MEET THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE PROGRAMS
Denise G. Fanning
Denise Fanning is a Marine combat veteran, moved to Gainesville in 2008 from her native state of Texas and graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in psychology. She began her nonprofit career in 2011 and has gained experience from every position she has held, from medical and dental case management, program development and management, and budgeting. She joined the Catholic Charities family in November of 2020, as the first director for our Emergency Assistance programs. “Catholic Charities is one organization that truly embodies an ethos of providing compassionate services to our communities. I am fortunate to be a part of such an amazing and caring organization.” D. Fanning
Director of Adoptions
Geralyn Ryan is a licensed clinical social worker and is the director of the Caring Choices pregnancy and adoption program. Being a member of Catholic Charities mission for the past 22 years motivates her each day to support others through life’s ups and downs. She has personally experienced the journey of adoption within her own family and is passionate to help others as they go through this life changing choice. Her belief is that with accurate information and a supportive non-judgmental ear, the right decisions come to light.
Director of Development
Laurie Porter has been a Gainesville resident for 25 years. She has over 17 years of fundraising, event planning and marketing experience and has been with the Catholic Charities Gainesville regional office since 2011. “We live in challenging times; Catholic Charities offers a variety of programs that help so many people in our community. I am proud to work in an environment that truly puts compassion into action.” L. Porter
Michelle I. Wilson
Director of Finance
Michelle Wilson was born in Maryland but moved to Lake Butler at a year old and has been in the Union/Alachua County area ever since. Michelle started off working in accounting at the age of 19 and after a few years decided to return to school where she received a diploma in Accounting. She has been at Catholic Charities for almost eighteen years now. “I’m dedicated to helping those in need and being a part of the Catholic Charities family allows me to do that on a daily basis.” M. Wilson
Pregnancy Counselor. Post Adoption Services, Information and Referral
Brianna started as a Counselor for Caring Choices in October of 2022. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Central Florida. She has over 9 years of experience in leadership and assisting underrepresented, justice involved individuals to overcome their challenges. Her passion is helping others realize their own potential so they can utilize their unique skill sets to overcome obstacles and accomplish their goals. She believes in the power of women helping women, and the importance of having someone to support and encourage you throughout your journey.
Post Adoption Services, Information and Referral
Allison joined our team in 2022 as Caring Choice’s administrative assistant and has since taken on responsibilities coordinating our post adoption services. Having firsthand experience with adult adoptees, Allison recognizes the importance of continued care, and seeks to help others learn more about their adoption journeys. Over the last year at Catholic Charities, seeing the direct impact Caring Choices has on adoptive families and birth mothers, Allison believes in the importance of proving information and resources to those who seek it.
Rev. James Dixon
Bridges to Prosperity Coordinator
James H. Dixon, Jr. is a lifelong Gainesville resident aside from a few years of military and career developments elsewhere, and has been employed with the Gainesville, FL office of Catholic Charities since August of 2011. He was consecrated as Bishop in a multi-denominational religious organization on April 7, 2016 and serves as Pastor of Greater Faith Baptist Fellowship in Gainesville, FL. The biggest lesson he has learned is to “take people where they are and not where you want them to be.” J. Dixon
Emergency Assistance Director
Sabrina was born in Pennsylvania but moved to the Gainesville area when she was 5, however she’s still a Northern girl at heart. She is the mother of two little girls. She started volunteering for Catholic Charities when she was in High School and knew this is a place that she wanted to work. Sabrina has been with Catholic Charities for 18 years and has served in several roles. She has a bachelor’s degree in human services. “I am excited to work in the heart and soul of Catholic Charities, which is Emergency Services.” S. Miller
Patricia Rayos, a native of Pennsylvania who lived around the country and internationally with her military family, has made Gainesville her home for more than three decades. In her vocation journey, she began as a volunteer ESL teacher at Parkview Baptist Church in 2006, advancing to ESL teacher trainer in 2016 through the State of Florida Literacy Missions. In 2017, she initiated the ESL program at Catholic Charities to serve families in Alachua County. Living her call to love God and people, she serves as Pastor of One Way Filipino Christian Fellowship in Gainesville and has been appointed Director of International Ministry by Christian Baptist Fellowship International. "My heart's desire is to know Him and to make Him known." P. Rayos
John Harris is an Army Veteran who has lived in Gainesville for over 10 years. John started as a volunteer for Catholic Charities. He became the Weekend Hunger Backpack Assistant in 2012 and in 2013 he became the Rural Mobile Outreach Coordinator. “Not only am I transforming the lives of struggling families in our rural communities but doing it with compassion and understanding.” J. A. Harris Sr.
Program Coordinator, HOPWA
and Eligibility Program
Susan Frizzell has been an employee with Catholic Charities since June 2001. She has over 25 years’ experience working with low-income individuals needing assistance. Susan coordinates two programs that provide support services for clients with certain disabilities. “I am very proud to work with the staff at Catholic Charities and be able to provide assistance for those in need.” S. Frizzell