From the Executive Director

Susan Milana, CIS Executive Director

“CIS is the ideal opportunity for the community to impact students who may not otherwise succeed. We want to help our students ‘choose success,’ but many do not have the academic or social foundation to make that a reality. Many are confused about how they will someday make a living; have not been exposed to the possibilities that may be available; or don’t understand how to navigate the required path to make their dreams a reality.

Choosing success isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Although ‘success’ is truly in the eyes of the beholder, destructive or limiting choices made during the teen years can often make even minimal success in later years difficult, improbable or impossible.

CIS has served Nassau County since 1993 by partnering with schools, parents and the community to provide much needed services to students at risk for any reason. Our programs are targeted to students age 11-18. Because we recognize the challenge of students making the difficult transition to more advanced classes; struggling with peer pressure; or failing to achieve grade level on standardized testing, we intensified after school academic programs, in-school tutoring and case management services. At a time when students feel overwhelmed and confused by academic, physical, emotional and social challenges, CIS is available to help, or find someone who can.

Local employers identified the need for a high school program that would better prepare tomorrow’s employees today. Assistance from those same employers allows us to provide a full range of career coaching services, interviewing skills and an orientation to employer expectations. Having a career goal and knowing how to achieve it provides teens with additional motivation to get up in the morning; come to school; succeed in school and graduate.

We currently provide services at Fernandina Beach Middle School, Fernandina Beach High School, Yulee Middle School and Hilliard Middle/Senior High School. Principals from Yulee High School and Callahan Middle School have requested CIS ‘whole school’ services that cannot yet be provided due to budget restraints. The number of students CIS serves each year is entirely dependent on community investments.

In the past 13 years, CIS investors of time, talent and financial resources have provided over $3.5 million in services to Nassau County youth. And today, CIS is the largest free youth serving agency in Nassau County, providing intensive services to 1,029 teens in 2006.”

Susan is dedicated to discovering the greatness in every child; building on strengths; and assisting them in developing and optimizing their own unique and authentic brand of excellence.

For over 25 years, Susan contributed to Fortune 500 companies in roles including: VP HR, Dollar General Corp.; VP Diversity, Recruitment, Career Development, Pizza Hut North America, division of PepsiCo; VP HR, Pizza Hut Canada; VP HR, T. J. Maxx; VP Organization Development, John Wanamaker Stores; Training Director, Foxmoor Casuals; HR & sales roles for Kimberly-Clark Corporation and Director of Client Services for a high end real estate firm.

Karen Jones, CIS Program Administrator, is originally from Texas. She moved here 10 years ago, and like most of us, decided it was a great place to stay. Karen brings an abundance of financial management and customer service experience to our organization.
Throughout her working career, Karen has held positions in banking, customer service, personnel management and accounting. She was Controller for a Texas based personnel management company for 11 years. For 4 years, she owned the Curves for Women franchise on Amelia Island. Owning her own business made her an expert in “doing whatever it takes” to be successful.

She brings a can-do state of mind to CIS that makes her an invaluable member of our team.“Joining CIS, over a year ago, was my first experience working in the nonprofit world. If you have never done nonprofit work, you have no idea of the time, effort and sacrifice it takes to get it all done with minimal resources and at times, nonexistent funding. It truly challenges all you have ever learned in the corporate world. But the mission of the organization is so strong that it keeps you committed. You are instrumental in the success of others and, at the end of the day, that is the best reward for your efforts.”


Karen Jones,
CIS Program Administrator

Mid-term in her career, Susan spent 3 years as a consultant in Canada on projects, including: new business development, marketing, strategic planning, change management, and leadership development.

Susan received her Bachelors degree in Social Work and Communication from the University of Wisconsin, where she also did
her graduate work in Personnel Counseling. She is a presenter for business, educational and career forums; a former mentor for Dallas MenTTium 100; corporate liaison for Women’s Food Service Forum; instructor for Vanderbilt University Graduate Program in Human Resource Development; board member for the Dallas Job Corps; a tutor at Nashville inner-city schools; a Big Sister to four young girls over the past 25 years; and a cellist in her spare time.