Thrive Fellows in Partnership with UCF Downtown
Alexis Tsoukalas, MSSA
Alexis has lived, worked, and studied in Central Florida for 25 years. She holds an M.S. in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University and a B.S. in Psychology from University of Central Florida (UCF) and brings several years of academic research experience to her role. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Affairs (Social Work track) at UCF’s downtown campus and was named 2020 Emerging Public Service Professional by the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. As a policy analyst at Florida Policy Institute, Alexis’ work on issues like driver’s licenses for all, supporting Florida’s essential workers (and immigrants) amid COVID-19, and raising the state minimum wage has garnered significant state and national media coverage, helping Floridians make more informed, evidence-based decisions.
Alexis’ career began in direct nonprofit service, then shifted to policy and advocacy once she witnessed the damaging effects of misguided approaches to social issues. She has worked with the child welfare population, young adults experiencing homelessness, individuals recovering from substance use disorder, and isolated older adults. Her roles included case management, grant coordination, program evaluation, and focus and support group facilitation. Working in the restaurant industry throughout college and with this expansive group of clients early in her career illuminated a pattern—nearly every barrier people face to living happy, healthy lives is undergirded by economic insecurity and injustice. Alexis is humbled to bring this understanding to the THRIVE Fellowship so that diverse Central Floridians can unite in the fight for economic stability.
Pamela Dow, MS, PHR, SHRM-CP
Pamela Dow, MS, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Clinical Research Manager and Medical Writer for Tabula Rasa HealthCare’s Precision Pharmacotherapy Research and Development Institute. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences: Pre-Clinical and a master’s degree in Health Sciences from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Affairs – Health Services Management and Research. Pam’s research interests include preventable death, polypharmacy, drug-drug interactions, and healthcare utilization. Previously, Pam spent 9 years working in higher education, with two years at the UCF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and three years at the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy–a nationally ranked, Top-5 PharmD program. Additionally, Pam is a Society for Human Resources Management – Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resources Certification Institute. She is so grateful to be the 2021 Thrive Central Florida Healthcare fellow and is excited to work with Central Florida Foundation to impact the region.
Jonathan McFarlane-Weinstein is a third-year graduate student at UCF (University of Central Florida) pursuing a master’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning. Following the completion of his graduate degree in the fall of 2021, he intends to seek employment with the U.S. Federal Government as a Community Planner, working to develop long-term municipal plans to improve the quality of life for its residents and the surrounding environment.
Jonathan’s previous and current fellowships that he has attained during his matriculation in graduate school have broadened his interest in achieving an optimal balance between urban planning and environmental management outside of the traditional classroom format. This was accomplished through a variety of field visits to environmental sites, conducting presentations to peers, studying agricultural measures to decrease the effects of erosion on fragile landscapes, and examining financing methods that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) can access to fund their coastal resiliency projects against the threat of global warming.
In his spare time, he enjoys exercising, reading both historical and political news articles about current events worldwide, and teaching himself foreign languages. He is excited to be a part of the Thrive Fellowship and to work with the staff of the Central Florida Foundation in creating strategies that can overcome the variety of social issues within the Central Florida Region to increase the quality of life for all its residents.
Ivana Krkljus, MA
Ivana Krkljus, MA is a second-year doctoral student in the administrative track of the University of Central Florida’s Public Affairs Ph.D. Program. Ivana is an international student from Croatia and holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership – Higher Education/Student Personnel.
Ivana has always been an advocate for student success and belief that discipline shapes success. She is continuing this path that she has paved and aims to grow more as a leader with a holistic and philanthropic approach to help shape success for our future in this constantly evolving global society.
Ivana’s research interests include higher education and student success in metropolitan universities with a focus on improving the quality of life of the metropolitan region through research initiatives addressing regional issues on a national and global scale. Ivana is a former student athlete from UCF and a six-time rowing national champion in her home country.
Rebecca Freihaut is a native of Kentucky and is an experienced academic consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the areas of libraries, non-profits, and academic research. She has a MLIS from the University of Kentucky in Medical Librarianship, and has worked with organizations including the NLM, CDC, WHO, and the USDA. Her areas of interest are risk and crisis communication, health communication, community engagement, vulnerable populations, and the use of narrative to allow the voices of those who are underserved to be heard. Before moving to the Orlando area with her family this past summer, she spent five years working for Sarasota County as a librarian, where she devoted much of her time to community building and engagement projects. She is a current Instructor in Communications and a Ph.D. student in Strategic Communications at UCF. She lives a busy but fulfilling life with her husband, two teenage sons, and a Maltipoo named Kirby.