Meet our staff



Ahavah Davis

Graduate Assistant

Ahavah is currently pursuing her PhD in Counseling and School Psychology. She was born and raised in Prince George's County, Maryland and went to Towson University in Baltimore to receive her bachelor's degree in Athletic Training. After undergrad, she moved to Tallahassee to get her Master's in Sport Psychology. During her master's program, she worked at Florida A&M University as an Assistant Athletic Trainer for four sports teams and served more than 60 athletes. Ahavah's career goals are to become a sport psychologist and to continue advocating for underrepresented populations. She is now a Graduate Assistant in the Center and oversees Engage TLH. In her free time she enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants in the area, and watching movies. If you want to find new places to try in the Tallahassee area, follow @havieatz !


Anna Mitas

Statewide AmeriCorps Programs

Anna King Mitas was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Florida State University and is currently pursuing her master’s in social work at FSU. After 10+ years in the corporate world of recruitment and management, she was determined to change the trajectory of her career and hone in on her passion for inspiring change in the world. She joined the AmeriCorps | Florida VISTA Network in 2018 as the Program Manager of a large intermediary host site to AmeriCorps VISTA programs throughout the state of Florida. She is committed to strengthening and building a diverse range of initiatives designed to alleviate poverty through indirect service in communities across Florida. As part of her role as Program Manager for the AmeriCorps | Florida VISTA Network, she supervises more than 25 sites and 30 VISTA members annually. In addition, the program currently hosts 11 sites and up to 40 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates, who engage in direct service. She is a networker, passionate about connecting individuals to services and opportunities for professional and personal growth. She strives to strengthen and expand her network daily, to better support the success of her team and their community initiatives. In her free time, she is mom to two teenagers, tends to her plants and pets, and occasionally finds time for her favorite hobby, reading.


Bridgid Shannon

Assistant Director, Community Engagement 

Bridgid Shannon has moved over 35 times and lived in nine states. Constants have been marathon dialogues, building relationships, noting social-ecological dynamics, and fostering community-driven, positive, sustainable social change by engaging stakeholder voices across difference through art, literature, and storytelling. English and Intergenerational Studies were Brie’s focus at Rollins College, followed by graduate studies in Children's and Young Adult Literature and Creative Writing at Hollins University (M.A. & M.F.A.). Brie's work in education stretches from 3-year-olds to senior citizens. Most immediately, she taught AP English, Journalism, and Engaged Citizenship through Service-Learning at Pine View School for the Gifted in Sarasota, where she was actively involved in professional development, shaping service-leadership curricula, and the PeaceJam family for more than 10 years. Through her role as the assistant director for community engagement, Brie coordinates the Moellership program and PeaceJam Southeast. When Brie's not serving with students, you can find her reading, researching, writing, or on an adventure with loved ones—camera in hand.


Emily Raines

Administrative Specialist

Emily Raines is a Tallahassee native. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in public relations. Emily has worked in a local preschool with 3- and 4-year-olds and also at the Florida Center for Reading Research, where she tested and conducted reading interventions with elementary-age students in North Florida and South Georgia. Emily and her husband have three children, Amelia, Benjamin and Samantha. Emily is birder and has a life list of 161 species, including her favorite bird—the Swallow-tailed Kite—which can be seen gliding around campus in the spring and summer. Emily loves the smoky Mountains, Emerald Coast beaches, reading and eating good food.


Erin Sylvester Philpot, Ed.D.

Assistant Director, Leadership

Dr. Erin Sylvester Philpot is the Assistant Director for Leadership at the Center, where she works with the Service Scholar Program, leadership programs, and a variety of recognition and scholarship programs. A proud FSU alumna, Erin was a member of Service Scholars, Alternative Breaks, and completed the Leadership Studies Certificate as an undergraduate. She received a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina and her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies from Florida State. Her research interests include barriers to access in higher education, and ways in which we can make higher education more affordable and more accessible for students from historically under-represented or marginalized groups. Erin has worked professionally in Student Conduct, Fraternity & Sorority Life, and Event Planning. In addition to her role as mommy to her son, Truett, and spending time outdoors, Erin also advises Chi Omega Sorority and Omicron Delta Kappa.



Gabrielle Ulate

Graduate Assistant

Gabi Ulate is a master’s student in Florida State’s Higher Education program. She grew up in Northern Virginia and attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she received a B.S. in Human Development and Sociology, along with a minor in music. At Virginia Tech, Gabi participated in service organizations and served in Housing and Residence Life for more than three years. Gabi currently oversees amazing leadership programs such as Service Scholars, LeaderShape, and the Women’s Leadership Institute. In her free time, Gabi enjoys watching movies and TV shows, painting her nails, cooking, exploring local thrift shops, watching college football, and spending time with friends!


Gen Ramirez

Leadership Programs Coordinator

Gen currently serves as the Leadership Programs Coordinator at the Center. Aside from developing and facilitating a variety of leadership presentations, she works with leadership programs such as Service Scholars, LeaderShape, Leadership LOGIC, Women’s Leadership Institute, and ACC Leadership Symposium. Gen also currently serves as a co-advisor for Omicron Delta Kappa. Aside from her general duties, she voluntarily serves as the current advisor for the NeuroUnity Alliance Society here at FSU, whose mission is centered around fostering a safe space for neurodiverse individuals. Living as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities, she is passionate about providing leadership resources that are accessible and inclusive to all. You can catch this Tallahassee local and two-time FSU alum (B.S. in Psychology, M.S. in Higher Education) writing poetry and hanging out with her little family at the park.



Hannah Puckett

Graduate Assistant

Hannah is a graduate assistant in the Center for Leadership & Service primarily working with the Community Ambassador Program. She is originally from Toledo, a small town in Eastern Illinois. She received a bachelor's in social work with a minor in criminal justice from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Hannah is currently in the joint pathway graduate program for social work and criminology. Her goal after graduation is to work within the juvenile justice system to promote rehabilitation and treatment by bridging the gap between research and practice. Hannah’s previous research experience is in practicum site accessibility and diversion courts. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, listening to music, sifting through thrift/antique stores, and trying new foods. 



Jesmel Moreno

Graduate Assistant 

Jesmel (she/her) is a graduate assistant working with programs under civic engagement and leadership, including Florida State Alternative Breaks, Service Leadership Seminar, the FSU Votes Coalition, and Community Dialogue. She is pursuing her master's in Social Work and received her bachelor's degrees from Florida State in the areas of Sociology and Psychology. Born and raised in the heart of Kissimmee, Florida, Jesmel LOVES any opportunity to be engaged with the community and her own culture through food, music, storytelling and beyond, so you can always find her in some pocket of Tallahassee or campus at an event she stumbled upon. While Jesmel is still figuring out her career pathway, right now she enjoys working with aging populations providing respite to caregivers, helping students identify their leadership capacity, and exploring opportunities related to grassroots initiatives promoting health and wellness throughout underserved communities. In her free time, Jesmel enjoys being at Paperfox mysteriously enjoying a hot London Fog while online window shopping -- shameless plug, If you haven't been you need to go! 


Joi Phillips, Ph.D.


Dr. Joi N. Phillips currently serves as the director of the center. Dr. Phillips is a very proud alumna of the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and got her start at the center as a graduate assistant at the then-Center for Civic Education and Service. After completing her master’s degree, Dr. Phillips became the coordinator for the Center’s America Reads Mentoring Program while completing doctoral work in the Educational Policy and Evaluation program in the College of Education. Dr. Phillips’ work centers on the relationship between policy and civic participation. Her work is focused on how communities and higher education institutions develop and sustain partnerships. Dr. Phillips is a proud wife and mother of two who enjoys reading fiction novels and trying new recipes and kitchen gadgets. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.


Laryn Flikkema

Assistant Director, Grants & Administration

Laryn works with the center's administrative team to ensure facilities, contracts, and grants all run smoothly. Before joining the center, Laryn served as an administrator for Florida Campus Compact, which was formerly part of a national network of higher education institutions aimed at promoting civic engagement and community development. He continues his work with the federal volunteer initiatives at the center, now home to the AmeriCorps Florida VISTA Network, which partners with colleges, universities, and community-based organizations to place AmeriCorps members throughout Florida. Outside of the center, Laryn is an avid mountain biker and dog dad to Milo. 


Liz Iaconis

Civic Engagement Coordinator

Liz—originally from New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation primary—found a love for civic education early in her life and seeks to share that passion with students through her work at the center with programs including FSU Votes, Service Leadership Seminar, Community Dialogues, and Alternative Breaks. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences at Florida State University and is currently enrolled in FSU’s Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy. She is a proud alumna of the FSU Presidential Scholars program and Student Government Association, and she is always happy to chat about those experiences with current students. Liz’s previous professional roles with Teach for America and the Florida Department of Education solidified her desire to work directly with students and led her to the center, where she hopes she can be a resource to foster good citizenship among FSU students! When she isn’t living and breathing all things Florida State, you might see Liz around Tallahassee at local restaurants or parks with her Brittany Spaniels, Captain America and Bucky Barnes.


Maria McIntyre

Community Engagement Coordinator

Maria-Paula McIntyre serves as the Program Coordinator for EngageTLH and the Community Ambassador Program. She enjoys building relationships that support developing community-led initiatives. During her time at the center, she has been dedicated to many programs, starting with youth mentoring and currently partnering with non-profit organizations across Tallahassee. Maria-Paula was born in Cali, Colombia and loves growing in her identity as a Latina in the United States. She commits to embracing her roots and creating spaces for the many voices of Latinx individuals to thrive. In her free time she enjoys practicing mindfulness, learning new languages, searching for music from other countries, reading Igbo literature, and drinking tea.


Mary Mangan

Graduate Assistant

Mary serves as a graduate assistant with the Community Ambassador Program. She moved to Tallahassee from the Fort Lauderdale area in 2003 to earn a bachelor’s in psychology from Florida State. She opened a babysitting agency, Seminole Sitters, just before graduating and continues operating it today. Mary has served on the board of directors for several local nonprofits and recently returned to Florida State to pursue a master’s in social work. She is interested in becoming an LCSW to offer individual and family therapy and hopes to further the services she can provide to nonprofits serving marginalized communities. Living in Tallahassee has deepened her love for the outdoors. As a certified Activity Leader with the Florida Trail Association, she loves introducing others to her favorite state parks and hikes. Tallahassee also introduced her to the joys of geocaching and contra dancing, pastimes that have gifted her with community and adventure for years. She is working toward fluency in American Sign Language and always seeking conversation partners.


Paige Rentz

Marketing manager

Paige Rentz grew up just down the road in Sneads, Florida. After years working as a journalist in several states, she turned her passion for community and storytelling to the center. Paige works with a team of students to tell the stories of the people and programs of the center working to make the world a better place. In addition to her communications role, Paige also works with TEDxFSU and storytelling initiatives on campus. She is a proud alumna of Chipola College, Sarah Lawrence College, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In her free time, you can find Paige searching for the perfect photo lighting, reading, playing video games, or walking her dogs, Frankie and Johnny.



Ta’lia Gordon

Graduate Assistant

Ta’lia Gordon is a master's student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. She was born and raised in Ridge Spring, South Carolina, and attended the University of South Carolina where she received her Bachelor of Arts in History with a concentration in secondary education. At UofSC, Ta’lia was involved in various organizations, including a Center for Leadership and Service Peer Educator and University Ambassadors. She served as the very first captain of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, worked for the Vice President of DEI to develop research methods and workshops tailored towards promoting more inclusive spaces on campus, and served as a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Inc. Ta’lia currently works with Community Engagement programs, including PeaceJam Southeast. In her free time, Ta’lia enjoys doing makeup, cooking, catching up on documentaries, and trying out new food while supporting local small businesses.



Tynesha Jordan

Customer Service Representative

Tynesha Jordan was born in Meridian, Mississippi and raised in Tallahassee. Tynesha serves as the Customer Service Representative in the Center for Leadership & Service. An alumna of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University with a bachelor's degree in social work, Tynesha is interested in becoming an LCSW once she completes her masters degree. She has a combination of unique skills and competencies that she has developed throughout her academic and professional careers. In her free time, Tynesha enjoys collecting wacky socks and playing video games. She is also a pianist and organist with more than 10 years of experience.

Vanessa Solomon

Business Manager

Vanessa Solomon is a native Georgia Peach who hails from Albany, just a few miles away from Tallahassee, Florida. Over the course of her two-decade career here at Florida State University, she has served in many roles across departments. She is very passionate about the Center for Leadership & Service, where she serves as the Business Manager. Vanessa earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Tallahassee Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Flagler College – Tallahassee Campus. When not serving at FSU, Vanessa enjoys family, concerts, taking selfies with her daughter – Danielle and her dog Remy. She is a die-hard lover of chocolates, cheese, salty chips and road adventures. Her aim is to own a small local business in Tallahassee, Florida.

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