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Board of Directors

The R'Club Board Members work hard to initiate long term decisions towards a sustainable future and a prosperous education.

Board Member

Dennis Ruppel

Dennis G. Ruppel is a graduate of Fordham College, with a Bachelor of Arts with honors, and the
University of Michigan with a Doctor of Laws with high honors. Since 1978, he has been partner
with Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP, a Tampa Bay law firm. Dennis has
concentrated his law practice on major real estate, financing and commercial transactions and
serves as outside general counsel to several clients. His real estate work has focused on the
development and finance sectors with projects ranging from shopping centers, condominiums,
residential and mixed-use subdivisions to industrial development and with conventional and tax
exempt bond financing.
Dennis is a General, Managing Partner or Manager with various entities, each with ownership
of a number of real estate and other assets, including the Press Hotel in Portland, Maine. He is
currently a director of the Sembler Company, Chairman and Member of the Executive,
Compliance, Loan, and Audit Committees of Freedom Bank, and Chairman and former CEO of
AmCap Insurance, a commercial property insurer.
Dennis served multiple terms on the Fordham University Board of Trustees over the past three
decades, and today is a Trustee Fellow. He is also past Director and past President of Pinellas
Village, Inc., and has served for over 30 years as a Director of R’Club Childcare, Inc. and the
Louise Graham Brown Regeneration Center, Inc. He was the single parent of two young
children during his law school years and learned firsthand the extreme importance of quality
childcare. This is the continuing catalyst for his mission to help R’Club Childcare provide the
best possible services in our community.

Board Member

Rene Flowers

Rene Flowers, Chairperson, was elected to the School Board on November 6, 2012, to complete the term of deceased School Board Member Lew Williams. Ms. Flowers is a native of St. Petersburg, attended Howard University, University of South Florida; is a graduate of Eckerd College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Studies and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Capella University. She formerly served as a member of the City Council of St. Petersburg, serving as Vice Chairperson in 1999 and 2006 and as Chairperson for two consecutive terms, 2000 through 2002. Ms. Flowers also served as President of the Florida League of Cities from 2006-2007.
Ms. Flowers currently serves on: FSBA Advocacy Committee Chair (2018), FSBA Legislative Committee, R’Club and Louise Graham Board of Directors, Pinellas Community Foundation Board of Directors, Education Foundation Board of Directors, National Council of Negro Women: formerly serving on PSTA, the City of St. Petersburg Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, CDBG Committee, YMCA of Greater Tampa Bay, and the MLK Day of Service Committee to name a few. Ms. Flowers also has volunteered for the past 19 years to speak to youth in the school system about health education and making positive choices. Ms. Flowers is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society In Education, the youngest of twelve, active in her church; and, has three adult children and five grandchildren.

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Barclay Harless

A fifth-generation Floridian, Barclay Harless has been involved in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He is currently the St. Petersburg Market Leader for Bank OZK (NASDAQ: OZK), managing the lending and deposit growth strategy for the Bank.
After graduating from the University of South Florida (USF) in 2010 with a bachelor’s in history, he went to work in the Midtown area of St. Petersburg for State Representative Darryl Rouson during the height of the economic recession. He currently serves on the board of CareerSource Pinellas, R’Club Childcare, Inc., the St. Pete Warehouse Arts District, the Louise Graham Center for Regeneration, and Equality Florida’s advisory board for Equality Means Business. Barclay has been the state policy chair in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and has served on grant boards for the Suncoast United Way. He was appointed to the Pinellas Charter Review Commission in 2015 and sponsored a county amendment that stipulated citizen-drawn redistricting for the county commission. He was a candidate for the St. Petersburg City Council in 2017. Barclay is a resident of St. Petersburg.

Board Member

Sue Landress

Sue Landress, current secretary on the R’Club Child Care, Inc. and Louise graham regeneration centers board of directors has been a member of the boards since 2006.
She is retired from sixth judicial circuit court in Pinellas county having worked in the circuit for almost 30 years investigating child, family and guardianship issues. She has been an advocate for children for over 40 years and has been on the board of directors of several nonprofit agencies and community organizations in Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Lee Martino

Lee Martino

Current Responsibilities
Blackbox Advisory, LLC
Financial consultant to banks and privately owned business. Assignments include financial modeling, systems review and selection, exit strategies, loan policy design, loan structuring.

Branch Bank and Trust
2003-2015
 President of Association Services Division- Grew division from $300 million to 1.5 billion in assets covering nationwide BB&T footprint. Managed processing division that managed over 1.2 million homeowner payments through property management companies.
 President of West Florida Region- Was asked by Colonial Bank Chairman to step out of Association Services role to run the West Florida region when most the senior management team in Tampa resigned to start a new bank. The recession was just starting and the portfolio was largely real estate and construction. Returned to Association Services after 2 years upon selection of a permanent replacement.
Wachovia Bank
1983-2003
President of Pinellas County-Over a 20-year career at First Union/Wachovia managed Commercial/Business/Private banking units in the Greater Bay area. Assets totaled over $500 million managing sales efforts of 10 relationship managers. Tampa Bay was recognized as top sales leader for the entire First Union footprint the year 200.

Tom M

Tom Moriarty

I earned a B.S. in Accounting from Syracuse University. After college I moved to Boston for 5 years, then to Clearwater, FL in 1978. I received my CPA certification in 1976 and worked for Price Waterhouse in Boston and Tampa for 11 years before taking a job with an insurance company and securities brokerage firm in Clearwater. This company was eventually purchased by Transamerica and for the last 9 years that I worked there I was the President of the securities brokerage and mutual fund service subsidiaries. Retired from corporate life in 2008 and started my own investment and retirement planning business to help others. My son, Kevin, joined me in the business in 2015.

I have served on the R’Club Child Care Board since 1983. I enjoy playing golf and love being “grandpa”.

Gypsy Gallardo

Gypsy Gallardo

Gypsy Gallardo is CEO of the Power Broker Media Group and Urban Market Analytics, a Florida-based firm that specializes in designing and evaluating place-based solutions that “move the needle” of economic progress for black Americans.
Gypsy has 27 years of experience in the field of community economic development. She has worked with 40+ development organizations, public and private, in the U.S. and overseas, to design and co-design statewide, regional, and sub-city initiatives that helped accelerate job creation, small business growth, commercial revitalization, and employment gains for black and low-income people.
Her career roles have included Vice President of Development for Urban Development Solutions (9 years), helping to develop and finance 376,000 square feet of commercial space in low- income areas; as a Vice President for International Enterprise Development (21 years), where she helped establish MicroEnterprise Florida, an Enterprise Florida initiative to grow the lending capacity of a state network of microbusiness development organizations.
In her home city, Gypsy is CEO of the 2020 Plan, an initiative to reduce the poverty rate by 30% in South ST. Petersburg by 2020 (Florida’s largest poverty reduction plan) and Executive Director of the One Community Plan development process to create a 10-year economic growth and equity plan for ‘black St. Petersburg.”
Previously, Gypsy served as Lead Organizer for a 6-year advocacy effort that inspired the creation of the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area, which is forecasted to generate $100 million in tax increment funding to community businesses, organizations and residents over 30 years.
She is the recipient of two dozen awards for leadership and service, and is a mother of four adult children, including two nephews she helped raise.

Board Member

Diane Lajoie

Diane Lajoie has been a life-long educator and School Psychologist with a focus on promoting mental health and safety for students and schools of Pinellas County, Fl She earned her BS degree in Educational Psychology from New York University and MA and Ed.S, degree in Educational Psychology at the University of South Florida. She returned to USF to continue post-graduate studies and completed doctoral course work in 1995.
In 1999, Diane assisted in writing, implementation and evaluation of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant which provided social-emotional learning initiatives county-wide. This grant was awarded to Pinellas County Schools by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and through planned sustainability efforts, it’s impact continues in the schools today.
As part of the grant, and in collaboration with the University of South Florida Tampa, Diane developed the Power Team program teaching students to manage conflict and communicate effectively. In 2001, the Power Team was the recipient of the Innovative Program Award by the Florida Association of School Psychologists and received national attention for its effectiveness.
Diane was also part of the multi-agency team that created the Pinellas County Juvenile Assessment Center and she is a co-writer of the Pinellas County Schools threat Assessment and Crisis Intervention procedures. Diane has presented training workshops locally - including the R’Club-, state-wide and nationally to educators and law enforcement on school safety, promoting positive school culture, and understanding and managing conflict.
In 2015, Diane retired from Pinellas County Schools to nurture her passion for community service in Pinellas, where she has resided since 1984. Currently she is an outreach spokesperson for Tampa Bay Watch and serves on the board of her homeowners association as the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator. She is a mentor and volunteer with Pinellas County Schools and an active member of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckers College (ASPEC). In 2016, Diane earned her Florida Master Naturalist Certification through the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Studies. She joined the Board of Directors of the Edible Peace Patch Projects which provides educational gardens to eight Title 1 elementary schools in PInellas County. Her volunteer work with the Edible Peace Patch Program is a natural outcome of Diane’s love of gardening and her dedication to the education, health and well-being of students. She continues her involvement with the Edible Peach Patch, now as a proud R’Club Board Member.

Teresa Jones

Teresa Jones

Theresa is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, and is a 1976 graduate of Edinboro State University, in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. And, she’s been a resident of Florida since 1976. She is a single mother of a twenty-eight year old son named Rion, and grandmother to 3 year old Adrion.

Theresa first began her employment with the City of St. Petersburg as a Relocation Officer in August, 1977, as a temporary employee, whose position was funded through the City’s Community Development Block Grant entitlement from U. S. HUD. She previously served in various management positions at the City prior to assuming the position of Minority Business Enterprise Coordinator in 1986. Following a three-year hiatus as the MBE Coordinator for Tampa General Healthcare, Theresa returned to City government in June 1996, to assume her old position as MBE Coordinator. She continued to serve in this capacity until her promotion to Manager of Business Assistance and assuming the responsibility of operating the City of St. Petersburg Business Development Center. In this role, she was responsible for administration of the City’s Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Procurement and Assistance Program, as well as management responsibilities associated with day to day operations of the Business Development Center (now known as the Greenhouse). In October, 2002, Theresa was appointed as the Community Affairs Director for the City of St. Petersburg. Her department was the responsible for enforcing local, County, State and Federal anti-discrimination laws. She also provided oversight for the Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments (CAPI), the Civilian Police Review Committee, and the City’s Summer Youth Intern Program and Workforce Training Program; which were administered by contracts with outside non-profit organizations.

Theresa retired in 2012 after a lengthy public service career; with the City of St. Petersburg. However, she returned to working for the City of St. Petersburg as the Veterans, Homeless and Social Services Manager in early, 2018, after a call from Mayor Rick Kriseman.

She has been active in the community in various capacities, including, but not limited to the following: founding member and Secretary, National Forum for Black Public Administrators - Tampa Bay Chapter, Co-Chairperson, Community Alliance, Graduate of Leadership St. Petersburg, President of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) - West Coast Chapter in both 1991 & 1994, and President of the Florida Association of MBE Officials in 1996. And, she has been a Board member for R’Club Child Care, Inc. almost two decades, after joining as a parent representative on the board when her son was in elementary school.

Dr. Cynthia Johnson

Dr. Cynthia Johnson

Dr. Cynthia Johnson is the Senior Manager for Pinellas County’s Office of Small Business & Supplier Diversity and Center Director for the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Pinellas County. As an economic development practitioner, she manages the department’s entrepreneurial and small business assistance and development initiatives. As a trusted advisor to businesses large and small, government agencies, policymakers and community leaders throughout Florida, she has built her career around the diverse and inclusive interconnected aspects of economic development. She advocates for public policies and business practices that promote inclusion and marketplace diversity.

As the FSBDC Center Director since 2010, Dr. Johnson has led her team in assisting over 20,000 emerging and growing businesses by providing the professional expertise, tools, and information necessary to make sound business decisions in an ever-changing marketplace. The Pinellas center has access to robust databases, business research resources, and knowledgeable experts who can consumers successfully navigate through the stages of the business life cycle. Dr. Johnson is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional and her center provides a comprehensive toolkit of specialized services for qualifying businesses. In the last five years, they have collectively assisted clients with the creation of over 105 new business start-ups, raised $62.5M in capital, acquired $1.4B in government contracts and serviced more than 3,765 clients.

Dr. Johnson holds a doctorate of Educational Leadership degree from Nova Southeastern University and an Executive Leadership certification from Eckerd College’s Management Leadership Institute. She has 20 years of experience in economic development and over 26 years in training and development.

Dr. Johnson has served as a chair for the Enterprise Florida’s Urban Working Group, President of the National Forum of Black Public Administrators, Tampa Chapter, and numerous other community and economic development boards. She has been honored by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as a leader in Government and advocate for minority business development.

Jason Jones

Jason Jones

Jason Jones is an Employee Benefits Consultant for the USI Southeast Region, based in Tampa. Jason is a leader in the health insurance industry with 15 years of experience in self-funded consulting and fully insured solutions. His experience includes employee benefit consulting in the middle to large market.
Jason is well versed in providing solutions on issues and concerns that employers have today including healthcare reform, strategic design, self-funding, stop loss coverage, stop loss contract negotiation, prescription drug cost containment, compliance, provider network analysis, administration, outsourcing, and more. The changing landscape of employee benefits and healthcare reform compliance requires continuous focus on regulation updates, guidance released by HHS, and how they impact employers. His continuous contact with Human Resources Professionals, CFO’s, and CEO’s enables him to provide a unique perspective on the current trends in employee benefits and insurance program management.
Jason was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, but upon graduating from Purdue University moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and recently relocated to Dunedin, FL 6 years ago. He and his spouse Bridget are active in the community, are avid boaters, and love to fish and attend sporting events. He participates in the annual USI Gives Back program and donates additional time and resources to important community organizations including Feeding Tampa Bay, and PACE Center for Girls.

Becky

Becky Pickett

Becky Pickett serves as Sr. Director, SEC Reporting & Assistant Treasurer, for Kforce Inc., a publicly traded company headquartered in Tampa. Becky is a Certified Public Accountant and has 10 years of experience in various accounting roles with increasing levels of responsibility. She began her career as an auditor in KPMG, LLP’s McLean, VA office.
Becky grew up near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University with bachelor’s degrees in both Accounting and Spanish. She relocated to Tampa in 2012 and has become an active member of the Tampa Bay community. She is passionate about providing appropriate developmental and educational opportunities and financial wellness resources to all individuals and donates her time and resources to organizations that help to achieve these objectives. She serves on the Tampa Area Board for United Way Suncoast as well as R’Club.

Jeff

Jeffrey Smith

Jeffrey S. Smith, CIMA
First Vice President
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

I have lived in the St. Petersburg area for 10 years moving to the area from the Midwest. I graduated with a BA from The Ohio State University and have worked for Wells Fargo Advisors since 2009. I was a member of The Leadership St. Pete Class of 2010, and that was my 1st introduction to the R’Club and Louise Graham Regeneration Center. My wife, Erica and I enjoy being active in the community.
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC

Find a Location

Since our founding, R'Club has been dedicated to serving the needs of our youth throughout our community. We have a number of locations within Pinellas County to best serve you. Search, and find your nearest location.