Our Mission

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

Our Team

<center>Samantha Novick</center>

Samantha Novick

President | Board Member

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>Paola Blanco</center>

Paola Blanco

Vice President | Board Member

Paola Blanco is a freelance social media manager and small business site designer. She is the creative behind the How Accessible, a blog that hunts down accessibility resources and shows ways to make things easier for people with different mobility needs.

Before taking on her role at How Accessible, she managed content for sites in the tech and health industry.

<center>Heather Weissman</center>

Heather Weissman

Vice President | Board Member

Heather started her professional career in the entertainment industry in Public Relations at HBO and then moved over as the publicist/event planner at a record label for the band Creed.

Her experience in the entertainment industry also allowed her the opportunity to transition to the pharmaceutical industry at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. There she was involved in sales and marketing working across many different drugs including some of the leading anti-depressants and psych-pharmaceuticals in the industry. She won several top sales presidential awards.

After 9 years at Wyeth, she joined GlaxoSmithKline in a sales and marketing role helping to educate doctors about their line of respiratory drugs and promoting GSK overall in the marketplace. Heather has also been very active in her daughters’ schools since they were very little and taking on various roles, including PTA president at their pre-school.

Heather graduated with high honors from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Communications degree and a minor in Marketing.

And, while she has been out of the pharmaceutical industry for a couple of years, it has been very exciting for her to get involved in non-profit organizations that mean so much to her with her two daughters.  Her daughter Zoe started volunteering at The Friendship Journey almost two years ago and is a very active volunteer. Right away, Heather knew she wanted to get involved with this incredible organization. Heather is so passionate about The Friendship Journey’s purpose and what it offers to the community.

<center>Jennifer Cooper</center>

Jennifer Cooper

Program Coordinator | Board Member
<center>Jason Novick</center>

Jason Novick

Marketing & Tech | Board Member

Jason is the VP of Marketing at Bridge Therapy, a boutique Speech Therapy practice based in Coral Springs, FL.

Jason graduated from Oswego State University with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in International Affairs. Prior to his current role, he worked in event marketing for the NHL’s Florida Panthers and was the Manager of Corporate Partnerships at TapToBook, a tech startup based in Sunrise, FL. As the first employee of TapToBook, Jason has the unique experience of building a company from the ground up, using technology to bridge the gap between consumers and local businesses. Jason thoroughly enjoys attending The Friendship Journey programs and is passionate about TFJ’s mission of inclusion.

<center>Carolina Pérez</center>

Carolina Pérez

Student Coordinator | Board Member

Carolina is proud to say she is the Student Coordinator for The Friendship Journey Board. She is also the drama, dance, yoga and Spanish teacher at Space of Mind, an all inclusive social homeschool that promotes neurodiversity. She received her BFA in Acting from NYU and then moved to Los Angeles where she did her 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training. She came across The Friendship Journey shortly after returning home to South Florida and fell in love with the kids, programs and mission.

<center>Cherilyn Levy</center>

Cherilyn Levy

Program Coordinator | Board Member
<center>David Levy</center>

David Levy

Community Development | Board Member
<center>Karen Wilson</center>

Karen Wilson

Treasurer | Board Member

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>Kelli Yselonia</center>

Kelli Yselonia

Program Coordinator | 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.

Student Leadership

The mission of The Friendship Journey’s student board is to educate, empower and include individuals across all cognitive and physical abilities.

The Friendship Journey’s Student Board is comprised of passionate young leaders of all abilities, providing an inclusive voice to students of The Friendship Journey.

The Student Board creates leadership opportunities for teenagers and young adults, with the vision of not only having a “seat at the table” – but a voice at that table.

The members will develop volunteer training materials, cultivate experiences for inclusive friendships, foster opportunities for peer learning and help promote the mission through creative projects.