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Above And Beyond Party Décor Turns A Client’s Vision Into Reality

Above And Beyond Party Décor Turns A Client’s Vision Into Reality

With life comes milestones, many of which are celebrated as special and unique occasions. Andrea Plevin of Above and Beyond Party Décor has built her business around making clients happy by bringing their dream celebrations to life.

With life comes milestones, many of which are celebrated as special and unique occasions. Andrea Plevin of Above and Beyond Party Décor has built her business around making clients happy by bringing their dream celebrations to life.

Originally from Westchester County, N.Y., Andrea moved to Wellington to support her family. Her two oldest children stayed up north for college, and her youngest, Kylee Plevin, joined Andrea and her husband Roger in Florida as they cared for her in-laws. The entire family has since reunited in Florida.

Andrea has long been involved in the communities that she has lived in, which led to her career in party planning.

“I was very active and volunteered for any kind of function that involved decorating, and I really enjoyed it,” she recalled. “People kept saying, ‘You should do this for a living.’ I finally decided to do it.”

Planning parties keeps her busy, too. So far in 2019, Andrea has worked on more than 25 baby showers and first birthday parties alone. Many people don’t realize that doing everything for an event on their own can get expensive very quickly.

“Often, I have supplies here that they can use, and I just take them back, so it’s like a rental,” she explained. “That is going to be much less money than if they went out, bought everything themselves, and then after the party, they don’t know what to do with it.”

During her 23 years in the business of making magic, all three of the Plevin children have been involved in the company to some extent. Her daughter, Jordana Norring of Jupiter, and son, Andrew Plevin of Wellington, have both contributed many times over. “My son Andrew is the fastest at tying balloons that you will ever see,” Andrea said. “Recently, my youngest has become very involved in the business, too.”

Andrea is also now a grandmother of seven, including Dean and Brad Lamont; Grayson and Rayna Norring; and Celia, Hudson and Claire Plevin.

After growing up in Wellington, Kylee graduated from Florida Atlantic University with an emphasis on technical design. She worked in the healthcare field for years before deciding to follow in her mother’s footsteps and feed her creative side. “I’m like my mom, very creative, very hands on, very crafty,” Kylee said. “But I also balance out my mom in ways. I’m very logistic and structured.”

Above and Beyond Party Décor can handle any type of function, from a personal backyard birthday party for two, to a 500-guest event at an exclusive country club. Their unique specialty? Larger than life arches and sculptures made entirely of balloons.

“Organic arches are really in right now,” said Kylee, who explained the involvement of different shapes, sizes and layers of balloons. “To keep up with the trends, we have to adapt to what people are wanting. Sometimes that means we have to learn new and different techniques.”

For the best experience from start to finish, clients should always consider their timeline and realize that successful event planning takes time to execute.

“For large events, like a wedding or bar mitzvah, I suggest getting started at least six months in advance,” Andrea said. “Smaller events should start planning at least a month or two ahead.”

Because the schedule for party planning varies, Andrea is open to working with clientele in person or virtually. She and her daughter are quite tech savvy.

“If I have a picture, I can do it,” Andrea said. “I like talking to people, but I also text often, as more people have been contacting me that way. For people out of the state, we can literally do the entire party by text, and I don’t meet them in person until the event day.”

She explained that the planning portion is all about learning the client’s vision. The execution portion is where Andrea takes the reins and makes that vision real.

She knows the local venues and can draw many of them by memory, but that may not be the best way to translate a client’s vision.

“We work predominantly in Palm Beach County, but we have the capabilities to work outside of it, if that’s what the client needs,” Andrea said. “We also don’t put out packages because everything is tailored to the client. We are also very good at working within a budget.”

Andrea takes being a part of these important lifetime moments very seriously, and that is why clients return.

“One customer, I did all four kids’ [bar/bat] mitzvahs, and now I just did the first wedding for them, too,” she said. “It is fun, but my favorite thing is when it’s all done, and I’m really excited about how it looks. I can’t wait for my client to walk in and see the expression on their face. So many times, they say, ‘This looks even better than I pictured!’”

Above and Beyond Party Décor is located at 235 N. Jog Road in West Palm Beach, and meetings are available by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call (561) 707-6606 or e-mail aboveand To see product examples and check out the extensive photo gallery, visit


Not Just Playing With Numbers: Finance Team Keeps Wellington In The Black

Not Just Playing With Numbers: Finance Team Keeps Wellington In The Black

Wellington’s Office of Financial Management and Budget is setting the standard for practice and policy across the nation. More than just the purse strings for the village, OFMB is directly connected to every department — and every resident.

“We monitor all revenues and expenses for the village, and we provide services that the customers need, want and are willing to pay for,” said Controller Ana Acevedo, who has been with Wellington for five years. “In the finance department, we work very closely with all departments in the village, and I just enjoy seeing how our tax dollars are put to work.”

After 14 years on the job, Budget Director Christine Wadleigh knows the ins and outs of making things work for everyone.

“We give the financial support and guidance to all the other departments. We make the connection between what the residents see and the requirements that any government has to meet according to statutes and law,” Wadleigh explained. “We do the financial reporting, and then prepare and present a balanced budget. We make the translation between the fun stuff that everybody sees and the finances that make it happen.”

As a department centered around planning, OFMB is all about being prepared for the future.

“During the Great Recession, many local governments experienced debilitating hardships,” Acevedo said. “Wellington was able to continue to meet the needs of the residents during this difficult time by evaluating economic conditions and planning well for unforeseen events. I think that’s what finance is all about — planning ahead. We assisted with cost-cutting measures that kept the village running leanly while maintaining our excellent financial position.”

OFMB is not the largest department in Wellington’s government, but it touches every aspect. Between the purchasing, budget and accounting sections, approximately 20 people are tasked with crunching the numbers.

“We developed a priority-based budget model that every department completes, and it allows them to rank their budget requests,” Wadleigh said. “They do an awesome job of prioritizing, and I call them budgeteers.”

Another key step to this ranking system involves identifying all the core activities in Wellington and making sure those are funded.

“We implemented an annual budget survey, probably 10 years ago now, that really provides insight on the items that are important to the residents. That helps us to prepare our budget knowing that we are meeting the needs of our residents,” Wadleigh said. “We even identify the higher level, quality of life community add-on activities and make sure those are funded.”

Getting the community to participate in surveys is no easy task. Other government agencies throughout Florida have tried and failed, so crafting questions that people want to take the time to answer is an art form in itself.

“I gave a presentation on it to the Florida Government Finance Officers Association in June, and many others have had difficulties getting it off the ground. We’ve had great support here,” Wadleigh said.

The results have received not only attention, but awards.

“I am extremely proud of the awards that the finance department has received throughout the years,” Acevedo said. “In 2019, we received a certificate of excellence award for our investment policy. This is awarded for investment policies that have been reviewed and professionally accepted by the Association of Public Treasuries of the United States and Canada.”

OFMB has also earned many recognitions from the national Government Finance Officers Association, including a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 22 consecutive years.

The GFOA has also bestowed upon Wellington its Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award for eight straight years. This award specifically refers to the creation of reports that are easily accessible and understandable to the general public.

The department’s proficiency in everything from policy documentation and organization to financial planning has also earned them the GFOA’s Award for Distinguished Budget Presentation for the past 23 years.

Past successes support a strong track record, but the department is always looking ahead.

“Our future plans are to always continue to meet the future economic challenges. We update our forecasting every year and want to keep Wellington in its current excellent financial position,” Wadleigh said. “That also means being able to change with the times and being aware of what’s going on out there and making sure we recommend financial and policy changes to keep ourselves in a good position, no matter what happens.”

There is also an internal plan in place to keep the department running at peak efficiency.

“We want to continue to grow our department and promote from within like a succession plan,” Acevedo said. “In the finance office, it is critical to cross-train to make sure that if anyone is out, we always have someone to cover during their absence.”

Both Acevedo and Wadleigh give much of the credit for their success to Director of Administrative and Financial Services Tanya Quickel.

“Tanya Quickel really just brings a great and welcoming culture. We meet weekly to discuss everything that’s going on,” Acevedo said. “It’s just a family, a home away from home. Our leadership is just exceptional.”

Wadleigh said that Quickel allows everyone to leverage each other’s strengths.

“We all respect that everyone’s strengths come together as a great team,” Wadleigh said. “We’ve got super-talented, devoted people. Even at quitting time, they’re not going home. They stay until the job is done.”

The pieces of Wellington’s government strive to fit together, working toward a common goal for the community.

“Our goal continues to be a great hometown, and that’s our mission and our vision for the village,” Acevedo said.


Gwen Gottlieb Helps Clients Boost Their Brand’s Influence

Gwen Gottlieb Helps Clients Boost Their Brand’s Influence

Gwen Gottlieb has found a way to have it all in life by exploring her passion for creativity while helping others build their brands.

Several years ago, Gottlieb was looking for something to complement her day job as the marketing director at Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute. This led to her new business, known as Gwen Lives Well.

“I was looking for something I could do in my spare time — something that would let me express my creative nature,” Gottlieb explained.

So, she melded her interests in the current cultural, food and social media trends to find success as a lifestyle influencer. She uses a vast network of online connections to put her clients’ message directly in the path of potential consumers.

“I love the Instagram community of people I’ve ‘met.’ I’ve gotten to ‘know’ folks from all walks of life, and believe it or not, have had several real friendships develop as a result,” Gottlieb said.

This one-woman army is equipped with a valuable skill set in a global economy driven by social media outlets. She has a strong client list ranging from hotels and restaurants to other businesses, and Gottlieb thrives on opportunities to collaborate.

“Social media is an amazing way to reach additional potential customers. Add that element to your traditional advertising methods, and you’ve got a more well-rounded campaign,” Gottlieb said. “What sets me apart from other influencers is that I’ll always go the extra mile for my clients. I treat their brand with respect and consideration. I do my best to present and help meet the client’s goals, whether it’s brand awareness, more sales or growth on social media.”

Another reason that her clients find Gottlieb a perfect fit for their campaign strategy is her ability to stand apart in a field teeming with young internet influencers. She has a depth they often lack, and the capacity to connect with both younger and older crowds. In addition, Gottlieb enhances her work with a multi-strategy approach.

“Potential clients can contact me for information on branding campaigns, or anything else related to marketing, public relations and business development, including web site copy, brochures, press releases, blog posts and any other creative copy needs,” she said.

Since Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute has four locations, one of which is in Wellington, this gives Gottlieb frequent opportunities to spend time in an area she has come to enjoy.

“I just love being in Wellington any chance I get — terrific restaurants, people and the community as a whole,” she said. “I also enjoy working with the Wellington Chamber of Commerce. It’s one of the most dynamic and active chambers I’ve ever been involved with.”

Her reputation as a seasoned foodie and Florida lifestyle influencer have also given Gottlieb some fun and unique experiences.

“I was thrilled to be a judge at this past year’s Flavors of Wellington event,” she recalled. “I had a blast meeting other judges and sitting next to Mayor Anne Gerwig, a fellow judge.”

With experience in a variety of subjects, working on everything from Canada Dry to Wells Fargo projects, Gottlieb is always excited to see what potential clients want to pursue. She has also worked with businesses outside of Florida, including the Hermitage in Nashville, Tenn., and the Peabody in Memphis, Tenn.

“Currently, my particular strengths lie with Instagram, and I’m also trying to spend more time working on my blog, Gwen Lives Well. I would also like to work more on my Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts,” Gottlieb said. “My business is a work in progress. I’m always evolving — looking for ways to grow my own brand while doing my best to deliver what my clients expect.”

Gottlieb is also on the lookout for travel information, great vacation spots and new product lines that she can share with her network of followers.

“I like to tell my clients, ‘Let’s grow together,’” Gottlieb said. “I’m available to brands, restaurants and really any business that wants assistance in getting the word out about what they do.”

She approaches every client and project with personal attention, tailoring individual quotes for any potential venture. “I am an award-winning newspaper creator and publisher, award-winning television documentary writer and an experienced corporate communications specialist,” Gottlieb said. “My social media persona is authentic.”

Outside of travel and managing her own Instagram account, @GwenLivesWell, she loves to cook for her family, do Pilates and yoga. Between herself and her husband Gary Gottlieb, a principal partner with the commercial real estate firm Avison Young, they have four children, two in New York and two in South Florida.

Contact Gwen Gottlieb through direct message on her Instagram account @GwenLivesWell, e-mail or visit her blog at


Technology Services Department Keeps The Village Of Wellington Working At The Speed Of Business

Technology Services Department Keeps The Village Of Wellington Working At The Speed Of Business

Technology stretches across every facet of modern life. There are always new and innovative ways to use digital tools, which is a perfect way to describe the Village of Wellington’s Technology Services Department — commonly referred to as the “IT” department, short for the industry term “information technology.”

“It’s the 21st century, and we are the least visible but one of the most important departments because every single department is using some facet of mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop system to monitor things, record things, make alerts or create reports,” Chief Information Officer William Silliman explained. “More and more of the work is going less and less analog, so everything is pretty much digital nowadays.”

As times change, the IT department continues to integrate and upgrade every section of the village’s operations to improve the flow of work. As businesses and the community continue to develop more tech-savvy habits, Silliman’s seven-person team is on high alert at all times.

“The most critical issue I tell my staff is if e-mail, internet or telecommunications goes down, drop everything and figure it out,” Silliman said. “Security is also a big concern. We are constantly monitoring and watching everything from phishing scams to ransomware. We try and watch every little piece — making sure everything is backed up in a way that is recoverable.”

Technology Services continues on a strong path forward as they roll out improvements during a special three-year plan. The five-phase project includes upgrading the entire system to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that streamlines everything for staff and residents from paying utility bills to building codes.

“Every iteration of the web site gets better as we try to keep it simple, friendly and easy to use,” Silliman said. “We’ve got a really great department and very smart people, and there is always something to improve. I don’t want IT to be a hole into which you pour money. We shop around, and with each innovation are working to save Wellington time and money. The key is we don’t perpetuate the way things have always been done.”

Perhaps one of the most striking changes to IT over the years is the integration of a quality Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team to support the village as a whole.

GIS Manager Nicole McPherson, who first worked for Wellington in 2004, returned home in 2010 to run an innovative team that is making big strides in the field and winning honors for creativity.

“We just received the 2019 Florida Excellence in Technology Award from the Agency for State Technology for our Emergency Operations GIS Portal,” McPherson said. “We have mobile apps collecting damage assessments that is connected to the FPL map of their outages and the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).”

Essentially, this portal allows workers in the field after an emergency, like a hurricane or severe storm, to upload data including images and location information directly to the EOC. This allows senior staff to look at damage assessment information in as close to real time as possible, and decisions for dispatching repair teams and assistance is based on reality instead of speculation.

“Eventually, the idea is to have something publicly accessible so people can see real-time road closures and more after an emergency,” McPherson added. “Our team is awesome. I can’t do what I do without IT. They are so critical, and they don’t get the credit. I’ve had other people, including outside vendors, tell us our IT is amazing, and they are right.”

GIS is now a part of our everyday lives, whether we know it or not. Programs like Google Maps is one popular example of GIS in action, and IT is always finding new ways to use it.

“I used to challenge the team to think outside the box, and now I don’t have to — they just do it,” Silliman said. “I’ll play devil’s advocate and am always asking ‘what if’ so we can identify potential problems. Having redundancy means that the end users, both residents and village staff, don’t even know there was an issue.”

That’s all part of the department’s primary goal to always keep the machine running.

“Wellington uses a cloud-based system, so that it is not just reliant upon village hall being here. If it was gone to tomorrow, the data is still up and running, and you could go to a neighboring community and still function, pay bills and use the web site,” Silliman said. 

In the grand scheme of a growing Wellington, IT is striving to ensure the least amount of impact for residents, businesses and employees. Having layers and backup plans in place allow Technology Services to keep the entire community connected and running smoothly.

After working in the private sector, and now at the village for the past seven years, Silliman feels more connected to his work than ever.

“I like the public sector. Being a resident here, I know who I’m working for, while in the private sector, I didn’t get to see the end user,” he said. “Instead, I’ve got the entire environment of Wellington. When we use a road application for surveys, I actually see the roads being paved. It just keeps going and growing each year.”

Silliman likes the fact that Wellington does not have a fear of technology, which is one thing that brought him to his current position.

“It’s one of the reasons why I came to Wellington,” he said. “While getting my water bill information filled out, I looked around and thought, ‘Wow, they’ve got a lot of technology.’ I pulled out my iPad, found a position and started applying right then and there.”

That was in the past, and thanks to Technology Services, Wellington is ready for the future.


Customer Service Team Is Standing By To Help Wellington Residents In Need

Customer Service Team Is Standing By To Help Wellington Residents In Need

In 2018, Wellington’s Customer Service Department handled 43,000 phone calls and assisted 33,000 visitors. The team of 13 people is dedicated to serving the community and takes the relationship between local government and its residents very seriously.

“Instead of each department, we have one centralized location where we can provide the best customer service to the residents of Wellington,” Customer Service Manager Mindi Lockhart said. “Everyone is trained so that residents are getting consistent information and not being bounced around. Resolution is our goal.”

The department covers more than the front line of service windows, it also handles the village’s call center and the main front desk at the Wellington Municipal Complex. Operators are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and there’s a plan in place for emergency calls outside of normal business hours.

Lockhart’s teammate Elizabeth Arocho is also a customer service manager. She finds working during the worst of times — specifically during a major storm — a vital responsibility for the department.

“During storms, we have folks here on lockdown. That means they are here before the storm starts, during the storm and after the storm. We don’t leave. We make sure the public has the ability for direct contact with a live person,” Arocho said. “During Tropical Storm Isaac, we had a lot rainfall and flooding. So many residents were calling in scared and worried about their horses. Just watching the call centers take those calls in a calm manner that helped quell our residents’ fears — that was a proud mom moment.”

The team is passionate about this important role. Customer Service Administrative Coordinator Wayne Turpin is a perfect example. After nearly five years in the department, he is still excited about his work, even during a storm.

“I volunteered for it. My family lives close by, so I might as well be here working and helping out. They normally get us in a couple of hours before a storm gets bad, so we are here through everything. In the last storm, we were here Saturday morning through Monday morning,” Turpin recalled. “There is always a liaison from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue here with us. I got a call during the last storm from a resident who lost part of a pergola, and it had punctured a gas line in the middle of the storm. We were able to get people dispatched to address the problem. PBCFR coordinated with us and got someone there to seal it off without any issues.”

Lockhart and Arocho work in tandem to keep the department running smoothly. “Our main goal during a hurricane is to make sure that the public is safe, and our staff is safe. We are all in this boat and have to get through a hurricane together,” Lockhart said. “Afterward, of course, we work to get everything back to normal as fast as possible.”

The recurring theme in the Customer Service Department is teamwork. They treat each other as a second family, but also as an additional resource when dealing with difficult situations.

“People call us for every single thing, from people who don’t know what to do with an alligator to others wanting to rent a pavilion; from what the movie is going to be this weekend to how to get a passport or driver’s license. We have to be on point and have all the information at our fingertips,” Senior Customer Service Representative Christina Fugarese said. “We get calls from everywhere and have so much to offer our residents. We like to wow all our callers and give them wonderful, outstanding Wellington service.”

Arocho has worked for the village for more than 14 years now, in several different departments. She finds her current work very different than when she started out reading water meters in the field.

“Customer service is a bit fast-paced, and you definitely have more responsibility,” Arocho said. “I think it’s because you’re dealing with customers firsthand and making sure that the image we portray is a good one.”

The Customer Service Department team is charged with knowing what all 300 Wellington employees do, otherwise routing calls to the correct person becomes a much slower task. Training remains important to the department, and future plans include finding more ways to better serve the community.

“We are in the process of putting in a training for crisis management so that not only is our call staff knowledgeable about the community, but they’ll also have the knowledge of how to handle those types of calls, too,” Arocho said.

Utilities Customer Service Representative Jashly Botex noted the differences in her past three years with Wellington compared to her experience working with other municipalities, particularly regarding the web site.

“I needed special training on the online system, especially things like troubleshooting with the customers. We will help them set up an online profile or autopay, and they have all other types of questions,” Botex said. “We must have such an understanding of the site and also be consistent both on the phone and in person. We learn to ask the right questions, to go above and beyond, even offering same-day service.”

With a staff that ranges from two to nearly 20 years working for Wellington, all take pride in developing solid, genuine relationships with residents.

“I get very few escalated phone calls because our representatives treat the customers how they want to be treated,” Lockhart said. “It’s also because when you give good, you get good. Our employees do that because they know they are treated well here, and it’s a great place to wake up in the morning and say, ‘I get to go to work, and it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.’”

Both managers agree that working for a smaller, tight-knit community allows for excellent customer service.

“My favorite thing is the relationships that you form with residents — it’s a friendship more than a customer-type feeling here,” Arocho said.

Whether handling business tax inquiries, sharing information about public meetings and events, or helping customers solve problems with their homes, the consistency and commitment of Wellington’s Customer Service Department remains strong.


Service Is The Key To Keith Jordano’s Success As An Independent Insurance Agent

Service Is The Key To Keith Jordano’s Success As An Independent Insurance Agent

Being available to listen is a key to the success of Keith Jordano’s 30-plus career as an independent insurance agent. Recently, the Jordano Insurance Group, the firm he founded and leads, expanded its services to assist with home and auto insurance coverage as well.

Originally from New Orleans, Jordano moved with his insurance firm, founded in 1993, to the western communities 20 years ago.

“When I first went into the insurance business, my manager told me not to give out my cell and personal phone number,” Jordano recalled. “I told him the day I could not be accessible to my clients was the day I should not be in the business.”

This is a goal that he has kept his focus on ever since.

“I’ve made myself available for my clients when they need me. Most insurance agencies all sell the same companies’ [products] at the same price, as the providing insurance company sets the price. The difference is the service,” Jordano explained. “We are here because of our clients, mentors and family.”

He noted other areas that Jordano feels set him apart from his competition, such as “listening to the client and working with them to find their needs with a personal touch.” 

The cliché about an agent who can “sell snow to an Eskimo” is the story of a terrible agent, Jordano remarked.

“To sell them the right heater or blanket is to find their needs and sell them based on that,” Jordano said. “We listen and try to place clients where they are protected at a price they can afford. We try to cover our clients with a blanket of protection.”

On April 1, 1999, Jordano resettled in the western communities after traveling all over the eastern United States.

“It may have been April Fools’ Day, but we got the last laugh,” Jordano said. “After 20 years, we are going strong and growing our footprint of products and services. We travel around the United States and meet people from all walks of life, occupations, social and economic status, and we have learned how to listen to their diverse needs.”

While Jordano’s firm previously focused on varieties of life insurance and health insurance, he now offers a more comprehensive array of services.

“The Jordano Insurance Group represents home, auto and motorcycle insurance; Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage plans; as well as individual and group health and benefit packages,” Jordano said. “We try to get to what our clients really need and lead them to where to find it.”

Jordano stressed that the benefit of his firm is truly listening to each client’s needs.

“Whatever plan they need, we make them feel protected, safe and still have money to feed their family,” Jordano explained.

Jordano and his wife Lois have three grown children: Melissa, 36; Robin, 35; and Adam, 31. He described his hobbies as gardening, sports, charity work and community involvement.

An active member of the Rotary clubs in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach, as well as the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, Jordano has served as a board member and officer in all of them, even being named small business of the year, as well as being named to the industry’s Health Underwriters Soaring Eagle membership and leading producers roundtable.

“Living in the western communities has been one of the best moves our family has made,” Jordano said. “We have many friends, with many of them starting as clients. I’ve tried to make all my clients feel like a friend and mean it. Our community is safe and friendly with lots to do. It is a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

The Jordano Insurance Group is available online at, where there is an option to reach out for a quote. Jordano can be reached via e-mail at or through his cell phone at (561) 307-2622. For specific information on life and health insurance, call (561) 333-6228. For auto and home insurance questions, call (561) 225-2659.


For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is All About People, Not Paperwork

For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is  All About People, Not Paperwork

Jo Ann Abrams has always wanted to be an attorney. It was a goal dating back to her childhood in New York. Joining the Florida Bar in 1986, she has been practicing law in South Florida ever since, first in Broward County, and for the past 19 years in the western communities of Palm Beach County. Her practice has a focus on elder law and estate planning.

Married with four horses and six dogs, Abrams enjoys her work, and in her off hours, she spends her time taking care of her dogs, western-style riding, reading, scuba diving, traveling, working out and riding motorcycles. She has two Hondas, a Rebel 250 and a 750 Shadow, and in cooler months can be seen riding one to work.

“Basically, I do elder law, which includes estate planning, Medicaid and Medicare planning, guardianship, wills, irrevocable trusts and more,” she said.

The specific field of elder law is growing more important each year as the population continues to age. Wellington records indicate that 12 percent of the population is over age 60, consistent with the county percentage, although that figure is expected to grow with the census in 2020.

“I have been in practice for more than 33 years and have seen many situations in life. The thing that distinguishes my elder care practice is probably that I have been doing it for so long,” Abrams said.

One of the benefits for clients who work with Abrams is that she is an avid listener.

“I really believe that clients should be heard. Listening is the most important thing,” said Abrams, who remarked that when she understands their specific situation, she is ready to offer advice to clients based upon her experience.

Abrams’ experience manifests itself most strongly in the way that she listens to each client.

“I listen carefully to clients and let them fully express what they want and need,” she said.

Abrams explained that her elder care practice includes guardianship, estate planning, probate, preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and handling Medicaid and Medicaid planning.

“I will explain how to avoid probate of the estate, and I fully explain what to do with documents I prepare and make it as easy as possible for the client,” she said.

Unfortunately, the reality of elder law means that she is often working with clients in difficult situations. And in over three decades of practice, Abrams has seen a lot.

“I pretty much have seen it all — well, not everything, because things always come up,” she said. “I have many bad examples to explain to clients.”

Abrams strives to ensure that the legal documents she prepares accurately depict the wishes of the client, not a decision influenced by a relative. She said that nobody should be railroaded into decisions, and too often, elderly people are not listened to carefully enough.

Abrams spends plenty of time to make sure the client understands what the document is and what it does, and that it is indeed what the client wants. She added that her practice is a lot more about people than it is about paperwork.

While Abrams lives in the area surrounding Wellington, she takes a great interest in the community.

“I have many clients in Wellington, I shop there often and have many friends in Wellington,” she said, adding that she was involved with the best management practices for manure disposal when it came up in Wellington. “I mediated the agreement between Wellington and the South Florida Water Management District at that time so that Wellington would not be fined.”

Jo Ann Abrams’ practice is located at 11440 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 216, in Royal Palm Beach. For more information about Abrams and her elder law practice, call (561) 795-9590 or e-mail to


Village Clerk’s Office Protects The Past And The Future Of Wellington

Village Clerk’s Office Protects The Past And The Future Of Wellington

As custodian of the Village of Wellington’s vital public records, Village Clerk Chevelle Nubin leads a department that serves a key municipal function steeped in history.

“The profession of the clerk is the one of the oldest in history, second only to tax collectors,” Nubin explained. “It is one of the oldest public servants in local government, tracing back before biblical times. We are considered the hub. We tend to be that link between the residents of the community and the government.”

With more than 20 years of experience in the government sector, Nubin has been a municipal clerk for most of that time, joining the Village of Wellington two years ago. She is a master municipal clerk, which is the highest designation achievable for the position.

“I am also a member, and past president, of the Florida Association of City Clerks. So, I get to do outreach and represent our profession. I have served on the Florida League of Cities Municipal Administration Committee for the past three years and did some webinars for training. I enjoy it,” Nubin said.

After a long tenure with the City of Delray Beach, coming to Wellington was a significant transition for Nubin, but working with team members like Deputy Village Clerk Rachel Callovi made the change easier. Nubin referred to Callovi and her office as more than just a quality resource.

“What I love about Wellington, and what I saw quickly when I came here, was just the camaraderie. Wellington values its employees, and they are such a talented team and group of people to work with and work for,” Nubin said. “The atmosphere is amazing here — high energy and a demand for excellence. People deliver on that, and they give you the tools that you need to be successful.”

Some people see the clerk’s office as little more than secretarial work, answering phones, taking notes and keeping meeting minutes. Nubin makes sure that everyone knows that her team does so much more than attend council meetings.

“We serve as historians, responsible for transcribing minutes so that we can provide records to the public. The purpose for literally transcribing the minutes is to maintain an accurate, unbiased record of any legislative action that has taken place,” Nubin said. “We also do the legal advertising for the village, serve as supervisors over municipal elections and a huge part is records management.”

When records are created, the clerk’s team of eight people are responsible for following every step of its life cycle. From the initial filing, to the task of properly managing record destruction, the detailed process of having every document housed and scanned into digital form and catalogued is daunting. Digital access means the public, and the village, can save time and get back to work quickly.

“We have a team who do all the scanning of our records and archives on a daily basis. It’s a pretty interesting function. Adrienne Shaffer is the records manager, and she does an amazing job and works directly with the village departments about their records, too,” Nubin said.

The clerk’s office has managed to digitize more than half the historic records for the village, which is quite an accomplishment considering the size of the job.

Other members of the team include Assistant to the Village Clerk Tamika Rogers, senior administrative assistants Alice Machiela and Angie Butler, Administrative Assistant Shanti Singh and Transcriptionist Traci Mehl.

For Nubin, election time is a personal favorite function of the job. Meeting new people, from candidates to poll workers, directly connects her to the people she serves.

 “Essentially, we serve as the local elections supervisors. For the village, your clerk is your contact. We also hire the poll workers, gather the elections information, receive the campaign treasurer’s reports, and even go on election night to wait for the results,” Nubin said. “I am responsible for canvassing our absentee ballots. During election day, I travel around to precincts to make sure everything is flowing properly and that our workers have what they need. I am responsible for making sure I order the ballots and have to make sure we have enough. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s vital.”

Nubin, is also the official custodian of the village seal, and her team members are direct observers of all government business conducted in Wellington.

“No one day is the same, and although our work demands a level of versatility. We have to be alert, we have to be accurate and depending on what situation comes up — whether we are dealing with a resident or another colleague — it may require us to be extremely patient,” Nubin said.

This team mentality means everyone works together for residents of the community. Nubin shared a story of such a case.

“There was a lady who was extremely upset about the town center project. She had talked to a few people in a few departments, and finally the call came up to me. Upon me picking up the phone, I could tell she was upset. I let her get all of that out,” Nubin explained. “After I thanked her for calling, I continued listening, and in the midst of her comments, there was also a request for information she felt that she was not getting. Finally, after explaining her entire story, we were able to find the information — a survey her father had filed. She needed the survey before making important repairs to her home. That just made our day because, when we called her, she started to cry.”

Whenever possible, Nubin wants the answer to be “yes, we can,” not “no, we can’t.”

“We always look for a way to help while still being compliant with our charter, our code and the state. The mentality here is that we look for a way to get it done,” Nubin said. “We all have that same goal, and for us, that goal is to serve our residents.”


Village Engineer Tom Lundeen Is Working To Engineer A Stronger Wellington

Village Engineer Tom Lundeen Is Working To Engineer A Stronger Wellington

As the Village of Wellington works to build a stronger, more resilient community that works for residents today and well into the future, understanding the big picture is an important character trait for leaders like Village Engineer Tom Lundeen.

Lundeen joined the Wellington team in 2016 and is looking forward to a long future supporting Wellington and its residents.

“I’m here to help protect the residents and their property,” explained Lundeen, who leads a dedicated crew of professionals. “I oversee the Engineering Department and the Public Works Department, which means I manage more than 100 employees.”

Lundeen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. After completing a degree in civil engineering, he moved to Florida in 1985 to find new challenges and career options.

“A friend lived down here and said, ‘Come on down, there’s plenty of jobs.’ Within three days, I had three job offers,” Lundeen recalled.

Over time, he gained a great deal of experience in both the public and private sectors, always looking for new ways to improve both his own knowledge and the infrastructure around him. Lundeen was involved in massive projects ranging from new bridges and roadways in Brevard County to raising U.S. Highway 1.

Before coming to Wellington, Lundeen was the engineer and deputy director for the Port of Palm Beach for many years.

“Working for the Port of Palm Beach was one of those jobs where you wake up every morning because you want to see what’s going to happen next,” Lundeen said. “I was working with electrical and structural engineers, building sea walls and bulkheads, managing paving and drainage.”

An avid scuba diver, Lundeen integrated his skills at work by completing more than 300 inspections underwater.

After a time, Lundeen was ready for something new, since he believes that change is not only inevitable, but also a good thing. He has known Village Manager Paul Schofield and Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes since his time with Palm Beach County, and the shift to Wellington has been a good fit.

“I’ve been in government for more than 29 years now, and it is a lot different,” Lundeen said. “I get excited when we get into a project. The system works, but it can always be improved.”

He gives most of the credit, though, to his teams in engineering and public works. Lundeen is proud to have a group of people who see the big picture, just like he does.

“There are some fabulous people who work here. I don’t think I could have hand-picked them any better,” Lundeen said. “Right now, everything is in place and working well in both departments. Public Works is filled with jacks of all trades, and masters of most of them. If an issue comes up, like a traffic problem, we can fix a road, put in a turn lane or design a traffic circle.”

He is especially proud of the work done by his fellow staff engineers. “Jonathan Reinsvold and Alyssa Dalloo are doing a fabulous job designing in house, saving us time and money,” Lundeen said.

The engineering department stays busy with a wide array of projects ranging from drainage improvements to permitting, and even altering the layout of congested intersections like South Shore Blvd. and Pierson Road.

“It’s one of those projects that you would feel good about,” Lundeen said.

The department has the plans in place for more than traffic concerns. There is another project meant to improve drainage in Wellington by removing some of the aging pipes and replacing them with two instead, to avoid choke points that get clogged by debris — especially after large storms.

“It’s not glamorous work, but if it’s not done, and we get a big storm, you are sure to hear about it,” Lundeen said. “For every project, no matter the size, I feel better because it’s done. We are doing our best to protect the community, one step at a time.”

Lundeen works hard, but he embraces that there is more to life than his career. He is still in close contact with the same friend who first convinced him to move to Florida. They work together on volunteer service projects of a very special nature.

“My friend got me into a project called Special Spaces. We fix up rooms for kids, and some of them are pretty intense,” Lundeen said. “I’ve worked on maybe five or six projects, the most recent being a three-year-old boy in Wellington battling leukemia.”

But when not helping in the community, Lundeen and his wife Michele would rather be outside adventuring, including riding motorcycles, kayaking and, of course, diving. “We take about one dive vacation a year,” Lundeen said. “My all-time favorites are Australia and Grand Turk Island.”

His appreciation for man-made structures sits well alongside his passion for nature. Lundeen’s family at home includes several rescued animals, and he even adopted a bird swept into his yard after Hurricane Frances.


New Tyler Brooke Clothing Store Caters To Both Men And Women

New Tyler Brooke Clothing Store Caters To Both Men And Women

Just as important as fine quality clothing that compliments him and flatters her is complementary clothing for couples. That’s the retail niche that new store Tyler Brooke specializes in at the Mall at Wellington Green.

Owner Henry Mosely first got into the clothing business while living in Winter Haven, Florida. He relocated to Wellington with his family in 2015. Mosely’s previous store location was in the Kobosko’s Crossing shopping center, but Tyler Brooke has since moved to a new location in the mall, opening just over a month ago. This new store location is receiving rave reviews for its impeccable, personalized customer service.

“We had been a fine menswear clothier, and when men wearing suits and dressing nice kind of went away, we rebranded as Tyler Brooke, a store for men and women who love to shop,” Mosely said.

Mosley is married with three children, two girls ages 21 and 15, and a boy, age nine, His hobbies outside of running his business include watching college football, visiting Disney World with his family, and catching a movie and dinner with his wife.

“I am a true Floridian, who has actually watched the Village of Wellington grow to what it is today,” Mosely said. “Wellington doesn’t have all the hustle and bustle and retains its small village flavor.”

Mosely especially likes the family community aspects of Wellington. “It is a great community with great schools for my children,” he added.

He believes that the community will benefit from the Tyler Brooke shopping concept.

“The Tyler Brooke concept is one where men and women can shop together in a relaxed atmosphere,” Mosley said. “They can also purchase items that complement each other, whether they’re going to a polo match or they are going to dinner or to the Kravis Center.  We offer a unique concept and clothing that allows husband and wife to complement each other.”

This concept works great for date night apparel, Mosely said.

“Say, it’s an anniversary or you’re celebrating your wife or husband’s birthday, you can dress as a couple with anything from black tie options and evening gowns, all the way down to just a nice button-down shirt and matching dress for her,” he explained. “The line that we specialize in working with is Robert Graham, and we have Robert Graham button-downs for women, just as we have them for men. So, women have the option to wear their jeans and a nice button-down shirt, just as the gentleman wears his jeans and a nice button-down shirt.”

Mosley’s store features a number of clothing lines, including several local brands.

“Some of the more famous brands are nationally known like Robert Graham for men and women, and Gretchen Scott for women with special colors and fabrics,” he said. “Local brands include Three Friends Apparel located out of North Palm Beach, and Sir Menswear by Eddie Edwards located in West Palm Beach.”

One benefit that Tyler Brooke customers enjoy, Mosley explained, is that they won’t see a whole bunch of the same thing in the store.

“They won’t see a rack full of identical pieces,” Mosley said. “All the items for men and women are hand-selected from different designers, and we try to keep it as limited as possible, meaning a minimum of three pieces per style, but no more than six. That gives the customer a little bit of exclusivity to the styles, the size and the brand when they shop for retail with us.”

Mosely got into the clothing business for personal reasons.

“Something I’d like people to know about the business is that it was started because of the challenges that I personally faced in retail in some stores finding my size,” Mosley said. “At Tyler Brooke, we offer apparel for everyone. We can dress any guy from size small to a 5XL, for women from extra small to a 3XL.”

He invites the community to visit the store, located on the upper level of the Mall at Wellington Green.

“We invite people to come in and visit our store, because I believe in fashion. Even though the internet boom is what everyone is talking about, I still feel there is a unique group of people who actually want to touch the fabrics,” Mosely said. “They actually want to put their hands on it and try things on. Ladies want to put the dress on. The guys want to try the shirt on. At Tyler Brooke, they have their choice to see the items as soon as they hit the shelf. They don’t have to wait for shipping.”

That immediacy continues into the way he uses the internet.

“One of the things I do every other Tuesday is I post ‘What’s New at Tyler Brooke,’” Mosley said. “It’s a Facebook post with items that just came in and we are featuring them.”

For more information about Tyler Brooke, call (561) 281-9522, visit, follow the store on Facebook at Tyler Brooke Wellington and on Instagram at tylerbrookewellington.