President: Barbara C. O'Shaughnessy, FRP

Barbara O'Shaughnessy is a Florida Registered Paralegal who has over 30 years of experience working in commercial real estate.  She joined the firm of Quarles & Brady, LLP in September of 2018, after having worked with Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & Koche, P.A. for 21 years.

Barbara has been a member of TBPA's Board of Directors for over 10 years, including holding the following positions: Director, Secretary, Treasurer, First Vice President, President-Elect, President and now Second Vice President!  Barbara was also the Region III Director on the Board of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).  She is actively involved with TBPA and its Pro Bono and Community Service projects, including Wills for Heroes, PACE Center for Girls, End 68 Hours of Hunger and the USO - Central Florida.

In her spare time (LOL), Barbara enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband of over 30 years and three adult children, playing Texas Hold 'Em poker, traveling (especially to Las Vegas), going to the beach, watching movies, reading books, and relaxing in her backyard O'Asis!  Recently, Barbara is most excited about the arrival of her first grandchild, a grandson, who arrived in July of 2018!

Contact Barbara here.

First Vice President: Valerie Cisco, FRP


Valerie Cisco grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and made the move to Tampa in 1981.  She graduated from Leto High School with Honors, obtained an Associate in Arts Degree in Commercial Art and Advertising from Hillsborough Community College with a minor in journalism, and an Associate in Science Degree in Paralegal Studies from Tampa College.  During college, Valerie excelled academically and was frequently named on the Dean’s list, graduating Cumma Sum Laude.  She also worked two jobs to pay her tuition; in the service industry as a bartender and as an intern with the RICO Division of the Attorney General’s office.  Valerie has over 25 consecutive years of experience in the legal field ranging from complex litigation in agency, State, Federal, and Supreme Court venues, including bankruptcy, creditors rights, land use, and property rights.  She is a member of the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association and the Paralegal Association of Florida, and is also a notary public.  Valerie enjoyed her volunteer work as a Girl Scout Troop Leader and Unit Consultant for 8 years, a position that allowed her quality time with her daughter while sharing new adventures together and giving back to the community.  She currently enjoys cooking, physical fitness, and the outdoors.  Valerie is Florida Registered Paralegal employed with Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen.


 Contact Valerie here.

Second Vice President: Emily Merlin, CP


Emily A. Merlin, CP is an in-house contracts manager and senior corporate paralegal with HealthPlan Services, Inc., a Wipro company, and has over 25 years of experience in contract negotiations and management, real estate, corporate compliance, mergers and acquisitions, healthcare, telecommunications and complex litigation.

Emily is a founding Officer of TBPA and has been an active member since its inception in the fall of 2000.  She has served in various capacities on the Board of Directors and as Chair on several Committees during her tenure as a member.  In addition, Emily is currently serving as Past President and Parliamentarian Officer with the Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (“FAPA”), which TBPA is an Association Member.

Emily has a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Administration from the University of West Florida (“UWF”) as well as two (2) Associate’s Degrees, one of which is in Paralegal Studies.  In addition, Emily achieved and continues to maintain the designation of Certified Paralegal from the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”).  During her leisure time, Emily enjoys spending time with her family and friends, scalloping during the summer, sailing/boating, singing at church, and cheering on the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and Rays baseball team.


Contact Emily here.

Secretary: Katie K. Turley, M.S., CP, FRP

Katie recently received her Certified Paralegal (CP) designation through NALA and is employed at the law firm of Smolker Bartlett in the litigation department


While in graduate school, she worked at the law firm of Motley Rice, LLC, in the Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights Department on the 9/11 Team.  Katie has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree from Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.  


Shortly after graduating, Katie and her chef husband, Bobby, got married in Charleston’s historical district.  She and her husband are avid foodies and enjoy attending local food events, dining in local restaurants and trying new and exotic cuisines.  In her spare time, Katie enjoys offshore and inshore fishing, attending sporting events and spending time with her husband and their golden retriever, Rawlings.


Contact Katie here.

Treasurer: Melissa J. Cook, FRP


Melissa Cook is a transplant from Michigan and has been working in the legal field for 13 years.  She received her Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies in June 2002.  Her first law firm was Owens Law Group, P.A. in Sun City Center where she worked until February, 2011.  After leaving Owens Law Group, P.A. she worked for two more firms as well as working as a contract paralegal for a corporation before landing at her current employer, Peterson & Myers, P. A., in Lakeland, Florida where she works in the transactional practice group which consists of Commercial Real Estate, Banking and Finance, Agricultural transactions as well as corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and estate planning, to name a few.


In her spare time Melissa is involved with the Zephyrhills High School Band Boosters which both of her daughters, Kaitlyn and Amanda, are involved in the marching band, symphonic band and jazz ensemble.  Melissa also enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Mike, and the girls by going to Busch Gardens whenever possible or spending time at home just relaxing.


Contact Melissa here.

Director: Rebecca S. Wilt, ACP, FCP, FRP


Rebecca is an Advanced Certified Paralegal specializing in commercial litigation.  She has been with the law firm Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & Koche, P.A. for more than 20 years and enjoys being part of the litigation team in a fast paced law practice.  Rebecca also works with the firm’s Executive Director on various projects, including the firm’s Technology Committee and as a trainer for new hires and paralegal trainees. 


In addition to Rebecca’s position as Chair of the Education/Professional Education Committee, she is active with TBPA's Mentoring Program wherein she recruits members to mentor students and new paralegals. She also has recently served as a TBPA Delegate to the Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations.  

Rebecca is active in her church and volunteers as a team leader for its Haiti Mission and as a member of the church’s outreach oversight board.  In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys driving the back roads on her Harley with her husband and spending lazy afternoons at the beach with her adult children.


Contact Rebecca here.


Contact Rebecca here.

Director: Elaine Schroeder, FRP

Elaine Schroeder has been employed by Lizbeth Potts, P.A. since 2003.  Practice areas include Family Law, Estate Planning/Probate, Guardianship, Civil Litigation, and Immigration.  She is also working part time for the Bass Law Group.  Practice areas include Estate Planning/Probate, Guardianship and Business Law.  Ms. Schroeder earned her Associates of Science degree from Florida Metropolitan University in 2004.  She also has an Associates of Arts in Business Administration from National Education Center, Bauder College.


Elaine has been a member of the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association since 2006.  She has been on the board since 2012 holding positions of 2nd Vice President and Director. She is also the chairperson for the military outreach program benefiting Tampa’s local USO office which is located at the Tampa International Airport.  Elaine was on the advisory Board Committee for ITT Technical School for their Paralegal Studies from 2010-2012. Elaine has been a Florida Registered Paralegal since 2008. 


When Elaine is not working she enjoys spending time with her two children, volunteering at the USO Center of Central Florida and Give Kids the World Village, traveling, going to the beach, reading, and spending time with family and friends.  


Contact Elaine here.

Director: Linda Woolard, ACP, FCP, FRP

Linda Woolard is an Advanced Certified Paralegal, a Florida Certified Paralegal and a Florida Registered Paralegal.  She received her Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies from Everest University, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.


Originally from upstate New York, Linda has been in the legal field for almost 30 years.  She is a member of the Florida Bar’s Florida Registered Paralegal District Paralegal Committee and a paralegal member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.  She is also a member of NALA and the Paralegal Association of Florida.  


Linda is a regulatory paralegal at Health Insurance Innovations.  In her free time, Linda enjoys spending time with her husband and five dogs.

Contact Linda here.

Director: Lance Cochran LaFleur, FRP

Lance Cochran-LaFleur, a Tennessee Native, came to Florida in 2011. Lance graduated, with honors, from Kaplan Career Institute’s American Bar Association approved Paralegal Studies Program in 2009. He holds an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies and has spent the last 9 years plowing through the legal field from Criminal law to Creditors Rights and is now making his splash into Insurance Defense. 

Lance is a Florida Registered Paralegal with the offices of LyDecker Diaz, Tampa. Lance hopes to continue on to finish his Master’s in Education and teach in a Paralegal Studies program to guide and support the next generation of paralegals.

Over the years, Lance has donated his time and expertise to many different organizations including Nashville Legal Aids Society, Boy Scouts of America, The Equity Act Project, TBPA, Una Voce-Tampa Men’s Chorus, and Camp Easter Seals.

In his spare time, Lance enjoys traveling with his husband, spending time with friends and family, and kayaking every body of water he can find. Lance is very excited to be a part of the TBPA Board and looks forward to many amazing adventures as the Pro Bono Chair.

Contact the Lance here.

Director: Irene Medina, CRP

Irene Medina is a Core Registered Paralegal and has been employed with Drummond Wehle, LLP since 2005. Practice areas include Estate Planning/Probate, Guardianship, Formation of Corporations. She is working toward her Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies and has attended Kalan University earning a book award for exemplifying superior research and writing skills and was named on the Dean’s list each semester. She is currently studying for NALA’s Certified Paralegal Exam.

Irene is a Tampa native and loves Florida’s beaches. She enjoys taking her 3 dogs to Ft. DeSoto Beach, frequents Busch Gardens and Adventure Island with her family. She is always looking for new and fun things to do in her spare time but her favorite past time is weekends spent with her granddaughter and husband.

Irene has been a member of TBPA since December 2012 and is looking forward to being more involved in the Organization.

Director: Nichole Parsons

Nichole has worked within the legal services industry for 18 years, and is based in Thomas & LoCicero's Tampa office. She currently focuses on civil and commercial litigation, antitrust/unfair competition, defamation and invasion of privacy. She dedicates a considerable amount of time to pre-trial discovery, research matters and trial preparation. In connection with her litigation practices, Nichole has worked for clients in a variety of industries, including television, newspapers, online publications, and other media entities.

An active member of her profession, Nichole serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc. This organization is the local voice and the standard for excellence for the paralegal profession through its work on the issues of regulation, ethics, and education for paralegals throughout the Tampa Bay area.  

Prior to moving to Tampa in 2016, Nichole worked for law firms in Colorado. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Colorado in Denver.

Immediate Past President: Erika L. Blackburn, ACA, FRP


Erika Burgos has over 15 years of experience handling personal injury cases including auto accidents, slip and falls, medical practice and nursing home negligence. She has worked as lead paralegal in numerous jury trials which resulted in favorable outcomes for the client. She has assisted with mediations, mock trials and focus groups. 


She currently works at Hillsborough Area Regional Transit in Tampa She is a Florida Registered Paralegal and State of Florida Accredited Claims Adjuster. 



Contact Erika here.

TBPA is a voluntary professional association and does not make any representation, endorsement or guarantee as to the quality, reliability, competency, accuracy, business practice/standards/ethics, or professionalism of any member of TBPA.  TBPA does not conduct background checks or any other form of due diligence on any person or business applying for membership with TBPA.


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