LeadershipFPRA Class V Bios
Sara Almond, APR
Sara Almond is the immediate past president and vice president of accreditation for the Space Coast Chapter of FPRA. She works in government and community relations for Brevard Public Schools, managing several outreach programs for the 11th largest school district in the state. Sara is passionate about building and maintaining partnerships with community leaders to advocate for vulnerable student populations. An FPRA member since 2015, she also serves as secretary for the Florida Public Relations Education Foundation (FPREF).
Sara has lived and worked in over 15 countries, South Africa being her favorite. Currently she lives in Indian Harbour Beach with her husband, their three-year-old Blue Heeler, Sydney, and is expecting her first child in June.
Chloe Barr serves as account manager for Allison Aubuchon Communications, LLC, a strategic media advocacy firm in Tallahassee, Fla. She graduated from Florida State University in May 2020 with a degree in political science and public relations.
While at FSU, she served as professional liaison for FPRA’s Student Capital Chapter. She found FPRA to be an excellent resource for professional development and networking as a student. It was through FPRA that Chloe connected with Allison Aubuchon Communications and became an intern before being promoted in 2020. She is now a professional member of the FPRA Capital Chapter.
Through her current role, Chloe has been a part of diverse and impactful campaigns, among them projects related to health equity, education and protecting insurance consumers. She is proud to support clients who advocate for positive change, such as the American Heart Association, the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida and the Florida Surplus Lines Association.
Chloe says the power of public relations inspires her and she is eager to continue to grow in this field.
Levar Cooper is the director of communications for the Lake County Government and has held the position since November 2019. Prior to that role, Levar led the web development team for the Office of Communications and has over a decade of experience as an independent consultant providing multimedia and communications services to small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits.
In his current role, Levar strives to strengthen communication between government and the local community by leveraging technology to identify risks and opportunities and to form strategies that support empathetic communications.
Levar is a proud member of FPRA’s Lake Chapter and an advocate for FPRA membership and its value to public relations professionals. In his free time, he enjoys kayaking along one of Florida’s spring-fed rivers, spending time with family, or playing musical instruments.
Mary Rose Cox
Mary Cox is the public information officer for Toho Water Authority (Toho). She is responsible for external communications and community engagement programs. As part of that, Mary also serves as the organization’s primary spokesperson and manages Toho’s social media platforms. She is a senior public relations specialist with over 10 years of experience in media relations, crisis communications, strategic planning, and marketing management.
Mary holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Central Florida in interpersonal communications.
She is the service projects chair for the Rotary Club of Kissimmee Bay, and an active member of the Florida Public Relations Association and Public Relations Society of America.
Mary previously served as chairperson for the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce’s Poinciana Area Council and continues to serve her community as a weekly Meals on Wheels volunteer.
Vanessa De La Viña
Vanessa De La Viña is a senior manager of field public relations at Firehouse Subs, one of the top fast-casual restaurant franchise companies in the U.S.
She made the transition to public relations more than three years ago, after working as a broadcast journalist in various markets across the country for more than seven years. During her time in the broadcast news industry, Vanessa covered everything from breaking news to feature stories, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Mexico, new restaurant openings in town and one-on-one interviews with celebrities. With her background and experience in journalism, she is passionate about sharing her clients’ stories to build brand awareness, maintain a positive reputation and drive new guests to their businesses.
Vanessa now oversees a team of three at Firehouse Subs to create, plan, and execute effective public relations strategies and work closely with franchisees to elevate their small businesses through impactful earned media coverage. She is also very active in FPRA’s Orlando Area Chapter and currently serves as its vice president of sponsorships.
Stephanie Esposito has been with Meridian Behavioral Healthcare in Gainesville, FL for almost 3 years and was recently promoted to Director of Advancement. She is driven to raise funds and educate the community about a cause she is so passionate about. While at Meridian, she received the Leadership Award, given to one staff member on an annual basis. Her career has been dedicated to improving communities through non-profit work, starting in Miami and then moving to Gainesville.
In the beginning of 2020, she was a guest speaker for a Live Oak Chamber of Commerce women in leadership program. Being a mentee for Take Stock in Children, participating in CrossFit, scuba diving and traveling with her husband are just a few things she enjoys doing in her spare time. Stephanie is also a proud member of FPRA’s Gainesville Chapter, Junior League of Gainesville and the Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville.
Bob Gabordi is the author of the book, The Truth: Real Stories and the Risk of Losing a Free Press in America, which uses stories from his 41-year career as a reporter and senior editor with the USA TODAY Network. He founded Gabordi Media, a public relations/media agency.
He retired in 2019 as executive editor of FLORIDA TODAY and the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Gabordi is a former president of the Florida Society of News Editors. He is an eight-time first-place awards winner of the FSNE awards for his column. He was also honored for FLORIDA TODAY’s use of podcasting for investigative reporting and using augmented reality to create the 321 Launch app for coverage of space launches.
His newspapers won national recognition for investigative and public service journalism, including awards from the National Press Club, the Denver Press Club, The Pew Center for Civic Journalism and The Associated Press Managing Editors.
Bob’s work has taken him to Pakistan three times, and to Turkey and Armenia. He worked with the International Center for Journalists to host dozens of journalists from developing democracies.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and an MBA from Northeastern University.
Sarah Kelliher is an associate communications strategist at Curley & Pynn Public Relations Management and leads the planning and implementation of strategic public relations programs for clients in the economic development, financial services and energy sectors. Sarah joined Curley & Pynn in 2019 as a communications specialist and quickly became an essential member of the team.
Prior to joining Curley & Pynn, she interned for Limbitless Solutions, where she drove the nonprofit’s digital storytelling through blog posts, press releases and social media campaigns. There, she earned the opportunity to speak alongside Limbitless President Albert Manero on a panel at the United Nations about the intersection of gender and disability at the Annual Ideagen 2030 Empowering Women and Girls Summit. She has also served as a contributor for several media outlets, including Knight Sports Now, and remains an active contributor for CheeseheadTV, a news source for Green Bay Packer fans.
A member of FPRA’s Orlando Area Chapter, Sarah is actively involved in its Student Outreach Committee. She graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in journalism studies and remains a dedicated member of the UCF community.
Paula Machado is owner and founder of Fire Ant Communications where she specializes in project management and marketing for several industries in the U.S. Hispanic & Latin America markets. From managing press events, to media training, to translating work in English and Spanish, Paula has collaborated with companies including Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and many more. She’s also the Latin America feature writer for IAAPA’s Funworld Magazine.
For the past five years, Paula reported on the latest news and entertainment both in English and Spanish on Spectrum News 13 and InfoMás, Central Florida’s only 24-hour local news stations. Her journalism efforts have received award-recognition from the National Association of Hispanic Journalist, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.
Paula currently serves as a board member for FPRA’s Orlando Area Chapter, the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Most recently, she was named a member of UCF’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020. One of her biggest passions is traveling and spending time with her precious Boston Terrier, Manolo Antonio.
Jen Pagh is the marketing operations manager at Liquid Creative Studio, a Florida-based creative marketing agency. She aspires to lead her team to do extremely creative and strategic work that will help brands and propel their mission forward.
Jen has a degree in marketing and communication from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. and most recently moved to Florida after living in Brooklyn, New York. Her experience ranges from working in Minneapolis, Minn. for Target Corporate in merchandising to working for a national experiential marketing staffing firm, STAFFED INC., in NYC.
Her joyful and innovative approach to collaboration helps the Liquid Creative team produce purposeful and vision-driven work.
Melanie Reda, APR, CPRC
Having worked in agencies and corporate marketing departments for more than 25 years, Melanie has experience in many aspects of marketing, communication and public relations. She began her career by interning at Walt Disney World and at a PR agency that specialized in the comic book industry. She has since worked with employers and clients in retail, publishing, software development, medical management, and commercial insurance, among other fields. She joined KSC, Inc., as an account executive in 2020, and she also serves as programming director for the FPRA State Office.
Melanie graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication and a concentration in public relations. She has been a member of FPRA since 2011, and she earned her APR in 2019 and her CPRC in 2020. Melanie has held multiple positions on the Central West Coast Chapter board and is currently the chapter’s president-elect.
Melanie is also a board member for Habitat for Humanity Sarasota and enjoys helping make affordable housing available to families in her community.
Madelene Skinner is a senior strategic communications coordinator with HDR who brings over 14 years of private, federal and local government experience. She is the president of FPRA’s Jacksonville Chapter and serves as chair for FPRA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. In addition to serving with communication professionals, she serves as Industry Partner Chair with the Women’s Transportation Seminar Northeast Florida.
Growing up a Navy brat, culture had a big influence in her life. Madelene was born in Spain, lived in the Philippines, Japan, California, Washington and Florida. This experience allowed her to have a multicultural perspective of people, especially from living overseas. She first started volunteering in community initiatives through her outreach work. She wanted to contribute to be a part of the change while also supporting the arts community.
Madelene is the mother of two talented teenagers pursuing their passion for the arts – theatre and cinematic arts. As of recently she joined The 5 and Dime Theatre Co. to serve on their board as the marketing and outreach chair. These opportunities focus around her important work in communications, allowing her to be authentic, engaged with professionals and part of inclusive teams that boldly live inspirational values.
Jenny Tomes, APR
Jenny Tomes is the utility marketing coordinator for Port St. Lucie Utility Systems. The title doesn’t quite match the responsibility because she mostly focuses on public education and outreach to help customers better understand the importance of protecting the city’s water distribution and sewer collection systems. Her favorite part of her job is presenting to kids about the wonders of water and wastewater, particularly water conservation and preventing clogs. The kids affectionately call her the “Toilet Lady.”
Since she joined FPRA in 2015, Jenny has served on the Treasure Coast Chapter board every year, and is currently the immediate past president. She hopes to serve on the Executive Committee as well. Jenny achieved her APR in August 2020, which has given her the confidence and ability to approach her work in a whole new positive way.
Jenny has an amazing daughter, Molly, and a wonderful husband, Ben. She enjoys breweries, Comic Cons, and shopping at Goodwill. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in the program and is looking forward to getting better acquainted with her fellow leaders!
Sheryl Vieira is a marketing professional with extensive experience in client relations, community outreach, business development, event planning, media relations, social media and advertising. She is vice president of marketing and communications for Caldwell Trust Company, managing marketing strategies, business development, community outreach, and branding.
Sheryl relocated to Sarasota from New York as a marketing consultant for RHI Group. Her first client was Chef Paul Mattison of Chef Paul Productions. As marketing director, she assisted with public appearances, cooking classes, wine dinners, culinary tours to Italy and hosting television’s What’s Cookin’ on SNN6.
Vieira was named one of five finalists for the 2018 national PR News ‘Marketer of the Year’ award. Locally, she received the Ginnie Duffey Troyer Award of Professionalism by FPRA’s Central West Coast Chapter and an ADDY for excellence in advertising by AdFed Suncoast, the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation.
Sheryl is a member of FPRA and Florida Bankers Association. She has received The President’s Volunteer Service Award from the Council on Service and Civic Participation in conjunction with the National & Community Service and USA Freedom Corps.