about

Debra "Debi" Riley

Debra “Debi” Riley, MSW, is a native of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. She is a product of the local public school system as she attended Wright Elementary, Pryor Middle School, and graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School. Debi received her Bachelors Degree in Social Science with two minors in Political Science and Business from Troy State University, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of West Florida. Debi is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

Debi began her professional career working at the Fort Walton Beach Public Housing Authority under the umbrella of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a social worker for the National United Tenant Association (NAUTA). She later worked in behavioral health at Bridgeway Center, Inc. She retired from the State of Florida Department of Health Okaloosa as the Okaloosa County Health Department’s Director of Healthy Start, where she worked tirelessly providing resources and support to pregnant mothers and their babies. Currently, she is the Executive Director of Okaloosa County Head Start, providing early childhood education services to infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families.

Debi has worked diligently in the local community assisting families with educational, social, economic, health and welfare, and workforce affordable housing issues. She worked aggressively in the Sylvania Heights and Combs-New Heights communities to assist with the designation of a Florida Front Porch Community, a distinct initiative of Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. She is one of the founding members of the Burnette Harmon Wood Community Resource Center, Inc.

Memberships/Organizations/Certifications

  • Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern

  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

  • Board of Directors Okaloosa County Elderly Services

  • Board of Directors Burnette-Harmon-Wood Community Resource Center

  • Board of Directors Early Learning Coalition

  • Northwest Florida State College Early Childhood Advisory Committee

  • Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician

  • Florida Notary Public

Accomplishments

  • Co-founder of Burnette Harmon Wood Community Resource Center

  • Assisted with the designation of the Brownfield redevelopment site for the Greater Sylvania Heights and Combs-New Heights communities.

  • Authored and implemented “Best Practices” for statewide Florida Department of Health 2008; “Laptops in the Field.”

  • Certificate of completion “Bill Blackwood Leadership Training” for Florida Department of Health Okaloosa elite leadership selection.

Debi is blessed to have three children, Cassie, Kenneth, and Taylor; and four grandchildren, Gabri’yel, Ismai’l, Ari’yel, and Elijah.

In her free time, Debi enjoys watching college and professional sports, and hanging out at the beach with family and friends.