Leadership Team

Carolanne Patriaco Founder of Families First of Florida

Carolanne Patriaco founded Families First of Florida on July 26, 2000 after recognizing a growing need for children’s mental health services in the Tampa area. Her commitment to helping children with mental and behavioral challenges stems from years of working with Florida’s Child Welfare System of Care.

Carolanne’s goal for Families First of Florida is to break down the negative stigmas that surround mental and behavioral challenges by providing children with the coping mechanisms necessary to work through trauma and allow them to have a happy and successful life. She also aims to help the families by providing parenting skills necessary to create a supportive environment to help their children foster a brighter future as well as linking the families to services within in their community.

Prior to founding Families First of Florida, Carolanne Patriaco served as Chief Financial Officer and later as Vice President of Operations and Fiscal Management for a provider of children’s foster care services in Florida. During this time she was introduced to the foster care system and the services it provides for at-risk children and children of neglect or abuse. She learned the intricacies of the system, and the necessity of counseling services for these foster families and children in order to create a solid foundation for a productive future. This discovery is what lead Carolanne to found Families First of Florida – to ensure that these children and families who have experienced trauma receive the help and counseling services they so desperately need.

Prior to her experience with Florida’s Child Welfare System of Care, Carolanne Patriaco worked as Senior Accountant of W.R. Grace and Co.'s Subsidiary, National Medical Care, Inc. and as an accountant at The Saving Bank of Rockland County. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting and Business Administration from Dominican College of Blauvelt, NY.

Jennifer Brown Chief Operating Officer

After receiving her BSW, she began her career supervising therapeutic foster homes and the children in those homes. She then moved on to working within the child welfare system for several years as both a Child Protective Investigator and Child Welfare Case Manager. With her knowledge, she was able to move into positions which allowed her to have oversight of Children’s Mental Health programs to ensure compliance with state contracts, Medicaid guidelines, and state and federal laws. After doing this for several years, Jennifer became the Director of License Care for a Community Base Care and was responsible for the placement, care, and mental health of the children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. Jennifer has served at a management level in Quality Management for several agencies both within Florida and Colorado at improving the quality of care for families and children. Jennifer brings over 20 years of experience with her to Families First of Florida and works at ensuring FFF meets the highest standards in meeting our client’s needs.

Paula Booth Vice President of Support Services

Paula began her career working with various life and health insurance companies in Nebraska and Florida. She specialized working with several local Medicaid HMO’s licensed under the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). After 20-years of the insurance industry, she joined Families First in January 2001 as the Office Administrator. Over the last 12-years she has also acted as our Licensing Specialist , Program Services Administrator , Placement Services Administrator, and Director of Administration & HR Management and her current role is the Director of Administration and Facilities. She brings to Families First over 35 years of corporate experience.

Peri Gibbons Director of Client Information Mgt. & Systems

Peri has over 16 years’ experience working in Release of Information and Medical Records. She started her Medical Record career as a Billable Release Specialist working for a release company that was contracted to handle records release at a large acute care facility in Tampa, eventually becoming the Site Supervisor. After 12 years working at the acute care facility Peri was hired as the Supervisor of Records for a Pinellas based Outpatient Mental Health Agency. In 2014 she joined Families First of Florida (FFF) as the Records Manager and has since been promoted to Director of Client Information Management and Systems. She is passionate about securing and protecting the health information of our clients therefore reducing the risk to our clients and the agency.

Lindsay Simpson, LMHC Director of Quality Assurance & Credentialing

Lindsay joined Families First of Florida in 2015, bringing with her over 9 years of experience in the social services field.  As Director of Quality and Credentialing, Lindsay oversees the QA program ensuring clients and families receive the highest quality of care through systematic monitoring of services and training of providers.  Lindsay also manages agency Incident Reports and grievances and oversees the credentialing of FFF sites with funders. 

Lindsay graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and then from Troy University with a Master of Science in counseling and Psychology. In 2016, Lindsay was certified as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) .  Lindsay’s early clinical work focused on working with treating adolescents at an alternative high school. Lindsay has worked in variety of clinical settings providing in-home therapy, in-patient therapy and assessment to adults and children.

Tori Telfer, PhD Vice President of Clinical Operations

Tori received her Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Florida in 2000 and went on the obtain her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Therapy from the University of Central Florida in 2004. In 2015 she received her Doctorate from Barry University with a Specialization in Marital, Couple and Family Counseling. Tori is also certified in Marriage and Family Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as a Certified Adoption Competent Clinician and a Targeted Case Management Supervisor. Tori has over 15 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families both in the community setting as well as private practice. She has extensive knowledge in child welfare and mental health services. Tori has worked with the child welfare system for over 6 years, first as a clinician and then in management overseeing all clinical services and licensing for therapeutic and traditional foster care homes. Tori joined Families First of Florida in 2015. During that time she has been a Program Manager, overseeing all clinical services for the Orlando Service Center, a Regional Director, overseeing all clinical services for the Orlando, Ocala and Big Bend Service Centers, and now as the Vice President of Clinical Operations over all of Families First Service Centers across the state. She is dedicated not only to her job and staff but also to providing the best quality services across the agency.

Impacting Lives, Strengthening Families

Traumatic experiences make a significant impact on how people cope, learn and interact with others. Families First of Florida’s experienced mental health clinicians provide best practice mental health services with the goal of helping those in our care grow and develop, despite their obstacles.