Stephen began his career with computers in 1985 when he joined the United States Navy as a Data Analyst. He served on 6 different aircraft carriers, circumnavigating the globe several times and visiting almost every continent on earth. He is an Iraqi War “Desert Storm” and “Desert Shield” veteran and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and 6 Navy Achievement Medals during his 20 years of active duty service. Stephen has had successful careers in sales, marketing and in management positions in the contract security, banking, and insurance industries. Stephen left the corporate world to follow his love for teaching, he received his Florida Professional Teaching Certificate in 2012 and spent the next 4 years in the classroom as a professional educator. In 2016, Stephen returned to his computer roots when he co-founded Digital Mark Company, LLC with his wife Trudy and is currently the managing partner. Stephen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing from Full Sail University and currently serves as a member of the Florida Bar Association’s 4th Judicial Circuit Grievance Counsel “A” and is Chairman of the North Business Council for the Saint John’s County Chamber of Commerce. Stephen loves to play golf and spending time with his wife and 4 children on the beaches of Florida and is very active in his Church and the local community.
AMANDA BIRCH, MBA, LNHA
Amanda Birch is the Executive Director of a Continuing Care Retirement Community, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek in Jacksonville, FL- home to approximately 500 residents and 250 employees. With over 25 years in the field of aging services, she has worked for for-profit, multi-site assisted living communities, for-profit skilled nursing homes/health systems, not-for-profit Life Plan Communities and an accreditation organization. Her passion for working with the aging population drives her desire to enhance the lives of persons served. She is a graduate of The Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University’s undergraduate Health Administration program with an emphasis in Long-Term Care. In addition, she holds a Masters in Business Administration from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She also holds Nursing Home Administrator Licenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State or Florida.
She resides in St. Johns, Florida with her husband of seventeen years, Michael L. Birch and children, Lauren J. Birch (age 16) and son, Alan L. Birch (age 12). She is an active member of the Bartram Trail Rotary Club, serving as club secretary and a host mom to Rotary Youth Exchange students. She also functions in the capacity of Program Chair for the North Council St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. In addition, she is an attendee of Mandarin United Methodist Church. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, walking, biking, and taking adventurous day trips with her family.
Eric started his real estate career in 2007 after completing a degree in Corporate Finance and began working in commercial real estate, managing office high rise buildings in the San Francisco and Dallas markets for developers. Since moving to Saint Johns in 2016, he has been helping friends and neighbors buy and sell their houses, mostly focusing on his neighborhood – Julington Creek Plantation and North Saint Johns County area. Living in this area, he loves running, swimming and of course the beach, being so close to both Saint Augustine and Jacksonville. He grew up in Michigan, and has been fortunate to have traveled extensively with the US Navy and experienced living in Japan and San Diego.
Gloria has been working as a litigation paralegal for 20 years. She has great passion for law but her very first love was theatre. She first stepped onto the stage at the tender age of seven with a starring role in her church’s holiday pantomime production titled “The Seven Gifts”. Living in a very rural town in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York there were no theatres or acting classes but Gloria began to write simple plays and encourage her friends to act with her in many school yard productions. At the age of 14 her family relocated to Orlando Florida where Gloria found the path to theatre that she had been dreaming about. She began auditioning and performing in various community theatre productions including musicals, high school plays and thespian competitions along with print modeling. At age 21 she co-starred in her first professional production of The Beauty and The Beast at Once Upon A Stage (now known as Mark II Dinner Theatre). By her early 20’s Gloria was on an informal call list of many local directors and rarely needed to audition but would receive calls from Original Play Wright Productions and Traveling Murder Mystery Groups out of Clearwater and Tampa to perform in a dinner theatre like setting while the audience guessed “Who Did It”. Gloria graduated from University of Central Florida and went to work full time in the legal field. Gloria married the love of her life, Attorney Howard Alford and moved to Saint Johns, Florida where they live with their children and cat “Lucky Man”. Even though she rarely takes the stage the love of theatre has remained strong and she is always willing to assist young students in preparing auditions for Douglas Anderson High School or writing and directing plays for her husband’s church, River of Life United Methodist.
Pat Hubbard is president and principal advisor of Hubbard Financial Planners, founded in 1986. His leadership philosophy is that standard financial requirements are only a starting point. It is the desire to be among the financial world’s elite as a Certified Financial Planner™ that makes his firm an asset to the clients it serves. Today, the firm stands committed to the time-tested principles of integrity, trust and mutual respect, and nurtures client relationships through educated, insightful thinking and hard work. Pat is a native of Jacksonville, a graduate of the University of Florida, and a former U.S. Air Force officer. Like his clients, Pat shares a love of country and community. He is involved in advocacy, professional and charitable organizations: current adult volunteer Troop 110 and founding scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 136; volunteer, Guardian ad Litem and Meals on Wheels; charter board member, Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, Inc.; past president, The Exchange Club of Jacksonville; contributor, Marine Corporal Joshua Watkins Scholarship Fund at the University of North Florida. He is currently president of The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour Foundation, Inc. Pat has been married to his wife, Paula, for over 30 years. Together, they are the proud parents of two grown sons: Aaron, a graduate of Cornell University now working as a mathematician in San Francisco, California, and Shaun, an Iraq War veteran now pursuing a career in software development.
Tom graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in Soil Science and brings more than 30 years of experience in soil classification, soil mapping and interpretation, and wetland science. He has consulted to individuals and government agencies on soil science, land evaluation, conservation planning, and related environmental issues. Before entering the field of private sector consulting, Tom served as a Soil Scientist, Party Leader for 12 years in The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). During that time, he authored “The Soil Survey of Norfolk and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts” and co-authored “The Soil Survey of Middlesex County, Massachusetts.” Tom is a Certified Soil Scientist and Wetland Scientist in New Hampshire; a Certified Soil Scientist in Maine; and a Licensed Soil Evaluator and Registered Sanitarian in Massachusetts. Tom also has national certification as a Soil Science/Soil Classifier through the American Society of Agronomy (ASA-ARCPACS). He has been a member of the New England Hydric Soils Technical Committee (NEHSTC) since its inception, and currently is the co-chair. The NEHSTC is responsible for the development of the Field Indicators Guide for Identifying Hydric Soils in New England.
MARY SHAEFFER, DMD, CAGS
Mary has lived in Northeast Florida for 16 years. A dental practitioner, graduating from Boston University. She is a mother to two children. Several years after her eldest child was of school age, they had reached a cross road that lead them to homeschool but was left wanting more. She felt a great calling to find the school of their dreams or to create it. She wanted to extend her passion for a tailored, individualized, collaborative approach from healthcare into education. She sees River Oak Academy as a fresh opportunity for many families looking for the same thing. A place where strength of character matters just as much as academics, where true understanding is valued over rote memory work and where learning opportunities are presented in a practical and relevant way. Mary is thrilled to be an integral part of River Oak Academy. She and the other board members are committed to making this a place where each child’s curiosity is nurtured, challenged, celebrated and championed.