Takeaways from Tallahassee — Leadership in turbulent times


Leadership in turbulent times

Ubiquitous on cable news channels and documentaries, historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin is the go-to gal for seasoned and reasoned commentary on Presidents past.

The Pulitzer Prize winner will appear at Florida State University on Sept. 12, speaking on “Leadership in Turbulent Times: An Evening with Doris Kearns Goodwin.” Her appearance is part of the Strengthening American Democracy lecture series, sponsored by FSU’s Institute of Politics ([email protected]) in collaboration with Opening Nights.

Doris Kearns Goodwin comes to FSU for a lesson in presidential leadership.

Her topic borrows from the title of her seventh book, published to instant acclaim in 2018. In the book, she analyzes the qualities of leadership by examining the character of four Presidents she has written about in previous biographies — Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Goodwin has proven herself as a leading historian of American Presidents in her decades-long career. Her books serve as a resource for films and miniseries, and she has served as a consultant and been interviewed extensively for documentaries.

Goodwin also has served as an executive producer for History Channel miniseries. The most recent one, “Theodore Roosevelt,” premiered on Memorial Day.

She won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for history for “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.” Her “Team of Rivals” served as the basis for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and was awarded the prestigious Lincoln Prize, the inaugural Book Prize for American history and the Lincoln Leadership Prize.

She also has received the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the Charles Frankel Prize, the Sarah Josepha Hale Award, the New England Book Award, and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.

Goodwin earned a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University and taught government there. She also is a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox.

The event is set for 7:30 p.m. in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for FSU students who reserve a ticket. To purchase or reserve tickets, visit bit.ly/FSU-DKG2022.


Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Aimee Sachs, Christine Jordan Sexton, and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Renatha Francis appointed to Florida Supreme Court … again — As expected, Gov. Ron DeSantis made a second try at appointing Judge Francis to the state Supreme Court Friday, making her the second Black woman to serve on the state’s highest court. Francis, a Jamaican-born immigrant, had been the Governor’s first choice for a vacancy on the court in 2020, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled she was four months shy of having 10 years’ membership in the Florida Bar, which is a constitutional requirement for sitting on the state Supreme Court. With that obstacle out of the way, Francis is set to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Alan Lawson.

Gov. DeSantis suspends Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren — The Governor on Thursday suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren over his refusal to enforce bans on abortion and gender-affirming surgery, saying he “has put himself publicly above the law.” DeSantis then named County Judge Susan Lopez as Warren’s replacement. The action was criticized by many groups, who said the action was an abuse of power. Warren likened DeSantis to the “Orwellian thought police,” saying he was “being punished for not enforcing a law that doesn’t even exist.”

Three Florida insurers get ratings downgrade — Insurance rating company Demotech downgraded three more insurers as the state’s property insurance market continues its tailspin. Demotech changed the rating for United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. from “A” — meaning “exceptional” — to an “M” rating — meaning “moderate.” Demotech also withdrew their “A” ratings for Weston Property & Casualty Insurance Co. and FedNat Insurance Co. and didn’t replace them with a new rating. The downgrades could put homeowners out of compliance with their mortgage lenders, forcing them to seek coverage elsewhere.

State halts plans for Northern Turnpike Extension — The state is putting the brakes on the Northern Turnpike Extension, concluding that it makes better sense to make improvements to Interstate 75 than build a new corridor through rural communities. The news is a significant victory for environmental groups and local governments in Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter counties that fought against four proposed routes connecting the turnpike at Wildwood to the Suncoast Parkway. The turnpike extension was one of three projects studied by M-CORES — Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance.

Casey DeSantis announces Florida Cancer Connect — The First Lady this week unveiled Florida Cancer Connect, an online initiative that puts information on cancer treatment, caregiver tools, and stories from Floridians who have fought cancer on one website. Casey DeSantis announced the initiative alongside Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller and cancer survivors to launch this initiative. “Our mission with this website is simple — make the cancer battle easier and instill hope in those fighting,” said Casey DeSantis, who was declared cancer-free earlier this year after battling breast cancer.

To the CORE

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration worked with the state departments of Health and Children and Families on expanding an opioid addiction pilot program from Palm Beach County into an added 12 Florida counties.

Dubbed the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE), the program will initially be expanded into five additional counties: Brevard, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Gulf, Manatee, Marion, Pasco and Volusia counties. It is not clear when the program will expand into the other seven Florida counties though at a news conference this week in Brevard County DeSantis said he’d like to expand the program into Citrus, Flagler and Pinellas counties as soon as possible.

The CORE program works with EMTs and medical personnel who respond to overdose emergencies. CORE stabilizes and assesses the patient and develops a long-term treatment plan.

“It is so vital for individuals contending with a substance use disorder to have access to the right array of services that will work for their individual needs,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “When agencies, stakeholders, and partners alike come together to bolster our state’s system of care, we can ensure that Floridians have access to comprehensive services when they need it most.”

State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo also praised the program’s expansion in a prepared statement.

“Addiction is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address the stress traumas that led them to addiction,” Ladapo said. “One day the standard of care will address the trauma and the stress, but until then, we have the evidence-based practices that exist in place. This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

Moreover, the administration announced it had hired Courtney Phillips to serve as the state’s first Director of Opioid Recovery. Phillips is an adult psychologist currently serving as the Director of Behavioral Health for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

Courtney Phillips will oversee the state’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery program, which will help Florida families break free from addiction.

In her capacity as the Director of Opioid Recovery, Phillips will provide support for the behavioral health system.

“The state of Florida should be proud today to take the lead on systematically tackling the opioid and substance use epidemic with compassion and competent care,” she said. “Our state and communities did not choose this epidemic, but today we choose to treat this medical and psychiatric illness like any other, with access, evidence-based care and lifelong comprehensive treatment.”

There have been nearly 2,000 fatal overdoses in Florida in 2022. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, with the Central Florida High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Team, saw a 72% increase in drug overdose fatalities related to fentanyl last year.


Moody vs. evil robots

Attorney General Ashley Moody may not have a black belt in karate, but she’s giving Yoshimi a run in the fight against malicious robots.

Moody announced this week that she is joining a task force to take on the evil-natured robots that are programmed to annoy us — robocallers.

It’s a seemingly never-ending war, but the new initiative has the potential to hit robocallers right in the jaw. It has buy-in from 50 Attorneys General, with Florida holding a seat on the executive committee.

It’s Ashley Moody versus evil phone robots.

Their plan is simple: Go after gateway providers.

Gateway providers operate what are essentially massive modern-day switchboards that allow foreign callers to dial into the U.S. telephone network. They’re supposed to vet callers to ensure their business is legal, but Moody and other Attorneys General say they’re not putting enough effort into it.

To that end, the task force will focus on the bad actors in the telecom industry to reduce the number of robocalls that consumers receive and to incentivize companies to follow the rules.

“My office is working with states across the nation to stop the influx of illegal robocalls originating overseas. These calls are often used to execute devious scams and steal from Americans — so it’s important that we work together to investigate these foreign phone calls and find ways to stop them from harming our citizens.”

While the task force battles it out, Moody advises Floridians to take a few simple steps to avoid becoming the robocallers’ next victim: Hang up the phone immediately if you suspect fraud, be wary of any caller claiming to represent a government agency, and slam down the phone if they ask for weird forms of payment — for example, the IRS doesn’t ask for iTunes gift cards, and one shudders to think what album they’d buy if they did.

Workers’ comp fraud

Eight unlicensed contractors in Manatee County were arrested after a joint operation between state and local officials showed that they were unlicensed contractors with no workers’ compensation insurance.

“Performing construction work without workers’ compensation insurance and the required contractors’ licenses is not only illegal, but dangerous. Taking advantage of hardworking Floridians just to save a few bucks is despicable and puts customers and employees at risk,” Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said in a release announcing the arrests.

No workers’ comp. insurance? Jimmy Patronis would like a word with you.

The Division of Investigative and Forensic Services’ Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation worked together on the sting operation.

Florida employers are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage and enforcement is through the Division of Workers’ Compensation which is located in the Department of Financial Services.

Alberto Vega-Alvarez, Ryan Bogos, Thomas Yannotti, Julian Gubchak, Jeffrey Tenpenny, Luis Pineiro, Daniel Rotar, and Jamey Darnell were arrested and booked into the Manatee County Jail. All individuals were booked into the Manatee County Jail. If found guilty, they could each face five years in prison.


The week in appointments

Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court — DeSantis named Cynthia Oster to the Court. Oster has served as a judge on the Hillsborough County Court since her appointment in 2018. Previously, she served as a Senior County Attorney in the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office for 18 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from Stetson University. Oster fills the judicial vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Emmett Battles.

Florida Citrus Commission — DeSantis made nine appointments to the Commission. Christopher Groom is the COO of Florida’s Natural Growers. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and Hispanic studies from Northwestern University and his master’s degree in international business studies from the University of South Carolina. Steve Johnson is the president and owner of Johnson Harvesting and the vice president of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural operations management from UF. Carlos Martinez is a procurement manager for The Coca-Cola Co.. Martinez earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Florida and his master’s degree in Christian theology from Saint Leo University. Martin McKenna is the president and owner of McKenna and Associations Citrus and a past Chair of the Florida Department of Citrus. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from UF. Paul Meador, Jr. is the president of Everglades Harvesting and Everglades Agricultural Services and the Florida Citrus Mutual vice president. He also serves on the Executive Committee of both the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and the National Council of Agricultural Employees. William Poulton, a U.S. Navy veteran, is the senior director of Global Procurement for Tropicana Products and a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Citrus Processors Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Duke University. John “Pat” Schirard is the director of Citrus Extracts and former president of Indian River Select. He serves on the Indian River Citrus League Board of Directors and is a member of Florida Citrus Mutual. Schirard earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food and resource economics from UF. John Smoak is the president and CEO of Smoak Groves. He is a board member of Florida’s Natural Growers, Highlands County Citrus Growers Association and Heartland National Bank. Smoak earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from UF. Daniel Sutton is the president and general manager of Alico Citrus, the vice president of Gulf Citrus Growers, and serves on the Florida Citrus Mutual Board of Directors. He earned his bachelor’s degree in citrus business from Florida Southern College.

Hernando County Court — Barbara-Jo Bell was appointed to the Court on Friday. Bell has served as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit for the past year. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Public Defender. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and her law degree from Stetson University. Bell fills the judicial vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Kristie Healis.

Hillsborough County Court — The Governor has appointed Marc Makholm to the Court. He has served as an Assistant Legal Counsel in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for the past 11 years. Previously, he was the owner of his own law firm, Marc Makholm, P.A. He received his bachelor’s degree from UF and his law degree from Stetson University. Makholm fills the judicial vacancy created by the resignation of Judge James Moody III.

Northwest Florida State College District Board of Trustees — The Governor has appointed Jack “Tanner” Peacock and Dr. Jon Ward to the Board. Peacock, of Santa Rosa Beach, is a broker associate at Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty. He was appointed as a Walton County Planning Commissioner and a member of the National and Florida Associations of Realtors. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University. Ward, of Inlet Beach, is a dermatologist at Dermatology Specialists of Florida and founder of Bay County Taxpayers. He is also a Managing Partner at Southeastern Dermatology Group and the Legislative Chair of the Emerald Coast Medical Society. Ward earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and his medical doctorate from UF. Additionally, Lori Kelley has been reappointed. Kelley, of Fort Walton Beach, is a CPA at Warren Averett. She is past national president of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, and past Chair of both the Walton County Chamber of Commerce and the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of West Florida.

State Apprenticeship Advisory Council — DeSantis on Friday appointed Karen Nichols and Robert Tidwell to the Council. Nichols, of Kissimmee, is the training director for the Central Florida Mechanical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. Nichols is the secretary of the Central Florida Association of Apprenticeship Administrators and is a member of the Florida Apprenticeship Conference. Tidwell, of Apopka, is an instructor for Orange County Public Schools and a coordinator and assistant director for the Florida Electrical Apprenticeship and Training. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a member of the Florida Association of Electrical Contractors and the Classroom Teachers Association.

Florida’s mainstays

Florida’s Main streets are bustling with new construction, vibrant displays and more, thanks partly to the state’s Main Street Program.

Last week, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced the winners of the Secretary of State’s 2022 Florida Main Street Awards during the Preservation on Main Street Conference in DeLand.

“I am proud to recognize the success and achievement of this year’s award winners,” Byrd said. “Their efforts to promote economic development and historic preservation are crucial to revitalizing Florida’s historic downtowns and the communities they support.”

Florida honors those citizens who make our main streets special.

Florida Main Street is part of the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. The program revitalizes historic downtowns and encourages economic development through historic preservation.

Florida Main Street Awards recognizes the innovative projects, people, organizations and businesses in Florida’s 57 Main Street communities. This year, most categories offered “Excellence” and “Achievement” awards. Some instead gifted two Excellence awards or one Excellence Award with no second recognition.

Categories include Outstanding Private/Public Partnership, Outstanding Florida Main Street Public Improvement and Outstanding New Construction Project. Others recognize programs and people supporting downtown rejuvenation, like Outstanding Local Florida Main Street Supporter, Outstanding Florida Main Street Special Event and Outstanding Florida Main Street Image Campaign or Promotional Material.

The complete lists of awards and awardees are available through the Department of State’s website.


Disaster volunteers

Local governments, colleges and other public jurisdictions looking to create disaster response teams can share a cut of $140,000 from Volunteer Florida.

Volunteer Florida on Monday began taking applications for a grant fund for government organizations to establish Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) or Citizen Corps Programs in their communities. Through the CERT and Citizen Corps Program, individuals learn basic disaster skills, which allow them to provide critical support to their communities during and after emergencies and disasters.

John Davis is looking for a few good volunteers.

“Florida consistently counts on an enormous volunteer base to aid in our disaster response efforts, and as our state weathers COVID-19 this hurricane season, this year’s funding is that much more crucial to expand our volunteer forces and promote additional resources,” said Volunteer Florida Board Chair John Davis. “Volunteer Florida is proud to administer this funding as our state’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during and after disasters. Our CERT and Citizen Corps grantees fortify our emergency management officials’ great work and play a vital role in our communities’ response and recovery efforts.”

Volunteer Florida administers the Florida CERT and Citizen Corps Program together with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“FDEM is thankful for the invaluable partnership with Volunteer Florida and the resources they provide to Floridians in their time of need,” FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said. “With a busy storm season projected, this funding will empower local communities as they respond to and recover from disasters.”

Instagram of the week


Sovereign impunity

The Florida Senate will have more than a dozen claims bills to consider when it convenes in 2023.

Lawmakers filed 14 claims bills Monday, the deadline for Senators to file relief bills on behalf of their constituents. The bills, sometimes called relief bills, request the Legislature to allocate state funds to help cover damages, injuries or losses after a party has already exhausted all other remedies.

The practice stems from sovereign immunity, which prevents the public from seeking remedies from the government without its consent. For plaintiffs to receive payouts worth more than $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident, lawmakers must pass, and the Governor must sign legislation OK-ing the stipend, even if the jurisdiction agrees to a settlement.

In 2023, lawmakers will consider more than a dozen claims bills.

Several claims bills for next Session are repeats from this year’s Session, including a request (SB 22) that the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office pays $15 million to Julia Perez, who spent three months intubated and comatose and an additional seven months bedridden following a head-on collision with a deputy’s vehicle when the deputy cut her off. The Sheriff’s Office admitted negligence in the incident, which occurred when the deputy turned to respond to an emergency without turning on his vehicle’s emergency siren. Perez, whom the filing describes as “totally disabled,” sustained multiple injuries that continue to plague her.

The most significant claims bill (SB 24) would direct the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to pay $20 million to a boy who was abused and born addicted to methadone yet allowed to live with his mother without DCF services despite the child and mother’s addictions. The mother was later the subject of multiple child abuse complaints, but DCF closed — or never opened — investigations without removing the child until, at 13 months, he overdosed, was comatose and ultimately hospitalized for a month.

Some lawmakers have sought, without avail, to revise Florida’s sovereign immunity laws to raise the threshold for claims bills or allow more flexibility for plaintiffs and government entities.

While the Senate has adhered to an August 1 deadline for filing claims bills for more than 20 years there is no deadline in the House to file the legislation.

Drink up

West Miami broke ground on the next phase of a potable water project thanks to spending secured by Sen. Ileana Garcia.

Garcia and West Miami Mayor Eric Diaz-Padron were on-site Tuesday for the third phase of the city’s Potable Water Replacement Project. The $2 million phase and the project at large will conserve an estimated 150 million gallons of water by decreasing the amount of potable water seeping from cracks within the aging 50-year-old structure.

Ileana Garcia comes to the rescue with potable water for West Miami.

Perpetual leaks, recurring disruptions and deterioration that threatens to pollute the water have plagued the system. At its current strength, it cannot sustain West Miami’s existing or projected population.

The latest phase will serve 3,000 residents, about a third of the city.

“Water quality enhancements are greatly needed in South Florida,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “I was pleased to work with Mayor Diaz-Padron and deliver for the city of West Miami $2,000,000 in state funding in order for the city to complete this needed renovation of its potable water system. This project will not only conserve millions of gallons of water, but it will also improve water pressure for the residents of West Miami.”


Big check

Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Fiona McFarland, both Sarasota Republicans, presented a $1.5 million ceremonial check to CASL/Renaissance Manor on Friday. The lawmakers secured the state funding for the Sarasota institution to address homelessness through regional programs.

The assisted living facility holds a limited mental health license and provides permanent supportive housing and a continuum of care for homes of people with disabilities.

It’s Joe Gruters and Fiona McFarland’s turn to hand out the big check.

“CASL’s Renaissance Manor does amazing work, with recidivism rates so low they are the envy of the nation,” Gruters said. “This is an investment in lives that pays off many times over and, in many ways, and I’m proud to have been able to obtain it again this year in the Florida Senate.”

Officials with the organization say providing the support Renaissance Manor delivers saves the state $21,000 a year, and the savings run around $40,000 when accounting for homeless individuals with disabilities. CASL also boasts a strong record when it comes to clients taken in off the streets staying off. The organization reports a recidivism rate of 10%, when the statewide average runs around 25%.

“CASL offers residents a path to stable housing and the tools for self-determination,” McFarland said. “It’s been an honor to work with them as they fill a critical housing need in our community.”

Fish fry

Sen. Shevrin Jones is hosting a free afternoon fish fry on Saturday to meet and inform residents interested in learning about the resources and economic support available.

The “Homeowners’ Assistance Fish Fry” is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m. at St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood on the southwest corner of Senate District 35.

Jones is partnering with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to host the event, featuring a live DJ and, for non-fish eaters, burgers and hot dogs (while supplies last).

Shev Jones is hosting an old-fashioned community fish fry and cookout.

FDOE has tapped Jacksonville-headquartered Indelible Solutions to help connect residents to the necessary resources and support. A Black-owned, Florida-based national consulting firm, Indelible Solutions, was the company Miami-Dade County chose last year to help in distributing funds through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Jones said he is proud to partner with FDOE on the initiative and stressed there the department “could not have picked a better partner than Indelible Solutions to help them spread this program in the Black community.”

“When trying to figure out what was the best way to get the community out to share these resources,” he said, “we thought about the one thing that brings the community together, a family fun day.”

St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church is at 6100 NW 24th Ave., Miami, FL 33142.


Food for thought

Florida food banks could soon help point clients toward behavioral health services when they come to pick up food.

Farm Share and the members of the Florida Association of Managing Entities (FAME) are partnering to supply information to Farm Share’s food recipients about how they can access needed behavioral health services.

The concept stems from many studies that have identified a link between food insecurity and increased rates of depression and anxiety.

Stephen Shelley seeks a one-stop food distribution and behavioral health hub.

“Farm Share is here to support all Floridians, and we recognize that many individuals who are facing food insecurity are also facing increased stress, anxiety, and other challenges,” Farm Share CEO Stephen Shelley said. “This partnership with Florida’s Managing Entities is a natural fit as we can help Floridians beyond their food insecurity and help connect them with resources that can get them back on their feet.”

Local behavioral health managing entities will provide informational cards in the bags of food distributed by Farm Share. The cards will feature contacts for local service centers, enabling recipients to easily connect with mental health and substance use disorder providers, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

“Florida’s seven Managing Entities oversee our state’s indispensable behavioral health safety net system, and our goal is to make sure every Floridian who needs mental health or substance use disorder treatment knows what resources are available,” FAME CEO Natalie Kelly said. “We’re grateful to Farm Share for its collaboration on helping spread the word about these vital services.”

National recognition

Sachs Media Partner and Chief Operating Officer Lisa Garcia has been named one of the 2022 Top Women in PR nationally by PR News for excellence as a mentor, reflecting her role as a major contributor to the firm’s success by recruiting and cultivating young professionals.

Garcia spearheads the recruitment and retention efforts at Sachs Media, one of the state’s top independent communications firms. She was one of just 15 women around the nation to earn the PR News mentoring honor, which will be presented at a Sept. 7 gala in New York City.

“Lisa is a gift to all who work with her, so it’s especially meaningful that she is being honored for her work mentoring the next generation of professionals,” said Sachs Media president Michelle Ubben. “She not only produces outstanding results for our clients, but she teaches team members by word and example how to deliver outstanding client service and create impactful campaigns.”

Congratulations to Sachs Media’s Lisa Garcia, among the top women in PR.

Garcia is an Emmy Award-winning producer with expertise in crafting state and national public-purpose initiatives, strategic communications, and leadership in implementing public relations, public affairs, and crisis management initiatives and overall project management.

Before joining Sachs Media in 2005, she directed campaigns for nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Frostburg State University in Maryland.

At the PR News awards gala, the publication will honor individuals in several categories, including Mentoring, Change-Makers, Entrepreneurs, Industry Innovators, and Rising Stars. PR News is the leading source of information, education, recognition, and data for Fortune 1000 professionals, agencies and government/nonprofits. For over 75 years, it has been dedicated to supporting the growth of communicators and marketers, all while keeping them abreast of the latest news affecting their industries.


Value add

Florida A&M University this week announced it’s becoming the third of Florida’s four historically Black universities to join a job training partnership with Google.

FAMU joins more than 30 other participating HBCUs in the Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program that aims to train 100,000 Black college students in digital skills by 2025.

It was made possible because of a $3 million investment Google made in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the nation’s largest organization that represents the Black college community.

Bill H. Means, director of the FAMU Career and Professional Development Center, called it a “wonderful opportunity.”

Bill Means sees a wonderful opportunity for a FAMU and Google training partnership.

“This opportunity for our students to become even more competitive via certifications is a value add to the university,” Means said. “As students prepare for the workforce, certifications are becoming a hot topic in higher education, and we are proud to partner with Google to make this a reality.”

The effort started in 2020 and gave HBCU career centers funding for online digital skills programs.

Students will get training in skills that directly translate to specific careers. Design thinking, project management and professional brand building are a part of it.

This represents an expansion of an effort called “Google in Residence.” In that program, Google software engineers came to HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions to work as faculty.

Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens are also part of the jobs training effort.

“Every student should have the opportunity to learn digital skills for today’s in-demand jobs,” said Tia McLaurin, Google community engagement manager. “We’re proud … to help more students prepare for the workforce and thrive as they start their careers.

Dark money

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission against his opponent Kristin Dozier, accusing her of using “shady and improper tactics” in coordination with “dark money” political committees.

The Mayor said Dozier, a Leon County Commissioner, coordinated with the group by using images from the same photo shoot in mailers. He said her campaign accepted donations “well above the legal limit” and failed to report the expenditures.

Accusations of shady tactics and ‘dark money’ are flying in the Tallahassee Mayor’s race.

“I am prepared to hold every candidate accountable to follow the laws when you run for office,” Dailey said. “How can you expect to properly serve in office if you do not follow the law when you’re running for office?”

Dozier called the accusations a “nonissue” and a “waste of time.”

“He’s worried, and this is what politicians do when they’re desperate,” Dozier said. “They lash out, and they attack their opponents. And that is so disappointing.”

Endorsements NOW

The Florida National Organization for Women political committee has endorsed a slate of Tallahassee candidates.

Among the Democrats endorsed are Marie Rattigan for House District 8, Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier for Mayor, Adner Marcelin for City Commission Seat 5 and City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow for City Commission Seat 3.

Marie Rattigan tops the Tallahassee ticket of NOW endorsements.

Several endorsed candidates said women’s reproductive rights were a critical issue to them.

Matlow, facing David Bellamy in his re-election bid, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade this summer makes the committee’s work in Tallahassee “more important than ever.”

“I’m grateful they’ve put their trust in me, especially given my opponent’s large contributions to extreme anti-choice politicians like Matt Gaetz,” Matlow said.

Candidates must fill out a questionnaire and go through a screening process with Florida NOW, which then makes recommendations for endorsements to the committee.

Campaign Directions

Ron DeSantis — Down arrow — If he’s trying to say he’s literally above the law, then mission accomplished.

Andrew Warren — Crossways arrow — He lost his job but gained a national profile.

Casey DeSantis — Up arrow — She really is the better half. Florida Cancer Connect is just another reason why.

The View — Down arrow — The who?

Marines — Crossways arrow — Do they realize Florida classrooms can be more dangerous than a combat zone?

Fla. Dems. — Up arrow — They finally endorsed some School Board candidates. Welcome to the game.

Laurel Lee — Up arrow — Anyone knows a good Realtor in Washington?

Kevin Cate — Up arrow — All right, the new Fried ad was pretty good.

Lake Ray — Down arrow — The DeSantis endorsement killed him. His sister just spits on the grave.

FP&L — Up arrow — We bet the “honor box” is overflowing with cash.

FP&L — Part 2 — We also bet its big win at PSC has nothing to do with lounges or other machinations — Really!

Everglades Foundation — Down arrow — Are they ignoring science, or do they just know opposing DeSantis would be a failed experiment?

Monkeypox — Down arrow — Can we not?

Property insurance market — Down arrow — How soon until we just call it Citizens?

“Don’t tread on me” — Crossways arrow — It feels like the reaction is overwrought since the money goes to veterans.

“Pig butchering” — Down arrow — Let’s save time and only send consumer alerts when a crypto opportunity isn’t a scam.

Blaise Ingoglia — Up arrow — He put the Hernando County School Board on the back foot, and now everyone else is knocking them down.

Florida Lottery — Crossways arrow — It’s too bad they can’t take the lump sum.

Tallahassee Memorial — Up arrow — It’s August, and Tallahassee has something in the Top 25, as it should.

Tallahassee Democrat — Up arrow — They cleaned up at the Florida Society of News Editors awards … again.

Tallahassee Democrat — Down arrow — But Gannett is cleaning house … again.

Doc Dockery — Halo — The world lost a truly good man. Rest in peace.

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