Meet Our Staff
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Missy has been working in the field of developmental disabilities since 1997. Throughout her career she has performed in a variety of roles including direct care, case management, fundraising and administration. Her extensive knowledge base and experience allows her a unique perspective and understanding of issues facing the disabled community. Missy’s passion and dedication can be felt in her decision-making process as she always puts the best interests of those being served by the agency first. In her spare time, she can be seen acting with a local dinner theater acting troupe. Missy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Elon University in North Carolina and is originally from Virginia.
Acting Chief Financial Officer
Lea joined The Arc in 2021, bringing with her over 18 years of experience in finance and accounting. Lea earned her Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance and management at the University of Mobile in Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of West Florida. Lea is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida. For several years, she has worked in the nonprofit industry, both domestically and internationally. As a Pensacola native, Lea is passionate about meeting the needs of the Northwest Florida community. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her family and living up to her “boymom” title.
Debbie has worked at Horizons since April 1992. She was appointed as Director of the Children’s Center in May 2003. She is married and the mother of two and the grandmother of six. She feels a strong commitment to the children she serves. She believes that every child should be able to access child care. Debbie earned her B.S. in Early Childhood Education and holds a Childcare Director’s Credential.
Nikki first joined The Arc of the Emerald Coast in October 1994. Since that time, she has been providing supports and services to vulnerable adults and ensuring the safety of children in Okaloosa, Walton, and Santa Rosa Counties in a variety of capacities. In her current position, Nikki diligently ensures that programs operate in accordance with all rules, laws, handbooks, and requirements of governing and accreditation bodies. Nikki is certified by Professional Education Services, Inc. as an instructor for Therapeutic Alternatives in Crisis Training and completed Leadership Okaloosa as a member of the 2016-2017 class. She is active in fundraising activities supporting The Arc of the Emerald Coast. Nikki earned her A.A. from Okaloosa-Walton Community College in 1994, then graduated from the University of West Florida with a B.A. in Criminal Justice/Psychology in 2003. She and her husband Gregg reside in Crestview and are the proud parents of twin daughters and two sons.
Human Resources Coordinator
Ashley started off with The Arc of the Emerald Coast in January 2015 as a Teacher Assistant at the Children’s Center, then moved to Administrative Assistant at the Center in July. Ashley became the Human Resources Coordinator for the agency in September 2015. She is responsible for the hiring process of new employees, scheduling employees for training and making sure certifications remain current. Ashley manages workers compensation claims and works closely with Paychex (our payroll/HR company) to ensure our employees’ needs are met. Ashley has an A.A. in Liberal Arts then graduated from Northwest Florida State College with a B.A.S. in Project Management – Training and Development/Human Resources. She enjoys crafting, baking, spending time with her family, and traveling, especially to Disney World.
Debra oversees the Birth to Three programs affiliated with Florida Early Steps. She graduated with a BA in Developmental Science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. After touring the world with her military husband, they settled in Northwest Florida in 1991. Debra’s first job with The Arc of the Emerald Coast began in 1992, at the Children’s Center. In 1994, she began working with the Birth to Three Program as an Infant-Toddler Development Specialist. Debra continues to provide direct care early intervention services and became the Program Manager in 2006.
Behavior Services Clinical Director
Renee joined our team in 2017. She is the Clinical Director and is responsible for behavior analytic support services. She has an extensive background in working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Renee started her career as a Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional in Mobile, Alabama at a day program in 1998. She has worked in multiple areas of service from schools to residential homes. Renee graduated with an M.S. in Community Counseling from The University of South Alabama in 2000. In 2007, Renee became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has worked as a BCBA ever since. Renee’s hobbies include her participation in a Mardi Gras society, activities with her children, and exercise.
April owned and operated a licensed home daycare that opened in 1997, which began her journey with the special needs community. She continued that path in 2000 when she became a direct care service provider with The Arc of the Emerald Coast. In 2002, April ventured out to pursue other career avenues for several years, but could often be found advocating for others, even in the retail world. She has always had a driving passion to advocate for those that need a bigger voice. In July 2017, April returned to The Arc of the Emerald Coast as a direct support professional providing personal supports and supported living services. She has always felt a calling towards this unique community of spectacular individuals. April was promoted to Supported Living and Personal Supports Program Manager in January 2018 and then transitioned to Billing Coordinator in November 2020. She has resided in the Okaloosa County area for more than forty years and is a 1994 graduate of Choctawhatchee High School. April is the mother of four children and has two grandchildren.
Doris has worked at The Arc of the Emerald Coast since March 2004. She has worked in several capacities, including; Behavior Technician, Supported Living Technician, and Group Home Manager. Doris was promoted to Residential Habilitation Manager in September 2015. She oversees the operation of five group homes in Okaloosa County and one Adult Day Training Center in Fort Walton Beach. Doris loves helping group home residents set and achieve new goals. She enjoys music, singing, dancing, and spending time with family.