Eleanor Saunders

Executive Director

Eleanor Saunders moved to Brandon from Dallas, Texas in 2004. She found ECHO and came on board as a volunteer in 2006. By 2007 she was the Center Director. She has worked exclusively in the non-profit sector. Her past employers have included: The Children’s Home, ECHO of Brandon, Junior Achievement, and most recently, Bay Life Church.

Eleanor received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. She has received certifications with the National Parents as Teachers Association as well as Volunteer Management through the Points of Light Foundation.

Her community involvement in Brandon has included directing the Brandon Cold Weather Shelter, partnering with Family Promise, volunteering at I Am Hope Café, as well as pioneering the creation of the Seeds of Faith Community Garden. Eleanor is also a graduate of the Leadership Brandon, Class of 2009.

She was recently recognized as the Hometown Hero by the Tampa Tribune (12-14) as well as Fox 13 News (3-15).

Eleanor is excited to continue her service to the community as the Executive Director of ECHO.

She resides with her family in Brandon, Florida.


Paulina Zaritski

Center Director

Paulina is originally from Santiago, Chile where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the ISI Institute. After college she spent two years living in France and is tri-lingual. She worked in Maritime Shipping and Logistics for 20 years including 8 years in Miami before relocating to the Brandon area in 2005 with her husband Mikhail.

She joined ECHO in June 2014 as a volunteer in the food pantry with a passion to serve hurting families. Paulina loves to spend time with her husband taking long walks or a ride on their motorcycle. She also enjoys bird watching, yoga, knitting, cooking and photography. Paulina is passionate about ECHO’s mission to help people in our community.


Sharmaine Burr

Director of Social Services


Sharmaine Burr has worked as ECHO’s Client Center Supervisor since September 2012. In July 2014 Sharmaine was promoted to the Director of Social Services.  Sharmaine has a passion to serve, educate and empower while promoting self-sufficiency. Her focus is to help build, strengthen and inspire each client that she encounters. Having grown up in a single parent household, Sharmaine empathizes and identifies with her client’s needs, wants and desires. Sharmaine brings a passion and love to her job that is evidenced by both her leadership skills, people skills and personal life experiences. In addition to her personal experiences, Sharmaine’s professional experience makes her the perfect fit for ECHO.  Before coming to ECHO Sharmaine worked for five years at Tampa General Hospital as the Coordinator in Trauma ICU.

Sharmaine is a Native of Tampa, FL with strong ties to the community. She attend Tampa Bay Tech High School. Sharmaine graduated from Hillsborough Community College with her Associates Sciences degree in Counseling/Human Services. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s of Social Work at St. Leo University. Sharmaine is an active member of Miracle Temple Inst. Church of God In Christ. Sharmaine is also a Certified Signing Agent Notary Public, certified in CPR and First Aid trained, and certified in Volunteer Management.

Sharmaine is responsible for overseeing the day to day operations in the Client Center.  She is in charge of supervising numerous interns and volunteers as well as networking and making relationship within the community. She also oversees and coordinates classes and outreach programs at ECHO such as GED, Healthy Living, Mommy & Me, Career Transition Program, & Financial Literacy.




Laura Young

Donor Program Manager

Laura Young joined ECHO in November 2014 as the Donor Program Manager. A second generation Tampa native, she moved to Brandon in 1988 and has volunteered in various roles at several non-profit organizations. Laura received her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida and worked in marketing, sales and volunteer management. She left her career to raise and home-school her children.

In this new position at ECHO, Laura will develop and coordinate the new funding program which includes cultivating donor relations and implementing a plan to attain sustainable funding. This will allow ECHO to offer more services to a larger population in a bigger facility. “The needs of our community continue to grow and we need to grow along with it. I am excited and honored to help take ECHO to the next level,” said Laura.

An avid college football fan, Laura spends her Saturdays cheering for Florida State, Clemson, and Colorado State.  She and her husband Ed have three sons, one in high school at home and two attending college in Colorado and Sarasota.  She enjoys traveling, baking desserts and hiking.


Zuleyka Castro

Communications Manager


Zuleyka Castro joined ECHO in November 2015 as the Communications Manager. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from The University of South Florida, and is currently working on a Master in Public Administration from there.

As the Communications Manager, Zuleyka will oversee all internal and external agency communication; such as, newsletters, website updates, volunteer email blasts, and social media. “I want to help put ECHO on the map; we do so much for the community and it is important to get the word out there.”

Zuleyka is truly passionate about being a catalyst for change. She plans on using her degrees to work towards the empowerment of our youth and the alleviation of poverty.


Yvonne Villafuerte

Administrative Assistant

Yvonne Villafuerte joined ECHO in the beginning of 2013 as a volunteer in the Client Center. Before becoming a volunteer she was one of the first to attend ECHO’s GED classes and was the first graduate of the GED program; graduating in June 2013 the same week her daughter graduated from High School. After volunteering for about a year and a half she was recommended for a position and hired as Executive Director of I Am Hope Cafe, a non-profit organization that fed and assisted homeless individuals and families. Yvonne worked at I Am Hope Cafe for a year before they closed their doors for good in August 2015 due to loss of venue.

Yvonne began working as an Administrative Assistant at ECHO in September 2015. She has a passion for helping those that have hit a rough spot in life and has a special heart for those that have suffered domestic violence and homelessness. Yvonne has always had compassion for others and plans to be a part of making big things happen with her team at ECHO.

Yvonne is half way through her Associates Degree in Human Services & Counseling and plans to return to HCC soon. Yvonne is bilingual in Spanish and has strong organization skills. She enjoys painting and has had a interest in art since she was young, she also enjoys anything crafty and loves cooking anything from Italian to Cuban cuisine.


Teddi Harris

Contract Teacher

Bio Coming Soon