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Our Board & Staff

Since our inception in 1989, Candlelighters of Brevard has been instrumental in providing programs and services to children with cancer and their families. As the years progress, we tailor our services to fit the unique needs of childhood cancer families living in Brevard County. Most of our Board Members have been with us for over 10 years, volunteering their time and expertise in leading this organization. Our board members along with our executive staff work tirelessly to keep our programs and services alive for childhood cancer families.

Board Members

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Brendan McCarthy, President

Brendan has been a Financial Advisor for 13 years, currently with UBS Financial Services in Melbourne as part of the Laughlin, McCarthy Financial Group. A graduate of Florida State University, Brendan was born and raised in Brevard County. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 9 years and they have three children. He is a graduate of Leadership Brevard and currently serves on the following Boards; Holy Name of Jesus Church Education Endowment, Brevard Seminole Club, Eau Gallie Yacht Club, Candlelighters of Brevard and the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida. Brendan and Mary started “Julia’s Party for a Cause” in 2009 after their daughter, Julia, underwent successful brain surgery in 2008. They realized how lucky they were and felt compelled to give back. After learning more about the mission of Candlelighters, they knew that there was no better beneficiary for their fundraiser.

 

 

 

 

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Jim O’Brien, Attorney

 

Jim is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Candlelighters and has served on the Board since its founding in 1989.  Jim, a corporate and estate planning attorney, practiced in Daytona Beach for four years prior to coming to Brevard County with his family in 1989.  Jim and his wife, Terri, have four children, Kyla, Shea, Connor and Torin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ross Whitley, Accountant

 

Ross has extensive expertise in financial management, tax, and accounting for commercial enterprises, nonprofit and governmental entities, and employee benefit plans. He serves as a “Peer Review” Team Captain and member in the review of quality controls of other CPA firms. Ross has over 25 years of experience primarily in accounting and management consulting. He joined Berman Hopkins in 1988, was admitted as partner in 1998 and is located in our Melbourne/Viera office. Ross’ hometown is Alexandria, Louisiana. He is married with one child and enjoys his family as well as golf and reading.

 

 

 

 

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Nancy Dyer, Secretary

 

Nancy has been active with Candlelighters for over 15 years, volunteering for many of our various fundraisers.  She has served on the Board of Directors since 2000. Her roots are deep in Brevard County, having grown up in Satellite Beach and attending school there.  Graduating from Florida State University in 1977 with a B.S. degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing, she now works as an interior decorator in her own business, Nancy Dyer Designs. Having lost her sister, Marie, to breast cancer she understands the heartache and stress that a family endures while a loved one battles an aggressive disease.  It will forever be her goal to provide support and assistance to the Candlelighter families in our community.

 

 

 

 

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Linda Parker RN, OCN, Member

 

Linda was one of the founding members of Candlelighters of Brevard during its inception in 1989. She served on the Board of Directors off and on through the years and assisted with various fundraisers. Her oncology practice began at St .Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis TN, where she worked for 14 years prior to moving to Melbourne and adult oncology in 1984. Years of working with and witnessing precious children and families cope, survive and/or or succumb to a cancer diagnosis, have made her a strong patient advocate.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Spragins, Member

 

Mike came to the Melbourne area in the early 1970’s after growing up in the Washington, DC area.  He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1975 and has been in the title insurance business in South Brevard for 35 years.  He is a partner in Alliance Title Insurance Agency, Inc in downtown Melbourne. As a cancer survivor, Mike knows and can share with the Candlelighter families the discomforts of treatment as well as the joys and celebrations of being declared cancer free.  God bless our Candlelighter families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edna Fairbanks-Smith, Member

 

Edna is a native Floridian.  She has served as a board member of Candlelighters of Brevard since 1989.  She is very proud to be part of an organization that supports childhood cancer families. As a residential mortgage lender in Brevard County for 30+ years, she was active in many organizations relating to mortgage banking and real estate.  After her retirement in 1997, she became an active volunteer with the Holmes Regional Medical Center Auxiliary. She and her family have lived in the area since 1964.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Moss, Member

 

Mike is Vice President/Sales Associate specializing in all aspects of sales and leasing of Industrial Properties including warehouse, flex and manufacturing space for LIGHTLEBECKNER ROBISON, INC., Mike’s business experience includes a successful career in mortgage banking, real estate and construction sales and marketing. Mike’s financial and management background along with his entrepreneurial spirit is a catalyst to serving his clients with professionalism and an unmatched drive to complete the transaction to benefit the client, as well as building a solid long term business relationship. Mike has been happily married to his sweetheart Nancy for over 22 years – and is blessed with four wonderful children. Mike has proudly supported Candlelighters of Brevard since the beginning through the “Adopt-A-Family” Program and now serves on the board of directors.

 

 

 

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Charlotte Wienckoski, Member

 

Charlotte has lived in Brevard County for 35 years.  She attended Florida Institute of Technology and worked in electronics for 18 years.  She and her sister currently own an event planning business.  She has been married to her husband Tom for 24 years and they have 3 children, Alexandra, Thomas and Gabrielle.  She became involved with Candlelighters through her close friend Carrie Wam and became a board member in 2007.  She is both honored and humbled to be involved in such an amazing organization.

 

 

 

 

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Tracey Latshaw, Member

 

Tracey has lived in the area for 22 years.  I’m in partnership with my brother, Bruce, and sister, Michelle, at Brevard Hyundai dealers.  My passion for Candlelighters originated with my father, Bruce Nelson Sr., 18 years ago when one of our employee’s children had cancer and Candlelighters tremendously helped their family.  From that point on my father believed in the cause and instilled in our lives the importance of this cause.  After his passing we continued his passion to help the children with cancer in Brevard County.  I have been married for 13 years to my husband Kris, we have twin boys ages 22 and a daughter who is 19.  Candlelighters has been a ray of hope not only to the families whom they support but to those of us who believe in them!

 

 

 

Mark S. Mikolajcyk

Mark S. Mikolajcyk, Member

Mark S. Mikolajczyk is president of Craig Technologies’ Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Center (ADMC) in Cape Canaveral, FL. Prior to joining Craig Technologies, Mark was President and Publisher of FLORIDA TODAY Communications, the leading newspaper and digital publishing company in Brevard County, Florida. Mark is very passionate about his community has been a board member of a number of local organizations. He is immediate past Chair of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, was also board Chair of the Brevard County United Way and served as its 2009 Campaign Chair, and is currently a board member of the Reaching Out Holiday Fund. In 2012, he was recognized as the Boy Scouts of Central Florida’s Golden Eagle honoree. Mark has four children and resides in Satellite Beach, FL.

 

 

Stephanie Brown, Member

Stephanie Brown, Member

Stephanie Brown holds a Nursing Diploma from Allentown Hospital School of Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Pennsylvania State University. She practiced as a Cardiac Intensive Care Nurse for over 10 years. Stephanie and her husband of 24 years, Bill, CEO of Harris Corporation, are relatively new to Brevard County. Previously, they lived in numerous locations throughout the Northeast along with a 3-year experience in Singapore. They have 2 daughters; Angela is 23 and currently works in DC at a Public Affairs firm, Natalie is 21 and a rising senior at University of Richmond (VA). Shifting her priority from career to raising the family, Stephanie donated time to various organizations including Junior League, The Boys and Girls Clubs and Easter Seals. Since arriving to the Melbourne area, she has continued her volunteering efforts for fundraisers at The Women’s Center and Health First, and is a member of the Health First Foundation Board and Sally’s Friends organization. Bill and Stephanie are members of the Tocqueville Society (United Way) and support SCEIC and other local charities. Stephanie has always been passionate about health care and is thrilled to join the Candlelighters of Brevard Board of Directors and share in their mission.

 

Executive Staff

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Natasha Duran, Executive Director

Natasha Duran serves as Executive Director for Candlelighters of Brevard. Prior to joining Candlelighters in March 2014, Natasha specialized in corporate strategy and development for Harris Corporation in the areas of University Relations, Corporate Relations and the Harris Foundation.

Natasha was named “4 Under 40” award receipt through LEAD Brevard. This community leadership recognition was awarded based on her career success, public & community service and ability to serve as a role model.

She has held a board position on the Economic Development Commission (as an ex-officio member). Previously Natasha served on the board for Love, Inc. and served as the East Central Florida Chair for the board of directors of Connect Florida. Natasha was selected to be part of the Connect Florida Leadership Institute – the young professionals subset of Leadership Florida. Natasha has spent over 12 years of her career serving the non-profit sector from a corporate and university prospective. Natasha is married to Frank Duran – an industrial engineer. She attended the University of Central Florida receiving her degree in advertising, public relations and legal studies. Natasha has a passion for community growth and development – and is deeply inspired by the children and families of Candlelighters of Brevard.

 

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Adis Perez, Director of Family Services

 

Adis has been a “Candlelighter mom” since 1994 since her son was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor at the age of 2.   In appreciation and gratitude for all the support she received from Candlelighters of Brevard, she became active in volunteering with fundraiser events and in the Thrift Shoppe.

In 2006 her passion and  strong beliefs  in the organization lured her into becoming  Director of Family Services.  Using her positive outcome of her son’s experience, she welcomes new families with compassion, hope, and understanding of their difficult situation. She has been married to her husband, Gil, for 33 years and their two sons are Michael and Nicholas.

 

 

 

 

Karrie Torok

Karrie Torok, Operations Manager

Karrie has been active with Candlelighters of Brevard since February 2005, passionately volunteering for many of their various fundraisers, serving as co-chair multiple years for their Signature Have a Heart Valentines Extravaganza, and in July 2015 helped launch Candlelighters first ever Volunteer Guild, serving as their Guild Chair.

From the moment she met everyone with COB and saw how selflessly everyone gives to offer support and encouragement to these families during the hardest time of their lives, “I fell in love then and am even more now”, she said.  Karrie is dedicated to helping Candlelighters of Brevard continue to grow so they can continue to offer emotional support and financial assistance to their families and increase community exposure of their purpose and mission. “Because kids can’t fight cancer alone.”

Karrie is a FL native. She and her husband Donnie, his daughter Cassandra with their dog Rico Suavé live in Satellite Beach.

Before accepting the position as Operations Manager with Candlelighters of Brevard, Karrie managed Alpizar Law, LLC a well respected personal injury law firm in Brevard. Her business experiences, which will have a very positive impact on Candlelighters of Brevard, include legal management, bookkeeping, marketing, event planning and management, group travel & activities management, travel agent, A/P & A/R, assisted living activities assistant and reception.

 

 

 

 


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