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Executive Committee

Arthenia Joyner

The Honorable Arthenia Joyner
Chairperson, RL Florida

Tampa, FL

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State Senator Arthenia Joyner has been a pioneer and political trailblazer throughout her impressive career. Born in 1943 in Lakeland, Florida (later moving to Tampa), 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. In 1964, she graduated with a B.S. in Political Science from Florida A & M University, and, in 1968, earned her J.D. from Florida A & M University, College of Law. After graduation, she worked as a legal assistant to State Representative Joe Lang Kershaw, the first African-American to serve in Tallahassee since Reconstruction. Later, 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 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 in 1985 at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC protesting apartheid. In 1991, she became the first black 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, the Tampa Democrat 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 (2014-2016).

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.

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Emma Collum
Vice-Chairperson, RL Florida

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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Emma Collum is an attorney, activist, co-founder of the National Women’s March on Washington, and Founder and President of Women’s March Florida a 501c4 organization with regional chapters throughout the state of Florida. 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. As General Counsel for a South Florida engineering company she is passionate about STEM education especially encouraging women and girls to grow in STEM fields. Most recently she ran as the Democratic nominee for Florida House of Representatives and was endorsed by President Barak Obama. Emma has been named Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year, Florida Young Democrats Activist of the Year, and Boys and Girls Club Outstanding Woman of the Year. She lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and rescue dog Daisy where she continues to practice law and work in her community.

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Erin Aebel

Tampa, FL

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Erin Smith Aebel is a partner at a Tampa law firm where she practices business and health law.  Erin is a board certified health lawyer who 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.  She 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.

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Jennifer Anderson

Winter Park, FL

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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.

Susan Stackhouse

Susan Stackhouse Bosquez

Tampa, FL

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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.  Susan 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.

Susan Bottcher

The Honorable Susan Bottcher

Gainesville, FL

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Susan Bottcher is a former Gainesville City Commissioner and has been active in Democratic Party politics for more than 15 years. She is a founding board member of the Gainesville Arts & Parks Foundation and is a Life Member of the Alachua County NAACP. She also serves on the state executive board for Equality Florida.

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The Honorable Gwen Graham

Tallahassee, FL

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Gwen Graham never expected to run for public office. After graduating from college and law school, she worked in the private sector as an attorney and then focused on starting a family and raising her three children. Gwen volunteered to serve on her children’s school advisory council and as PTA president, then worked for her local school district where she brought together the administration, teachers and parents to improve education.

In 2014, tired of the politics as usual in Washington, Gwen challenged an extreme Tea Party congressman in a conservative district. She ran on a promise to fight for the middle class and campaigned in every corner of the district. Despite being a Republican wave year, Gwen won her race — one of just two Democrats in the entire country to defeat an incumbent Republican.

On the campaign and throughout her time in Congress, Gwen has followed in her father, Governor Bob Graham’s, footsteps with Graham Workdays, where she spends an entire shift working alongside Floridians. Her jobs have included work on farms, teaching in public schools, and even training with the United States Air Force in a T-38 jet.

In Congress, Gwen made helping Florida families her top priority and returned more than $2.5 million that belonged to veterans, seniors and families — all while cutting her office’s operating budget by over 15 percent. Despite representing one of the most conservative districts of any Democrat in Congress, Gwen stood up for her values and was a fierce advocate for a woman’s right to choose and marriage equality. She joined with John Lewis and House Democrats in the sit-in to demand commonsense gun safety and voted to support President Obama’s DACA and DAPA immigration programs.

Drawing on her experience as a working mother and PTA president, Gwen voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act to reform No Child Left Behind and give local school districts more flexibility in teaching. She sponsored the Middle Step Act to expand technical education in middle schools and the Securing Our Schools Act to make schools safer. As governor, Gwen will end Florida’s high-stakes testing and reverse the lottery shell game, which has taken resources away from our schools.

Gwen rallied the Florida delegation to save the Apalachicola Bay and worked with Senator Bill Nelson to keep oil drilling off our beaches. She voted to support President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and believes we must make the Sunshine State the solar state. She voted against Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare and she fought to protect Medicare and Social Security.

Gwen believes we can work together to make the Affordable Care Act work better for Florida by expanding Medicaid and by reducing premiums and the costs of prescription drugs. And Gwen fought to create good paying jobs for Floridians. She co-sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage and for small businesses to help employees pay off their student loans. Gwen was Florida’s only Democrat to serve on the House Armed Services Committee in the 114th Congress, where she fought for our service members, veterans and their families. She also served on the House Agriculture Committee as a voice for Florida’s farmers. Gwen fought for and delivered expansion of the USDA’s StrikeForce initiative to fight rural poverty in Florida, and she introduced the bipartisan AgShare Act, which would make it possible for new and beginning farmers to share idle government equipment.

Gwen has three children, Sarah, Graham and Mark Ernest, and she is married to Stephen D. Hurm, a former law enforcement officer and attorney, who currently serves as a faculty member at Florida State University.

Karla Hernández-Mats

Karla Hernández-Mats

Miami, FL

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Karla Hernández-Mats is the president of the United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers’ union in the southeastern United States. Mrs. Hernández-Mats served her first term as president from 2016-2019 and was elected for a second term by 73 percent. Prior to becoming president, Mrs. Hernández-Mats served as UTD’s Secretary/Treasurer from 2013-2016.

In 2018, Mrs. Hernandez-Mats led the charge to mobilize teachers and the Miami-Dade community, helping to pass Referendum #362, an initiative put forth by the United Teachers of Dade 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.

Her goal as a leader is to have a profound impact on education policy and ensure a sound future for all children attending Miami-Dade County Public Schools. In July 2019, Ms. Hernández-Mats was recognized by Miami Today as part of its Achiever Series for her work in advancing public education throughout the Miami-Dade community.

Mrs. Hernández-Mats 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 often speaks to national groups about the challenges public education teachers face and is an ardent advocate for immigration reform and the protection of children’s rights. In this role, she has served as 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.

Born and raised in Miami, Mrs. Hernández-Mats 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.

Before dedicating her life and career to advocating for public education, Mrs. Hernández-Mats expressed her love for public service in the classroom where she taught for over 10 years. In 2010, she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School for her outstanding work with special needs children. In 2017, Mrs. Hernández-Mats took a delegation of Miami-Dade educators to Fort Royal, Haiti to educate students and staff at Sant Twa Ti Flé school.

Mrs. Hernández-Mats is happily married and the mother of two. In addition to her advocacy and social justice work with the United Teachers of Dade, Mrs. Hernández-Mats is an active member of her church where she volunteers her time for humanitarian efforts overseas.

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Peter Leach

Tampa, FL

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Education: Olympia High School, Olympia, WA 1962

Undergraduate Degree: University of Washington, Seattle, WA BA. Economics 1965

Law School: University of Washington, Seattle, Juris Doctor 1968

Member of Washington State Bar: 1968 – 1980

1968 – 1972: Schweppe, Doolittle, Krug, Tausend, Beezer & Beierle, Seattle, WA

Specialties: Antitrust, Affordable Housing Developer Counsel

1972 – 1977: Security Pacific, Inc., Seattle, WA Affordable Housing Developer

Founder & General Counsel: developed and owned 42,000 units of affordable apartments units in the US.  Sold interest in 1977.

1978 – 1980: Merrill Lynch Huntoon Page, Inc., San Francisco, CA, Senior Vice President Western Region, construction lending for affordable housing developments, 11 western states.

1980 – 1982: Merrill Lynch Huntoon Page, Inc., Senior Vice President, New York, NY, lead underwriter of apartment projects in pools of GNMA insured affordable housing mortgages.

1983 – 1987: Cornerstone Capital, Inc., President and Founder, New York, NY, raised equity capital for affordable housing, commercial real estate and hotels.

1987 – 1989: took time off

1990 – 1997: Northern Leasing, Inc., Senior Vice President, New York, NY, Chief Financial Officer, the company is a small equipment leasing company that went from 5,000 equipment leases when I started to 140,000 leases when my employment ended.

1977 – retired from LIHTC Division Dec 2017: Southport Financial Services, Inc., Senior Vice President, Clearwater & Tampa, FL, started Southport’s Eastern Division.  The company is a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developer which now has 19,000 affordable apartment units in the US including 9,000 units that have been developed in the Eastern Region since 1997.

2018 – to date: Southport Financial Services, Inc., Senior Vice President, Tampa, FL, new division founded to acquired land for single family development, obtain subdivision entitlement approvals and sell the entitled land to home builders.

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Marika Lynch

Miami, FL

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President, Marika Lynch Communications

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 in 2008, Marika has developed outreach campaigns for a range of clients, including Knight Foundation, where the firm has led 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.

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Burnadette Norris-Weeks

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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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, such as 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.

Burnadette is a member of the Broward County Charter Review Commission (second term). She serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Broward. She is a graduate of Leadership Florida and of Leadership Broward. Burnadette is founder of the Women of Color Empowerment Institute, Inc. (WOCEI), a membership organization with the mission to enhance and expand leadership opportunities by women of color. WOCEI spearheads a Fall yearly conference that brings together hundreds of women in leadership.

Burnadette’s 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 an 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.

Burnadette 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. Burnadette 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.

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Penny Parks

Tampa, FL

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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, which is 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.

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The Honorable Alex Sink

Thonotosassa, FL

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Alex Sink served as 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.

She 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.

STACY ESTES YATES

Stacy Estes Yates

Tampa, FL

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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, 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.

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