Dixie is the driving force behind the organization and one of the co-founders of the circle. As the Executive Director, Dixie stays busy with the daily operational thrusts of Friends & Stars, Inc. Dixie is originally from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and relocated to South Florida in 2009. She has volunteered at several organizations and taught art at local middle and high school after-school programs. As a professional artist, she paints daily and is on exhibit throughout Broward County, Florida. As a mother of a special needs son, she knows, from personal experience, how hard it is to get art instruction for special needs children, and even harder for adults. She, along with friends, formed the Circle of Friends & Stars, LLC and later knew they had to incorporate and move the organization in a new direction. Dixie has continued her training and has earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management, is a Teaching Artist in Residence with the VSA-Florida, nominated for the 2015 African American Achievers Awards, Listed in Gold Coast Magazine Oct., 2015 Edition Who’s Who in Charities & the Arts.
Julieta is a co-founder and creative genius behind many of the wonderful projects produced through Friends & Stars, Inc. She comes to the United States from Venezuela with a unique approach to art, passion to create, attention to detail and love for color, which she transmits to her paintings. She worked as a lawyer in her native country, founded dìFibrosis Quistica de Venezuelaî, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Caracas, Venezuela, and was its first president. She also participated as a volunteer in many children’s foundations. Julieta has been a resident of Plantation, Florida for the past thirteen (13) years and is a member of Mujeres Latinas.
Julieta’s first museum exhibition was in 1995 with the Florida Museum of Hispanic and Latin American Art in Miami; in 1996 at the Art Expo in New York and other art galleries in Miami. Julieta began exhibiting for the Miami Police Department in 1987 for their First Annual Hispanic Heritage and remains as a contributor. She has exhibited for the City of Tamarac and continues to paint. Julieta has volunteered at the Miami Police Athletic League with the “P.A.L. Children of the City of Miami” and donates paintings to local foundations like “Madison’s Wish”,
Marcy holds one of the diverse positions in the organization. As the Program Coordinator she manages all volunteer hours, plan and implement programming and handles the reporting on the VSA-FL residencies. Marcy is a retired audiologist by profession and gives her time to the organization during its Saturday Activity Club. We are especially pleased to have Marcy to now join the leadership team of the organization on a full time basis.
Marcy is a teaching artist in residence with several pieces under her belt and always interested in learning more about new art techniques. We are extremely fortunate to have a volunteer of her quality to be part of the Friends & Stars, Inc.
Elaine was born in New Jersey and lived there until 1971. She attended Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, majoring in Elementary Education. She moved to Florida in 1971 and in 1980, became the mother of a son with Autism. Her home was in major disrepair due to “my son’s behavioral issues and challenges with toilet training” whereupon she enrolled in the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale to study Residential Design. After graduation, Elaine now had the tools she needed to make some changes in the décor of her home, such as color scheme, furniture design and sensory accessories that would prove positively influential in her son’s life. “If a person feels secure and happy in his home environment, his will perform at his highest level and be receptive to the therapeutic and educational interventions needed to progress in his development to reach full potential”.
Upon realizing that she could also help other families with their challenges, she founded Exceptional Designs, providing customized environments for people with developmental and /or physical disabilities. She is also a RESNA Certified Assistive Technology Professional and can advise people on equipment they may need to perform their daily tasks.
Elaine has extensive involvement in the disabilities community as the Adult Liaison Board Member of the Autism Society of Broward County, a member of the Special Needs Advisory Coalition of the Children’s Services Council of Broward, a volunteer with Impact Broward and a parent advisor with Kiwanis Key Club “People Helping People of Ft. Lauderdale”.
“When I learned about the Circle of Friends and Stars providing a Saturday Activity Program for young adults of varied special needs and wanting to expand to a 5 day program, I was inspired to volunteer to help to continue and expand this great organization. There is very little available for individuals with special needs who need a creative environment as opposed to a strictly academic one. I look forward to working with you”.
Kim is an original founder of Camilo’s Creative Corner, the Saturday program that became our current day Circle of Friends & Stars. Kim brings the drama / music portion to our program. Our first production, “The Lion King” was produced by Kim and what fanfare! Kim is a real estate agent by profession and has a calling to serve in her community. When the opportunity presented itself to work with special needs individuals, Kim jumped at the chance and today remains involved.
With over 30 years of development/fundraising experience, Anne-Marie is happy to be writing grants for Friends & Stars. Anne-Marie is originally from Brooklyn, New York and has lived in Miami since 1992. She has a Bachelors in Music with a minor in Art History and a Masters of Business Administration from The American University. She began her career as a High school teacher before becoming an administrator and grants writer. She enjoys painting (mostly watercolor), playing piano and is an animal rights advocate. She fostered 9 children and adopted her daughter and glad to have two beautiful grandchildren.