Ruth’s List helps women run inspiring campaigns that WIN. We recruit, train and support Democratic pro-choice women to state and local office in Florida.
We envision a Florida in which Democratic pro-choice women not only serve in all statewide offices, but also in the majority of our key legislative bodies — the State Senate and State House — as well as county and city level seats.
What We Value
Relentlessly positive | We celebrate our victories, not for the victories themselves, but for what they will deliver — thoughtful, forward-thinking elected women who will roll up their sleeves and drive change. We know that positive political discourse builds civic trust and engagement, and inspires women to get involved in the political process.
Diversity & Inclusivity | We strive to create and maintain an environment that is inviting and supportive to and for everyone, and that reinforces dignity and respect for diverse experiences. We seek to have the diversity of Florida reflected in our board, staff, candidates and volunteers.
Equity & Intersectionality | We strive to use an equity lens in planning, executing and evaluating our work and our operations in order to make conscious decisions aimed at reducing persistent, systemic inequalities in electoral politics and our communities.
Community-Focused | We are community-oriented, working in service to the communities our candidates represent. We believe understanding the people who will most benefit from meaningful change is how we will develop winning campaign strategies and candidates. We seek to continually learn about the people our elected women serve to ensure we are improving their lives in meaningful ways.
Innovative & Courageous | We embrace innovation as the key to remaining effective and relevant. We stand on the frontline as the first to identify opportunities and embrace what others anxiously avoid. We are excited by emerging technologies and eager to champion good ideas. We work to always beat our best, to challenge ourselves to do more with what we have, to take on bigger fights and opportunities, and to make consistent, significant improvements to our work, while never compromising our integrity and commitment to helping others.
Outcomes-based | We are driven by the outcomes of our work, rather than the inputs. We’re relentless in the pursuit of results, and we measure and evaluate our impact through clear quantitative and qualitative metrics to maximize the effectiveness of each of our programs. We are accountable to ourselves, our candidates, and the state of Florida.
Collaborative | We strive to be collaborative, trustworthy, respectful, flexible, communicative, open, and supportive to our partners big and small, and to form and maintain strong, lasting relationships throughout all levels of our work. We aim to be seen as a team player, as an organization that supports the Democratic infrastructure to move our state forward, faster. We check our egos at the door and put aside the personal for the collective good.
Sisterhood | We are a women-led organization supporting women, inspiring one another, uplifting each other’s voices, learning from one another, and creating long-lasting bonds that deepen connection in our communities.
Mission-Driven | We have no litmus test for candidates beyond her being a Democrat, pro-choice, and reflecting our values. We do not want to add barriers to Democratic pro-choice women seeking elected office and will not deny support to anyone based upon their views on any one particular issue.
Integrity | We are truthful and honest in all aspects of our work. We are transparent in our decision-making processes, and take seriously the importance of building trust throughout our organization and the communities we serve. We do what’s right, even when it’s difficult.
Ruth’s List was founded in 2008 by the Honorable Alex Sink, who at the time served as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. With women underrepresented in all levels of public office across the state, Alex saw a great need to build the bench of dynamic women leaders to serve in state and local government.
Ruth’s List is named for Ruth Bryan Owen, the first woman elected to Congress from the South. She ran office in 1928, only eight years after women were given the right to vote. Determined to reach as many citizens as possible in the district, Ruth cruised the coastline in a sporty green Ford coupe dubbed “The Spirit of Florida,” driving across the entire district which stretched more than 500 miles along the Atlantic.
During her six-year tenure in Congress, Ruth sponsored a bill to create a cabinet-level agency, The Department of Home and Child, and authored legislation to create Everglades National Park. She became the first woman to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In 1933, President Roosevelt appointed her Minister to Denmark, a diplomatic first for women, and in 1948, President Truman named her an alternate delegate to the U.N. General Assembly.
Ruth Bryan Owen is a shining example of the difference Florida women can make in public office. Ruth’s List was founded in her name to elect more trailblazers to state and local government in Florida.
President and CEO
Lucy Sedgwick has dedicated her career to building movements and training the next generation of Democratic leadership.
In 2020, she led Colorado’s Abortion Access for All campaign, a state-wide coalition that defeated a high-profile initiative to ban abortion later in pregnancy.
Through her work, Lucy has trained hundreds of organizers, campaign staff and candidates. She served as National Training Director for Warren for President and National Training Director for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, where she taught Democratic candidates at all levels how to run and win campaigns. Lucy is based in St. Petersburg, FL.
Chief Operating Officer
Before joining Ruth’s List Florida, Bessie was associate director of outreach for the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability, overseeing marketing, communications, and outreach activities, including many global and educational outreach initiatives.
She began her tenure at USF’s Patel Center for Global Solutions as special assistant to the executive director, the Honorable Betty Castor. Prior to her roles at USF, Bessie served as deputy director of the Term Member Program at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and worked at Human Rights Watch in New York and Brussels. She has also served as an adjunct instructor at USF.
Bessie is a member of the Tampa Bay Area Committee on Foreign Relations and co-chair of the Host Committee. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her M.A. from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She is fluent in French and Greek. She resides in Tampa Bay.
Kayla vanWieringen has dedicated her career to supporting Democratic candidates and causes. She has worked on campaigns at the local, statewide, and presidential levels.
Kayla was born and raised in South Florida and graduated from Florida State University with B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. She is currently based in Miami, FL.
Stefanie Clarke has built a reputation in state and national politics as a communications expert and powerful storyteller. For more than two decades, she has been standing up as an advocate for underrepresented and underserved communities, giving them a voice and an opportunity to change history. Her approach to communications is rooted in the belief that storytelling is the magic ingredient to building social change movements.
Stefanie served as the Communications Director for the Abortion Acccess for All campaign in Colorado, successfully defeating Proposition 115, the highly contested ballot measure to ban abortion later in pregnancy. Prior to that role, she oversaw communications for the Everytown Survivor Network, a nationwide community of survivors working to end gun violence, and created a flagship leadership program exclusively for survivors of gun violence. Over the course of her career. Stefanie has directed communications programs for candidates, ballot initiatives, legislative campaigns, and public education efforts.
Through her work, Stefanie has trained hundreds of individuals on how to tell their stories to build social change movements. She’s an accomplished writer, public speaking and media coach, and media strategist.
Kay has spent her career helping women and girls use their voice for change. Working with broad coalitions through strategic organizing efforts, she has dedicated herself to advocating and lifting up messages of women throughout Florida. For the past three election cycles, she served as Political Director and strategist for two state house races and a congressional campaign for the Hon. Margaret Good.
She spent the earlier part of her career in television news management, and worked with Girls Inc. in multiple capacities including Director of Community Affairs and Interim Executive Director, to most recently as a two-term board chair. Currently, she volunteers teaching girls about advocacy at a local level.
Kay spends her free time traveling and hiking. She resides in Sarasota and also spends time in St. Petersburg.
Elise comes to Ruth’s List with over a decade of experience training up-and-coming Democratic leaders to run effective campaigns. She recently served as the Acting National Field Director for Grassroots Campaigns, where she trained hundreds of campaign staff and managed dozens of electoral and issue campaigns.
Elise specializes in developing and implementing empowering, confidence-building training programs to help people use their voices in new ways. In 2016, Elise oversaw an initiative to recruit, train, and place several hundred campaign staffers on critical campaigns around the country. She also managed a multi-state voter registration drive that brought in over 75,000 new voters from historically disenfranchised communities.
Elise graduated from Reed College with a B.A. in Sociology. She has dedicated her career to advancing progressive candidates and causes and building popular access to the political process. She and her husband reside in Miami.
Camila Cisneros was born and raised in Miami Beach and is a first-generation Colombian-Venezuelan American. Her heritage and upbringing give her an in-depth perspective on South Florida issues, which influenced her to move back to Florida after graduating from American University in Washington, D.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies focusing on Latin America, which has allowed her to connect a bridge between Florida politics and Latin Americans living in the region.
Her political experience in Florida began as Deputy Campaign Manager for the Javier Fernández for Florida State Senate District 39 campaign, the largest legislative race in Florida history. She is passionate about reproductive rights, education equity, and combating misinformation. Most importantly, she is passionate about making a difference in her state by getting more pro-choice Democratic women elected.
Elizabeth Logsdon is a rising junior at the University of South Florida with a major in Political Science and a minor in Women & Gender Studies. She currently serves as the Social Media/Publicity Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Generation Action at USF.
Her experience in Florida politics includes uplifting Florida For All’s voter registration campaign and volunteering for Lauren Baer’s congressional campaign in 2018. She also partnered with Vote America during the 2020 election cycle to register college students to vote.
Elizabeth is deeply passionate about the intersection of women in politics and is thrilled to be working with an organization that embodies this vision.
Charlotte Puopolo is a recent graduate of Florida State University and the U.S. Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in the Canary Islands.
She graduated FSU summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs and Spanish, and a concentration in philosophy and law. Her experience in Florida politics includes interning for the Andrew Gillum gubernatorial campaign in 2018 and working for State Rep. Dotie Joseph’s legislative aide in the Florida State House in 2019.
Charlotte is passionate about human rights-based policy reform and is thrilled to be a part of an organization that helps progressive candidates. She was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dallas Rawlins is a graduate of Washington State University (BA PoliSci 2010), the University of Arkansas (MA PoliSci 2012) , and the University of Florida (MA Political Campaigning 2016). His experience in politics is broad, with experience ranging from field to direct mail to fundraising. Most recently, he worked as a fundraiser on campaigns as far ranging from Tennessee to Georgia to North Carolina and elsewhere. He was an organizing fellow with the Obama 2012 campaign.
He is proud to be an ally of Democratic pro-choice women all across Florida by working with Ruth’s List. He is passionate about making a difference in this way and changing Florida for the better.
Emma Collum, Chair
Emma Collum is an award-winning community activist, attorney, and one of the founders of the largest single day protest in history – the National Women’s March on Washington.
Emma is Founder and immediate past President of Women’s March Florida a 501c4 organization with regional chapters throughout the state of Florida.
Ms. Collum serves in an elected capacity as Supervisor of the Broward Soil and Water Conservation Board. She is a member of Local Progress. Emma began her legal career as an advocate for tenants’ rights, domestic violence survivors, union workers, and environmental protections. She gained valuable policy experience as a legislative aide for the first openly LGBTQ member of the NYS Legislature where she worked on Marriage Equality and Anti Fracking Legislation.
She has consulted and staffed both local and national races. Her goal is to empower women to be bold so that they can step up in their communities to lead. Emma serves as a New Leaders Council – Broward County mentor, You Should Run Candidate advisor, Broward County Parks and Recreation Board, Broward County School District Advisory Council, and Board of the Directors of the The Dolphin Democrats and North Broward Democrats.
In 2018 she ran as the Democratic nominee for Florida House of Representatives and was endorsed by President Barack Obama.
Collum has won numerous awards for her activism, including being named Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year, Broward County Valiant Women of the Vote, the Penn America Award, Dolphin Democrat’s Outstanding Candidate of the Year, Florida Young Democrats Activist of the Year, Boys and Girls Club Outstanding Woman of the Year She is published and featured in “AOL The Build” Series, “Together We Rise”, and “The Womens March on Washington- Words from an Organizer”. She is a frequent media commentator on women’s rights and women navigating electoral politics.
Emma lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and rescue dog Daisy where she continues to practice law and serve her community.
The Honorable Alex Sink
Alex Sink founded Ruth’s List Florida in 2008 to build the bench of dynamic women leaders serving in state and local government. She was Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 2007 to 2011 as one of four statewide elected officials. She managed over $15 billion in state treasury funds, was responsible for state accounting, and implemented reforms in contracting and transparency for citizens.
Before elected office, Alex had a 26-year career with Bank of America. She retired as President of Florida operations in 2000, managing the state’s largest bank with $40 billion in deposits, leading 9000 employees in over 800 branches.
From 2011 to 2013, she was Senior Advisor to Hyde Park Capital Advisors, a middle market boutique M&A firm. Alex founded Florida Next Foundation, a non-profit devoted to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Florida. She subsequently joined the board of Tampa Wave in 2016 to continue her work in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Florida.
Alex is a Life Trustee at Wake Forest University, serves on the boards of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, United Way Worldwide Leadership Council, United Way Suncoast, and Junior Achievement.
The Honorable Arthenia Joyner
State Senator Arthenia Joyner has been a pioneer and political trailblazer throughout her impressive career. She was taught by her father, Henry Joyner — the owner of Tampa’s premier African-American night club, the Cotton Club — about the importance of sharing personal success with those less fortunate. Her mother, Jean Joyner, taught her to follow her conscience and her convictions, and never be afraid to speak up on issues that mattered.
In 1960, while an 11th grade student at Tampa’s Middleton High, she participated in her first civil rights demonstration, an event that would shape her entire life. As a college student at Florida A & M University, she was arrested twice in 1963 for civil disobedience and spent 14 days in jail.
After graduating with a J.D. from Florida A&M University, College of Law, she worked as a legal assistant to State Representative Joe Lang Kershaw, the first African-American to serve in Tallahassee since Reconstruction. When no law firm would hire her, she took out a $1,000 bank loan and opened her solo practice of law.
In 1991, she was a founder in the law firm of Stewart Joyner Jordan-Holmes Holmes. She became the first Black woman to practice law in Hillsborough County and the first Black person to practice law in Polk County.
Over her distinguished career in law and politics, Senator Joyner has broken many racial and gender barriers. She first rose to prominence in 1973 when she was elected as Treasurer of the National Bar Association. In 1984, she was elected President of the National Bar Association and she was arrested a year later at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC protesting apartheid. In 1991, she became the first Black person to be appointed by a governor (Governor Lawton Chiles) to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. She chaired the Authority for two years, from 1993-1995, during her two four-year terms of service. She held posts on various airport and civil rights committees before rising again to national prominence with appointments by President Clinton to the U.S. delegation for the World Population Development Conference, Cairo, Egypt (1994), the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) and the Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Council (1999-2000).
After her turn in the national spotlight, she chose to run for state office in Florida. She served three terms as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from the 59th District (2000-2006). Subsequently elected to the Florida Senate, Senator Joyner served the people of the 18th District from 2006-2012. After political districts were redrawn, she won the race for the 19th District, serving from 2012-2016. Over her legislative career, Senator Joyner has held many significant posts, including being elected the first Black woman Senate Minority Leader.
In 2012, Senator Joyner received the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ (NBCSL) Lifetime Achievement Award and the President’s Award from Florida A & M University. She was inducted into the Hillsborough County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014, and in 2015 the Democratic Caucus in the Florida Senate named their annual political dinner for women, The Annual Arthenia L. Joyner Women In Politics Dinner. She remains the longest practicing Black woman lawyer in the history of Florida and is currently of Counsel at Vanguard Attorneys in Tampa and a Supreme Court appointee to the 2017-2018 Florida Constitution Revision Commission. The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Tampa-Hillsborough Library Board recently celebrated her many contributions to Florida and the community by naming its new $9.3 million library in her honor.
Throughout a long career in public life, Senator Joyner has always demonstrated a deep commitment to her foundational values of service, equality, and civil rights, and an unwavering dedication to her constituents in Tampa, and the people of Florida.
Anna Maria Island
Barbara Zdravecky served as the interim CEO of Ruth’s List Florida. Prior to her appointment to CEO she helped lead the organization as a member of the Executive Committee. She is the Principal and Founder of Fern Consulting of Southwest Florida, lending her extensive knowledge and experience advising not for profits executives and their boards.
Zdravecky served as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida for nearly 25 years. In 2015, Barbara led the successful regional merger of the affiliate, resulting in a 22-county service area with a team of 160 professionals, 25-member regional board of directors and a $17 million dollar budget. This visionary consolidation has enabled Planned Parenthood to serve more than 39,000 patients annually at its twelve health centers in Southwest and Central Florida, extending from Orlando to Sarasota to Naples. In addition, she served as the President of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, President of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates and led numerous committees of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Prior to joining Planned Parenthood, Barbara worked as a registered nurse and social worker at Manatee Memorial for 10 years as the head nurse for inpatient psychiatric services and as the Director of Women’s Health Programs. Barbara also worked as the Patient Care Coordinator of the First Hospice Program in Key West, primarily caring for AIDS patients while coordinating research and care with local physicians and Jackson Memorial Hospital staff in Miami. She spent 5 years at the Manatee Community Mental Health Center as a crisis counselor specializing in emergency inpatient treatment in the Baker Act Receiving and Addiction Detox units.
Barbara’s service to her community extends well beyond her professional achievements, bringing expertise to numerous civic and not-for-profit boards including the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Florida and The League of Women Voters, of which she was the co-chair of Manatee County and served on the state board of Florida. She currently sits on the board for the Selby Foundation in Sarasota.
Barbara has received numerous awards, honors and recognitions, including the “Ruth Green Award,” as the top Planned Parenthood CEO in the country by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the “Voice for Equality Award” from Equality Florida, “A Woman of Power Award” from the National Council of Jewish Women in Sarasota, the American Association of University Women annual leadership award, “A Wonder Woman Award” from the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee County and ”The Distinguished Alumni Award” from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Burnadette Norris-Weeks is a partner in the law firm of Austin Pamies Norris Weeks, LLC. She serves as counsel to various corporations and governmental entities, including the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office and two Florida municipalities. In addition, the law firm also handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Currently serving her second term on the Broward County Charter Review Commission, she also serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Broward. She is a graduate of Leadership Florida and of Leadership Broward.
Bernadette is founder of the Women of Color Empowerment Institute, Inc. (WOCEI), a membership organization with the mission to enhance and expand leadership opportunities for women of color. WOCEI sponsors a yearly conference that brings together hundreds of women in leadership. Her extensive community and professional involvement has earned her the Above and Beyond Award from the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, the Urban League’s Margaret Roach Humanitarian Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the T.J. Reddick Bar Association. She is a past honoree of the National Trumpet Awards Foundation and was recognized by Legacy Magazine as one of South Florida’s 25 Most Influential and Prominent Black Women in Business. Burnadette has also received a “Leader of the Year” award from the Leadership Broward Foundation, among other impressive awards and recognitions.
Bernadette is the Chair of the 17th Judicial Circuit’s Bar Leadership Committee. She is a past National Chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Litigation Section’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and a former Chair of the ABA’s Young Lawyer Leadership Team. She is also a Past-President of the Tallahassee Barristers Association. Burnadette is admitted to practice law before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Courts for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.
Erin Smith Aebel is a partner at a Tampa law firm where she practices business and health law. A board certified health lawyer, she represents physicians, hospitals, dentists, pharmacies and other healthcare providers in their business and compliance needs. She is a member of the Athena Society and serves on various philanthropic boards in the Tampa Bay Area.
Erin is a co-founder of the Surly Feminists for the Revolution and works to advance women and diversity in business and in federal, state and local representation.
Felice Schulaner is a retired Human Resources executive who now spends her time serving on nonprofit Boards, including the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
She served as Chair of the New College Board of Trustees from 2016-2020, making her the first woman and first alumna to hold the role. Previously she served as Director and Chair of the New College Foundation and on the inaugural Board of Visible Men Academy.
Felice worked for Coach, Inc., first as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and then as Executive Director of the Coach Foundation, which supports women’s empowerment and education for underserved populations. Her 25+ year business career also included senior Human Resources positions at Optimark Technologies, Salant Corporation, American Express, and Macy’s.
Felice has been honored for her work in the community with the Women in Power Award from the National Council of Jewish Women and the “She Knows Where She is Going Award” from Girls Inc.
Jennifer Anderson has 25+ years of executive experience in sales, marketing, and human resources. She began her career with IBM in San Francisco before assuming expanded corporate roles in NYC, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. She later worked in strategic consulting and executive search. Jennifer most recently served as director of the Executive MBA program at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.
Jennifer currently serves as vice-president of the Eatonville Joe R. Lee Boys & Girls Club board and was recognized as the 2018 Board Member of the Year for Central Florida. She’s active with the Orange County League of Women Voters, 100 Women Strong, the Winter Park Historical Association, and the Albin Polasek Museum and Gardens.
Jennifer attended Vanderbilt University, graduated from George Washington University with a major in economics and statistics, and earned her MBA at Harvard University. She and her husband Phil have four grown children.
Karla Hernández-Mats is the president of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the largest teachers’ union in the southeastern United States. Prior to becoming president, Mrs. Hernández-Mats served as UTD’s Secretary and Treasurer.
In 2018, Karla led the charge to mobilize teachers and the Miami-Dade community, helping to pass Referendum 362 to give public school teachers a salary raise and improve security in schools. To date, this is the largest pay increase in the history of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, garnering support from more than 70 percent of Miami-Dade voters.
Karla serves on the FEA (Florida Education Association) Governance Board, the FEA Cabinet, the State AFL-CIO Executive Board, The Children’s Trust Executive Board, The Education Fund Executive Board, and serves as the Chairperson of the American Federation of Teachers Women’s Rights Committee.
She has been a featured speaker and presenter for the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the Miami Women’s March, and the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C., focusing on the challenges public education teachers face and is an ardent advocate for immigration reform and the protection of children’s rights. In 2019, she was recognized by Miami Today as part of its Achiever Series for her work in advancing public education throughout the Miami-Dade community.
Born and raised in Miami, Karla is a first generation American of Honduran descent and is the first Hispanic officer to be elected to the United Teachers of Dade. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Emotionally Handicapped Education and a master’s degree in Business Management from St. Thomas University.
Lindsay Pollard works as the Finance Consultant with Diverse Strategy Group (DSG). DSG’s clients have included Shevrin Jones for State Senate, Harold Pryor for Broward County State Attorney, Emma Collum for State House, and Renee Gordon for Circuit Court Judge in Miami-Dade County.
In the 2020 election cycle, Lindsay served as Treasurer for Nancy Metayer for Coral Springs Commissioner. In 2018, Lindsay was Andrew Gillum’s Deputy Finance Director for his gubernatorial bid. Prior to co-founding DSG, Lindsay worked as a finance consultant for Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness’ re-election campaign, Sandra Ruiz for Doral Mayor, and the Broward County Democratic Party. She has also served as the Finance Director for Randy Perkins for Congress, Annette Taddeo for Congress, and the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. In 2014, she served as Regional Finance Director for Charlie Crist for Governor.
With 20 years of experience as a strategist, writer and editor, Marika Lynch’s passion is helping foundations and nonprofits achieve their goals through strategic communications. Since founding her firm, Marika Lynch Communications in 2008, Marika has developed outreach campaigns for a range of clients, including Knight Foundation, leading the communications for the fourth largest arts program in the country. A graduate of Georgetown University, Marika was selected for The Miami Foundation’s signature leadership program, The Miami Fellows, and as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. She previously was a journalist, editor and department head with the Miami Herald, where she reported across the Americas and shared in two Pulitzer Prizes.
As the daughter of a Cuban exile, Natalia Duke is extremely passionate about immigrant justice and immigration reform. She grew up on Little Torch Key before leaving to pursue her BA in History at Duke University and Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) at NYU. She has taught ESOL at Pace University and in New York Public Libraries.
After moving back to the Florida Keys in 2009, Natalia continued to teach ESL in the Monroe County Adult Education Department. In addition to language teaching, she has studied and trained in a variety of healing modalities and currently teaches yoga and pilates.
As Vice-President of Women’s March Florida and founder of both Women’s March Florida Keys and Keys Immigrant Coalition, Natalia volunteers on a variety of statewide issues ranging from immigrant justice to environmental justice. Each of the organizations focus on issue-based, community-centered, direct action, education and advocacy. For example, in March 2019, Natalia created a visitation program at the Monroe County ICE detention center. Until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she offered weekly ESL classes as a means to end isolation to the men detained there. In addition to leading these organizations, she also serves as a Board Member of the Climate Change Action Committee.
Penny Parks is the president and founder of Links Financial. She has 35 years of experience in the financial industry, having held numerous financial leadership roles before starting her own firm, now in its 12th year. In her time at Links Financial, Penny’s areas of focus have been arranging over $2 Billion in corporate debt financings, real estate and corporate problem loan resolution and restructuring, and business acquisitions.
Shenika "Nik" Harris
Shenika “Nik” Harris (she/her/they/them), is a queer gender non-conforming attorney, activist, and speaker. She was appointed by Commissioner Nikki Fried as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ first LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, serving as liaison to Florida’s LGBTQ community, raising awareness on agriculture industry opportunities, and addressing discrimination and fraud targeted at the community. Prior to this appointment, she served as Senior Attorney at the Florida Department of Transportation and as a prosecutor at the Florida Department of Health. She conducts training on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is certified by Cornell University in Diversity & Inclusion.
Nik is the first Black woman elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Board of Governors. In addition to Ruth’s List, she serves on the board of IGNITE Women’s Services, is Vice-President of the Dolphin Democrats (Broward County’s LGBTQ Democratic Caucus), Vice-President of the Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, a member of the Broward County Sheriff’s Social Justice Task Force and is a BIG in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Pride Program. In 2020 she was selected as one of eight people from across the country as a Victory Empowerment Fellow and was elected as a Biden Presidential delegate in 2020, representing Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.
The recipient of countless awards, including the 2019 Ruth’s List: Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award and the 2020 recipient of the LGBTQ Leadership Award by the Florida Diversity Council, Nik is also an award-winning Toastmaster and speaks across the country in support of equality.
She is a native of Tallahassee, Florida and obtained her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida A&M University and her law degree from Florida State University. Nik is licensed to practice law in Florida and Washington DC.
Stacy Estes Yates
Stacy Estes Yates is an experienced trial attorney and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Mediator. She was named a 2019 Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine, a Top Lawyer in TAMPA Magazine, a 2019 Featuree in KNOW TRIBE Tampa Bay, and holds an AV Preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell. Stacy is a frequent public speaker on a variety of legal and non-legal topics.
As a litigator and former prosecutor, Stacy has tried over forty jury and non-jury trials and is admitted to practice in all State Courts of Florida, the Middle District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida. Her extensive litigation practice includes defending liability and coverage issues for automotive, homeowner, and commercial property insurance companies and their insureds.
Stacy is active in her Tampa Community. She’s a member of the Athena Society, a Girl Scout Leader, a member of Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O’Malley, a member of the Krewe of Tronando, the Advocacy Committee Chair at Roosevelt Elementary PTA, a member of Tampa Bay Inn of Court, a member of the Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers. She serves on several philanthropic boards and loves to mentor young professionals.
Stacy consults for many local and state political campaigns and participated in the historic 2018 Florida election recount.
Susan Stackhouse Bosquez
Susan Stackhouse Bosquez acquired one duty free store at Tampa International Airport in 1988. Over the next 30 years, she grew her ACDBE-certified company to become one of the country’s leading airport retailers with over 40 stores, spanning the country in 10 major U.S. airports. Stellar was acquired by HMSHost in 2016. She remained active in the company, recruiting a new CEO and continuing to serve on the Board until she retired at the end of 2018.
A widely respected industry expert, Susan serves in numerous leadership roles at the local and national level focusing on issues affecting women, small business and education. She has served on the Boards of the International Association of Airport Duty Free Stores, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, SunTrust Advisory Board, and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees of University of Tampa. Susan was the 2018 Chairwoman for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women in Tampa Bay and was named the 2015 Business Woman of the Year by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
In retirement, she focuses her attention on women entrepreneurs, particularly their ability to access capital. Ms. Stackhouse attended the Sorbonne University in Paris, France and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.