Executive Management Team



Teri Saunders, Chief Executive Officer

Teri Saunders, Chief Executive Officer

Teri Saunders joined Heartland for Children as the CEO in April of 2008.  Ms. Saunders is a native of Oklahoma.  She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida

Ms. Saunders served as a faculty in research with the Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida for nine years. During her tenure at USF, she conducted research and program evaluation of mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, domestic violence and child welfare programs and systems. Recognizing that Florida's child welfare system was in need of significant improvements and the new Community Based Care model was a great opportunity to effectuate needed change, Ms. Saunders was drawn to not-for-profit executive management of child welfare services in 2001. She has over 20 years of executive management experience within Florida not-for-profit organizations servicing children and families. With a strong background in research and program evaluation, Ms. Saunders has infused data-driven decision making throughout the organization. She brings an endless pursuit of better outcomes for children and families to the job. Her philosophy is that “trying hard isn’t good enough,” but rather, we need to know that people are better off as a result of our efforts.  

In her leisure time, Teri enjoys scuba diving, offshore fishing, bike riding and traveling.  

Kim Daugherty, Chief Operations Officer

Kim Daugherty, Chief Operations Officer

Kim Daugherty, Chief Operating Officer (COO) has been an employee at Heartland for Children, Inc. since 2003.

Kim has served as the Director of Prevention, Chief Community Relations Officer, and is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer for Heartland for Children.  The areas of responsibility that Kim supervises in her role as COO are: foster parent training and licensing, adoptions, and placement of children in Circuit 10.    

Kim is a native Floridian and has called Polk County, Florida home for over 30 years, and is a graduate of Florida State University.  Kim values relationships and is often quoted as saying “without relationships nothing else matters.”

Kim has a unique background in that she spent part of her early professional career working in Pediatric Hospitals as a Certified Child Life Specialist, educating and supporting children that had experienced trauma due to child abuse and neglect and chronically ill children and their families during hospitalizations.  Kim had the honor of working many years at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas and All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.  She also served as Director of Early Childhood Programs in Birmingham, Alabama, and as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coordinator with Healthy Start for Polk County, Florida.    

Currently, Kim serves on statewide committees that are assisting with moving statewide initiatives forward that will help improve child welfare services throughout Florida. 

Kim has spoken at National and State Conferences, served on Community Boards, is a 2012 graduate of the Bartow Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, and her work with children and families has been published. 

In her leisure time, Kim enjoys time with her family, traveling, fishing, gardening, and reading. 

Jay Halferty, Chief Financial Officer

Jay Halferty, Chief Financial Officer

Jay Halferty, Chief Financial Officer of Heartland for Children since June 2006, has over 30 years of experience in accounting and finance.  Under his leadership, Heartland for Children has consistently received outstanding audit results.  Mr. Halferty is known for timely and accurate reporting to the Department of Children and Families.  He started his career in Public Accounting and received his Certification in Public Accounting (CPA) in 1986.  He is currently serving as a member of the Florida Coalition for Children’s Finance Committee.

Mr. Halferty has held the position of a Controller or Chief Financial Officer for the last 26 years. During this time, he has worked at provider agencies contracting with the Department of Children and Families for the last 17 years.  He has served as controller in both medical/surgical hospitals and psychiatric and addictive disease hospitals. 

In his leisure time, Mr. Halferty enjoys fishing, "catching", scuba diving, and hunting.

April E. Rolle, Chief Quality and Legal Officer

April E. Rolle, Chief Quality and Legal Officer

April E. Rolle, Esq., Chief Quality and Legal Officer, joined Heartland for Children in November of 2016.  April is a Board Certified Specialist in Juvenile Law, and was licensed in Tennessee in 2000 and Florida in 2003.  She received her J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she was on the editorial board for the Tennessee Law Review.  Upon graduating in 2000, she clerked for Justice Adolpho A. Birch, Jr. with the Tennessee Supreme Court.  For several years, April focused her practice in insurance defense, commercial litigation, and employment law, but developed a passion for dependency when she worked with the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.  Prior to joining Heartland for Children, she worked in Broward County for the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel as the Litigation Director in the Dependency Division. 

April’s community involvement includes:  Highlands County Children's Services Council, Board Member (Previous Chair); Highlands County Bar Association, Member (Past President); Florida Coalition for Children, Legal Issues Subcommittee, Member (Previous Co-Chair); Florida Coalition for Children, Legislative Committee, Member; 10th Judicial Circuit Fairness and Diversity Committee, Member. 

April has conducted numerous seminars and trainings, including: 

  • “Legal Representation for Parents Prior to the Filing of Shelter/Dependency Petitions” at the 2022 Florida Bar Convention;
  • “Attorneys Make a Difference! High-Quality Advocacy Prevents Removals and Promotes Positive Outcomes” at the 2020 Florida DCF Child Protection Summit;
  • “Child Welfare Best Practices and Risk Management” at the 2020 Florida Coalition for Children Conference;
  • “Breaking Dependency Barriers: Non-Adversarial Approaches to Achieve Reunification Sooner and Safer” at the 2016 Florida DCF Child Protection Summit;
  • “Safety-Focused, Family-Centered and Trauma-Informed Approach from The Birth Parents’ Perspective” at the 2015 Florida DCF Child Protection Summit;
  • “Forensic Social Workers—The Interdisciplinary Model” at the Regional Counsel Parent Dependency Conference;
  • “Dependency from the Parents’ Perspective” at Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad Law Center;
  • “Dependency Case Management: Legal Tips and Sage Advice” and “Cultural Diversity: Knowing Who You Are” for the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program;
  • “Court Proceedings and Staffings” and “Courtroom Testimony” for the Department of Children and Families Case Manager Pre-Service Training. 

April is committed to using her extensive litigation experience and juvenile law expertise for the benefit of Heartland for Children and the families we serve.    

April enjoys reading, fishing, and spending time with her family.

Tracy Grey, Chief Community Relations Officer

Tracy Grey, Chief Community Relations Officer

Tracy Grey, Chief Community Relations Officer (CCRO) joined Heartland for Children, Inc. in 2004 and has over 22 years of leadership experience in child welfare and juvenile justice. Tracy is a Florida native and earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from East Tennessee State University.

Tracy’s professional career began when she worked in Oklahoma City for six years as the Assistant Program Director for a residential sex offenders program for teenage boys.  She then served as the Executive Director of the Children’s Emergency Shelter in Fort Smith, Arkansas before moving back to Florida in 2003.

Since Tracy has been at Heartland for Children, she served as the Assistant Director of Placements and Licensing for 5 years. She then held the position as the Director of Organizational Development and Learning for 10 years until she was named the Chief Community Relations Officer in November 2017.

Tracy served on the Florida Certification Advisory Board and Ethics Review Committee for Child Welfare for six years and was instrumental with the development of policy and practice for child welfare professionals across the state of Florida.  She is a certified Child Protection Professional and Child Welfare Trainer. Tracy has served on many boards, committees and workgroups to improve the outcomes for children and families in our community.

As the CCRO, Tracy focuses on community engagement, community relations, prevention, and interagency/intersystem collaboration, which includes Education, Department of Juvenile Justice, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Substance Abuse, Mental Health, Domestic Violence, Health Care, Housing/Homelessness, and Community Based Care Integrated Health. 

Tracy enjoys the beach, traveling and spending time with family and friends.