Executive Director, Co-Founder
Caroline Nickerson is the Executive Director and co-founder of Florida Community Innovation (FCI). At FCI, she spearheads partnerships with groups like the United Way of Northwest Florida and the Central Florida Foundation, supervises the internship program, runs public-facing communications, oversees all projects, and consults on evaluation and impact reporting on campaigns to help beneficiaries.
Caroline is also a PhD student in Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida. At UF, Caroline is currently working on multiple projects, including a climate change communication project and a certification for pollinator-friendly plants. She has worked with SciStarter in various capacities, including as Senior Program Director at SciStarter where she managed the Citizen Science Month Program, SciStarter’s Corporate Volunteer Programs and other programmatic and outreach efforts, including working with SciStarter’s Syndicated Blog Network, which encompasses the Discover Magazine and SciStarter platforms, as well as large-scale programs with multiple federal agencies (including NASA, NOAA, and the National Library of Medicine) and global groups (including the United Nations Environment Programme).
Caroline is a Master of Public Policy graduate from American University, where she was a Reilly Environmental Policy Scholar, an honor conferred by the former director of the EPA, Bill Reilly. Caroline was an undergrad at the University of Florida and was one of the inaugural recipients of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Student Excellence Award, an honor conferred to only three graduating seniors. In her spare time, she volunteers with the UF-VA Bioethics Unit and the Christensen Project (where she serves homeless and underserved groups). Caroline has facilitated over 1,000 public events, including debates for local elections in Central Florida. Caroline was the 2019 Cherry Blossom Princess representing the state of Florida and the grand prize scholarship winner at Miss Earth USA 2021 as Miss Louisiana Earth.
Photo Credit: Eva Flis Photography
Zack is currently a product manager for a Silicon Valley based start-up and he has an expertise in building solutions at the cross-section of digital, cloud and AI. His current work revolves around building digital humans with diverse teams and clients spanning the globe. Zack is passionate about democratizing technology, especially AI, opening the black-box and providing the power that technology can give to the masses.
Nicole is a Master of Public Policy graduate from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, where she was editor in chief of the Georgetown Public Policy Review and president of the Georgetown Technology Policy Initiative. Nicole received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Political Science and Journalism. She currently works at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as a Broadband Programs Specialist.
Velgui Perez Tomas
Velgui Perez Tomas is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and International Studies. She aspires to attend law school in the near future to work in immigration or employment law.
Her passion stems from giving back to the communities that are congruent with those who helped mold and impact her childhood. With experience in non-profits around the State of Florida that revolve around her Guatemalan identity, Velgui aspires to continue to help her community through representation in the legal field.
A former Global Leader Fellow for the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit and non-partisan organization founded by Members of Congress, Velgui worked to advance the Hispanic Community’s Economic Progress with a focus on Social Responsibility and Global Competitiveness. As a fellow, Velgui held a position with Congress and a position with a corporate sponsor of the organization. Velgui’s congressional placement was held at the Office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s 23rd District in D.C. Her corporate position was held at The Wilson Center, chartered by Congress in 1968. The center is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community. There, Velgui worked as Staff Intern assisting Wilson Scholars and the Latin American Program in developing key events like Central American protection of civil organizations and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence exhibition.
Currently, Velgui is an Unaccompanied Child Advocate with Americans for Immigrant Justice, an award-winning non-profit law firm that fights for justice for immigrants through a combination of direct representation, impact litigation, advocacy and outreach in the State of Florida.
FCI’s Volunteers, Alumni & Friends
FCI’s volunteers and extended network make all of our work possible. Volunteers each have impressive professional records and skillsets, which they generously use in their contributions to FCI’s work. Below is a partial list of our active volunteers, alumni, and friends:
Founder, Former President
Chris is a research scientist, public sector management consultant, and technology entrepreneur who grew up in Florida and was previously based in Washington, DC. He has served clients ranging from U.S. federal government research and development agencies to eminent national educational nonprofits to cutting-edge multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley startups. In addition to his professional work, Chris started a successful educational community organization that partners with the Alachua County public school system to expand access to hands-on science for underserved students. He is currently a Principal at Plainspoken Digital.
Formerly based in Tallahassee, FL, Gloria is a lifelong Floridan who is passionate about connecting diverse audiences, including young voters, to the democratic process. Her background in media and policy enables her to effectively leverage digital tools to drive citizens from awareness to action. She received a Master’s in Data Science degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where she conducts data-driven research on energy policy. Her skills are perfectly suited to FCI’s data-driven media projects.
Davis is a seasoned digital communications strategist with an expertise in social media and political campaigns. He has executed digital campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, Political Action Committees (PACs), national nonprofits, and local municipalities, and routinely manages budgets of more than $100,000 per campaign. He co-founded FCI to leverage his digital media skills for the public good.
Neil Blackmon, Appellate Attorney, Election Law; Kramer, Greene, Zuckerman, Greene, and Buchsbaum
Maya Punjwani, Communications Associate at The UN Foundation
Sara Henley, Policy Analyst at Florida Association of Counties
Alyson Knowles, Software Engineer at American Express
Raj Shah, Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services
Meera Rubinchik, Analyst & Designer, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Emily Porat, Analyst & Designer, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Molly Lowder, Campus Coordinator at Levine Music
Louis De Tilly, Software Developer
Julie Cox, Graphic Designer
Beatriz Ramon, Public Policy Fellow, US Senate Judiciary Committee