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New Leaders Council

Tallahassee 2014 Fellows


Joy Dixon, Program Manager, American Lung AssociationJoyD.jpg

Joy Dixon is a Program Manager with the American Lung Association where she oversees a Tobacco Prevention program in North Florida. Her work includes mobilizing community members to change policies in the areas of smoke-free housing and tobacco-free schools, to name a few.

Joy also is the owner of Edenic Wellness, a health and wellness company that provides health coaching and health products to women who desire weight loss, increased energy, and guilt-free lifestyle so they can create their authentic lives.


 


Sakeena Gohagen-Kenton, Advisor, Florida State UniversityKenton.jpg

Sakeena Gohagen-Kenton is an alumna of Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and African American Studies. Her activism was birthed through her involvement with the Student Coalition for Justice. During her time as a student, she served as a national fellow of Young People For, a national board member of the United States Student Association, a Grassroots Organizing Weekend Trainer and a Congressional Intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Her most significant work came during her time as the campus organizer for the Florida State Vote Coalition, where she led the mission to register, educate, and mobilize the university campus in the 2008 election cycle.

After graduating, Sakeena worked as a Fellowship Associate for Young People For, a national non-profit, focused on developing student leaders in various areas of social justice. She also participated in the Center for Progressive Leadership’s New Leaders Fellowship and the Clinton Global Imitative University. Sakeena has a strong commitment to civic engagement and electoral involvement of youth and communities of color. Through her work, Sakeena has developed a passion for positive sustainable change. She facilitates workshops that focus on mentoring, leadership and community organizing.

Currently, Sakeena serves on the Events Outreach Committee for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Alumni Association. Sakeena works full time as an Academic Advisor, as she works to complete dual Master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Administration. She notes Ella Baker as one of her most significant personal influences, whose “quiet-storm” approach to her work was able to challenge people to push themselves to unlock their own power- while still being able to pick up a megaphone if necessary.


 


Sheria Griffin, Educator, Leon County School DistrictGriffin.jpg

Sheria Griffin is 35 years old. She has been an educational professional for over 10 years and is a native of Miami, Florida.

 

 

 

 


 


Stanley Hardy, Graduate Assistant, Student, Florida A&M UniversityHardy.jpg

Stanley Hardy is a current Master's of Public Administration graduate student at Florida A&M University. Living by the belief that "What a child hears, he will believe. What a child believes, he will do!" driving him to develop and utilize his leadership skills by volunteering for youth mentoring programs throughout Tallahassee, Florida, to ensure that at-risk students become empowered and pursue degrees of higher education.

Developing a passion for public service, Stanley has served in various leadership capacities including; SGA Director of Government Affairs, SGA Junior and Senior Senator, Finance and Development Officer of the United States Student Association. His politically astute nature has afforded him rewarding opportunities to intern with the Florida Legislature, Becker & Poliakoff, P.A Government Affairs Division and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. These opportunities have thoroughly prepared and vastly expanded his knowledge of the FloridaÍs legislative process.

Stanley received his Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science from Florida A&M University. He is a member of College Leadership Florida Class XV, Collegiate 100 Black Men and FAMU Pre-Law Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.


 


Christopher Hudtwalcker, Assistant General Counsel, Florida Department of HealthChrisH.jpg

Chris is a recent graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, where he was an editor of the school's Law Review. Chris is currently an Assistant General Counsel in the Prosecution Services Unit of the Florida Department of Health where Chris works in regulating health care practitioners who are alleged to have violated the Medical Practice Act. Chris is deeply interested in policy and the law, and the ways they can be used in tandem to create a better socioeconomic environment for Americans.

 


 


Erin Jensen, Communications & Development Manager, League of Women Voters of FloridaJensen.jpg

Erin Jensen is the Communications & Development Manager for the League of Women Voters of Florida. In her current position, she manages the communications plan for the organization, develops the League's public relations and marketing materials, and oversees correspondence with the press. Erin graduated from the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg with a B.A. in English Literature. She has spent much time working for the progressive causes and campaigns she believes in, in both her hometown of Tallahassee and the Tampa Bay area, as well as other parts of the country.

Prior to working for the League, she was the Field Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida's Vote No Committee, working to defeat several amendments on the 2012 ballot. Erin has also held positions with other progressive causes and elected officials, including working for the Florida Democratic Party's 2010 coordinated campaign, an internship with Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and a summer volunteering with NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon to help advance women's reproductive rights.

She credits her progressive ideology to her family, who has always encouraged political astuteness, and to her first campaign internship in 2008, which helped awaken her political activism. As an English major and a communications professional, Erin understands the power of words and is interesting in using them to further the causes she cares deeply for, including voting rights, women's equality, and economic and racial justice.


 


Wallace Knight, Educator, Leon County School DistrictKnight.jpg

Wallace Knight is an educator from Tallahassee, FL. Currently, he teaches math and science at Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of the Arts. Wallace attended Florida State University as a biology major and Flagler College as an elementary education major. Combining his interests in science and early learning, he became a science advocate. Wallace's passion is helping create equitable opportunities for learning for all students. He supports efforts to provide all students with a quality education. In the future, Wallace would like to continue to educate youth and provide other educators with the resources they need to become more effective. He plans to do this by developing research-based methods of instruction, consulting with public and private sectors, and advocating for science and the arts.


 


Woodjerry Louis, Community Organizer, Dream DefendersLouis.jpg

Woodjerry Louis is the definition of a servant leader. He currently serves as a community organizer for the Dream Defenders, a social justice advocacy group. In this capacity, he has been leading grassroots initiatives against the issues of Stand Your Ground, School to Prison Pipeline, and Private Prisons.

While attending the University of Florida, he was involved in different organizations, and held leadership positions in most of them. As an advocate for youth and social justice, Woodjerry is committed to and passionate about improving the lives of youth and families and their communities through public policy and law. In his spare time, Woodjerry enjoys spending time with his family and reading books about creating a beloved world.


 


Carlos Nathan, Legislative Analyst, Florida House of RepresentativesCarlosN.jpg

A native of Tallahassee, Carlos has had a passion for public service since childhood. After working on a research project on John F. Kennedy in middle school, he became captivated by the political process and the willingness to serve others. While at Florida State University, Carlos focused on Political Science and interned for the Florida State Senate for then Senator Frederica Wilson. After graduating with a BachelorÍs in 2005, he spent time working on various campaigns across the state and working for the Office of the Secretary of the Florida Senate as a Clerk. In 2009, he graduated from Florida A&M University with his Master in Public Administration. After obtaining his MPA, Carlos was then hired on as an Administrative Assistant for the Minority Caucus for the Florida House of Representatives.

Four years later, Carlos has been promoted in the Minority Caucus to a Legislative Analyst and covers the policy areas of Economic Development, Transportation, and General Government. Outside of work, Carlos spends time mentoring children from his old neighborhood and educating his church on personal and financial responsibility.


 


Nicole Robinson, Co-Manager, ExpressRobinson.jpg

Nothing is ever too complicated. Nicole Robinson's personal philosophy is no exception. She lives to learn, understand, serve and write. Since there are infinite lessons to be learned, much more to understand, thousands of empty pages waiting for a pen and millions to serve; she will always be driven forward with purpose. She also can be a tad grandiose when writing.

Nicole is a former Youth Leadership Tallahassee participant and president of the International Student Organization at University of Tampa as well as a current Dream Defender.

 


 


Samantha Sexton, Associate Director of Government Affairs, PACE Center for Girls, Inc.SamanthaS.jpg

Samantha, 25, spent her summers as a child visiting America's finest Revolutionary and Civil War battle sites, which provided the platform for her interest in American History. Her parents not only exposed her to the stories of our country's brightest and darkest hours but stressed the importance of giving back to those who gave before us through volunteerism. They brought her along to participate in hurricane relief efforts, coastal cleanups, and holiday gift giveaways; and although her activities varied as a young adult, Samantha proved at an early age that she was committed to serving and bettering her community.

As a Gator living in enemy territory, Samantha is proud to state that she received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Florida. While at UF, she participated in Dance Marathon, Florida Blue Key and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program while excelling as a leader in Kappa Delta Sorority, Order of Omega and Student Government. During these years, Samantha focused on civic engagement by initiating voter education drives on-campus and working several local and state campaigns before eventually shifting her focus to the national spotlight. Her resume includes work with State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and OFA. During her final years at the University of Florida, Samantha was honored as a Bob Graham Civic Scholar and awarded the Ralph Gonzalez Memorial Award for her work in campaigns.

Since completing her M.A. in Political Science and Political Campaigning, Samantha succeeded at implementing a statewide field plan with Pew Charitable Trusts and advocating for stronger environmental regulations to ensure our state's resources for future generations. Her work has been recognized at the state and national level. However, in her current role, Samantha is advocating for our state's girls as the Associate Director of Government Relations with PACE Center for Girls, Inc.

In her free time, Samantha can be found trying the latest food craze, traveling or cheering on her favorite sport team, the Gators.


 


Jennito Simon, Assistant State's Attorney, State Attorney's OfficeSimon.jpg

Jennito Simon was born in Cite Soleil, Haiti, considered by some as the worst city in the world and certainly one of the poorest. He is the fourth child of Joacina and Wilfrid Simon. In 1992, his father decided to escape the poverty by risking his life and catching a boat to Florida as a refugee. His father spent the next four years working hard to try to reunite their family. On August 24, 1996, Jennito and his mother, sisters, and brother traveled from Cite Soleil to Pompano Beach, Fl.

Jennito went to a pre-law magnet high school, then on to Florida State University through Florida's Bright Futures Scholarship. From an early age, Jennito wanted to be a lawyer thinking it would be the best avenue for him to take in order to make a difference in Haiti. But in his freshman year of college, he took a class in Economics. There he realized that economics and law together were tools needed to accomplish his life goal of fighting poverty in Haiti. Since then, he has taken a number of economics classes, including Economics of the Caribbean and Economics of Development. Those classes have helped prepare him to think critically about the problem of poverty and, moreover, deepened his desire to make a difference in Haiti. It is that desire to make a difference that has led him to work with Keven Leveille, a business partner and good friend, to start SoH and write Haitian As Human.

Currently, Jennito is in his third year of law school at the Florida State University of College of Law. In addition to serving as a member of the FSU Mock Trial Team, Jennito has served as regional treasurer for the Southern Region of the National Black Law Student's Association, Chair of the Law School Council, former student General Counsel for Florida State University, student Attorney General and Co-Founder & President of Sons of Haiti Sounds of Hope, Inc. In the future, Jennito plans to work at a law firm practicing immigration law, criminal defense, and personal injury. Jennito describes his goals as the following: successfully raise money for the rebuilding of Haiti; fulfill his life's purpose; and make his parents proud.


 


Max Solomon, Student, Florida State UniversitySolomon.jpg

Max is finishing his MS in Political Science at Florida State University, from which he also holds a BA in History and International Affairs. As an undergraduate, he researched and wrote extensively on 19th-century European history with a special interest in nationalism, imperialism, and state formation. After graduating in August of 2014, he plans to further his education in law school with the eventual goal of working in election law or some subset of international law.

Outside of class, he continues to volunteer with Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity as the Membership Chair for Southeastern US and Service Chair for North Florida. He also serves on a special event steering committee for the Alzheimer's Project of Tallahassee. Because of his interest in teaching, he coaches high school speech and debate, an activity he credits for forming his political and academic interests.

Max has worked on the 2012 Supreme Court Merit Retention for Justices Pariente, Quince, and Lewis and currently serves as a research intern for the Florida Democratic Party.


 


Lily Wells, Project Director, Florida Department of Children and FamiliesLilyW.jpg

Lily Wells currently serves as statewide director for Project LAUNCH, a federally-funded health promotion grant. She earned a master's degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University and in social work from Florida State University.

Last spring she interned with the Foundation Beyond Belief, working with the Crisis Response program to raise $45,320 for tornado relief in Oklahoma. Her interests include prevention-focused programs; social and economic development; and trauma-informed services. She hopes to build her career around inspiring others to believe in humanity's capacity to solve even the most intractable problems.

 
Atlanta - Augusta - Austin - Boston - Broward - Capital District NY - Chicago - Cincinnati - Cleveland - Connecticut - Dallas - Denver - Des Moines
Detroit - Houston - Kentucky - Los Angeles - Louisiana - Madison - Maine - Maryland - Miami - Montana - Nashville - New Hampshre - New Jersey - New York City
North Carolina - Oakland - Omaha - Orlando - Palm Beach - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh - Rhode Island - Sacramento - San Antonio - San Francisco - Silicon Valley
 

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