Meet Our Board
Melanie Cabot, Founder and CEO
Ms. Cabot brings her unique expertise and skills as a small business owner, entrepreneur and philanthropist to the foundation. Melanie was raised in a unique family with a long and rich legacy of philanthropy, and that spirit of generosity is evident in all her endeavors. She understands that life isn’t only about creating wealth but also about being of service to others and the importance of leading by example. Melanie is a strong advocate for women’s education. As the foundation’s intellectual and creative author and driving force, she is committed to the mission to enhance women’s understanding and appreciation for the critical role financial education plays in their over-all well-being. The foundation provides an ideal social forum for women to learn and share empowering financial knowledge, as well as enjoying our community’s rich cultural offerings. Melanie is a board member in leadership positions for several other non-profit organizations.
Josephine Bayard, Advisory Board Member
Josephine DuPont Bayard’s family background has been a lifelong catalyst to advance many philanthropic causes which have covered a broad range of non-profit organizations. Her career began in the fashion industry in New York City. She has also owned several small businesses. Currently, she is working with a young entrepreneur in New York City. Josephine received two degrees from Palm Beach Atlantic University, including a master’s degree in Mental Health. While working on her master’s degree she served in the Palm Beach County court system as a Guardian Ad LItem. She moved from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to West Palm Beach, Florida 10 years ago. While living in Wyoming she served on the Board of Directors of Dancer’s Workshop and the Community Safety Network. Josephine’s additional philanthropic and community involvement has included serving on the Board of the American Red Cross in New York City, Opportunity in West Palm Beach, and The Nature Conservancy in Hobe Sound as a consultant on the project to build the Hawley Education Center at Blowing Rocks Preserve. Presently she serves on the Board of the West Palm Beach Library Foundation. She enjoys travel, art collecting, opera, symphony, ballet, Ikebana, car racing, yoga and biking.
Anne Bedinger, Advisory Board Member
Anne Bedinger is the founder of Wealth Wellness Group of Raymond James, a wealth management and financial planning practice based in Boca Raton. Anne is a Wealth Management Specialist, a Certified Financial Transitionist™ (CeFT™) and in the financial services business for over 33 years. Anne believes that both the financial side and the human side need to be addressed in financial and life transitions planning. Anne is a strong advocate for women in the financial planning industry. She is a founding member of the Raymond James Women’s Leadership Alliance, which was created to attract, develop, and engage promising women leaders in the financial advisory profession. She is also a mentor in the Raymond James mentoring program and a member of the Retirement Solutions Advisory Board. Anne is active in professional and community organizations, including the Financial Planners Association, 100 + Women Who Care, and the Delray Beach Historical Society. In her spare time, she enjoys driving her antique car, traveling, the arts, cross-training, and Pilates.
Cristen Danker, Advisory Board Member
Cristen earned her bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance and Real Estate from Florida Atlantic University. She later returned to FAU to earn her Master of Business Administration in Finance. Today she is the Assistant Manager at First Republic Bank’s Palm Beach Preferred Banking Office. She is committed to acquiring, building, and managing long-term client relationships by delivering highly personalized and responsive service. Prior to joining the bank in 2014, Cristen served as Portfolio Analysis for Sungarden Investment Research. She held various positions at Washington Mutual Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.
As the youngest member of the Advisory Board, Cristen brings her expertise on the evolving advances of technology in the financial world. Cristen enjoys world travel and lives in Jupiter.
Melissa Gannon, Advisory Board Member
Melissa Gannon’s career in finance has spanned nearly 25 years. She spent more than 20 of those years analyzing the banking and insurance industry as well as the U.S. equity and mutual fund markets for Weiss Ratings. She directed the design and development of quantitative financial models to assess the financial strength of insurance companies, banks and credit unions and the risk-adjusted performance of equities and mutual funds. She specialized in translating complex financial concepts into consumer-friendly explanations and created educational material on a variety of insurance products including annuities, life insurance, health insurance and Medicare. During her career, she has served as a source for hundreds of national, regional and local media outlets on the many topics of personal finance and the financial industry. Melissa is a financial planner with Castle Wealth Management, a 20-year old, woman-owned investment advisory firm in West Palm Beach. http://castlewm.com. Melissa has a Master of Business Administration (concentration in Finance) and is a Series 65 Fiduciary and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Melissa’s support of the foundation is a natural progression of her desire to use her extensive financial knowledge to help women take control of their financial lives.
Dede Lyons, Advisory Board Member
Empowerment Coach, author, and motivational speaker, Dede Lyons, founder of the Feel Good Express (FGE) lifestyle program, guides clients with the tools to attract a joy-filled life. Whether clients are working toward self-love, business branding, attracting a soulmate, opening their spiritual connection, or revamping a marketing plan, her effortless FGE practices catapult clients to achieve their personal and professional goals. At age 62 years young, she stepped away from a thirty-two-year career in broadcast sales & management in NYC and WPTV/West Palm Beach to embark on her FGE divine path. This time was a “reboot,” not “retirement.” Her “Feel Good Tweets” on Twitter inspired her first book, “The Joy of Tweeting.” Soon after, she began writing quarterly articles for Sun & Surf magazine. Dede leads seminars and workshops. Her private coaching practice continues to soar globally, and her Feel Good Journal is a big success. Her non-profit work at Gratitude House, the Lord’s Place, and the Burkle House have given many under-served women strategies, hope, and courage. As membership chair of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of PBC, she empowered members through her ‘Mentoring Monday” program. Dede has vast experience and success with leadership and team-building skills, her corporate marketing know-how, insightful wisdom, and expertise from seven years of coaching and seminars. She empowers clients through FGE practices with tools for a successful life. https://feelgoodexpress.com
Laura Opdenaker, Advisory Board Member
Laura Opdenaker is an accomplished event and meeting planning consultant with over 20 years of experience developing and executing special events, meetings , as well as destination and art & culture programs for financial service firms, corporations, non-profit organizations and cultural institutions, in the U.S. and abroad. Her past corporate experience includes serving as Manager of Events and Communication Department of the French-American Chamber of Commerce and Manager of Corporate Relations Department of Coca-Cola Mexico. She has also managed Client Entertainment, Investor Relations and Special projects for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, UBS Warburg Dillon Read, Citibank Global Wealth Management, and served on Smith Barney/Morgan Stanley Joint Venture Coordinating Team. Prior to her corporate career, she served on David Rockefeller’s staff, where she coordinated events and meetings with international government and business leaders, Heads of State and dignitaries, in the U.S. and abroad, Laura also served as liaison with organizations of which Mr. Rockefeller served as chairman, including the Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations and the Americas Society. Her commitment to community service and volunteerism was instilled in her from her family who were always involved in community service. Laura has served as a volunteer for a number of causes benefiting children, women and the homeless, including domestic violence agency, The Retreat, Catholic Charities, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Dress for Success, Opportunity Inc., The Lord’s Place, and is a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer. She is fluent in English, Spanish and French, with knowledge of Italian. Through her extensive experience and diverse background, she has developed strong relationships and maintains a high level of professionalism in her approach to client service.
Wendy Ann Payne, Advisory Board Member
Wendy Ann Payne is a Founding Partner of Centurion Wealth Management, an independent wealth management firm. Her desire to create Centurion Wealth came from her passion for helping clients gain financial independence and personal empowerment through insight, experience and education. She long dreamt of building a wealth management firm that provides holistic financial planning and investment guidance while striving to empower clients through financial education. Prior to Wendy’s 21-year tenure in the wealth management industry, she served as a caregiver to the elderly and to disabled adults. It was during this time that she witnessed the drastic difference that proper financial planning and preparation can often make. It was then too that she discovered how imperative it was to have a trusted advisor leading the way through the complexities of today’s financial world. Wendy takes genuine pleasure in simplifying the complicated financial industry and applying creative knowledge to each unique client situation. Empowering individuals and families, through education, with the clarity, confidence, and concrete steps to achieve their goals and dreams is what drives her wealth management philosophy. Wendy specializes in working with newly independent women; specifically widows, divorcees and other women who suddenly find themselves solely responsible for making financial decisions for the first time. In 2011 she co-authored her first book, “The Retirement Success Solution & Lessons I Learned from the Past Bear Market,” where she wrote a chapter about the importance of Financial Planning for Women. Wendy launched Life Stage Transitions™ , the innovative and comprehensive process, which revolutionizes the way her female clientele navigate their ever-changing financial landscape. Wendy is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®, Certified Estate Planner (CEP)®, Wealth Management Advisor and Life Stage Transition Specialist and currently holds her FINRA series 6, series 7, series 63, series 65, Life and Health insurance licenses.