OUR MISSION

The Friendship Journey unites individuals of all cognitive & developmental abilities through equitable opportunities and lasting friendships. We provide inclusive programs to foster relationships, enrich lives and create a community that is home to everyone.

OUR VISION

To break down all barriers, foster understanding and create friendships between the special needs and typical populations.

<center>SAMANTHA NOVICK</center>

SAMANTHA NOVICK

President

Samantha Novick is an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist and the owner of Bridge Therapy, LLC. Samantha works in affiliation with Boca Integrative Health, a comprehensive medical practice offering many diverse services. She has experience treating children and adults with a variety of communication needs, including those with aphasia, articulation and phonological disorders, apraxia of speech, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, receptive and expressive language delay, pragmatic concerns, fluency disorders and those who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Samantha strongly believes in treating the family as a whole and is a fervent advocate of a team approach to therapy.

Samantha graduated with high honors from the University of Florida with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She received her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University, also receiving high honors and recognized with the NSSLHA Leadership award as well as the Research award. Samantha has worked in a private clinic setting, in a behavioral therapy practice, as a teaching assistant at Baudhuin preschool for children with autism and as a social skills instructor. Samantha has received PROMPT and LAMP trainings, is a certified yoga instructor for children with special needs, knows American Sign Language (ASL) and is listed as a CASANA professional for individuals with childhood apraxia of speech. Samantha is proud to be the President of The Friendship Journey as well as the Program Director of Reading Friends, a program that The Friendship Journey offers. She is passionate about giving back to her community and believes in breaking down barriers in our increasingly diverse world.

<center>LISA FERRARA</center>

LISA FERRARA

Board Member

Lisa has been an active member in her community since her children started grade school. Prior to moving to Florida in 2014, she served in many capacities in her school community in New York, including President of the Dobbs Ferry PTSA and Head of Fundraising for the Dobbs Ferry Educational Foundation.

In 2011, Lisa co-founded Rivertown Parents, a community organization comprised of parent/teacher associations from five cities in association with Mercy College, providing parent education and family support to students and parents.

Lisa has been awarded the Abigail Chapman Northrup Volunteer of the Year Award for extraordinary service to the Dobbs Ferry community and the Spring Community Partners “Spring Into Action Award” for exceptional dedication and commitment to promoting children’s full and active participation in life, school and their community, regardless of means.

Prior to her volunteer work, Lisa was the Director of Conference Programming Development for The Direct Marketing Association, the largest trade organization for marketers which seeks to advance and protect responsible data-driven marketing.

Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Masters in Business Administration from Rutgers University.

Lisa’s commitment to public service and advocacy for the welfare of children, is a strong influence on her three children, who are all active volunteers in The Friendship Journey programs.

<center>JASON NOVICK</center>

JASON NOVICK

Board Member

Jason is the manager of strategic partnerships with TapToBook, Inc., a technology company headquartered in Sunrise, FL. TapToBook allows local service businesses to offer demand-based pricing and provides insights into consumer purchasing patterns with easy to understand recommendations on how to better engage customers.

Jason graduated from Oswego State University with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in International Affairs. Moving to Florida in 2011, he worked in event marketing for the NHL’s Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center prior to his current role. Jason thoroughly enjoys attending the programs The Friendship Journey has to offer and is passionate about TFJ’s mission of inclusion. As the first employee of TapToBook, Jason has the unique experience of building a concept from the ground up, along with bridging the gap between consumers and technology. Jason will bring these valuable skills to The Friendship Journey and will never stop “Dreaming Big.”

<center>KELLI YSELONIA</center>

KELLI YSELONIA

Board Member

Kelli has been a Broward County Elementary Public school teacher since 1996. She has a teenage son with autism who participates in the Friendship Journey programs and a younger typical daughter who likes to help the students in her mom’s classes. Kelli has a unique perspective as both a parent and educator of special needs students. She enjoys being involved in The Friendship Journey to give kids the opportunity to participate in programs they normally would not have the chance to be able to enjoy.

<center>KAREN WILSON</center>

KAREN WILSON

Treasurer

As a CPA in Florida for over 20 years, Karen’s experience has included work in both public accounting and private industry. Currently, she provides clients with small business and tax services from her home office in Parkland. Working from home gives Karen the flexibility to spend time with her family and support her daughter, Elisabeth, in academics and after school activities. Karen enjoys taking an active role in the organizations that have helped her daughter grow. Elisabeth has had difficulty learning to socialize with typical peers, but she has had no trouble connecting with her Friendship Journey friends. The Friendship Journey programs have been a place where Elisabeth feels totally loved and accepted.

<center>JUAN VELAZQUEZ</center>

JUAN VELAZQUEZ

Board Member

Juan is a single widowed father of two boys. Matthew, his oldest, is 22 and was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Matthew enjoys participating in The Friendship Journey’s programs. Christian, his youngest, is a typical 14-year old and is a proud volunteer for The Friendship Journey. Since Matthew was diagnosed, Juan has been involved in numerous autism-related charities and was on the board of Reaching Potentials. In that capacity, Juan led fundraising efforts that resulted in donations exceeding two million dollars during his 15-year affiliation. Currently, Juan works as an Institutional Sales Trader at Bay Crest Securities.

<center>HOWARD LEWIS</center>

HOWARD LEWIS

Board Member

Howard discovered The Friendship Journey through photography and was “hooked” in the first five minutes! Asked to assist with photography at the first annual gala, Howard came to appreciate how wonderful all the TFJ kids are and how dedicated and caring the leadership team is.

Howard spent a career in finance and management and spends his time these days working with TFJ, studying for his doctorate and volunteering at Church by the Glades. He is delighted to serve on the TFJ Board.

Howard A. Lewis M.A., M.S., CBA, CVA, ABAR