Meet The Parenting Program Staff

Parenting Program Director, Christina Rodrigues, M.S. Christina has a M.S. in Education with specialization in Early Literacy and has been part of Forty Carrots since 1998. Since 2009, Christina is responsible for overseeing the Parenting Education and Mental Health Programs. She has implemented the Child & Family Therapy services and has initiated many FREE Community Outreach partnerships, including SPARCC, SOLVE Maternity Homes, Salvation Army, Booker Middle School, Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) in Manatee County Public School System, Selah Freedom, Visible Men Academy 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: christina.rodrigues@fortycarrots.com 941.365.7716 ext. 307

Parenting Program Assistant Director, Meredith Piazza, B.A., MSW, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Meredith has been practicing as a Child and Family Therapist for 9 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 2014, Meredith took on the role of Parenting Program Assistant Director.  In addition to providing therapy, Meredith 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.

Contact: meredith.piazza@fortycarrots.com 941.365.7716 ext. 309

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 classes at the Sarasota and Manatee libraries, bringing special literacy materials, activities and tips for families. 

Carla, M.A. in Counseling and B.A. in Psychology. She has worked in the counseling field since 2000, primarily with children and adolescents. Carla worked with the Mental Health Association providing counseling services and psychoeducational groups throughout New Jersey. Following 9/11, she worked primarily as a Grief and Loss Support Counselor. Most recently, she was in private practice for 4 years and relocating to Sarasota in 2015. Carla is joining the team as a Parenting Educator, working with families in the Sarasota and Manatee libraries. 

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 came to 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.

Ellie, M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a B.S. in Sociology. Ellie has several years of experience practicing as a Children’s Counselor at a nonprofit Women's Shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Ellie also served as a Children's Counselor at a Transitional Housing Program in Virginia. Ellie completed her internship with a Community Services Board in Blacksburg, VA as a Crisis Counselor working with both children and adolescents. She joined Forty Carrots as the Children's Counselor in 2015 and co-facilitates groups at SPARCC - Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center and Visible Men Academy.

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, Emily co-facilitates classes Welcome to Our World, newborn classes, Studio 40, and Partners In Play at the Parenting Center. In the Community Outreach Program, she co-facilitates parenting education classes at CYESIS Teen Parent Program at North Port High School, Teenage Parenting Program (TAPP) in the Manatee Public School System, as well as a PIP group to the families at the Sally and Sam Shapiro Babies and Children's Medical Center.

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 at the Forty Carrots Parenting Program, where she facilitates parenting education classes in the community including SPARCC, a domestic violence shelter for women and children.

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 classes at First Step Mothers and Infants Program, Solve Maternity Homes, and the Salvation Army. Jody initiated a Trauma Informed Care group in 2014 at CYESIS Teen Parent Program at Riverview High School and continues to co-facilitate this group weekly. Jody will be launching in 2016 our new therapy group at Selah Freedom, offering mothers that are survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation support during the process of reunification with their children.

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 classes at Sarasota and Manatee libraries, as well as parenting education series at Alta Vista Elementary Parent University.

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) classes  at North Port Library and Fruitville Library in Sarasota County.

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 classes with her children. In 2014, she joined the Parenting Program and co-facilitates Partners In Play groups at Gulf Gate library in Sarasota and South Manatee and Island Libraries. Melissa also facilitates PIP Squeaks, Toddlers and Twos, as well as Studio 40, and Welcome to Our World, our newborn group at the Parenting Center.

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 co-facilitates  Studio 40, Welcome to Our World, and our Partners In Play series for families with children ages 7 to 36 months in the Parenting Center. Rebecca is a registered Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) Program Facilitator. Rebecca offers support to the team of Parenting Educators and Therapist at SPARCC, Salvation Army and Selah Freedom. 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 oneof 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 a Parenting Educator, Sonia will be facilitating Partners In Play classes at Sarasota and Manatee Libraries. Sonia is a bilingual Facilitator and is certified in “Abriendo Puertas”, a parenting program for Hispanic families.  She will be sharing engaging childhood 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 the Trauma Informed Care group at CYESIS Teen Parent Program at Riverview High School and offers a parenting education group at Salvation Army. Tylar is also a part of the therapy team, and is also a Certified Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor. She will be launching in 2016 our new therapy group at Selah Freedom, offering mothers that are survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation support during the process of reunification with their children.

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 initiative a parenting education group to the families at the Sally and Sam Shapiro Babies and Children's Medical Center.