Por JAVIER MOLINARES
AL DÍA TODAY
MELBOURNE – In a world where individuals strive to make a lasting impact, Amaris Rosario stands out as a shining example of dedication and compassion. As the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Early Learning Coalition of Brevard County (ELC Brevard), Amaris Rosario’s journey is one of resilience, community engagement, and a deep-rooted commitment to giving back.
For her final two years of high school, she opted for homeschooling, strengthening her educational background and strengthening her community values.
Upon completing high school, Rosario’s pursuit of knowledge led her to Jacksonville University in Florida, where she recognized the significance of community support and education.
“While I was in high school and during my early education, I didn’t grow up with much. Financially, we weren’t that well off, and I spent a lot of time alone. It was a very rough neighborhood that I grew up in,” Rosario shared. “If it wasn’t for the teachers that I had in school and going to the library, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
After her initial two years at Jacksonville University, Rosario shifted to the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) to pursue forensic psychology. During her junior to senior year, she focused on her studies and earned her bachelor’s degree in December 2011, driven by her desire to be closer to her family in Palm Bay.
“My journey led me to Florida Tech, where I combined my passion for social work with my fascination with forensic psychology. I wanted to make a meaningful impact in the community and understand the inner workings of society,” said Rosario.
Rosario was deeply committed to community service during her time at Florida Tech. She worked as a behavioral and occupational therapist, providing crucial therapy to children with autism. Simultaneously, she served as a dispatcher at the Palm Bay Police Department and later shifted to the Palm Bay Utilities Department, where she focused on data entry.
At the same time, Rosario worked towards her master’s degree at the University of Central Florida (UCF), specializing in the criminal justice track. Her master’s program, which centered on intelligence analysis, offered a comprehensive curriculum that ultimately led to her obtaining a crime analysis certification. This certification covered various skills, such as GIS mapping, data analysis, and financial analysis.
Rosario’s journey took an unexpected turn when an opportunity arose to join the City of Fort Lauderdale. In 2015, she started her tenure in the Finance Department as a Performance Analyst. Her dedication and commitment to her role promoted her to Senior Performance Analyst, further showcasing her ability to excel in a challenging environment. However, Rosario’s journey in Fort Lauderdale was far from over, as she continued to aim higher.
“I was promoted to Principal Financial Management Analyst, where I was tasked with overseeing the budgets of various departments, including public works and the police department, which encompassed multiple funds,” she said.
In 2016, Rosario applied for a position in the City Manager’s Office Budget Division and successfully secured a job as a Senior Management and Budget Analyst. Her career progression within the city was marked by consistent growth and achievement. By 2019, Rosario’s hard work and financial acumen led to her promotion from the Senior Management and Budget Analyst role to that of a Principal Management and Budget Analyst. In this elevated position, she shouldered significant responsibilities, overseeing the budgets of various departments, including those of the Public Works and Police Department, which encompassed multiple funds amounting to a staggering $200 million in operating budgets alone.
During her time in Fort Lauderdale, Rosario’s dedication extended beyond her professional achievements. She actively participated as a mentor in programs such as the Step Up Stand Out Intergenerational Youth Mentorship Program, contributing her time and expertise to guide and inspire the next generation. Additionally, her involvement in initiatives like the Little Library and Super Reader demonstrated her commitment to fostering literacy and educational growth within her community.
As her time with the City of Fort Lauderdale concluded, Amaris Rosario expanded her understanding of municipal government and community development. Her experience in government operations opened doors to a new phase in her journey, fueled by her unwavering commitment to bring about positive change. During this pivotal moment, she accepted an invitation from Laura Gambino, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Brevard County (ELC Brevard), recognizing the chance to serve her community and be closer to her family. Rosario took on the role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at ELC Brevard, marking a significant career transition.
Returning to Palm Bay, close to her Puerto Rican family’s embrace, Rosario’s dedication to her heritage and passion for supporting the community remained at the forefront of her work. Amaris Rosario’s family hails primarily from Puerto Rico, with her grandparents and father originating from the island. Although born in New York, her mother was raised by a strong, independent Puerto Rican woman. Rosario deeply values her heritage, as it has been a source of strength, perseverance, and inspiration throughout her life. Her grandmother served as a significant role model, instilling in her the importance of resilience and determination.
“My heritage means a lot to me because I would not be as strong, persistent, and perseverant if it weren’t for the role model I had in my life, my grandmother. So, I owe a lot of who I am to my grandmother and mother for telling me to keep going forward,” said Rosario with pride.
As a child, Amaris Rosario often spent weekends with her grandmother, Ana Maria Santiago, in Union City, New Jersey, at her grandmother’s sewing factory. These visits were more than just quality time with family; they were a window into the world of compassion and generosity. Rosario witnessed her grandmother extend a helping hand to countless people in need, offering them sewing skills and essentials like food, money, housing, and clothing. One particular memory from those days stands out vividly.
Rosario fondly recalls a heartwarming story from her childhood spent with her grandmother in Union City, New Jersey. On a chilly, rainy night, they came across a young, shivering teenager without an umbrella or a coat as they walked the city streets. Rosario’s grandmother, Ana Maria Santiago, didn’t hesitate; she called him in Spanish and asked, “Are you hungry? Please come, and I will give you some food.” She draped a fur coat over his shoulders with abundant warmth and care and served him a steaming bowl of soup. As Rosario narrates the tale, she remembers how she assisted her grandmother with sewing while the young man savored his meal. However, when they returned after a brief absence, the teenager had vanished, leaving an indelible impression on Rosario. This experience left her with a profound understanding of the impact of kindness and compassion.
Rosario’s connection to Puerto Rico runs deep, driven by her family’s sacrifices for a brighter future. During challenging economic times, her family left Puerto Rico to seek improved access to healthcare and education, settling in New Jersey. Despite their hardships, her family held onto their joyful spirit, finding reasons to celebrate even in adversity.
“I like that no matter what Puerto Rico goes through, they always find a reason to celebrate,” she said joyfully.
Rosario admires Puerto Rico’s resilience, noting that it’s a place where people find joy amidst life’s challenges. The lessons of compassion, resilience, and celebrating life’s small moments have left an enduring mark on Rosario’s values and continue to inspire her in her life’s journey.
Apart from her professional achievements, Rosario is also a talented artist. She has been painting since childhood, and her artwork often carries messages of hope, unity, and community support. Her artistic talents have found a home in ELC Brevard, where her mural symbolizes her dedication to early education and literacy.
“ I’ve been doing painting since I was about eight years old and drawing since I was four,” Rosario shared.
Rosario emphasized that she designed the tree mural as an interactive prompt for parents to engage with their children and for volunteers to read to kids. She incorporated sight words and hidden animals like butterflies and ladybugs to enhance children’s perceptiveness and language development. Rosario also pointed out how the mural symbolized the bond between parents and children, representing growth and the potential for positive contributions to the world. She created the mural freehand, without a draft drawing, allowing her to incorporate ideas as she painted. The mural significantly impacted, fostering a love for reading and launching a literacy initiative in Brevard.
Page Hoskins, Director of the Family Services Department at ELC Brevard and a dedicated parent to her two-year-old daughter named Penelope shared the profound impact of Rosario’s mural on her child’s development. She fondly recalled a special moment when they visited the mural while Rosario worked on it.
“We came in one evening when she was working on it, and she painted our hands. We could place them on the tree, so it’s really neat,” Hoskins explained. “It’s an honor for us to be a part of that piece of art, you know, and all the children that are now able to come in and do some reading and have a little piece of us and a little memory up there, is really cool.”
Rosario’s journey from Fort Lauderdale to the Early Learning Coalition of Brevard marked a significant transition in her career. As Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of ELC Brevard, she assumed a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s financial strategies and ensuring the efficient allocation of resources to support early childhood education programs and initiatives.
As CFO, Rosario plays a critical part in securing funding for early childhood education programs and initiatives, ensuring that young children in Brevard County have access to quality early learning experiences. Her financial expertise and dedication to the community align perfectly with ELC Brevard’s mission of promoting school readiness and early literacy.
Rosario’s commitment to creating a better future for children and families in Brevard County is unwavering, and she continues to be an instrumental force in driving positive change.
“Being part of the Early Learning Coalition of Brevard is a privilege. It allows me to combine my passion for community service with my financial expertise to make a meaningful impact on young children’s and their families’ lives,” Rosario emphasized.
As she looks to the future, Rosario maintains her clear vision: to persistently support ELC Brevard’s mission, champion literacy through various initiatives, and ensure that every child in the community enjoys quality education. Her journey stands as a testament to the power of determination, compassion, and an unwavering belief in the capacity for individuals to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others.
Amaris Rosario is an inspiration in a world filled with challenges—a bridge between generations and a beacon of hope for a brighter future. Her story illustrates that unwavering determination and steadfast commitment to communities can achieve lasting change, leaving a legacy of compassion and service.