Julie Kessel, M.D.
Julie has served on the LWVSPA Board since 2010, and has been president since 2015. A physician by training, Julie is Board Certified in Adult and General Psychiatry. In 1998, she retired from direct psychiatric practice and began working in the insurance industry, first in Philadelphia and then back in Florida where she has resided since 2004. She has extensive experience in the insurer aspect of the implementation of the consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act including appeal rights and prevention, as well as other aspects of PPACA.
She is presently employed as the National Medical Director for Coverage Policy for Cigna, overseeing the development, maintenance, and implementation of prevention, medical, drug and reimbursement coverage policy for the company. Throughout her long career in health care policy, she has maintained a private forensic practice with a specialty in homicide and death penalty post-conviction work. She has been involved in more than 50 post-conviction death penalty matters, performing psychiatric assessments, consultation, and expert testimony.
Julie enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, and all things Florida involving the sunshine and the water.
Sharon Winters moved to St. Petersburg in 2015 after a career in public and academic libraries where she worked in the fields of IT, facilities management, technical services and finance. She most recently served as library director at Tacoma Community College and holds MLS and MPA degrees. As a volunteer, she's been primarily involved in historic preservation and urban design, founding the non-profit Historic Tacoma in WA State and currently serving on St. Petersburg's Community Planning and Preservation Commission. She has also done extensive work as a community mediator and hospice volunteer.
Joining the League in 2016, Sharon has served on the Board since November 2016 and leads the Gun Safety Action Team. She believes that LWVSPA's recent membership surge presents an opportunity to expand the breadth, depth and effectiveness of our work; she's committed to working with the Board and League members to carefully define our strategic direction and put the necessary systems and structure in place to accomplish our goals.
Stephanie Owens is a Connector~Facilitator~Disruptor~Advocator~Innovator who strives to deliver meaningful social change one public policy at a time.
A veteran political strategist, Owens is the principle of Dolphin Strategies LLC, a community engagement and strategic partnerships firm specializing in creating corporate social responsibility and public participation strategies that build community capacity, create impactful public engagement and foster healthy communities. She joined the League to encourage more organizations to participate in voter education, advocacy, and civic engagement activities.
Stephanie has spent over 20 in public service, as an appointee of both President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton. She held Senior Official positions in the White House, and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Owens serves as a member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and a Board Member of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.
An innovator, relationship builder, and advocate, Lisa Vanover works to accomplish social and environmental equity through strategic, systemic change. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio and followed education and job opportunities around the country before settling in Pinellas County in 2004. With an M.Ed. in Counseling and Guidance from Texas State, she's pursuing her MBA at USFSP.
Lisa's career has taken her from higher education administration to energy managmenent. She has worked at St. Petersburg College as a federal grant manager in workforce education since 2013. She serves on the board of Community Leveraged Learning and has volunteered for United Way, Pinellas Hope, and the Edible Peace Patch Project. She loves to kayak and hike.
Joining the LWVPSA in 2016, Lisa serves as the Co-Chair of the Sustainability Action Team. She works to advance solar energy for people of all incomes to create environmental equity and reduce our footprint. Lisa also serves on the Membership Committee and helps to plan Cocktails and Conversations events. Lisa is very excited about the League's grassroots energy.
Caroline is a Florida native, USF grad, and licensed CPA, currently working as the Finance Director for the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. She finally joined the LWVSPA in 2008 because she always intended to. The League is in her genes - her mom was a chapter president. She was tapped as Treasurer in 2010 and is happy to make that contribution to a great League chapter.Caroline has previously served on WMNF's Board of Directors and the Board of the (unfortunately, now defunct) Florida Curling Club. She's lived in St Petersburg for more than 20 years and particularly loves our rich theatre, opera, and arts community.
As a previous board member and First Vice President of the LWVSPA, Raechel Garafalo has led the Voter Service Committee through the past few very busy election cycles, spearheading voter registration efforts, managing candidate forums, identifying and developing voter education opportunities, and directing the development of the League’s highly successful online voter guides.
She has lived in St. Petersburg since early childhood. Raechel comes by her interest in the LWVSPA naturally as her parents were political and social activists who were also members of the LWVSPA. She enjoys collaboration but is also comfortable with working independently to get things done. Her work experience includes retail management, manufacturer sales, and corporate and residential interior design. Raechel brings valuable knowledge and skills to our board from those endeavors.
Susan Mayer is a Florida native, born and raised in Miami, and a St. Pete resident since 2002. She became involved with the LWVSPA when she retired in 2011. A graduate of the University of Florida with a BA in English Education, Susan has been a flight attendant, flight attendant supervisor, and flight attendant training manager for a major international airline. She also taught high school English, serving as a department chair and district-level in-service training and curriculum developer in Miami-Dade County. After leaving her public school career, Susan worked as an educational consultant and regional manager for a nationally-recognized educational software corporation. While living in St. Pete, she was employed as a new teacher mentor in the Pinellas County Public Schools Transition to Teaching program.
Susan’s work with the League has been in member communications. She is editor of the LWVSPA Voter newsletter and supports other member communications by sharing her expertise in Constant Contact, the League’s email marketing provider. She enjoys living in St. Pete with her husband and two fur babies and is grateful for the opportunity to support the League through her volunteer work.
My journey began in New Jersey where I was born. Growing up I was an average student, but determined, later receiving a BS in Chemistry from Trenton State College. Then I moved to Columbus, Ohio to attend graduate school at The Ohio State University. I taught in Columbus for a couple of years and moved to Florida in 1974. I taught Physics and Chemistry in Daytona until I moved to Pinellas County in 1990. For the next few years, while teaching, I worked on completing my doctoral degree the University of Florida. As a teacher, I helped set up the Center for Advanced Technology at Lakewood High School. After teaching there for eight years, I served as the administrator for the program for nine years. My journey allowed me to be involved with various teacher’s associations at local and state levels participate in curriculum design projects for Physics sponsored by the NSF, held some leadership positions in a national organization of STEM schools. I have also been a member of the League of Women Voters in Volusia and Pinellas Counties. My wife, Jana Maples, was a teacher for 36 years and has lived in Pinellas County since 1970. We have a son, John Maples, daughter-in-law Christine Hall and grandson Jace who is in 5th grade at Lake St. George Elementary School. Our daughter Leigh Shapiro is a 4th grade teacher in Volusia County.
After graduating from college, Lydia studied economics at Columbia University. She relocated to St Petersburg, where she obtained her law degree. Lydia has been a local
activist attorney for many years and has been a thorn in the side of the Pinellas County School Board, the St Petersburg (now Tampa Bay)Times, and the City of St Petersburg.
Lydia will travel almost anywhere at the drop of a hat and especially enjoys returning to New York to re-energize herself. Lydia maintains a legal practice, takes classes at USF
and volunteers at her local public library. She adores her rescue terrier, Bella.
A lifelong activist, I got my start as a kid growing up in Glacier National Park and telling visitors not to litter in the park because it harmed the animals and landscape. Since then, I've dedicated myself to disrupting the status quo and creating sustainable change. When we moved to Maryland I got involved with the Special Olympics, helping to bring interscholastic athletic opportunities to students with disabilities.
In college, I helped to expand the Non-Discrimination Ordinance to cover gender identity and sexual orientation (laying the groundwork for gender inclusive bathrooms on campuses) and brought training opportunities for women to campus. After graduation, I spent a year and a half working for a National Science Foundation grant at MSU on recruitment and retention strategies which increased the number of women in STEM and Social & Behavioral Science fields by nearly 15%.
I moved to St. Pete in 2015 to join an education technology start-up. Since then, I've joined the local Special Olympics management team and the LWVSPA Voter Service and Promotion action groups. The growth of our League in the last 8 months is evidence of our many successes and is a testament to the current leadership, which I'm humbled to now be a part of.
In my spare time, I love doing anything out doors (especially hiking and kayaking) and working out. A NASM certified Personal Trainer, I love nothing more than helping people realize their strength and watching that spill into all aspects of their lives.