Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida

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Early Steps Gulf Central Staff

Marcela Benitez

Counties Served: Sarasota, Manatee Education: BA in Psychology from Santo Tomas University (Bogota-Colombia). Experience: She has been employed with Early Steps Program as a Bilingual Service Coordinator since 11/2011. Previously worked for Healthy Families and The Florida Center for Early Childhood. I have experience working with Children and families, strengthening

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Marlisa Payne

Counties Served: Charlotte, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands, Sarasota, Manatee Education: Experience: She has been employed with Early Steps since 2008. Personal: I have two of the cutest grandchildren you have ever seen. And my newest family member is my beautiful kitty Izzy.

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Marlen Martinez

Counties Served: Highland and Hardee County Education: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Florida Experience: Worked as an Early Interventionist with Ridge Area ARC for 5 years and then became a service coordinator in 1995. She has been employed with Early Steps since 7/1995. Languages: Spanish/English Personal:

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Irish Gilbert

Counties Served:  Charlotte, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, Sarasota Education:  2yrs SCTI (vocational college) Experience:  She has been with Gulf Central Early Steps since 10/2010. Personal:

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Irene Haakman

Counties Served: Manatee, Highlands Education: Bachelor of Science, McGill University, 1994. Master of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Alberta, 1998. Additional Certifications: Certified Leader for “It Takes Two to Talk” and “More Than Words” Hanen parent training groups, Routines Based Model Home Visit Trainer, Picture Exchange Communication System certified, VitalStim Dysphagia

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Heather Lynch

Counties Served:  Manatee Education:  Bachelors in Social Work from Western Carolina University Experience:  She has been employed with Early Steps since 8/2000. Personal:  She likes to spend my free time with her husband and kids.  My daughter rides and my son plays hockey so we spend lots of time at

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Lynn Shea

Counties Served: Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto. Education: Bachelor Science Nursing 1982; Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant 1994 Experience: Employed with Gulf Central Early Steps conducting developmental evaluations and providing developmental support as RN/Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS). Because of her acute care and NICU background, she is

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Marisol Rose

Counties Served: Charlotte, De Soto, Manatee, Sarasota, and Spanish-speaking Families Throughout All Counties Education: BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA Experience: Marisol left a career in finance and insurance to follow her passion, helping children and families traveling through the sometimes difficult and unpredictable, yet rewarding, road

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Kim Barger

Counties Served: Charlotte, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, Sarasota Education:  Licensed Practical Nurse Experience: Kim has previously worked as a pediatric and spinal cord injury nurse, and in medical administration. She performed administrative duties while assisting the Social Security Administration District Manager in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Kim worked 4 years

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