service Unit and for Council introducing MOSH and Tree Hill sleepovers to the girls of Northeast Florida. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors Property Committee. Kelly was in her element as a canoe instructor and introducing water skiing at Camp Kateri. As a leader, she chaperoned a group of girls for a trip to Europe that lasted 16 days, including a week at the Girl Scout World Center in the Swiss Alps, Our Chalet. Her friendship with her Senior Girl Scout leader continues and they go camping, most recently to Cumberland Island and, later this year, plans are in the works for their annual canoe camp in the Okefenokee Swamp. More recently, she served on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida.

Kelly continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of Girl Scouts, which she says, shaped her life in many ways. She credits Girl Scouts with nurturing her love of all things outdoors, particularly camp craft. She believes strongly that the outdoor program is what sets Girl Scouts apart from all other programs designed for girls. Camping, she says, teaches girls leadership. It requires planning, organization and execution. It also builds character. Kelly maintains that the outdoor program teaches girls that each one makes a contribution to the success of the activity. Kelly says that living outdoors presents opportunity for growth and character building. These skills, Kelly contends, are foundational to a successful adult.

Kelly was 28 with two years of college, and the mother of three children, including 5-week-old twins, when the Marine Corps Barracks at the Beirut, Lebanon airport was bombed killing 240 service members. It was a deeply personal event for Kelly because, as the wife of a Marine, she knew some of the families. This event caused her to ask, “How would I support my family if my husband were killed or maimed?” She believes that women must be prepared to become the sole financial support of the family, if necessary. This meant for Kelly, in order to live in the lifestyle she wanted for her family, she had to finish college.

Ten years, four duty stations, and three children after beginning her post-high school studies — the first in a family of five children — she persisted to finish an interdisciplinary degree in Health Care Management. Shortly thereafter, her husband received word that, soon, he would be stationed overseas unaccompanied. She immediately made plans to go to law school — something she’d wanted to do but never thought possible. Beginning law school studies with a 6-year-old and two 3-year-olds, she managed to graduate near the top of her class with several awards along the way.

Kelly moved to the Jacksonville area in 1989, beginning her legal career at age 33. She has managed a successful career, raised a family, and found time to volunteer for the greater good of her community. She was in the 1995 inaugural class of Florida Bar lawyers to become Board Certified in Health Law. She is devoted to quality affordable health care for all Americans. Kelly started her career in health care as a teen volunteer earning Girl Scout Service Award points, demonstrating once again how Girl Scouts profoundly influenced Kelly’s life.

Kelly’s career included working in private practice, for hospitals, a pharmacy benefit manager, and a large health insurance carrier. She recently retired to her home in Beachwalk in St. Augustine where she serves as president of the Kingston Dunes Homeowner Association, which is dealing with challenges presented due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew.

Kelly has three children: Son Jared is a lawyer; daughter Meghan is a film editor married to a writer, Ulvrik, who is Norwegian; and Brett is a diplomat for the U.S. State Department and married to Joel, an IT specialist who was born in the Dominican Republic. Brett and Joel have two children, Sasha and Eli. 

Pamela Way
7Pamela Way

Pam was born and raised by her parents Don and Pat Livingston in Greenville, Tenn., with her two brothers Gary and Ben. As a young child she recalls many happy days at her grandparent’s farm chasing chickens and driving the tractor down the bumpy dirt road. But what she loved most was hiking and camping with her family in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. “On special weekends we would pack the Tempest station wagon and drive to Camp Creek, Tennessee where we spend the days hiking and tubing, and the nights sitting around the camp fire and telling stories.” Although she participated in many school and church activities, her love and respect for the outdoors would guide her to the Girl Scouts.

Her initiation into the Girl Scouts was at the age of 7 as a Brownie and then as a Girl Scout in Troop 80 in Greenville. Her favorite memoires include a camp weekend with her troop to Camp Wildwood in Johnson City, Tenn. During the last night, each scout was to team up with two other troop members and perform a skit. Her team would be the first karaoke at Camp Wildwood singing The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar.”

Although singing didn’t work out for Pam, her Girl Scout experience and passion for nature would. Her high school days were spent in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at Oakland High School. She was active in the band as a majorette during marching season and playing the clarinet during concert season. She was also involved in the Drama Club and Mu Sigma Lambda honor society. After graduating from high school, she attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky., where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Sciences and a minor in Biology, and her Master of Science degree in Agronomy and a minor in Soil Chemistry. Before starting her graduate studies, she worked as a biologist with the Department of Interior at the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, N.J., and in Bowling Green, Ky., at the Kentucky Research Station. Her major area of graduate research was the “The Influence of Productivity in Alternate Topsoil Material in Reclaimed Soils of Western Kentucky.” During her graduate studies, Pam also served as the Agriculture Department Soils Lab instructor.

Upon graduation, Pam was employed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a District Conservationist in

Danville, Kentucky and then promoted to a Water Quality Resource Specialist. She was responsible for developing watershed management plans to help conserve and manage the land and water resources in the area. In 1990, she moved to St. Augustine, Fla., after getting engaged to her husband Christopher Keith Way. After moving to St. Augustine she was employed by the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) as an environmental scientist. Pam continues to work at the SJRWMD as an environmental scientist and concentrates on the watershed assessment associated with storm water discharges and constructed wetland design and

management. During her career, she has presented at many notable scientific and international conferences and has authored numerous scientific publications. She has been recognized by the SJRWMD for Employee of the Year and received the Award of Excellence and numerous meritorious awards.

Her professional and personal involvement include:

• Past president and board member of the Florida Soil and Water Conservation Society
• Recipient of the Soil and Water Conservation Society Commendation Award
• Vice president and board member of the Florida State Association of Resource Conservation and Development Council
• Past board member of the Floridian Resource Conservation and Development Council
• Past president and board member of the St. Johns County Soil and Water Conservation District
• Past member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America
• Past board member of Altrusa Club, Danville, Ky.
• Past board member of St. Augustine’s Betty Griffin House
• March of Dimes – neighborhood chair
• Group fitness instructor – Anastasia Fitness
• Equestrian Dressage Enthusiasts

The love of the land and water is only superseded by her love of family, her husband Chris Way, who is an entrepreneur (Barnacle Bills Seafood and NoProfile Boat Lifts); step-daughter Ashley Lane Williams, a registered nurse at Flagler Hospital; son-in-law Justin Williams, general sales manager at Coggin Honda in St. Augustine; and the newest part of the family, granddaughter Bennet Lane Williams.