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Team Members Bios

Staff

Founding Members

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Anton Cardinal

Anton Cardinal  

Co-Founder/ Chairman

Anton Cardinal is the face of the organization and represents 1st Veterans Kids Care, Inc. in the community, assumes responsibility for major projects, is responsible to the Board of Directors, and assumes responsibility for the entire organization. He works collaboratively within the organization to transform to current stage into a more mature organization capable of delivering on its long-term vision.

 

At twelve years old Anton’s heart led him to participate in his school’s holiday baskets can goods drive for less fortunate children in the Lake Alfred Community.  During summer breaks Anton, along with his family members, prepared hot food for distribution to homeless individuals throughout the city of San Fernando in Trinidad and Tobago. After the devastating earthquake disaster in Haiti, Anton and his father Anthony Cardinal partnered with Haines City Grace of God Church to contribute new clothing and shoes to Haitian residents.

 

When Anton Cardinal was fifteen, he took an allowance and donated that money to an organization that helped fund food drives and supported kids who were fighting against the ravages of cancer. His selfless actions inspired his father to follow his heart and pursue helping those in need by founding 1st Veterans Kids Care and establishing Y.E.S. (Youth Eye Care Services) Vision and Literacy Initiative. When asked why he decided to give more than the $20 asked of him during the donation drive, Anton, an Honor graduate, a JROTC Battalion Commander of Ridge Community High School and Captain of the Haines City Police Explorers answers, easily and straightforwardly.  “As long as you have you should give to others”. A martial arts instructor, Anton is an inductee to the American  Federation of Martial Arts Hall of Fame. 

Anthony Cardinal 

Founder/ C.E.O

Anthony Cardinal

Innovative, creative, and an excellent visionary – these are just some of the words used to describe Mr. Anthony Cardinal whose talents are well known in Florida. On the 28th of October 1988 in his native island of Trinidad and Tobago, he was promoted to the position of Supplemental Police Superintendent for 11 years. Anthony also created and operated his own private security company. Mr. Cardinal also had a career in law enforcement in New York City.  Worked in consulting, Strategic planning, development, branding, and marketing.  In 2000 He created and launched his line of clothing, Kenscoff Sportswear. In 2009, Cardinal’s passion for children and their welfare led him to the creation of an organization whose main challenge is to help children in need and those who served. 1st Veterans Kids Care, Inc. was born. The nonprofit organization was created to transform the lives of children of our military by identifying and fulfilling their needs. 1st  Veterans Kids Care is committed to creating an awareness of the needs and life challenges our veterans, their spouses, and children in America undergo when they are faced with the tragic death or disability of one or both parents at war.

On January 28, 2016, Cardinal launched his own Property Investment and Development Company, Cardinal Homes and LLC in the Central Florida area. His mission is to deliver the American dream home where clients receive the most satisfying building, buying experience. Mr. Cardinal and his family are based in sunny Florida, where inspiration is found in nature and all things beautiful.  Cardinal is focusing his full attention on giving this lifestyle of comfort and versatility to veterans and those who serve.

Leon R Gaither

Leon R Gaither

Secretary / Veterans Resource Coordinator

Leon R. Gaither is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He graduated from Maryland with a B.S. degree in Zoology and Howard University’s ROTC Leadership Development program. Leon was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and attended the US Army Field Artillery School Officer Basic Course (FAOBC) at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Since 1993 Leon has been active in secondary and post-secondary education and has taught K-20 grades. Leon earned a master’s in science education and a master’s in educational leadership from the Teacher Education University. Leon has served as the Board President and the Military Veterans Program Coordinator of 1st Veterans’ Kids Care, Inc. a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Central Florida. He was responsible for the management and administrative oversight of the organization and instrumental in developing initiatives, programs, and services whose aims were to improve the well-being of children. His main goals are enhancing the organization's opportunities to partner with veteran organizations, private organizations, and educational institutions. Leon’s greatest strengths are his creativity, his passion, his drive, and his leadership abilities. He thrives on challenges, particularly those that allow him the opportunity to expand his community outreach abilities and utilize his critical thinking skills and problem-solving techniques. Born and raised in Olney, Maryland, Leon now lives in Boynton Beach, Florida with his wife and best friend Katrina and their daughter Jordan. In his free time, Leon likes to play the guitar, golf, ride his bicycle, and take long walks.

Ancil Cardinal 

VP/Treasurer

Ancil Cardinal
Clark Squires

Clark Squires

Chief of Development 

CEO/Founder Clark Squires Associates

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Clark has been President, COO, SVP, and Director of leading American and Canadian companies involved in the development and management of hotels, technology, and commercial real estate. Over his 38-year career, Clark has secured investment, leased thousands of square feet of commercial real estate, landed major contracts across the globe for hotel provisioning software and digital media, and helped develop & manage over 100 hotels in the USA and Canada. Clark is certified by the Cornell University Hotel Real Estate program.

 

Clark is presently the founder of The Utopian Project and Global Business Development Manager of Orion AST and works with numerous organizations around the world in Business Development and to help them secure funding.  Clark was Corporate Director and Vice-Chairmen of the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce with over 100 Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce with over 15,000 business members. Clark was a former Board Member of OIC International based in Washington DC – a partnership with some of the largest corporations in the world to provide workforce development in developing countries. Clark studied Regional & Urban Development and Marketing at Saint Mary’s University and is certified by Cornell University in Hotel Real Estate.

 

Clark understands the importance of running a successful business for investors and clients. Specialties: Business Development, Hotel Development, Restaurant Development, Business Finance, Commercial Real Estate Development, Sports Management, Sales Management, Procurement, PPE Supplies, Brand Marketing, Presentation of Complex Business Solutions, Information Technology Applications, Digital Networking, Internet Provisioning, Wireless Applications, Strategic and Supportable Growth, Call Center Solutions, Reservations, eMarketing, Web Strategies, eCommerce, Consultative Selling Techniques, Integration of Marketing and Sales, Brand Building, Micro to Macro Building Block Sales Growth.

 Homida Rajack

Homida Rajack

Asst. Secretary

Homida Rajack is a Financial Solutions Planner focusing on Retirement and Medicare Solutions for the general public sector. As a broker, she can assist families with their needs and has transitioned to this role from the Banking sector.


For the past 15 years worked at Central Florida Banks and Credit Union in diverse positions from Head Teller to Operations Officer to Personal Retail and Small Business Banker. Some of the Financial Institutions were Fairwinds Credit Union / Axiom Bank and Seacoast Bank. Past Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida where emphasis was on Business and Personal Finance Workshops and Education of the Community.

 

Born and raised in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago where various positions at the Republic Bank Ltd. Past volunteer member of the Lions Club of Trinidad and Tobago. Coach school students for playing Table Tennis in school and village leagues Presently lives in Central Florida Orlando with her family. Passionate about educating and helping families find solutions for their savings and retirement portfolio and dabble in playing Pickleball from time to time. Enjoys the outdoors and watching cricket.

Leo Mendez

Leo Mendez

Corporate Internal Auditor

Leo Mendez is a graduate of Roosevelt University, Chicago, where he received his business degree. His professional career includes seventeen years in banking in Chicago and Orlando, six years of computer project management for a group of companies in the Caribbean, and twenty-five years in the healthcare industry. He also taught business courses and was contracted by two Orlando CPA firms to assist with audits at Orange County, the City of Orlando, small neighborhood banks, and other Florida businesses. Mr. Mendez recently turned his focus to real estate investment. A former Rotarian and member of the Board of Neal & Massy (Trinidad) Credit Union, Mr. Mendez also chaired the Board of Orange County Research and Development Authority were served from 2005 to 2015, and he is the Past President of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce of Florida. In addition, he is Grand Councilor Emeritus of the Rosicrucian Order, with prior responsibility for the Southeast and Florida Region, and he held various leadership positions within the Orlando Chapter of the Rosicrucian Order. In 1994, Mr. Mendez founded Nirvana Health Services, an Altamonte Springs-based home care company, and was the chairman of that multi-million-dollar corporation. The Medicare Certified agency realized steady growth over the years, providing specialty nursing and therapy services in Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties. In 2012, Mr. Mendez established the Pipiol Angels Foundation to facilitate charitable activities locally and in the Caribbean. In 2014, he started Nirvana Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Services to provide outpatient therapy services to patients to ensure continued care upon discharge from home health services. Finally, in 2018, Mr. Mendez embarked upon an adventure into real estate with the establishment of AALMA, LLC. A health enthusiast, Mr. Mendez enjoys taking long walks in his community and attending yoga, tai chi, and physical training classes. He loves mentoring youths and is an avid supporter of healthcare and similar projects in the underserved communities of the Caribbean and Florida. He coordinated the shipments of dozens of donated hospital beds and healthcare supplies, as well as 37 sewing machines, to countries of the Caribbean.

Cynthia Finley

Cynthia Finley

Director of Home Decor

Managed over Home line department, which included cook/dining, Home Décor, Bath, Bedding, Furniture, storage and Organization, Toys, Sporting goods, and Hardware, Taught and Train over 80 associates the daily work routine, process, seasonal transition, Tour the area it needs to be clean, zone, price, in stock, accident-free for the customer. Great customer service Delegate Task Conduct 30-minute meeting every day covering the business growth, policy, and procedure.....

Jeff Cely

Jeff Cely

Director Housing  

President,  Cely Consulting Inc.    

Jeff Cely is the president of Cely Consulting, Inc., Over the past 13 years, Mr. Cely has been providing program management and financial oversight for projects with funding sources from both public and private sectors. Jeff is an industry leader managing delivery and funding uses while maintaining related compliance standards. Mr. Cely's services include program/project management oversight, financial and funding analysis, auditing, and development of project controls. He has conducted performance evaluations, outlined areas of risk, and developed processes for project management and project controls for multi-million-dollar programs in the United States and the Caribbean. Mr. Cely’s experience ranges from residential to commercial, providing project management services for single-family homes to water treatment plants.

Under Mr. Cely’s leadership, CCI is managing the development of Savannah Trails and Orleans Place. A $100M mixed-income, mixed-use development in Ocean Springs, MS funded by private and public funds. Financial oversight is one of the most critical aspects of the work specifically with the complexity of funding sources such as CDBG, USDA, and Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. At completion, the development will include more than 500 single and multi-family units and more than 200,000 SF retail spaces including a 100-children daycare. CCI also provides technical assistance and fiscal monitoring to the City of New Orleans – Office of Community Development (OCD) $410M CDBG grant.

​ Mr. Cely is also experienced in value engineering studies; he served as a team member in the value engineering study for state projects such as the Florida I-4/SR-408 interchange, SR-528 westbound bridge replacement. He provided cost engineering support for the SR-50 widening from SR-25 (US- 27) to Pine Hills Road.

Renae Williams

Renae Williams

Scholarship Programs

Renae Williams is a dedicated entrepreneur making significant strides in the educational and social care sectors. With a passion for both teaching and service, she has established herself as the founder and owner of Gifted Kids Academy, Kidz Pods, and Lorna’s Place of Care.

 

Renae's journey in education spans over a decade, initially finding her calling as a science teacher at a local high school in Palm Beach County. Witnessing the struggles students faced with reading comprehension ignited her drive to make a difference, leading her to establish Gifted Kids Academy in 2015. This innovative educational institution has since become a beacon of learning, providing tailored support to students of all backgrounds.

 

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 prompted Renae to respond dynamically to the changing educational landscape, leading to the creation of Kidz Pods, a private homeschooling company. Through Kidz Pods, Renae continues to uphold her commitment to empowering young minds, offering personalized in-home learning experiences that nurture each child's unique potential.

 

Beyond her entrepreneurial endeavors, Renae's compassionate spirit shines through in the establishment of Lorna’s Place of Care. Motivated by her love for service, she has created a safe haven for individuals with developmental disabilities, embodying her belief in the power of compassion and inclusion.

 

Renae Williams is not only a visionary entrepreneur but also a devoted family person and an adventurous soul. When she's not shaping the future of education or making a difference in her community, you can find her enjoying quality time with her loved ones or embarking on thrilling adventures such as skydiving, bungee jumping, or exploring the wonders of the underwater world through snorkeling.

 

Renae's multifaceted journey exemplifies her unwavering dedication to education, service, and embracing life's adventures with zest, love, and enthusiasm.

Jacoby Waters

Jacoby Waters  

Youth Services

Founder & Executive Director 

Young Men of Distinction and Ladies of Distinction 

Website: youngmenofdistinction.org

Email: Jacoby.waters@youngmenofdistinction.org

Telephone: (561) 899-5530

Jacoby Waters is a visionary entrepreneur, community change agent, father, and husband. He is the Founder, CEO, and Executive Director of Young Men of Distinction, a mentoring organization dedicated to guiding and empowering young men between the ages of 7 and 18. 

Jacoby's journey began at Florida A&M University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Music. Raised in the city of Riviera Beach, FL, he was fortunate to have a strong support system consisting of his mother, Bridgette Cameron, his father, Eddie Waters, his stepfather, grandparents, and neighbors. It was this nurturing environment that instilled in him a deep sense of compassion and a heart for the community.

In 2019, Jacoby followed his calling and founded Young Men of Distinction with the purpose of changing the narrative for today's young men, particularly those from minority backgrounds. Through his organization, he aims to provide mentorship and guidance to help these young men realize their full potential and overcome any obstacles they may face.

Jacoby's dedication to the community and his passion for empowering young men have made him a respected figure in his field. His leadership and commitment have earned him recognition as a community change agent, and he continues to make a positive impact on the lives of those he mentors.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Jacoby cherishes his role as a father and husband. He understands the importance of family and strives to create a nurturing environment for his own loved ones.

In summary, Jacoby Waters is an inspiring individual who is driven by his mission to uplift and empower young men. Through his organization, Young Men of Distinction, he is making a significant difference in the lives of countless individuals. Jacoby's dedication, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to community service serve as an inspiration to all who have the privilege of knowing him.

 

2022 Nonprofits First Hats Off Nonprofit of the Year Nominee

Katrina Gaither

Katrina Gaither

Vision and Literacy

M.Ed - Central and South Regions Secondary HR Partner

katrina.gaither@palmbeachschools.org

Office: 561.434.8532

Cell: 407.758.1341

Katrina is a lifelong educator with nearly 30 years working in various roles in public schools.  She currently serves as Human Resources Partner for the School District of Palm Beach County, supporting a portfolio of schools with all things related to recruitment and retention of staff. It was her love of learning that inspired the launch of her Bring Your Own Joy business.  In addition to being a Certified Wellness and Life Coach, she is also a self-proclaimed Joy Enthusiast, as well as an author (You Are Joy-Full: 100+ Ways to Keep the Joy of Your Faith in Focus), motivational speaker, and educator.  It is her sincere belief and message to all that we can all “elevate the joy within.” 

 

As a new HR Partner, Katrina supports the secondary schools of the Central and South Regions. Katrina began her career in another large urban Florida school district as a middle school social studies teacher for more than 15 years.  Upon leaving the classroom, Katrina worked as a school-based instructional coach supporting more than 100 middle school teachers each year in all subject areas. This school-based experience led to opportunities for Katrina to support teachers at multiple schools as a District “Marzano” Coach during the day and to support alternative certification teachers taking night classes.  More than five years ago, Katrina had the opportunity to join the SDPBC team as a specialist in the Department of Professional Development where she had the privilege of leading the work of the Educator Support Program (ESP), supporting South Region schools and supporting the Teacher Ambassador Program.  As the Retention Specialists with the Recruitment and Retention team,  Katrina continued to work the Teacher Ambassador Program and launch other retention initiatives, including Voluntary Employee Networking Groups, before transitioning to Partner.  

Johna Bingham

Johna Bingham

 Social Media    

Marie Raymond

Marie Raymond

Community Services

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