A Personal Note from Your Central Florida Regional Director

Selfie with a few hundred of my favorite FIRST peeps – Florida FIRST teams at the 2017 Houston Championship.

I wrap up my time as Regional Director in Central Florida today, June 30, closing the door on five awesome years of working in an official FIRST capacity with teams, coaches, volunteers and mentors across Central Florida and the state.  It’s been a joy, a privilege and an honor and  I wanted to send along my best wishes to all of you.

I had been volunteering with FIRST for 7 years when I started as Regional Director in 2012.  Since then, with the addition of another Regional Director in South Florida and the growth of support positions like AmeriCorps VISTAs and FIRST Senior Mentors,  the transition to the League system in FIRST Tech Challenge, which Florida helped pioneer, and the division of FIRST LEGO League into five separate regions, FIRST has grown robustly across the state.  I’m happy to have supported the Orlando Regional  for the last five years, to have created the FIRST in Florida website as a unifying cross-program platform, initiated the Florida Blue Ribbon Showcase program that I hope will continue, launched the ROBOTICON FIRST Showcase and Off-Season event as a premier educational and FIRST promotional tool,  and to have been able to work with so many amazing people in the Florida State Operating Committee, with FIRST Alumni,  and in our Florida FIRST community in the creation of resources and the recruitment of new sponsors, mentors, students and volunteers for FIRST teams across all programs.

A new Central Florida Regional Director for the area has not yet been hired, so for the time being, if you need support for FIRST Robotics Competition programs in the Central or North Florida areas, please either write to your FIRST Senior Mentors  :

Or to FIRST HQ at FRCTeams@FIRSTInspires.org

Your South Florida Regional Director, Sandra Contreras, can assist you in that area: SContreras@FIRSTInspires.org .

While I’ll miss the “official FIRST” community, I’m happy to be able to focus on running ROBOTICON Tampa Bay in the fall and Gulf Coast Maker &  ComicCon  in the spring, mentoring and coaching local teams, volunteering with the FIRST State Operating Committee, helping as a tournament photographer when able, and most exciting, working on the development of the Tampa Bay Manufacturing and FIRST Robotics Center.

With the Florida FIRST State Operating Committee, where I’ll continue to volunteer.

If you want to stay in touch, you can always reach me at Terri@WillinghamLLC.com . My day job will be working with my husband, Steve, in our company Eureka Factory, which is leading the development of the Manufacturing Center, and also consults for Libraries and other community agencies in the creation of public makerspaces and creative community programming,which always includes FIRST Teams!

You’ve been a joy to know and work with, and I wish you all a wonderful new season. I look forward to seeing some of you at events, tournaments and Regionals – and hopefully at ROBOTICON!

In the finest spirit of FIRST, and in warmth and friendship,

Terri Willingham
Regional Director, FIRST ® Central Florida

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