Stuart Magazine's 40 Under 40: Rising Stars Of The Treasure Coast
Photography by Austen Amacker
We’ve scoured the Treasure Coast in search of individuals making a difference in the community all under the age of 40. From being named a Top 100 Lawyer in the state to winning at Wimbledon, read through to learn about our region’s most talented and promising individuals, innovators and business professionals.
Featured: Nicole Melichar, 26, Tennis Professional on the WTA Tour
The tennis accomplishment Nicole Melichar is most proud of is playing both doubles finals at the 2018 Championships at Wimbledon. She won the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles title in 2018 alongside partner Alexander Peya, and she also reached the Women’s Doubles Final with Květa Peschke. “I pride myself on fighting for every point and never giving up when I am on the court,” Melichar says. During the off-season, she participates in exhibition tennis events to help raise money for charity. Alongside her full-time tennis career, she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in communications online at Indiana University East with hopes of delving into sports commentating.
Lisha DeSantis, 34, Director of Marketing, Convey Health Solutions
Since she was 13 years old, Lisha DeSantis has had a passion for volunteering. For the past few years, she has been an active member of the Junior League of Martin County (JLMC) and is now the Vice President of the JLMC. With her team at work, the Fort Pierce resident has doubled the company’s revenue over the last four years. As the Director of Marketing at Convey Health Solutions, DeSantis does a hybrid of marketing, sales, business development and product management to connect with prospects, meet their business goals and
Scott Hogan, 33, Founder and President, SaltWrap
As the founder and president of SaltWrap, Scott Hogan is hands-on in every aspect of the company, from taking on the role of chief product formulator to publishing original content on saltwrap.com. “After suffering several sports-related and other injuries, I started publishing content on saltwrap.com to help other people overcome physical setbacks and injuries,” Hogan says. And that’s the Palm City resident’s mission with SaltWrap: to help people overcome physical obstacles, recover from injury and live their best pain-free life. Not only does his business help improve people’s lives, but it allows him to stay close to home with his wife and two kids.
Anthony Coletta, 37, Director of Community Outreach, The First Tee
It all started with a question: Why don’t kids play golf? It was an important enough inquiry that would lead to the creation of The First Tee, an organization with a mission to offer both golf and life lessons to young people. Helping to cultivate relationships with various charitable organizations to introduce the game to today’s youth is Anthony Coletta, the director of community outreach. Since 2015, the Stuart resident has had the opportunity to coach an after school First Tee golf program once a week at 10th Street Community Center. He also recently took part in organizing a Special Olympics golf program for athletes living in Martin County, along with a golf program for retired military veterans in St. Lucie County, all at no cost to participants.
Savannah Resnik, 25, CBS12 Photojournalist
Being a photojournalist for CBS12 means Savannah Resnik is the eyes, ears and voice for the newsroom to tell the stories of those in the community. “I am most proud of covering a reported case of neglected horses that needed [to be] rescued,” Resnik says. “Thanks to investigative journalism and pushing for answers, the owner was arrested, and the horses were rescued.” When the Stuart resident isn’t behind the camera, she is a volunteer at Florida TRAC in Indiantown where she helps exercise and retrain off-the-track thoroughbreds to find a new career and home after their time racing.
Jordan Wagner, 39, Partner, Kibbey Wagner, PLLC
Managing partner and lead attorney for all personal injury and civil cases at Kibbey Wagner, Jordan Wagner is proud to be recognized by The Florida Bar as an expert in Civil Trial Law. When not at work—where he is a partner with his wife—the Stuart resident is happiest at home with his family. It’s the small-town family atmosphere, along with the golf courses and beach, that he loves about living on the Treasure Coast. Wagner is also on the Board of Directors for Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast and is a member of the Palm City Presbyterian Church.
Danny Plummer, 30, Senior Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
Danny Plummer is the vice president of Merrill Lynch—a title he is most proud of to date where he guides his clients to achieve all of their financial goals. While he grew up in Maine, he now calls The Pines in Jensen Beach home along with his wife, Rachel, and 4-year-old identical twin boys Darcy and Davis. He serves on the board for the Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast with a role of helping raise money for the museum through event coordination. He also volunteers at the annual career preparation workshop in The Village of Indiantown where he educates the participants on the importance of saving and investing.
Katrina Resch, 39, CEO, Fresch Perspective EventManagement
As the event manager at her small business, Katrina Resch works with many not-for-profit companies and companies benefitting non-profits. Through her planning, these events have been able to raise a lot of money for charities. The Palm City resident also created her own event, Babes and Bubbly, where like-minded ladies can “sip, laugh and dance.” On top of work, Resch can’t say no to volunteering and often does so at her kid’s school or as an alumna of LEADERship Martin County.
Nikolaus Martin Schroth, 36, Principal/Broker, NAI Southcoast; Managing Partner, CRE Valuation Services Treasure Coast; Co-Founder, Islamorada Brewery & Distillery
In his career, Nikolaus Schroth is most proud of the relationships he has built with clients, business partners and the community. Those relationships are what led him and his team to bring Islamorada Brewery & Distillery’s production facility to the Treasure Coast. In the community, he has also served on the Stuart Main Street board for five years and has been president for two. “Stuart Main Street recently took over the Flagler Center,” Schroth says. “I am excited to see the organization increase the activity at the Flagler Center and continue to maintain a vibrant and active Downtown Stuart.”
Michael Robbins, 34, Owner, Robbins Music
Michael Robbins spends his days inspiring and training the next generation of musicians on the Treasure Coast, some of whom have performed in Disney, Universal Studios, All-State, Artsiest and several local parades. The Stuart resident is scheduled to conduct 18 concerts on the Treasure Coast for the 2019-2020 season. Outside of work, he is the conductor of the Treasure Coast Community Singers, the Treasure Coast Youth Choir, the board chairman of the New Gardens Band and Indian River Pops Orchestra as well as the assistant conductor and
French Horn player with the Indian River Pops Orchestra.
Katie Makemson, 34, Director of Education, Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast
Among the many hats Katie Makemson wears, her role at the Children’s Museum is to create the curriculum for field trips, outreach programs and camps. There, the Stuart resident also works with other non-profits in the community, but she particularly enjoys working with Surfers For Autism and The Hope Center for Autism because children with autism and special needs hold a special place in her heart. When not working, Makemson’s passion lays in traveling as she has visited 35 countries—including living in Australia—but she can’t stay away from the wonderful community of the Treasure Coast.
Briana Marie Nielsen, 28, Director of Human Resources, REMETRONIX
As the director of human resources for REMETRONIX in Port St. Lucie, Briana Marie Nielsen’s goal is to develop a world-class team. She helped the company earn the title of “Best Places to Work for St. Lucie County” 11 times. “When you take care of your team and your employees, they will in return, take care of your customers and represent our company to the highest standard in our medical industry,” she says. When not assisting her team, you can find Nielsen teaching yoga at Downtown Yoga Barre and Beyond in downtown Fort Pierce. As a resident of Port St. Lucie, Nielsen is a member of numerous groups such as the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County and hosts numerous food and toy drives throughout the year.
Janet Palmer, 37, President and Co-Founder, Random Acts of Pink
A breast cancer survivor herself, Janet
Palmer founded Random Acts of Pink to financially assist cancer patients with their medical bills. She made the organization with a 100 percent volunteer effort to keep costs at a minimum and has been involved with raising more than $25,000 for local cancer patients. The Port St. Lucie resident understands the patient’s view, from getting the diagnosis to the all-clear, and can communicate with understanding the physical and emotional toll, along with the financial stress, treatment puts on patients as well as their families.
Howard Farro, 32, Personal Chef, Howard’s Pleasant Plate Catering
Creating quality food for people is the bread and butter of Howard Farro’s career. He’s a personal chef for numerous celebrities, locals and corporate families. “I love when people can feel that love and passion through the food I cook,” says the 32-year-old owner of Howard’s Pleasant Plate Catering. His latest project is “Cooking with Howard,” during which he goes to New Monrovia and teaches kids how to cook. Two families have even donated plots of property for his food movement. “I teach [kids] how to grow food, teach them the importance of compost piles,” he says. “I push ‘from the Earth.’” He also sits on the board at the Banner Lake Club in Hobe Sound and is on the Advisory Council Board for the Boys & Girls Club of Hobe Sound. He’s also the recent recipient of the Future Leader Award from the NAACP.
Ryan Abernethy, 30, Attorney, Abernethy Law Group
Ryan Abernethy knows the impact his career has on his clients. Working with them to design and implement their estate planning and asset protection goals is his everyday role as an attorney at Abernethy Law Group. Professionally, he’s most proud of having the opportunity to directly work with different clients of all varieties on a day-to-day basis and find ways to “solve” what their individual planning needs are. The Fort Pierce resident also serves on the board for both the Fort Pierce Rotary Club and the Fort Pierce Farmers Market. In his free time, he enjoys cooking as well as training and competing for amateur strongman competitions.
Candace Callahan, 37, Corporate Gifts Officer, Humane Society of the Treasure Coast; Executive Director, Young Professionals of Martin County
When Candace Callahan isn’t cultivating, soliciting and managing all of the Humane Society’s business partnerships and corporate sponsors, she’s coordinating more than 36 events a year for the Young Professionals of Martin County as the executive director. In her role, she helps businesses of all sizes with everything from aligning their marketing strategies to managing all of their community outreach, including educational seminars, volunteer activities and philanthropy. She enjoys living on the Treasure Coast for its strong sense of community and also works for two restaurants—The Chef’s Table and Southfork Kitchen & Bar. “I think this area is what you make of it,” she says. “Opportunity is everywhere if you look.”
Katie Gianni, 29, Fine Art Framer & Consultant, The Gilt Complex; Artist
From art consultations to building and designing frames and displays, Katie Gianni loves what she does. At The Gilt Complex, being an artist allows the Port St. Lucie resident to apply her creative talents to every task while making sure each project is given its proper time and care. She also manages the complex’s local artist registry. Along with several solo exhibitions and being accepted into several shows and exhibitions, Gianni is an active member of the Martin Artisans Guild, which is a group of professional artists who support the production and appreciation of fine art and craft in Martin County.
Jolien Caraballo, 39, City Councilwoman, City of Port St. Lucie
As the first Hispanic elected to the City Council, Jolien Caraballo is proud of her Cuban heritage. The Port St. Lucie resident knows her No. 1 job is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the city residents as well as oversee the budget, implement the strategic plan and be an advocate at the state and federal level. Caraballo has been a part of several committees and organizations. Right now, she is the vice president of the Treasure Coast Regional League of Cities, board of director member of Florida League of Cities and a board member of the Transportation and
Aviana Shapiro, 31, Owner, Wave Hair Color & Design
In less than a year after opening her studio’s doors, Aviana Shapiro has created a community and family. Her Stuart-based business, Wave Hair Color & Design Studio, focuses on making her clients look their best versions of themselves. Shapiro is also a member of Women Supporting the Arts and IMPACT 100 Martin. “My studio is a hub for creativity and celebration of the arts here in downtown Stuart’s Arts & Entertainment District,” she says. The salon is committed to raising money and awareness for charities in the area such as the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast and Molly’s House. Her deepest joy is raising her 11-year-old daughter, Giana, in Jensen Beach where she finds peace at the ocean. According to Shapiro, “there is nothing the salty air and dip in the sea can’t heal.”
Rachel Snyder, 34, President, Snyder Marketing Solutions & Events
As the president of Snyder Marketing Solutions and Events since 2011, Rachel Snyder takes pride in being entrusted with her clients’ goals, whether it’s for company growth or event planning. “We love to take their vision, enhance it with our creativity and resources and deliver an experience that surpasses their expectations and makes an amazing memory for the attendees,” Synder says. “I’m so grateful to lead an incredible team, and each day, I set out to ensure they know how much they’re valued and look forward to coming to work.” In her downtime, the Treasure Coast native can be found on the water with her husband, Nikolaus.
Zack Jones, 33, Owner, Snorkel Corn Entertainment
Zack Jones created Snorkel Corn Entertainment to bring more excitement to the Treasure Coast while shining a light on the area’s talent. When he put together the Bryan Jackson Music Festival, they had more than 70 musical acts in Downtown Fort Pierce all in one day. His favorite part of both living and working on the Treasure Coast? Seeing it grow and change for the better. “When I first moved here, many parts of this town weren’t even developed yet,” Jones says. “As the population grows more and more, we’re able to collaborate with so many talented and creative people. That’s very exciting.”
Shyanne Helms, 30, Communications and Economic Development Manager, the City of Fort Pierce
Shyanne Helms’ mission is to spark renewed interest in Fort Pierce and generate sustainable economic growth that will create opportunities for citizens to thrive today and for generations to come. “Fort Pierce is in the midst of momentous transition, and I am extremely proud of the work we are doing to help propel the city forward,” she says. In her free time, Helms serves on Keep Fort Pierce Beautiful and the Business and Industry Committee of the St. Lucie Chamber of Commerce. Alongside being involved in her city, her passion is to create original works of art, from graphic design to jewelry making.
Barbara Kibbey Wagner, Esq., 35, Partner/Owner, Kibbey Wagner PLLC
Her day-to-day includes overseeing criminal cases in addition to handling creative and philanthropic endeavors for her firm. At 35, Barbara Kibbey Wagner of Stuart has been named Super Lawyer Rising Star, vice president of Martin County Bar, awarded Best Advocate, and named a Top 100 Lawyer in Florida for criminal defense. When not winning cases, she advocates for river and wetlands restoration and supports Citizens for Clean Water. She’s also vice president of the Martin County Bar, a member of the Martin County Legal Aid Society and a member of Palm City
George M. Stokus, 38, Assistant County Administrator, Martin County Board of County Commissioners
To date, George M. Stokus is most proud of being a team member that brought a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) lab to J.D. Parker Elementary School. The Stuart resident’s daily role with the Martin County Board of County Commissioners is to make sure that policies are carried out by staff and to assist in the dissemination of information in an accurate and timely manner. His involvement in the community spans from LEADERship Martin, Class 25 and serving on the Alumni Board, to volunteering at the airport’s holiday celebration with kids from Hibiscus House.
Jessica Addams, 31, Owner, deLITEful Kitchen
Stuart resident Jessica Addams is the owner of deLITEful Kitchen, an organic, local, farm-to-table health food restaurant and catering company. The artisan market and community hub at deLITEful provides a place for local artisans with a startup to showcase their products without the overhead of a storefront. Along with being a successful restaurateur, Addams is on the boards for the Surfrider Foundation and two advisory councils for the Boys and Girls Club of Martin County, as well as volunteers with The Banner Lake Club and the SAC and PTO of her children’s schools.
Shannon M. Caldwell, 39, Co-Founder/Marketing Director, UBU Brands; Change Manager, NextEra Energy Resources
Shannon Caldwell balances several roles at two companies, so it’s important to her that she remains consistent in adding value to the people she’s supporting in each of those roles and companies. She also wears many hats with her community involvement, such as being a volunteer speaker for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Planet Philanthropy, Treasure Coast Association of Fundraising Professionals and Treasure Coast Minority Business Expo, on top of being a marketing volunteer for both Downtown Stuart’s Rock’n Riverwalk and Scott Bores Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man of the Year Campaign, to name a few. When she’s home, she likes to spend time with her husband, toddler and two cats.
Tara Vaughn Baldwin, 36, President, Operation 300
Tara Vaughn Baldwin is passionate about her community. So much so, that her dedication to Operation 300 led it to being chosen as the Martin County Business Development Board 2019 Non-Profit of the Year. “I am proud that our organization has built a reputation of honor, excellence and integrity,” Baldwin says. Recently, Operation 300 and her family helped lead the Treasure Coast Abacos Relief Project, where they worked with hundreds of volunteers to bring much-needed aid to the people of the Abacos over seven weeks. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for 16 years with whom she has two daughters.
Merritt Matheson, 37, Commissioner, City of Stuart
As a multi-generational Floridian on both sides of his family, Merritt Matheson makes every decision through the lens of how it will affect all future generations. As the City of Stuart commissioner, Matheson worked toward advocacy against toxic discharges into the St. Lucie River. The Stuart resident, along with the help of others, is excited to see a shift in the way Florida’s regulatory agencies look at water quality and hopes the St. Lucie River can be restored to its natural state as one of the most biodiverse waterways on the planet.
James Carroll, 31, Business Developer; Publicist
If there’s one thing that’s important to James Carroll, it’s ensuring his commitment to the community is authentic. “It’s been my goal in any endeavor to understand the person, the goal and offer a solution that correlates with their character and business practices,” says the 31-year-old Hobe Sound resident. He developed and marketed an app you might have on your phone; it’s called NH Voter Guide and allows cities to view candidate stances on issues, fundraising totals, contact information and biographies. When not developing apps or helping businesses grow, Carroll invests time with the Young Professionals of Martin County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Martin County GOP, the Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce, Palm City Chamber of Commerce and the Tequesta Business Association.
Elise Raffa, 28, Communications and Membership Manager, The Arts Council of Martin County
For Elise Raffa, her role as communications and membership manager means looking to the future in preserving the arts and getting young people involved for years to come. She prides herself on being part of the Arts Council for the last five years, and “being able to bring my millennial perspective to various meeting tables. Since 2017, Raffa has curated Courtroom Sessions, a contemporary art exhibition and music showcase held at the historic Court House Cultural Center in Downtown Stuart. “The arts are such an enormous passion of mine, and I want to make sure to do my part in keeping them here,” she says.
Guyton Stone, 34, Mayor, Village of Indiantown; Owner, Guyton Industries, LLC
If you live in Indiantown, chances are you will recognize Guyton Stone. As the mayor of the Village Indiantown, Stone’s days consist of overseeing financial decisions to planning the future for the locals. He also is the owner of Guyton Industries where he brings customers’ imaginations to life with quality craftsmanship. At 34, the former Jamaica resident moved to the Treasure Coast in 1999 and became one of the first council members in the Village of Indiantown. He was awarded Small Business of the Year in 2018 and helped reestablish the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Indiantown, which he serves as a scoutmaster and cubmaster.
Kia Fontaine, 38, Executive Director, The Lyric Theatre
Apart from her everyday duties, Kia Fontaine is proud to have developed and implemented The Lyric’s Summer Camp. The camp allows children to explore the arts while learning practical skills and character-building techniques. Fontaine provides access to not only the arts at The Lyric Theatre but an escape from everyday life in a medium of artistic expression that elevates and educates. The Fort Pierce resident is also a part of the Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers Market Board of Directors, Heathcote Botanical Garden’s Bonsai Bash Committee and a volunteer for Main Street Fort Pierce Historic Ghost Tours.
Elexcia Savarese-Fleming, 27, Senior Sales Specialist, Teva Pharmaceuticals CNS
Growing up, Elexcia Savarese-Fleming was an avid teen performer at StarStruck Theatre where she spent most of her after-school hours, weekends and summers. She also worked at the theatre for a year after graduating before taking on the role as a senior sales specialist at Teva Pharmaceuticals CNS. Her proudest accomplishment to date has been winning two top five percent titles in the three years she’s been in the President’s Club (top 10 percent in sales) and, at press time, was on pace to finish again in the top five percent for 2019. Savarese-Fleming married her high school sweetheart, Brooks, which she says reminds her “how rewarding it is coming from a town on the Treasure Coast.”
Angela Hoffman, 35, Chief Advancement Officer, Boys & Girls Club of Martin County
While she previously helped grow the Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce financially and in its geographic reach, Angela Hoffman’s latest achievement has been holding the title of chief advancement officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County. Recently, she helped secure funding for a food truck culinary program that is set to launch this summer, which will utilize the produce growing in local Boys and Girls Club gardens. “Advancing these initiatives, garnering community support and helping our team design creative solutions to respond to the changing needs of our members is by far the most exciting part of my position,” Hoffman says. She’s excited to continue accelerating the work of the Business Development Board to strengthen Martin County’s economy while serving as the president. When not working, Hoffman enjoys family time at the beach as well as attending parades and the Festival of the Arts.
Sam Bruning, 38, Owner/Financial Advisor, Southern Magnolia Investment Management
As the owner and financial advisor for his own business, Southern Magnolia Investment Management, Sam Bruning runs its day-to-day operations. Doing so has been a step outside of his comfort zone after working at Fortune 500 companies for 15 years. Despite his career switch, one constant has been his life on the Treasure Coast for more than 30 years. “The things I enjoy most about the Treasure Coast are the close friends I have made since moving here in 1987, the weather, the history, the food and restaurants, the economy and the great people I meet on a daily basis,” Bruning says.
Mike Meier, 33, Mayor, City of Stuart; Director, Farm Operations for CoLab Farms
At press time, Mike Meier was recently elected as the Mayor of Stuart, making him the city’s youngest in 63 years. Prior, he held the title of city commissioner where he focused on building a sustainable future for the town, such as increasing housing options, bringing in jobs and preparing for the effects of climate change. He also holds the title of Director of Farm Operations for CoLab Farms where he oversees construction of new greenhouses that will increase the company’s production capability. In 2014, he co-founded Stuart’s first urban farm, market and restaurant, formerly known as Ground Floor Farm. “I’m proud that our business helped bring more energy and vibrancy to the new arts and entertainment district south of historic downtown,” Meier says.
Kate Citrone, 24, Professional Runway Model
A professional model herself, Kate Citrone created model workshops for young aspiring models to encourage creativity, build self-confidence and learn professionalism. In the past, she has also volunteered with the St. Lucie County P.A.L. Center and with various high school programs. While she relocates seasonally between New York, Florida and California, the Stuart resident loves the palm trees and sandy beaches of the Treasure Coast. As a model, Citrone’s most important roles are to build long-lasting professional relationships with her clients and connect brands to their consumers. On top of a modeling career, she is also an aspiring author.
Kate P. Cotner, 36, Senior External Affairs Advisor, Florida Power & Light Company
When she’s not helping her eight-year-old fisherman son, Liam, with community involvement through the Cub Scouts or serving on numerous local community boards, Kate P. Cotner is working on making FPL’s mission to make the Treasure Coast the best place to live, work and raise a family a reality. As a senior external affairs advisor, the Stuart resident grows and maintains positive, long-lasting relationships with county, municipal, community and business leaders, as well as working closely with internal business units.