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St. Petersburg Regional Benefit Office

Meet Our Leadership Team


Kerrie Witty

Director: Kerrie Witty

Kerrie Witty was appointed Director of the St. Petersburg Regional Office (RO) on May 11, 2010. She administers benefits and services to nearly 1.8 million Veterans and their families residing in the RO’s service areas.

Prior to this position, Ms. Witty was Director of ROs in Los Angeles and Providence, R.I. She was Assistant Director of the St. Petersburg RO from 2003 to 2005.

She began her VA career in June 1991 as a Veterans Claims Examiner at the Portland (Oregon) RO. While there, she advanced to the positions of Senior Veterans Claims Examiner and Rating Specialist. She later served as a Management Analyst in the Central Area Office in Livonia, Mich., and the Office of Field Operations in VBA’s Central Office in Washington, D.C., before serving as Veterans Service Center Manager in the VA regional offices in Lincoln, Neb., and Chicago.

Ms. Witty is a graduate of the Leadership Enhancement and Development (LEAD) program, Leadership VA (LVA), the Assistant Director Development program, the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) and the One VA Senior Executive Service Candidate Development program.

Ms. Witty holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Portland State University in Oregon.

Suzanne Nunziata

Assistant Director: Suzanne Nunziata

Suzanne Nunziata was appointed to this position in August 2008. She is responsible for assisting the Director in the administration of benefits to Veterans in the RO’s service area. In 2010, Ms. Nunziata served as Acting Director of the St. Petersburg RO for six months and as Acting Director of the San Juan (Puerto Rico) RO for three months.

Before that, Ms. Nunziata served from January 2007 to August 2008 as the Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) at the Chicago RO. In this position, she managed a staff of 186 employees and was responsible for the administration, control, and direction of VA’s Compensation and Pension programs.

Ms. Nunziata began her 32-year VA career at the St. Petersburg RO, where she worked as an adjudicator and rating specialist. She left VA in 1996 to earn a master’s degree in Physical Therapy. She worked in the private sector until 2001, when she returned to VA’s Roanoke RO. There she served as rating specialist, Decision Review Officer, and coach of several service center teams prior to her selection as VSCM at the Hartford RO in March 2005.

Ms. Nunziata is a graduate of the 2009 Assistant Director Development Program and a graduate of Leadership VA class of 2006. As a licensed physical therapist, Ms. Nunziata has an enhanced understanding of orthopedic and neurological injuries that impact Veterans.

Donny Flores

Loan Guaranty Officer: Donny Flores

Donny Flores was appointed to this position in May 1, 2007. As Loan Guaranty Officer, Mr. Flores administers the Loan Guaranty benefit to Veterans in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Before that, he was Assistant Director of the Indianapolis RO for three years. As Assistant Director, Mr. Flores was responsible for supporting the Director in managing the full range of benefits and services provided to nearly 569,000 Veterans, Servicemembers, their families and survivors throughout Indiana.

Mr. Flores began his VA career in 1994 as a Construction Analyst at the Detroit RO. He then served as Chief, Construction and Valuation in March 1995 at the Oakland RO. He has held various positions in the field and at VA.

He is a graduate of LVA 2001, the Justice Center of Atlanta Mediation program 2003, VBA’s Assistant Director Development Program 2003, and the FEI 2004.

Prior to his federal service, Mr. Flores was an architect-builder. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Detroit School of Architecture.

Maria Rodrigue

Vocation Rehabilitation and Employment Officer: Maria Rodriguez

Maria Rodriguez was appointed to this position in May 2009. She administers Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, which includes 10 offices in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Orlando, Cocoa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Tampa Polytrauma Center, Tampa VetSuccess USF Pilot, Fort Myers, and Fort Lauderdale. The program has 6,336 active Veteran participants.

Ms. Rodriguez began her VA career in 1999 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. She was the Assistant VR&E Officer, and she is currently a mentor for the Leadership Bay Pines (LBP) program.

Ms. Rodriguez holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Puerto Rico. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and an appointed Contracting Officer with a Level 1 Warrant. Prior to her federal service, she worked as a VA subcontractor, in Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation department, as a mental health counselor, and as a provider for the Florida Workers’ Compensation Rehabilitation office.

Sandra Smith

Veterans Service Center Manager: Sandra Smith

Sandra “Sandy” Smith has served in this position since 2009.

Ms. Smith began her VA career in 1993 as an attorney with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, D.C. In January 2002, Ms. Smith moved to the St. Petersburg RO. During her tenure, Ms. Smith processed Veterans’ disability claims as a Rating Veterans Service Representative and a Decision Review Officer. She served as a first-line supervisor (coach) of appeal and decision teams as well as an Assistant Service Center Manager for several years before assuming her duties as Service Center Manager with oversight of 700 employees and a workload of more than 30,000 Veterans’ claims.

Ms. Smith has been a mentor in the local VBA leadership program, Leadership Bay Pines, and the national LEAD program. She is currently a mentor in the national pilot for VBA’s Leadership Development Program for managers. Ms. Smith is an instructor for local supervisor training and leadership programs. She is also an instructor at the BVA Academy in Baltimore. She is a 1998 graduate of LVA.

Ms. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of South Florida and a doctorate of law from Florida State University’s College of Law. She served in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 1991.