Our Team

Our People.
Our Strength.

Penny Kakoliris              

Executive Director

Penny Kakoliris has a heart for others, as evidenced by her life’s work. As a foster parent for five years, she raised 29 girls during that time. She served as the director of the Girls Campus for King’s Home for five years and worked for the Children’s Policy Council for Shelby County. Penny was also the Executive Vice President of Southern Oaks Treatment Facility before coming to Positive Maturity in 2007. Although she had mainly worked with youth, Penny knew that she would love assisting and working with a variety of people, especially seniors. “I enjoy watching a participant in a program make progress and find their sense of independence, as well as a team member growing professionally and finding their passion for this group of individuals,” Penny explains. “I get excited watching our Board of Directors plan for our future and really understanding who we are and what we do.”


Deborah Gaddis              

Director, Foster Grandparents Program

Deborah Gaddis began volunteering for Positive Maturity in 2007 after being downsized from her banking career. It wasn’t long before she found herself in a full-time position with the AWARE program in January 2008, followed by becoming the director of the Foster Grandparent Program later that same year. Deborah now oversees the senior volunteers that go into schools and HeadStart programs to help the children learn their ABCs, colors and how to tie their shoes. “The program keeps seniors active and vital and gives the children a special person who will talk to them and encourage them,” she says. “The best part of this job is interacting with people my own age and sharing common experiences and having fun together.” 


Juanita Macon              

Director, Shepherd Center

Juanita Macon always had a heart for young people and enjoyed the jobs she had where she could touch their lives in some way. When her grant at the Girls Scouts ended, Juanita found herself without a job and mourning the loss of her mother. Once she joined Positive Maturity as the RSVP Coordinator, she found she had a bunch of women ready to mother her. “I saw people in their 80s and 90s volunteering who had more energy than me,” she says. “It is so rewarding to work with them. I am learning from their experiences and we are growing together and enjoying life one day at a time.”


LaQuita Smith                

Director of Senior Companion Program

LaQuita is a native of Birmingham, Ala., and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. It was during her internship at Positive Maturity where she developed her commitment to helping seniors age in place. LaQuita places seniors aged 55 and older in the homes of frail seniors and disabled persons to assist with light household chores, meal preparation, companionship and respite care for caregivers. “It’s a wonderful way to engage, enhance and empower the quality of life to those in need,” she explains. When she isn’t working, she loves to spend time relaxing at home, reading and visiting any place that has a seashore.  LaQuita resides in Montevallo, Ala., and is the mother of four adult sons and six grandchildren.  


Heather Lamey      

Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Director

Heather Lamey knew before she went to Jacksonville State University that she wanted to work in a field where she could help people, so social work was a natural fit or her. More than 20 years later, her experience includes stints as the executive director at The Benevolence Center in Piedmont, Ala., and at the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama where she served as director of Donor Grants and Standards for Excellence. As the RSVP Director at Positive Maturity, Heather facilitates nonprofits and charitable organizations that need volunteers. “We are located in four counties—Walker, Jefferson, Shelby and Blount,” she explains. “We are here to make a connection between volunteers with organizations that will be rewarding for everyone.”  

Heather is one of six licensed consultants in the state of Alabama for Standards for Excellence® accreditation, best practices in policies and procedures for nonprofits and has earned a master’s level accreditation as a Charter Advisor in Philanthropy®. Heather and her husband Harley spend much of their free time enjoying their son Jack’s athletic events. 


Sandra Smith      

Director, Information and Referral Geriatric Social Services

Sandra Smith, is the Information and Referral Director for Positive Maturity, Inc. a United Way of Central Alabama partner for over 40 years. She assists seniors age 50 and older to navigate social agencies to meet their individual needs in Jefferson, Blount, Shelby and Walker counties. Sandra educates the community through speaking engagements and health fairs. She bas been an active participant with Jefferson County Public Health Department’s continuing initiative “Community Matters” and Jefferson County Health Care Coalition. 

She has retired from Positive Maturity, been a Positive Maturity Board member and is now back to work for Positive Maturity. She has come full circle with her passion for assisting seniors. Before working with the senior population Sandra was Customer Service manager for International Pharmacy Management and also a Customer Service manager for Express Pharmacy Service, a mail order pharmacy.

Sandra attended Birmingham-Southern College and American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts which was where she grew up before making a permanent move to Birmingham, Alabama.

 She is a Silver Haired Legislator for District 34, Blount County where she and her husband, Jim, live on the original Highland Lake in Oneonta not to be confused with Highland Lake off Highway 280. She and her husband enjoy antique malls, thrift stores, their family of three standard poodles, mother, father and son and of course fishing.

Dorinda Canibano      

RSVP Coordinator, Jefferson County

Birmingham, Ala., native, Dorinda Canibano has spent the majority of her working career in the accounting field, but aging seniors have always held a special place in her heart. “I have always been fascinated by the wisdom and stories from our seniors,” she says. “There is so much to learn from them.”

Organizations like Positive Maturity gives seniors the opportunity to remain active even after retirement from the workforce. “I think that is truly wonderful and I can’t wait until I reach the age where I can be a part of this wonderful group of volunteers,” Dorinda explains.
Dorinda is married to her husband of 10 years, Mike, and has one daughter. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities, traveling and crafting. 

Gemma Hayes      

RSVP Coordinator, Blount County

Gemma Hayes found her love for senior citizens while working n Alice Springs, Australia. “I was the Health Communities Officer for the Alice Springs town council,” she says. “I really enjoyed working with the Silver Sneakers group.” After living in Australia for five years, the Blount County native returned to Alabama with her family of three sons and husband Michael, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran. The Hayes family loved the adventures Down Under, but was happy to return to Oneonta and their families.

As part of the Positive Maturity team, Gemma will be instrumental in keeping Blount County seniors active and engaged in their communities through RSVP and looks forward to spending time with them.

In her spare moments, Gemma enjoys reading, knitting and spending time with her family and friends.

Pamela Raines      

RSVP Coordinator, Shelby County

Pamela Raines has a deep love for Shelby County where she has spent almost three decades living, working and serving the community. Born in Seattle Washington, her family settled in South Alabama, when she was fourteen years old during her father’s time in the U.S. Army.
Pamela began volunteering when the youngest of her three children started kindergarten in 1989. She became employed at the Shelby County Board of Education as a secretary from 1998 to 2008, always volunteering when time allowed.

Pamela and her husband, Clendon, are very active in their community, their church, and in civic organizations. She is currently the Parsonage Representative on the Board of Trustees, the UMW Secretary, a member of the Chancel Choir, a member of the Resurrection Sunday School Class, and originator of the Kindness Kasserole Ministry at Columbiana United Methodist Church and the Columbiana Culture Club President.

Pamela was recognized as an RSVP Volunteer of the month last year and has been named RSVP Volunteer of the Year for 2021. She loves life and serving others. She’s known around Columbiana as the “Pound Cake Lady”. When asked how she feels about working with seniors and retired people, her response is, “These. Are. My. People!”

Positive Maturity staff and co-workers are thrilled to have her working in the county that she loves and has such a heart for.

Karen Brasher Sweeney      

RSVP Assistant Coordinator, Shelby County

Although Karen Sweeney grew up in Shelby County, she spent 10 years in Mississippi working with law enforcement with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. After returning home, Karen worked for 25 years at Shelby County High School as a secretary and bookkeeper. She also coached the JV and Varsity cheerleaders for 20 years. Karen has served as a member of the Columbiana Culture Club for 16 years, 13 of those as an officer. “I have done community volunteer work through the church, school and clubs most of my life,” Karen says. “I’m excited to work with RSVP and our volunteers who give back to the community.”

Zan Brock    

RSVP Coordinator, Walker County

Zan Brock has had a heart for helping others since she was a child, which is appropriate since her Greek name means “helper of mankind.” As a Licensed Social Worker, Zan has worn many hats. During her career, she worked with foster care, the Free Will Baptist Children’s Home in Eldridge, as a therapist in the behavioral medicine unit of a local hospital, in the maternity clinic of a health department, as director of Social Services in a nursing home, as a case manager in a homeless shelter for women and as a care manager with an insurance company.

In 2017, Zan retired from VIVA Health where she served as a Social Worker care manager. Since retiring, Zan has volunteered for the J.A.M.E.S. (Jasper Area Ministerial Emergency Services) Ministry, Operation Thanksgiving, Operation Christmas Child and Backyard Blessings. She also coordinated a Christmas basket ministry for shut-ins and served on the Missions and Everyday Needs committees at her church. In her spare time, Zan enjoys reading, gardening, traveling, quilting, cooking and spending time with her friends and her cat.

Michele Blackmon    

Chief Financial Officer / Finance Director

Michele Blackmon fell in love with the non-profit world after leaving corporate accounting when her daughter was born. A part-time position with a United Way partner agency gave her the time she wanted to spend with her newborn daughter and introduced her to the rewarding work of non-profits. Flash forward 25 years and she has spent most of her career working for organizations like Aletheia House and the YWCA Central Alabama serving in positions related to grants management, budgeting, compliance, financial reporting, and cash management. Michele joined Positive Maturity in August 2018 and loves how her role as finance director still allows her to help people from behind the scenes. “Even though I’m not working directly with the seniors, I am still able to contribute to the programs and to the community,” she says. “I love being a part of the Positive Maturity team and ensuring that they will have the financial means to continue to serve seniors in the years to come.”