Elevate Jacksonville Staff
Jon Heymann M.Ed., Executive Director
Jon Heymann has a professional background spanning 30 years that ranges from private ministry to his current position as the Executive Director of Elevate Jacksonville. He was former CEO of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, providing $38 million dollars to support numerous child-serving non-profits.
He holds a Masters Degree in Education (University of Florida), and has completed Graduate work in Psychology, and Doctoral work at the University of North Florida.
Clemson University awarded Heymann their top national award (Crystal Award) for his work in drop-out prevention, and Stanford University named Heymann a “Transformational Leader”.
Mr. Heymann serves as a Board member of numerous national organizations as well as state and local agencies:
He has been a keynote speaker at national conventions, government and civic groups and a host of regional and local businesses:
"You can’t burn out until you’ve caught on fire”
He believes that our grandest hour has yet to be lived, and our greatest accomplishments have yet to be achieved by those who dare to be great.
Tina Givens, Director of Operations
Tina Givens is an experienced professional with nearly 20 years of service to non-profit organizations in marketing and fundraising roles. Prior to joining the Elevate Jacksonville team, she oversaw viewer fundraising as Director of Development at a national, educational television channel.
Tina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Fisk University (Nashville, TN) and recently completed a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Management at Grace College (Winona Lake, IN) .
Carla Austin, Program Director
Carla Austin has an extensive background working in the non-profit sector spanning 18 years. Formerly the Interim CEO and Vice President of Youth and Family Services for Community Connections of Jacksonville, Carla’s major role was to oversee the daily operations of planning and implementing youth servicing programs.
Carla grew up in Alabama and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and reading. She serves on the advisory board of Lutheran Services of Florida Head Start Program. She is a wife, mother of a daughter and son and a very happy grandmother to her grandson.
“If not You, Who? If not Now, When?”
After a few years working in non-profit, Carla decided her true calling was working with and serving people, particularly youth. Over the years, she has seen hundreds of students graduate, athletes become pro players, families purchase their first home, homelessness decrease and many more wonderful stories to tell. Carla says it is her profoundest joy to support and inspire young people to do their best, be their best!
Marc Dickerson, Teacher-Mentor (Raines High School)
Marc Dickerson had a career as an R&B artist/songwriter in the early 2000’s, during which time he won several songwriting awards, landed a major recording deal with MCA records, and would later spend 5 years singing background for R&B Soul Singer Fantasia. He is a singer, songwriter, and Pastor.
Also, his 20 years in the logistics field has yielded a valuable experience to share with young people about trades and careers in non-typical areas.
He still has a love and passion for music which has deep roots in the ministry where he sang and played the piano and drums for many years.
As a life-long learner, he’s compelled to reach back to help teach others some of the lessons he’s learned over the years.
Leslie C. Joseph, Teacher-Mentor (Raines High School)
Leslie C. Joseph is an experienced youth leader with over 23 years of serving youth in every area from nursery, elementary, middle and high school.
A proud mother of two children Duane Joseph, 24 and Maranatha Joseph, 21 (also a godson, Donald Floyd’s Jr., who is 4 years old) has been the greatest experience when it comes to youth. As their lives transitioned so did she. Going through the different stages with her children helped her to relate better to youth.
Originally from Louisiana, being raised by both parents was beneficial but it did not take away the challenges of life. Because of the strong, firm upbringing of her parents, education was a critical priority.
Leslie loves basketball and remembers the crucial time that her basketball coach spent with her voluntarily sowing into her life and other youth. As a result, Leslie later became an assistant middle school basketball coach as well.
In addition to her bookkeeping job, Leslie has also volunteered in non-profit work serving youth for over 8 years. Her keen ability to relate to young people is what motivates her drive and passion to make a difference.
Jazmine McCoy, Teacher-Mentor (Ribault High School)
Jazmine McCoy knew at an early age that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. She believes that if we each take the time to help just one person, there is a greater chance that everyone would be successful. Jazmine has been working with youth since high school as a Girl Scout Leader In Training.
Jazmine was raised in Jacksonville, FL, where she attended and graduated First Coast High School in 2007. Upon graduating, she attended Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach and earned a degree in Communications.
Although Jazmine studied Communications, her passion was to make a difference in the lives of children. She began her career in education as an after-school Program Director with Community Connections of Jacksonville, and then with Communities In Schools of Jacksonville. She planned and implemented program offerings in association with these highly successful after-school program.
Darian Thomas, Teacher-Mentor (Ribault High School)
Darian Roosevelt Thomas is a Teacher-Mentor with Elevate Jacksonville. He is a product of the Duval County Public School system with a passion for pouring into the community through education and athletics. Following a decorated career as a student-athlete at Florida Atlantic University, Darian completed his undergraduate studies at Jacksonville State University (Alabama) earning a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies.
Darian is the youngest of 4 children who all flourished as student-athletes at the scholastic and collegiate level. After earning all-conference honors as a two-sport athlete, he enrolled at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and was often applauded for his work ethic, technique, and team-oriented attitude. He then went on to Jacksonville State University, and upon graduation, returned to Jacksonville, Florida to pursue a graduate degree while teaching and coaching in the public school system.
Today, Darian continues to serve his community through working in schools and athletic venues. He enjoys competitive sports, uniting with family and friends, and spending time with his family.
Alexis Cheatham, Teacher-Mentor (Ribault High School)
Alexis Cheatham has been actively involved in the life of youth for about 10 years. Alexis has served youth in every area and activity from teaching dance in local studios, to holding community events for teenage girls, to being a Youth Specialist with Boys and Girls Club, to leading FYRE Student Ministry at St. Paul Church of Jacksonville.
Alexis was born in Virginia but grew up in Florida. She graduated from First Coast High School, then went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Mass Communication from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL.
Out of all the things Alexis has accomplished, her greatest accomplishment is her family. She is happily married to the love of her life and they are the proud parents of two sons.