Meet the Team

Employee Spotlight | Meet Marie

Meet Marie, An Administrative Assistant who has been with hope Haven for more than 10 years!

Chances are, you and your family have had several encounters with Marie, but take a look at some fun facts you may not have known about her!

Tell us about what you do here!

“I schedule the families who come to Hope Haven for the Down Syndrome Center assessments. Families come from all over for the 4 part (education, OT, PT, and speech) assessment that we do.

We see families from all over Florida and families come from out of state and out of the country. We have seen families from Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Russia, the Bahamas, and Germany.

I also help with some aspects of the Discovery School at Hope Haven.”

Tell us a “fun fact” about you!

“I am from New Kensington, PA which is close to Pittsburgh. But, I moved here with my family at the start of my senior year in high school. I guess that I now qualify as a southern but with some northern overtones (can’t wear shoes without socks so no sandals. I still say gum bands instead of rubber bands to name a few).”

Tell us what you love the most about Hope Haven and what you most want people to know about Hope Haven!

“I have enjoyed being a part of the Hope Haven family. The Down Syndrome Center (DSC) at Hope Haven does strength-based assessments for OT, PT, speech, and education/cognitive. It is always wonderful to hear parents comment that they get so much information from our team and that they are grateful to for all of the positive feedback. Some families only get negative feedback, but our team looks for and sees the positives. They then give parents ideas and suggestions to help the families achieve higher goals for their child. And, it is fun working around the Hope Haven Discovery School. I love seeing the children grow and progress.”

Employee Spotlight | Amber


Meet, Amber Churchsapp, our BASICS After School Program Lead!

Q: Tell us about what you do here at Hope Haven!

I provide instruction, support and supervision for the BASICS program for youth and young adults with special needs and disabilities. I plan daily schedules for staff and students that offer a wide range of activities, but not limited to, arts and crafts, physical fitness, independent living skills,  and social skills. I provide communication between our program, participating schools, families, and the BASICS team in order to ensure success of our program.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

I’m very adventurous and love to travel. I will try almost anything once!

Q: What do you love the most about Hope Haven?

I love Hope Haven because of the kids!  I get to be a part of so many amazing students’ lives and their families. It is a great feeling knowing I get to offer even a small fraction of security and a peace of mind to many families. Our BASICS team is great and makes work fun and exciting for not just the students but the staff as well. I truly enjoy my job!

Learn more about BASICS After-School Program, an after-school setting for youth aged 5 to 22 with physical and/or developmental disabilities where they can learn, grow and have fun!

Employee Spotlight | Tim


Meet Tim!

I was Department Head for Speech, Language and Hearing services, during which time I worked as a Speech/Language Pathologist both on-site and throughout the community providing speech and language services for children and families who manifested a wide spectrum of conditions and disabilities.

This, many times, involved working within an interdisciplinary team such as performing communication assessments for the Down Syndrome Center and the Autism Diagnostic team, conducting social skills groups, and becoming an Instructor for the Children First in Divorce program.

As a Speech/Language Pathologist, I was responsible for conducting evaluations and therapy for children with articulation disorders, voice and fluency issues, or language delay.

As an Instructor for the CFID Program, it is my task to enumerate the potential impacts of parental conflict and divorce on children and to encourage parents to continue to partner in a civil, non-emotional manner when dealing with the many issues typically associated with child rearing.

Fun Fact: I am, and have been, an amateur writer for many years. Some of my short stories have been published locally, and most recently, I have completed an anthology of 500 poems – each one representing a different motion picture. Here’s a sample:

Saving Mr. Banks

Movies sometimes move us in ways we can’t explain.
They bring to mind a memory. They sing an old refrain.
We may not know the reason why,
Or when we first began to cry,
We’re just so glad a movie made us feel that way again.

I’ve been asked to describe what I love most about Hope Haven and what I most want people to know about us. Curiously, I can answer both queries with a single word: comfort.

Aside from those clients who come to Hope Haven for enrichment such as the summer camp programs, the majority of children and families who avail themselves of our services are uncomfortable in some way. The child is uncomfortable due to a physical condition beyond his control such as Down Syndrome or ADHD. He may be uncomfortable with rules, with school, with his peers or with his parents. Parents are uncomfortable with their child’s school performance, behavior, and the sometimes overwhelming demands placed on parents of a special needs child.

To me, what makes Hope Haven work so well is that children and families are made to feel comfortable. Gaining a personal rapport

with the child and family from first contact, namely Intake, and proceeding straight through Accounting, Scheduling, and Service delivery is paramount to our style of intervention. And when nurtured, rapport grows into trust. And when trust is present in a therapeutic environment, mountains can be moved.

Hope Haven and I have been connected for the majority of my adult life. I cannot help but feel bonded to the place and what it stands for. I wish nothing but success for the clinic, its personnel, and the clients who no doubt will continue to benefit from this valuable community resource.

Hope Haven Names New Chief Executive Officer

Hope Haven Names New Chief Executive Officer

Hope Haven, one of Northeast Florida’s leading nonprofit providers of specialized services for children and their families, announced today that its Board of Directors has selected Stella E. Johnson as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Ms. Johnson currently serves as the Executive Director of the Family Nurturing Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the needs of children and families in crisis in North Florida. She will assume her new role with Hope Haven on September 18, 2017.

Hope Haven Board Chair, Dr. Nichelle D. Stone, MBA, EdD, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Stella to Hope Haven. Through the course of her successful career, Stella has proven to be a visionary leader with expertise in strengthening and growing nonprofit associations. Stella has significant experience in fundraising and donor development, collaborating with community partners, working with board directors, managing budgets, optimizing programs, and leading change management and business systems improvement. Hope Haven will benefit from Stella’s thoughtful, inclusive, and collaborative approach in working with all stakeholders for the betterment of the organization and its clients.”

“I am very honored and excited by this opportunity to lead Hope Haven in its next stage of growth as a premier provider of services in our community,” said Ms. Johnson. “I’ve been dedicated to youth and family services for my entire career and am passionate about delivering high quality programs that make a positive difference for local children and families. I have lived in the Jacksonville area for more than 30 years, have established deep local connections, and am committed to the success of this community.”

“My initial priority will be getting to know client families, staff, community partners, funders, and volunteers. Over the coming year, I look forward to working with the dedicated Hope Haven staff to evaluate and enhance our services, expand the fund development program, engage with other organizations in collaborative efforts, and increase our recognition, regionally and nationally, as experts in our field. Most importantly, I’d like to help advance an organizational culture that supports staff in capitalizing on their strengths and interests as we improve the lives of those we serve.”

Ms. Johnson joins Hope Haven with an extensive background working with children and families in Florida. She was with the Family Nurturing Center for 10 years, including serving as the Executive Director for the last eight years. She has provided consultation services and program development for foster care, delinquency, and similar programs serving at-risk youth and families. Previously, she served as Program Services Director for the Capital City Youth Services in Tallahassee and Program Coordinator for the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville. Ms. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida.


Following the departure of Hope Haven’s previous CEO in March 2017, Hope Haven’s Board of Directors appointed a search committee to conduct a thorough process to identify a successor. The search committee received input on the process, role, and potential candidates from a broad cross-section of staff, client families, donors, partners, and community members. Working with Peoplr, a top recruiting and executive search firm based in Jacksonville, more than 250 candidates were identified and screened during the process, culminating in the Board’s unanimous selection of Ms. Johnson as the next CEO.