About Us

Geanine Wester ~ President/Founder

South Florida Region Business Operations of American Red Cross
  • Ms. Wester has trained and coached hundreds of women over the past twenty years in leadership development. She is the Founder of EmpowHER of the Palm Beaches established to empower and motivate women to change their local community through personal and political leadership.
  • As Past President of the League of Women Voters Palm Beach County, she led the league nearly 500 members supporting the aspirations to transform our country and democracy through their participation as leaders. As League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County 1st African American President, she was recognized by Legacy Palm Beach as a 2014 Black History Honoree; selected as NAACP 2015 History Maker and awarded West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Women of Excellence ~ Keeper of the Torch Organization Award.
  • Past and Present Membership: League of Women Voters Palm Beach County, Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, Board of Director of Total Women Empowerment Group, Board of Director of The Urban Institute of Excellence in Certifications, Board Advisor of Mt Olive Community Development, Inc., Board Advisor of Project SHIP Foundation, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Palm Beach Atlantic Alumni Tea Committee, Junior Achievement and Future Business Leaders of America.
  • Determined to pay homage to her roots, she devotes her time to empowering the next generation of leaders, teaching etiquette and human values to community youth in the tri-county area.
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: Success is not the accumulation of great wealth and material things, success is the ability to have a positive impact in another life that adds value and empowerment.

Kalinthia Dillard ~ Vice President/Co-Founder

General Counsel to the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Political Empowerment
  • Ms. Dillard has practiced law for more than seventeen years in both the private and public sectors. After graduating from Florida State University College of Law (Cum Laude) in 1998, she relocated to Palm Beach County, Florida in order to clerk at the Fourth District Court of Appeal. Thereafter, she practiced civil litigation for both a small and a large private law firm. She eventually left private practice to work in the public sector. While employed with the School District of Palm Beach County, she represented the 11th largest school district in the continental US on wide range of issues before state and federal trial and appellate courts and the division of administrative hearings. She is currently General Counsel to the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General. Ms. Dillard balances her time between her profession, raising her daughter, and various professional, community, and civic organizations.
  • She is currently the Vice President of the West Palm Beach (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and member of the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the YWCA of Palm Beach County, the Women’s Foundation of Palm Beach County, and the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. Additionally, she is past president of the F. Malcolm Cunningham Bar Association and the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association; past First-Vice President of the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Diamond Life Member); former Chair of the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Law Related Education Committee (2 terms) and the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion; and former Chair of The Florida Bar’s Grievance Committee for the 15th Judicial Circuit- Division A and the Education Law Committee. She is a member of Leadership Palm Beach County’s Class of 2016.
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: Hard work and determination are the keys to success.

Allyson DuPree Smith ~ Treasurer

Senior Account Officer, Wealth Advisory Management The Northern Trust Company
      • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Economic Empowerment
      • Mrs. Smith has twenty eight years of experience in Wealth and Investment Management. She has an interest and passion for The Arts and is a skilled organizer of community service based programs.
      • She is currently a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter; Community Relations Committee of the Raymond F. Kravis Center of the Performing Arts; Board of Directors of Riviera Beach Boys Choir, League of Women Voters Palm Beach County, Past Board of Directors of Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
      • Philosophy/Mission Statement: “Knowledge is a gift to oneself that last FOREVER!” Freddie Stebbins Jefferson

Klemie Christie ~ Secretary

Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Economic Empowerment
  • Mrs. Christie has more than twenty years of experience in government, corporate and non-profit accounting. She is a Mediator, Community Service Volunteer and Election worker.
  • Past and Present Membership: RPB Education Advisory Board, Gold Coast Federal Credit Union – Supervisory Committee Chairman, League of Women Voters Palm Beach County, LWVPBC Education Fund Board of Director, Treasurer of Communities in School Board, AICPA, SAC
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: Education is the key to your dreams. Don’t be afraid to dream big and dream often.

Verdenia Baker ~ Board Member at Large

County Administrator, Palm Beach County
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Personal Empowerment (Leadership)
  • Mrs. Baker is the first female and the first African American to hold the position of County Administrator here in Palm Beach County. Having more than twenty eight years of experience in organizational leadership, as County Administrator, Verdenia, a Certified Financial Manager, is responsible for administration of the policies of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. She manages the daily operation of county government, which includes more than 6,000 employees and a budget of $4 billion. Palm Beach County is one of the few counties in the nation with AAA bond ratings and has a population of more than 1.3 million persons.
  • Past and Present Membership: Golden Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.- WPB Chapter. She has affiliation with several professional and community organizations including serving as the Immediate Past President of the Executive Board of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), Former President of American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Treasure Coast Chapter; Member of the Board of Directors of Black Chamber of Commerce; Member of the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, Former Member of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Hospital; Member of the Florida Association of Counties for County Administrators, Mentor for the Women of Tomorrow Mentor Program and Former Member of the Board of Directors of the Business Loan Fund of the Palm Beaches; She has received numerous local and national professional and civic awards.
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

Sharon Gill ~ Board Member at Large

Chief Operating Officers, Gill Law Firm, PA
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Personal Empowerment (Leadership)
  • Mrs. Gill has twenty plus years of experience in organizational leadership in nonprofit. CEO of Oasis Compassion Agency, a community non-profit agency dispensing diversified aid to the disadvantaged throughout Palm Beach County, Florida. Sharon completed Leadership Palm Beach and is a member of the South Florida Minority Supplier Development Council.
  • As a community advocate, Mrs. Gill was recognized by her peers with some of the following awards and recognitions: 2007 Good Samaritan Award finalist (American Red Cross); 2008 Giraffe Award Winner (Women’s Chamber of Commerce Palm Beach); 2009 Local Heroes Award Winner (Bank of America), 2010 Martin Luther King Leadership Award (Palm Beach State College); 2011 Stiletto Award (Palms West Chamber Foundation), as well as numerous nominations including Athena and WILA. 2012 25 Most Influential Businesswoman in the Black Community (Palm Beach Post). 2014 21 Most Inspiring Women in Palm Beach County (Palm Beacher Magazine)
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: To have a positive spiritual and economic impact on my sphere of influence

Evelyn Garcia ~ Board Member at Large

Realtor, Lenson Realty, Inc.
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Political Empowerment
  • Mrs Garcia was the first Haitian American elected to the Democratic National Committee and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. As a member of the League of Women Voters, she chaired Palm Beach County’s Immigration Working Group and was appointed to chair the State League’s Immigration Committee. She’s been a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) in support of affordable housing and volunteers annually in the United Way free tax preparation program (VITA). Other memberships include ACLU, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Conference, Emily’s & Ruth’s, Black Village Voice, Boca’s Promise and various political organizations.
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: Freedom is not free, therefore: “If we don’t stand for something, we may fall for anything.”-Malcolm X

Shelly Albright ~ Board Member at Large

Director of Children’s Ministry, St Peter’s United Methodist Church
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Youth Empowerment
  • Mrs. Albright has years of experience leadership development and working with non-profit organizations, community outreach and event planning.
  • Serving as the Vice President of Fundraising for the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, Inc. Shelly has been a member of JLPB since 2005. She has served in multiple leadership roles including President, Recording Secretary, New Member Chair, sat on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Most recently Shelly was the Co-Chair of the Cattle Baron’s Ball for the American Cancer Society and will co-chair again in 2016. Her full time work at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Wellington has provided her experience in community outreach and she sits on the Interfaith Committee of the Village of Wellington. She currently serves on the Board of Directors, as treasurer, for the Women’s Foundation of Palm Beach County, on the Executive Board of EmpowHer and on the Camp Ministry Board for the Warren W. Willis Camp. Shelly is being recognized as one of Bethesda Hospital Foundation’s 2015 “Women of Grace” and she is one of the Junior League of Boca Raton’s 2015 Woman Volunteer of the Year nominees.

Sandra Caruso ~ Board Member at Large

Instructional Specialist of Adult Education, Palm Beach County Schools
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Education Empowerment
  • Mrs. Caruso has twenty five years of experience as an adult educationist and assistant principal.
  • Sandra has a great passion and enthusiasm for knowledge, teaching and strong compassion in working with adult students. As an educator for more than twenty five years, she has experience in teaching high school and adult students. As an Assistant Principal at John I. Leonard high school, and an Instructional Specialist in Adult Education for more than twenty years. Throughout her career, she has always strived to create a positive and exciting learning environment for her students, as well as providing them with the necessary resources to become productive citizens. Her personal advancement in education has afforded her opportunity to earn certification in Adult Administration, Educational Leadership (All levels) and Instructional 7-12 (French). Sandra has a passion for empowering adults in earning their high school diplomas through GED Prep and ESL classes for learning English. She was instrumental in developing Career Pathways – Hospitality Bridge affording her students an opportunity to gain training in the hospitality industry throughout Palm Beach County.
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: For me, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students, give them a sense of self-respect and respect for others, make them believe in themselves and in their abilities. One of my favorite quotes comes from the Wizard of Oz, where Glinda tells Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power my Dear and you just had to learn it for yourself.”

Marchelle Francios ~ Board Member at Large

Co-Owner & Chief Content Officer, MTB (Making Today Better) PR & Marketing Firm
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Personal Empowerment (Branding)
  • Mrs. Francois sparks creativity in all areas of media and marketing. She is a global marketing and social media expert who has been connecting people and products through technology for more than 10 years. As owner of MTB PR & Marketing Firm she drew on her diverse experience as an educator to create a platform for professionals to promote their work via media, enabling them to share their expertise, seize business opportunities, and interact with consumers worldwide. Her innovative and unparalleled ability to harness the power of social networks to increase her clients’ bottom line has made her a sought after marketing expert here in Palm Beach County. Marchelle is a published writer who often contributes in print magazine and blogs.
  • She is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter, a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, a member of the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and The National Association of Women Writers and Editors.
  • Philosophy/Mission Statement: To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma and serial entrepreneurship to cultivate the self- worth and net worth of youth.

Karina Espinosa ~ Board Intern

Florida Atlantic University and Veteran of United States Army
  • EmpowHER Area of Interest: Personal Empowerment (Branding)
  • Ms. Espinosa is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. A veteran of the U.S. Army, and a published author—she would not have fulfilled these accomplishments, and continues to strive for more, if it weren’t for the inspiration and empowerment of other strong women.

CONTACT US

EmpowHER of the Palm Beaches
P.O. Box 2717
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 336-0498
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