Each quarter the LiveFree! Key Leader Council presents the LiveFree! Excellence Awards, Investing in Community & Prevention. The LiveFree! Excellence Awards honors remarkable individuals in Pinellas County who have distinguished themselves by their excellence. These are individuals whose accomplishments, attitude and leadership personify a positive role model in building healthier safe and drug free communities while improving our prevention system of care.
Excellence Award Recipients for this Quarter:
Lynn Mattiace, M.A., M.Ed.
Lynn Mattiace has a M.A. in Exceptional Education, a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and is a Resource Teacher with the Prevention Office of Pinellas County Schools. Over the past few years, Lynn has successfully overseen the FACE It program, creating sustainable change for youth and families in Pinellas County. In her 20 years with Pinellas County Schools she has been a special education teacher, a counselor in middle and high schools and a district wide Prevention Specialist. She serves on the Pinellas County Substance Abuse Advisory Board, the Suncoast Safety Council Executive Board of Directors, the Board of Directors for Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County and Pinellas Youth Pride Board of Directors.
Linda Kearschner, BS
Linda Kearschner and her husband Jim are parents of Jacob Ryan, a fifth grade student at Leila Davis Elementary in Pinellas County and Jordan Elise a first year student at New College of Florida in Sarasota. Linda is long time child advocate and a Parent Teacher Association (PTA®) volunteer and officer at the state, county and local levels. She is now serving in leadership positions with the Parent Teacher Association-including Florida PTA Resolutions Committee Chairman, Florida PTA Legislative Committee Member, Florida PTA Leadership Convention Committee Member and Pinellas County Council PTA Vice President of Communication.
Cheryl Kerr, St. Petersburg College
Cheryl Kerr is the Program Director for the Health Education Center for St. Petersburg College. Cheryl have been working in the field of Human Services for over 25 years. She believes her role is to engage students while providing and facilitating a learning environment that emphasizes student involvement, creativity and experiential learning. Her professional experiences includes: child care work in group home settings, child welfare case management, community agency counseling, child welfare administration, private practice in adoption, consultation, teaching in the public school system, and working with adults with developmental disabilities. She is a board member for Dollars For Scholars of St. Petersburg, LiveFree!, the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition and the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas County.
Karen Belanger, Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.
Karen is the program manager of the workplace division of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. She developed an online drug-free workplace training course, developed multiple social marketing campaigns aimed at 18-25 year old college students; and planned and hosted an educational conference that provided prevention tools and best practices on college campuses. For over 17 years, Karen has been involved with the West Central Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She was a 2011 recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, which is the highest honor presented to a volunteer from a Boy Scout Council. She is an active member of the LiveFree! having served as the Key Leader Council Secretary.
Amy Ronshausen is the manager of congressional and legislative affairs for Save Our Society From Drugs, a national nonprofit organization that works to defeat drug legalization attempts, promote sound drug policies, and prevent dug use, abuse and addiction. Prior to coming to Save Our Society, Mrs. Ronshausen worked with Pinellas County Adult Drug Court, linking defendants with treatment providers and monitoring their progress . In 2007 Mrs. Ronshausen was awarded Best Team Practices for her work in Adult Drug Court. Amy is a LiveFree! Key Leader Council member, Chair of the Resource and Capacity Assessment Workgroup and Pinellas County Prescription Drug Advisory Board Member. She also chairs the Marijuana Task Force with HCADA in Tampa.
Rita Becchetti, MHS, RN, BC
Rita has been a Registered Nurse for more than 45 years. Since 2005, she has served as Pinellas County’s School Health Advisory Council Co-chair; Rita has dedicated countless hours as a Guardian ad Litem for several children in the foster care system and serves on the Board of Directors for Suncoast Voices for Children. She is an inspiring child advocate. We wish her well in her retirement.
Amber Saltzman, MADD
Amber Saltzman is the State Development Officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Amber has spearheaded the expansion and improvement of MADD’s local chapter and brought greater awareness of MADD in the community. She works to lobby key leaders and legislators across the state and in Washington DC regarding political and social issues related to furthering MADD’s mission. Amber has been instrumental in the success of Pinellas County’s Walk Like MADD fundraising event. Amber serves as the President for the PTA at Osceola Middle School, a Key Leader Council Member for Live Free!, a member of the Indian Rocks Beach Rotary, an Ambassador for the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Florida Impaired Driving Coalition and serves as Advisory Council for other local non-profit boards.