The Florida Bar is proud to announce it has selected the newest class of fellows for its Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy, which officially kicks off in coordination with the Bar’s 2017 Annual Convention on June 21-24 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. This class marks the fifth year since the program’s inception and supports the Bar’s mission to broaden diversity within the legal profession’s leadership ranks.
“These bright, talented men and women hold unbelievable potential to shape our profession’s future and positively impact our communities,” said William J. Schifino, Jr., president of The Florida Bar. “It is a privilege to welcome the incoming Leadership Academy class. I hope they find it to be an enriching experience.”
The Leadership Academy was initiated in 2013 by then-President Eugene Pettis to foster greater diversity and more inclusivity in the profession. The participants, lawyers from across the state who are selected through an open application process, will commence in June on a year-long series of training opportunities, legal events and educational programs. The curriculum is designed to teach fellows about how the Bar operates and to provide additional insight into a variety of critical leadership skills, such as running an effective meeting, dealing with conflict and identifying a proper work-life balance.
Beyond the structured coursework, fellows have an opportunity to network with both past and present Bar leaders, including presidents and Board of Governors members. Midway through the program, fellows indicate two preferences for Bar sections, divisions or committees in which they would like to become involved following graduation.
To date, the program has graduated 211 participants, many of whom have gone on to assume high-level leadership positions in their communities and within the Bar. In fact, two members of The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, the organization’s highest level of governance, are graduates of the program. Additionally, two voluntary bar association liaisons to The Florida Bar Board of Governors and six members of the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar are Leadership Academy alumni.
Members of this year’s class come from a wide range of ethnic, racial, geographic and professional backgrounds. Additionally, women make up 74 percent of the class, which is a reflection of the Bar’s continued effort to eliminate gender bias in the profession and increase opportunities for advancement.
“The Leadership Academy provides our members with the resources and support to chart their own path to success, while fostering greater community and professional involvement,” said Michael J. Higer, president-elect of The Florida Bar. “Our differences and unique perspectives are arguably our greatest assets. By leveraging our collective strengths, we can better serve our communities and each other.”
The 2017-18 Leadership Academy fellows are:
- Brice Aikens, The Umansky Law Firm, P.A., Orlando
- Aaron Bates, The Bates Law Group, PLLC, Jacksonville,
- Samuel Bryant, Radifit, Inc., Deerfield Beach
- Kelsey Burke, Lytal Reiter Smith Ivey & Fronrath, West Palm Beach
- Arielle Demby-Berger, Office of The Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Fort Lauderdale
- Israel Encinosa, Holland & Knight LLP, Miami
- Wendy Fisher, Serene Harbor Domestic Violence Center, Palm Bay
- Rachel Forman, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., Miami
- Steven Gaddy, Glen R. Goldsmith P.A., Miami
- Giselle Girones, Taylor, Day, Grimm & Boyd, Jacksonville
- Barbara Goiran, West Pasco Judicial Center, New Port Richey
- William Hall, DBPR, Division of Parimutuel Wagering, Tallahassee
- Kim Hamill, Derr Law Firm, Tampa
- De’Anne Jackson, Office of the General Counsel, Miami
- Suzanna Johnson, SMJ Law, PLLC, Tampa
- David Scott Knight, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Tampa
- Lyudmila Kogan, Pollack, Pollack & Kogan, LLC, Miami
- Dazi Lenoir, Lyons & Lenoir, LLC, Orlando
- Kristalyn Loson, Fort Myers
- Melissa Madsen, Third District Court of Appeal, Miami
- Carla Newman, Office of the State Attorney, Macclenny
- Brittany O’Neill, Daytona Beach
- Guna Ose, Office of the State Attorney – 18th Circuit, Viera
- Tara Price, Holland & Knight, Tallahassee
- Nicole Ramos-Barreau, Office of the Attorney General, Fort Lauderdale
- Jennifer Salter, Michael P. Maddux, P.A., Gainesville
- Jill Simon, The Orlando Family Firm, Orlando
- Divinne Smith, Joseph Smith PLLC, Winter Springs
- Kafi Swanson, The KDKS Law Firm, P.A., Orlando
- Sasha Watson, Hawm PLLC, Orlando
- Joshua Wright, Jacksonville