The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is pleased to announce the appointment of Heather Parker as Circuit Director for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, which serves Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.
She will lead a staff of 30 and roughly 400 volunteers in representing the best interests of hundreds of abused, abandoned and neglected children.
Ms. Parker has 20 years’ experience in non-profit management and program management. She has held leadership roles at the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, and the state Department of Health and Department of Children and Families. She comes to Guardian ad Litem from the Alzheimer’s Association, where she managed programs and services in the same area she will now manage for GAL.
Ms. Parker has another significant item on her resume, said Paul Nigro, Guardian ad Litem’s regional director for South Florida: She was adopted as an infant.
“This history gives Heather a desire to help all vulnerable children reach a similar positive outcome,” Mr. Nigro said.
Ms. Parker, who has been a volunteer since the age of 12, has worn many hats during her career, from child protective investigator to Medicaid program supervisor to volunteer coordinator. She is especially looking forward to working with the robust volunteer program in Guardian ad Litem’s Nineteenth Circuit.
“They’re such specialized volunteers – you’ve got to have that right mix to go to bat for our children,” she said. “I feel I have a gift for mentoring and for pulling out people’s individual strengths.”
That approach puts her right in step at Guardian ad Litem, said Statewide Director of Operations Kristen Solomon.
“Heather is a well-rounded leader, and I’m confident she’ll inspire our staff and volunteers,” Ms. Solomon said.
Ms. Parker was born and raised in Palm Beach County. She attended the University of Florida, where she earned her undergraduate degree in public and community health education. She is currently working towards her master’s in public health at the University of South Florida. She lives with her husband John and their son J.T. in Fort Pierce, where the family enjoys raising pigs and chickens.
“If you’re positive, people can’t help but come along with you,” Ms. Parker said. “I’ve been this way my whole life, and it works.”
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program, or to volunteer, please visit www.GuardianadLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1GAL.