Coalition Staff

Jennifer Highland Executive Director

Jennifer’s passion for helping mothers and infants began, of course, with the birth of her children. Most of her early career in Louisiana, Georgia and Texas was as a registered nurse working in hospital settings, in clinical nursing and staff development. Her education positions allowed her to utilize her graphic art skills in the development of printed educational materials and newsletters for hospital staff and nurses. After she moved to Florida and became a mother, Jennifer volunteered for the Breastfeeding Advocates of Sarasota County and completed her Master of Public Health Degree from USF, graduating in 1995. Jennifer was the Project Coordinator for the first and on-going national breastfeeding promotion campaign, “Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work,” through her employment with Best Start, Inc., in Tampa. She then became trained as a Childbirth Educator and taught at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Her work at Healthy Start began in 2001 as the Contract/Quality Manager. Her role expanded to include professional education. In 2006 she became the Executive Director.

Janice Baxter – Program Coordinator and Quality Assurance Manager

Janice received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and her Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Hawaii. She began her work with Hawaiian children and families over 20 years ago. Since that time Janice expanded her work and passion into the fields of life coaching and psychotherapy, and has creatively developed programs to assist golfers and equestrians with relaxation, balance, and stress reduction through yoga. She has recently returned to United States to be with her family here in Florida.

Ciera Coleman – Marketing and Grants Coordinator

Ciera graduated with Honors from the University of Florida in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education. She is a  native Sarasotan and graduate of Pine View School in Osprey, FL. In 2009, Ciera was presented with Planned Parenthood’s “Youth Courage Award” for her work with the SOURCE Teen Theatre. Ciera is passionate about reproductive rights and education, art, and music.

Miryan McDonald – Admin.  Assistant/Spanish MomCare Advisor

Miryan has a background in Spanish translation in the business and nonprofit worlds, and has worked as an interpreter. She has experience as an Administrative Assistant and as a Spanish Language instructor in an after-school program. Miryan also hosted a television program for the Hispanic community. She has an A.S. degree in Business Administration and Human Resources.

Anne Muir – MomCare Supervisor

Originally from England, Anne lived in Canada before moving to Florida. Anne’s passions are many, and include advancing the status of women through film media and enhancing humanity through improvement in knowledge, unity, and spiritualism. Anne has worked with the Healthy Start Coalition throughout the years, assisting us with office administration, various projects, and MomCare operations.

Jamee Thumm – Education Coordinator & MomCare Advisor

Jamee, like many women, was inspired by the birth of her children and decided to change careers in order to help pregnant women and new mothers. She returned to school and earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida in 2011.While breastfeeding promotion and advocacy is her main passion, she also loves research. As an intern for the Healthy Start Coalition, she conducted the 2011 Breastfeeding Survey for Sarasota County and has acted as co-chair for the Breastfeeding Advocates of Sarasota County since its “rebirth” in 2010.


Program Coordinators:

Beverly Phelps – Save My Life Program Coordinator

Beverly is the Program Coordinator for the Save My Life Program. Beverly is a lifetime resident of Sarasota. Besides being the only black Childbirth Educator in Sarasota County, Beverly has also received training in smoking cessation for pregnant women; breastfeeding education and support; maternal mental health; nutrition; women and substance abuse; early childhood mental health; parenting education; and other maternal-infant issues. In the Save My Live Program, Beverly is providing education and support in the Newtown area to African-American pregnant women and women of child-bearing age, in order to help reduce racial health disparities.

Beth Rubin –  FIMR Program Coordinator

Beth is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and moved from Ft. Lauderdale to the Sarasota area 7 years ago. She is married and has 3 children and 2 grandchildren. Beth has been a nurse for 17 years, with a certification in Maternal-Newborn nursing.  She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and  currently work at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on the mother-baby unit, and is a member of the Breastfeeding Advocates of Sarasota County.




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