The 2017 Florida Network Annual Meeting, Awards Ceremony and 40th Anniversary Celebration took place May 10-12 in Orlando at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, where we reunited with our Network board members, agency executives and friends! This year was special because we had board members and executives from years past join us in celebrating 40 years of service! Curious about what went on behind the scenes at our annual meeting? Take a look!

Wednesday, May 10

Our event began with an evening poolside welcome reception. We loved getting to see many of the faces we see year-to-year and reconnect with individuals who came back to celebrate our 40th anniversary! The Florida Network is like a family and it definitely felt like a family reunion!

Thursday, May 11

On the second day, we started the morning with some exercise to get the mind working! Click the image below to check it out.


Then Florida Network President Stacy Gromatski called our annual meeting to order. Following Stacy’s words, we heard reports from our Network committees, which included executive, advocacy & communications, finance and thought leadership.

We were excited to debut our new website!

Next, we celebrated those who have been working exceptionally hard at making the lives of at-risk youth in Florida better every single day at the Florida Network Awards Luncheon. Florida Network Immediate Past Board Chairman Chris Dudley announced 2017 award winners at our Annual Awards Luncheon. The room cheered for each winner and listened to each of their acceptance speeches. Some shed a few tears! We are so proud of the following winners!


Jimmy Brown, Miami Bridge – Youth Care Worker of the Year


Rosani Morales, CHS Osceola – Counselor of the Year


Ericha Laymon, Anchorage Children’s Home – Nurse of the Year


Raymond Ballinger, Lutheran Services of FL SW – Outstanding Program Leadership


Toni Reed, Growing Carol’s Gems, Mt. Bethel Human Services Corporation – Program of the Year


Kimberly Vanterpool, Orange County Youth Services – Networker of the Year


Kim Sirdevan, Youth Crisis Center – Network Executive of the Year


Center for Family and Child Enrichment – Agency of the Year


Lisa Davis, Family Resources – Agency of the Year


Phil Whitby, Orange County Youth Services – President’s Award


Dr. Richard Mankin, CDS – Chairman’s Leadership Award


Dr. Robert E. Lehton, Crosswinds Youth Services – Chairman’s Leadership Award


If you’re interested in watching the full award ceremony, click the image below.

In our 40 years of service, the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services is proud to have improved the outlook for more than one million of Florida’s youth and families. What began as a small network of only six programs has grown into a thriving statewide association of 29 member agencies and 28 shelters.

Thursday evening, we celebrated our 40 years of service and dedication to at-risk youth, and recognized the leaders and partners in our on-going effort to make Florida a safe place where all young people can reach their full potential.

At our celebration, we enjoyed hearing stories from year’s past as some of our past presidents hosted a fireside chat. Then we enjoyed dinner and danced the night away!

We were so lucky to have been able to spend this time celebrating together, but we really have been celebrating all year long! On social media, we used the hashtag #FNTurns40 to highlight photos, news articles and stories throughout the years. To read significant news articles related to the growth of Florida Network and the need for its services, click here!

We also posted #40Stories on social media, where each of the 40 posts shared stories of positive change. One of these is featured below. To read more of these inspirational messages, click here!


Our president, Stacy Gromatski, also spoke about the past 40 years. To more read about our history and efforts in the words of our president, follow this link! To learn more about Florida Network’s history and founding, follow this link!



Friday, May 12

The 2017 Annual Meeting extended to Friday with “In our Absence, We are Present,” a panel honoring special guests—future high school and university graduates. However, these future graduates aren’t graduating this year, or even next. They were actually elementary and middle school students from the Orlando area!

Operation Future Graduation encourages young students to envision themselves as future graduates, and as part of the celebration on Friday, the students received life-sized posters of themselves dressed in caps and gowns. Click here  or below to watch the ceremony, which features the Operation Future Graduation students of Thaise Educational & Exposure Tours, Alfreda Funnye (founder of Rock-the-Stop & Rock-the-Block and a previous “future graduate”) and Jesse Jordan (Ambassador for Youth)!

To watch the full ceremony, click here or below!


Alfreda Funnye and Jesse Jordan shared Alfreda’s story as a previous “future graduate” as well as information about her program, Rock-the-Stop & Rock-the-Block. To watch this talk, click here or below.


Our Program Services Director, John Robertson, shared his experience of the entire Annual Meeting and 40th Celebration event through a Musings article, which can be read here.

2017 Sponsors

This year, the 2017 Annual Meeting was sponsored by a number of incredible organizations. We are so grateful to our sponsors (listed below) for making this wonderful event such a success!


Florida TaxWatch

Dominic and Debbie Calabro 


The Mayernick Group



Note Active

Lewis Digital


Gary & Maggie Bowles

Regions Bank


The Krizner Group


Florida Coalition for Children

Stop Now and Plan (SNAP)

RB Oppenheim Associates

Groups 360


Hancock Bank

Stacy Gromatski

Carl & Cindy Weinrich


Holland & Knight

Keith Dean

Mount Bethel Ministries

Mount Bethel Human Service Corporation

Florida Deputy Sheriffs Association

National Safe Place Network 

Thank you!

Once again, we were so excited to have the opportunity to meet with our Network members and friends to spotlight what an amazing job they have been doing to better families and communities in Florida, not just this year, but for the past 40 years. Thank you for showing us why the Network works!

To see more photos from the annual meeting, check out our Facebook album. Also check out our video recap.