Meet The Parenting Program Staff

Parenting Program Director, Christina Rodrigues, M.S. in Education with specialization in Early Literacy and has been part of Forty Carrots Parenting Program since 1998. Since 2009, Christina is responsible for overseeing the Parenting Education and Mental Health Programs. She has implemented the Child & Family Therapy individual services and has initiated many Community Outreach partnerships, including SPARCC, SOLVE Maternity Homes, Salvation Army, Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) in Manatee County Public School System, Selah Freedom and the Manatee County Public Library System. Christina led the expansion of the Parenting Program in 2014, increasing over 45% of services. She continues to show her passion for her work, supporting families in the Sarasota and Manatee communities and a talented group of Parenting Educators and Therapists.

Contact: 941.365.7716 ext. 307

Clinical Supervisor, Carla Johanns, M.A., LMHC, is part of Forty Carrots since 2016 and is overseeing the Child & Family Therapy services; supporting the expansion of mental health services throughout the community. Carla has Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New York University and a Master's of Arts in Counseling from Montclair State University. She has a Post-Master’s specialization in substance abuse counseling. Carla has worked in the counseling field since 1999, primarily with children and adolescents. She is licensed in Florida as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, LMHC.

Contact: 941.960.2565 ext. 328

Alisa, B.A. Alisa has extensive knowledge in early literacy and community outreach. Her prior experience includes developing literacy programs and parenting education classes for families with young children through the Sarasota County Public Library System’s Born To Read Program. She joined the Parenting Program in 2014 as an Early Literacy Specialist. Alisa visits all of the Partners In Play groups at the Sarasota and Manatee libraries, bringing special literacy materials, activities and tips for families. 

Elizabeth, B.F.A., in Fine Arts from Ringling School of Art and Design. Elizabeth started with Forty Carrots in 2002 as a Parenting Educator. She joined Forty Carrots with a background in Elementary and Middle school education. Elizabeth has over ten years of experience facilitating classes at many of our community locations, piloting many of our original partnerships working with families from all walks of life.  Elizabeth currently co-facilitates Partners In Play (PIP) classes at Sarasota and Manatee County libraries.

Emily, M.S., in Child and Family Studies and a B.S. in Psychology. Emily was raised in Sarasota and returned to the area after completing her Master’s Degree at the University of Tennessee. She has over five years of experience working with children and families in the child welfare system. Her passion has always been working with families and helping mothers and fathers feel empowered in their role as parents. As a Parenting Educator, she facilitates Partners In Play groups throughout the libraries in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Heather, LMHC, NCC, MA is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor.  She earned her Master of Arts degree in Community Counseling and her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies from Campbell University in North Carolina. She has over ten years of experience in private practice providing individual and family therapy to all ages, focused on children and adolescents with various emotional and behavioral issues. In November, 2010, after moving to Florida, she began working as a Parenting Educator in the Parenting Program, where she facilitates a therapeutic support group at Salvation Army and Selah Freedom.

Jamie, M.S., LMFT, RDT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Jamie joined the Parenting Program in 2011 and is a Therapist in the Child and Family Therapy services at Forty Carrots. She launched the Drama Therapy Program for Kindergarten boys at Visible Men Academy in 2014. Jamie also co-facilitates parenting education classes at CYESIS Teen Parenting Program at Riverview High School. Her B.A. is in Musical Theatre Performance and she has performed on different stages around the world. In addition, Jamie is a Registered Drama Therapist and a registered Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) Program Facilitator.

Jody, M.S.W, LCSW. Jody is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked in the mental health field since 1984. Jody’s focus for the past 21 years has been with children and families working as a Mental Health Therapist at Child Protection Center. She was first involved at Forty Carrots as a parent with her twins and now is facilitating parenting education groups at First Step Mothers and Infants Program, SOLVE Maternity Homes, and a therapeutic support group at Salvation Army and Selah Freedom. 

Katie, M.A in the Art of Teaching and a B.A in Strategic Communication. Katie joined the Parenting Program in 2015 with a background in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Katie taught overseas in Cambridge, England as an Elementary School Teacher and also in the Sarasota County School District. She has a passion for educating children and families in our community and will continue to support them through the parenting education groups at Forty Carrots. Katie co-facilitates Partners In Play at the libraries in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Laura, M.A., in Early Childhood Education and Childhood Education and a B.A. in Fine Art and Education. Laura came to the Parenting Program in 2012 with a background in Early Childhood and Middle School Education. As part of her position as a Graduate Assistant, Laura was part of the editorial team on a nationally recognized educational publication. In addition she obtained her Child Development Associate Accreditation and was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Laura co-facilitates Partners In Play groups at Sarasota and Manatee libraries. Laura is currently attending Infant Mental Health training at FSU.

Melissa C., M.A in Curriculum and Instruction and B.A in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education.  Melissa was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and just recently relocated to Bradenton with her family.  Before relocating Melissa worked for Pittsburgh Public Schools in various early childhood education roles, her most recent role was as an Early Childhood Education Delivery Manager.  In this role she oversaw the comprehensive education program addressing aspects of children’s growth and development, assisted with curriculum writing and implementation, and conducted both formal and informal observations to support teachers growth and development. Melissa joined the team of Parenting Educators in 2016 and she co-facilitates Partners In Play (PIP) groups at various library locations in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Melissa M., B.S. in Liberal Studies and Elementary Education. Melissa taught for eleven years at the middle school level prior to moving to Sarasota. As a teacher she received many honors, including “Building Level Teacher of the Year” and “First Year Teacher Award.” She became involved with Forty Carrots by attending Partners In Play groups with her children. In 2014, she joined the Parenting Program and co-facilitates PIP groups multiple locations. Melissa also facilitates PIP Squeaks and Welcome to Our World, our newborn group at the Parenting Center.

Meredith Piazza, B.A., MSW, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Meredith has been practicing as a Child and Family Therapist for 10 years. Her prior experience comes from working with infants, young children, and their families in clinical settings in Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge, LA. Meredith’s training in research based interventions includes Infant Mental Health (IMH), Circle of Security Parenting (COS), Child-Parent Psychotherapy(CPP), and the Fussy Baby Network. Meredith joined us as a Parenting Educator and Therapist in 2011. In addition to providing therapy, Meredith co-facilitates Circle of Security groups for families involved in the judicial system and provides Infant Mental Health therapy for families at the CYESIS Teen Parent Program at Riverview High School.

Rebecca, M.S. in Guidance and Counseling and a B.S. in Psychology. Rebecca joined the Parenting Program in 2013 as a Parenting Educator and most recently, has joined Child & Family Therapy services as a Therapist. Rebecca is a registered Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) Program Facilitator. Rebecca offers support to the families at SPARCC, where she co-facilitates a therapeutic evening group. In 2016, Rebecca received the Maternal Mental Health Professional Certificate Training.

Sonia, B.A., in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  Sonia has over 30 years of experience in the early childhood field and has presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference as well as at local educational events. She was one of the original staff members of Forty Carrots Family Center when it was founded 23 years ago; she served as a Preschool Teacher and the Preschool Director. As our Bilingual Parenting Educator, Sonia is facilitating Partners In Play groups at Sarasota and Manatee Libraries. Sonia is certified in “Abriendo Puertas”, a parenting program for Hispanic families, and she facilitates this series at Alta Vista Elementary – Eagle Academy Parent University to their Kindergarten families. She will be sharing engaging cultural activities and songs in Spanish to children and their families during Partners In Play.

Tylar, M.A., LMHC/S, RPT in Counseling and B.S. in Psychology. Tylar is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Supervisor and Registered Play Therapist. She has worked with young children and families throughout Sarasota County since 1996, also as a Mental Health Therapist at Child Protection Center, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Argosy and Webster Universities. Tylar co-facilitates a therapeutic support group at Salvation Army and Selah Freedom. Tylar is also a Certified Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor. 

Wendy, M.S., in PreK/Primary Education and B.S. in Communication. Wendy joined the Forty Carrots family when she attended parenting education classes with her two boys. She began working as a Parenting Educator in 2008, and holds The Happiest Baby on The Block certification and is a registered Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) Program Facilitator. Wendy co-facilitates parenting education classes at First Step Mothers & Infants Program, SOLVE Maternity Homes, and the CYESIS Teen Parent Program at North Port and Riverview High Schools. Wendy also co-facilitates parenting groups at Teenage Parenting Program (TAPP) in Manatee County.  In 2016, she started Infant Mental Health training at FSU.