Council Members

John Howard Baldino

I am John Howard Baldino, from North Florida. I became a new member of the Florida Youth Council in 2018. I learned leadership skills and gained a lot of strength from my time in Boy Scouts. I participated in the Triple Crown of scouting: I hiked the Rockies, canoed and portaged in Ontario, and attended Florida Sea Base. I ended my scouting career as an Eagle Scout. Since then, I have volunteered at Elder Day Stay and for a church youth group for high schoolers. I have a beach house located on St. George Island and I go there on the weekends to swim and ride bikes. I love the Gulf of Mexico! My other interests include riding horses, playing pool, snow skiing, and working on my computer. I also play the piano, guitar, and harmonica.

Shevie Barnes

Hi there! My name is Shevie Barnes. I reside in Cape Coral, FL. My most recent works as a leader have been as a middle/high school teacher in Jacksonville, FL. I was led to return to school to earn my education degree this is my most current goal. I earned my AA degree at Florida State College and now attend Western Governors University online. I enjoy reading, writing, singing, and sign language. I am a youth director for middle school class at my church and am working to create a disability awareness group in my area.

Derek Carraway (Lead Member)

My name is Derek, and I’m from Tallahassee. I’ve been a member of the FYC since November 2010 and I love it! I enjoy going camping, going to the beach, going to church, listening to country music, and spending time with my family and friends. I like watching TV, especially sit-coms and college football broadcasts. I bleed garnet and gold. I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Information Technology and now currently work full-time at my alma mater in their IT Services department. In addition to being on the Florida Youth Council, I volunteer in the media department at my church and lead my church’s scout group, the Royal Rangers. My involvement in all of these things keeps me quite busy these days, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It allows me to continue to grow as a leader, and shows others that I don’t let my disabilities stop me from doing anything I want to do!

Alexander Gonzalez

Hi, my name is Alexander, but most people call me Alex. I am 22 years old, and I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but I’ve lived in Florida for most of my life. I currently attend Polk State College, but I’m planning on transferring after I get my Associate in Science. My major is Criminal Justice, so I plan on having a job in law enforcement. I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 5, but I will not let my disability define who I am. I used to volunteer at a food pantry for three years, and now I volunteer to help build doors or provide other resources to help people in need. In my free time, I exercise, and I love to live-stream or broadcast on and YouTube. I do a podcast with my friends and enjoy playing video games. My dream is to one day write and direct a feature film and put it on the big screen so the whole world can see! This is my first year as an official member of the FYC, and I will continue on with the tradition of helping people with disabilities to get the resources and benefits they need to support their lives and strive for a better world.

Leah Gorman

Hi, my name is Leah Gorman, I joined the Florida Youth Council to empower youth to stand up and say no to the people who are trying to get in their way because of their disabilities. Also, I love to read and do others things. I also spread the word about disability advocacy to the doctors in my community, and they are spreading it to their child patients with disabilities.

Emma Massey

Hi, I am Emma Massey, a high school senior and dual enrolled student at a local college. Looking to the future, my goal is to attend college. My major is still not definite, but I am narrowing down my options. My older brother is leaving for college this fall, so I will get to experience life as an only child. Spending time with my friends and family and cuddling with my cat are my favorite activities. Since joining the FYC a few months ago, I am learning how to advocate for myself and others. Hopefully, people will understand that even though disabilities may limit me, I can do anything I put my mind to.

Dakota Smoot

Hi there! I am Dakota Smoot and I am 25 years old. I love sports and my friends. I’m a poet and a gamer. My favorite shows are Naruto and Bleach. I also love trains! I live in Jacksonville, Florida on the north side. I attend Edward H. White school as a post-graduate student. While I may look like the average person, I’m not! I have epilepsy but you can’t tell by looking at me. I look forward to seeing new people every day and making more friends.

Josue Tapia Ortiz

Hello my name Josue Tapia and I currently live in Orlando Florida. I enjoy playing video games, reading history books and playing with my dog. I work at Petco as an assistant groomer working with dogs. I think I’m the only bilingual member on the council and the only Hispanic at that. Its fun to have that out the box opinion. I’ve been on the council for about 7 years and its been a great experience for me. I’ve met many people going through different paths of life with different disabilities and I heard their stories of triumph and hard work. I’ve enjoyed my years on the FYC and I hope to have many more making a difference.

Christina Waldron

My name is Christina Waldron. I live in Saint Petersburg, Florida. I am a bowling coach for a disabled bowling league, as well as serving as an alter server at my church every Sunday, I also co teach a group studying to make their first communion. I am a part-time student at Saint Petersburg College. In the fall of 2012, I became a member of the Florida youth council.

Serena Wetmore

My name is Serena Wetmore and I am brand-new to the Florida Youth Council. I am a high school student in Jacksonville, FL. It might seem strange that at my age, I am a fan of 1980s rock bands such as Foreigner, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Styx. I also love to go to Universal, mostly because they have Harry Potter. I also enjoy playing iPad games such as “Clash of Clans.” This is great for me because I can’t work regular video game controllers. I hope to go to college to get a degree in marketing and also plan to do some advocacy as an adult. Sometimes people say I’m already an advocate because I am constantly looking to improve the way society views people with disabilities.

Brandon White

Hi my name is Brandon, and for the past three years I have been a part of west ports military program known as JROTC. My mom, sister and I went Family Cafe meet at the Hyatt, which was one of the most fun educational experiences I’ve had outside of school. My goal is to not only learn more about how i can help thoughts with disabilities but also gain knowledge to help others throughout my life in the military. The reason I decided to join the FYC is to widen my knowledge on disability awareness along with how to help those with disabilities. My goal after high school is to go into the military. I will most likely go into the Airforce because it hits many of the key points that I find interesting. Sadly that means I will have to leave the FYC to pursue my dream of making a career of the Airforce. My overall goal of being a part of the FYC is to help as many people as I possibly can in any possible way before I leave for the military. When I’m in the military and I come across someone with a disability I want to know how to help them the very best I can and I believe the Family Cafe is the best place for me to learn how I can help people.