Faculty & Staff

Vicki Bennett
Vicki C. Bennett
Prevention Training Specialist

Vicki is a Prevention Training Specialist at FCPR and the coordinator of the Calhoun/Liberty Sexual Violence Prevention Program sponsored by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. Vicki formerly worked with the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium where coordinated and implemented the Green Dot Bystander Intervention project in Calhoun and Liberty counties as a partnership with FCPR. She also provided prevention strategies to middle school students and parents in these counties by coordinating the CARE Prevention Partnership Grant. Vicki was the Drug Epidemiology Network representative for Washington County where she collected surveillance data on opioid deaths and local drug patterns and trends for the State Outcomes Epidemiological Workgroup. She continues to work with local community coalitions to increase community connectedness and awareness of the prevention projects. Prior to her work with prevention projects, she taught at Blountstown Elementary School and Blountstown High School and brings with her 35 years of teaching experience and expertise. She holds a BA and MS from Florida State University in elementary education and reading. Her work with FCPR provides her the opportunity to continue to offer school-based prevention programs, including in her hometown community of Blountstown and to the students of Calhoun and Liberty counties.

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Katie Burtoft M.S.
Prevention Program Coordinator

Katie Burtoft brings her wealth of experience and expertise to The Florida Center for Prevention Research, having joined our team in 2024. With a background in Higher Education and over six years of dedicated service within non-profit, community-based organizations, Katie is deeply committed to supporting families and individuals in need. Holding both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Family and Child Sciences from Florida State University, Katie's academic foundation complements her practical experience, ensuring a comprehensive approach to addressing community needs. At FCPR, Katie is the coordinator for all of our Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention evaluation projects.

Kaley deLeon
Kaley de Leon M.S., CFLE
Research Assistant

Kaley de Leon is a Research Assistant at The Florida Center for Prevention Research where she assists with multiple research projects. Kaley graduated from Florida State University with her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Family and Child Sciences. Kaley is currently a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Family Science program at FSU. At FCPR, she serves as the Data Manager on a federal Healthy Marriage grant and assists with Continuous Quality Improvement efforts to support partner organizations for multiple evaluation studies. Through her specialized coursework at FSU, she obtained her Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential. Additionally, she is trained as a Green Dot Bystander Intervention Facilitator and Active Parenting Instructor.

Izbeth Flores
Family Life Education Intern

Izbeth Flores Aparicio is a Family Life Education Intern at The Florida Center for Prevention Research, contributing to various research initiatives. Currently enrolled in a double major program in Psychology and Criminology at Florida State University (FSU), Izbeth is deeply involved in supporting a federal Healthy Marriage grant and is pivotal in database management. Beyond her internship responsibilities, Izbeth dedicates her time as a Bilingual Crisis Counselor at the Crisis Text Line. In this role, she offers invaluable assistance and support to individuals navigating overwhelming and challenging situations, providing an accessible platform to seek help. Additionally, Izbeth serves as the Psi Chi Treasurer at FSU, showcasing her commitment to academic and professional excellence. Moreover, Izbeth was named to the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List in 2021 and Spring 2023, attesting to her outstanding commitment to scholastic excellence.

Emily Forsman
Family Life Education Intern

Emily Forsman is a Family Life Education Intern at The Florida Center for Prevention Research, aiding in a variety of ongoing research projects and prevention programs. Emily is a senior at Florida State University, graduating in Spring 2024 with a double major in Human Development and Family Sciences as well as Psychology. At FCPR, she specifically assists with reviewing surveys, cleaning and entering data, and contributing to various research project tasks when needed, with the overall goal of promoting positive development and relationships. She is working towards obtaining her Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential.

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Jennifer Phillips Ed.D.
Prevention Training Specialist

Dr. Jennifer Phillips is a Prevention Training Specialist at FCPR, where she assists with the CDC Drug-Free Communities Support Program in Wakulla County.  As part of that program, Dr. Phillips serves as the President of the Wakulla County Coalition for Youth (WCCY). Dr. Phillips graduated from Florida State University with her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Education. Dr. Phillips has been a certified teacher since 1999 and has taught K-12 students as a Literacy Coach and a classroom teacher. She previously taught at Florida State University and was an Assistant Professor at Thomas University.  Dr. Phillips holds multiple certifications in education leadership, public policy, and evaluations. 

Velan Thanasekar

Velan Thanasekar is an intern at The Florida Center for Prevention Research, where he assists with office activities and research projects. Currently a high school senior in the International Baccalaureate program, Velan has demonstrated an aptitude for learning and research. He joined the FCPR team through the Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy in Summer 2023 and has assisted with a variety of tasks. His work includes data entry for surveys as part of a teen pregnancy prevention program and data cleaning for a marriage education program. Currently, Velan is co-authoring a paper that evaluates substance abuse interventions, showcasing his commitment to making a difference in the community through research.

Bonnie Wertenberger
Bonnie Wertenberger M.S.
Prevention Program Director

Bonnie Wertenberger joined The Florida Center for Prevention Research as Prevention Program Director in January 2021. She has managed state and federally funded prevention programs including grants in the areas of sexual violence prevention, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse prevention, juvenile delinquency prevention, and participated in the drug epidemiology network. She has also managed a multi-district virtual education program and has over 20 years experience as a classroom and virtual instructor. Ms. Wertenberger has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Education and an M.S. in Vocational Education with a technology specialty from University of Central Florida. Ms. Wertenberger holds a Florida Teaching Certification in Business Education, as well as training certifications in the following prevention strategies: Green Dot, LifeSkills, Too Good for Drugs, Guiding Good Choices, Active Parenting of Teens, Motivational Interviewing, and TOPS.

Cynthia Wilson
Cynthia Wilson Ph.D., CFLE
Executive Director

Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Wilson joined The Florida Center for Prevention Research as Executive Director in February 2019. Dr. Wilson has served as Principle Investigator on multiple private, state, and federally-funded projects, including grants in the areas of marriage education, adolescent pregnancy prevention; sexual violence prevention, substance abuse prevention, and juvenile delinquency prevention. She is an experienced program evaluator and has evaluated programs in marriage education, adolescent pregnancy prevention, and alcohol abuse prevention. Dr. Wilson has a Bachelor’s degree in Family & Child Sciences and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Family Relations, all from Florida State University. Dr. Wilson is a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) through the National Council on Family Relations and a Certified Parent Coach through Connected Families. She has over 20 years of experience delivering a variety of community-based family life education programs, primarily in the areas of parenting, human sexuality, and relationship education. Prior to joining FCPR, she served as Teaching Faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at FSU. Dr. Wilson has served in academia since 2010, having formerly taught at Baylor University and the University of Montevallo prior to joining the faculty of FSU in 2017. 

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Hye-Jung (April) Yun Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Yun joined The Florida Center for Prevention Research as a postdoctoral scholar in September 2021, where she performs statistical analyses of data related to marriage education. She received a Ph.D. in Family Relations, with a certificate of Education Measurement and Statistics from Florida State University in 2015. Prior to joining FCPR, she was an assistant professor at Fort Valley State University in 2015 – 2017 and also worked as a researcher at the Florida Center for Reading Research at FSU in 2019 – 2021. Before moving to the U.S. to pursue her Ph.D. in 2011, she engaged in several research projects at the National Youth Policy Institute and Korea Academy of Gifted Education in South Korea.

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Karen Zak
Prevention Program Associate

Karen Zak is a Prevention Program Associate at The Florida Center for Prevention Research, where she provides support to the Executive Director and the entire FCPR team to ensure the efficient functionality of the office. Karen is a Tallahassee native as well as a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.