Meet the 2017 Broward Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Thais De La Cuba, Staff Attorney, Americans for Immigrant Justice
Thais De La Cuba is a Staff Attorney in the Children's Legal Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice, an award winning non-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. Ms. De La Cuba represents unaccompanied immigrant children living in the community or in immigration shelters, before the Immigration Court and the Department of Homeland Security. She received her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, where she was Secretary of the Hispanic Law Students Association. Ms. De La Cuba received numerous awards including the University of Miami HOPE Pro Bono Challenge Outstanding 2L Award as well as the Dean's Certificate of Achievement in Civil Procedure. While in law school, Ms. De La Cuba interned for The Honorable R. Fred Lewis at the Florida Supreme Court, the Department of Homeland Security, and was a Student Intern and Fellow at the University of Miami Investor Rights Clinic. Ms. De La Cuba was recently selected as a 2017 Florida Racial Justice Fellow and volunteers for Big Brother Big Sister of Broward County.
Santra Denis, Senior Director of Community Health, Catalyst Miami
A South Florida native, Santra Denis currently serves as the Senior Director of Community Health at Catalyst Miami, an anti-poverty, human services, and civic engagement non-profit organization in Miami, FL. In her current role Ms. Denis oversees all health initiatives and grants to connect low-income families to preventative healthcare options and basic needs services. Trained as a Public Health Professional, Ms. Denis graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Health Science and a Masters of Public Health in Policy and Management from Florida International University. Her civic involvement includes serving as the Senior Vice-President for the Urban League of Broward County Young Professionals Network. She is a Sant La Fellow, a Haitian American Leadership program for young adults in Miami Dade County. Additionally, she is a Board Member and Youth Director at her home church where she mentors youth and young adults in their personal and professional development. Ms. Denis is a lover of all people and her life’s mission is to aide in the provision of quality and accessible resources and services to people who are underrepresented. The guiding principle for Santra Denis’ life is, “Service is the rent we pay for living.” -Marian Wright Edelmen
LilCrystal Dernier, Graduate Online Teaching Assistant, Florida Atlantic University
LilCrystal Dernier, was born to a mother who was HIV positive. Fortunately, the disease did not transfer to her. When she was just a year old, her mother tragically passed away from the disease. Following the death of her mother she stayed with relatives and was later placed in foster care. Ms. Dernier is an alumnus of Broward County's foster care system. Despite of the challenges that she’s faced she didn't allow it to dictate her future. In June of 2011, Ms. Dernier graduated from JP Taravella High School and started college at Florida A&M University. She managed to graduate within four years, receiving two Bachelors of Science degrees, in Criminal Justice and Psychology and a minor in Business Administration. She’s currently a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University, studying both Criminology and Nonprofit Management. Although Ms. Dernier is committed to her academic studies, she also makes it her duty to give back to her community. She’s currently an active member at her local church the Vine and a mentor at her college. She also served as a Volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for the Second Judicial Circuit of Tallahassee, FL. This experience gave her the opportunity to advocate for children like herself. In addition, Ms. Dernier simultaneously held two internship positions one as a Foster Youth Intern (FYI) at Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and the other as Congressional Intern with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in Washington D.C. As a FYI, she researched and wrote a policy report on placement stability and healthy relationships for foster youth. She proposed a model curriculum called Secure Attachment Training (SAT) that will assist youth and caregivers in building meaningful connections. She believes the SAT curriculum can be more than just training alternative, but a new standard in creating healthy foster families. As congressional intern, she educated her peers and professionals about the fragmentation's within the U.S. child welfare system, relating to foster youth. Lastly, Ms. Dernier has interests in the justice system, specifically in reentry, racial equality, education and church ministry. Due to her many interests, Ms. Dernier aspires to become an influential social entrepreneur and maybe someday run for political office. A fun fact about Ms. Dernier, is she loves Bollywood movies. One of her favorites is Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge.
Erin Emmons, Planner, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Erin works as an urban planner with Kimley-Horn and Associates with a focus and passion in multimodal transportation and long range community planning. Erin strategically integrates technology into the planning process to enhance the efficiencies of analytical assessments as well as improve the delivery and communication of the results and recommendations so that they can understood across broad audiences. Types of projects she has led locally in south Florida include the assessment of existing bus services within the Tri-County area, municipal and regional long range multimodal transit plans, community redevelopment plans associated with policy evaluation and changes, aviation service studies for airports, and community economic assessments. Erin is active in the community through professional organizations such as the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). Through WTS she serves as a mentor to both young professionals in the transportation industry, assisting in career development, networking, and relationship building as well as volunteering at grade schools mentoring girls ages 13-18, introducing them to transportation related careers to encourage them to take courses in math, science, and technology. Erin is also a member of the local South Florida Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities. Erin is focused on being an advocate for innovative solutions to enhance the quality of life within the communities she lives and works and to be a trusted advisor to those she serves.
McKillop Erlandson, Associate Counsel/Government Relations, Sixt rent a car
After graduating from Wake Forest University with a degree in Chemistry, Mick moved to Washington, DC to better understand the link between politics and the policymaking process. Following an internship on Capitol Hill, he worked as a high-dollar fundraiser for a number of local and federal candidates, before becoming an analyst for a major polling firm in Washington. In 2011, Mick headed home to the Sunshine State to attend law school closer to family. Mick graduated from the University of Miami School of Law, cum laude, in 2014, where he was an active member of the University of Miami Law Review Executive Board. During his time there, Mick was published on multiple occasions, presented comparative law papers at the University of Leipzig in Germany, and appeared publically with the US Secretary of Health and Human Services to raise awareness about the Affordable Care Act. Mick also organized and directed a national symposium on judicial activism, featuring federal trial judges who had made landmark constitutional rulings to end state prohibitions on same-sex marriage, the use of “Stop and Frisk” in New York City, and the systemic overcrowding of California’s penitentiary system. In 2014, Mick was admitted to practice by the Florida Bar, and as a Patent Attorney by the US Patent and Trademark Office. As Associate Counsel with Sixt Rent A Car, Mick currently handles complex transactions and manages airport and government relations for operations in the United States. He continues to volunteer his legal skills on progressive campaigns and currently serves as a Precinct Committeeman for the Broward Democratic Party. Mick is passionate about speaking out against partisan gerrymandering and the corrosive effect of “outside-money” on local and statewide elections, viewing them as the two biggest existential threats to democracy and equality of opportunity. He is currently involved in projects to study the application of blockchain technologies like bitcoin and ethereum to strengthen the democratic process using smart-contracts. An accomplished concert violinist, Mick enjoys listening to classical music, learning new computer programming languages, and rooting for the New York Mets in his spare time.
Iris Gonzalez, Industrial Engineering Manager, ChenMed
Iris González was born in Boston, MA and received her Bachelor's degree in Engineering from Smith College. In July 2014, she moved to Miami, Florida to pursue her dreams as an Engineer and was recently promoted to lead the engineering organization. With a strong desire to 'pay it forward' and help others, she started her own business at the age of 25 dedicated to empowering individuals to unleash their inner warrior and achieving the life of their dreams. Iris is a sought after public speaker and workshop leader who teaches and travels throughout the world. She uses her story as a means to inspire 'at-risk youth' to stay strong and is a strong advocate for mentoring.
Jessica Gottsleben, Ambassador Running Start: Bringing Young Women to Politics
Jessica Gottsleben is a servant leader, life-long scholar, intersectional feminist and proud Floridian. Gottsleben serves as the first-ever elected Ambassador of Running Start, a nonprofit organization headquartered in DC that trains young women to run for elected office. In 2016, Gottsleben was honored at the 10th annual Young Women to Watch Awards in Washington, DC as the national Political Rising Star award recipient. As ambassador, she inspires girls globally to fight sexism and see themselves in elected office, striving for gender and political parity. Gottsleben is a 2016 graduate of the Women's Campaign School at Yale University, and a 2014 inductee to the Order of Pegasus, the most prestigious and significant award attainable at the University of Central Florida, from which she holds two bachelor’s degrees with Burnett Honors College distinction in Radio and Television Broadcast Journalism and Political Science, and a Leadership Studies certificate. She previously served as a UNESCO delegate on climate change, a multimedia journalist and director, a fellow on global peace and security, and a U.S. Congressional fellow on interdisciplinary policy and Constitutional Law. Jessica was recently honored as an Emerging Leader and speaker at The Atlantic Dialogues 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, and previously invited to the White House’s first United State of Women Summit, named a Young Madison by Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, and featured on iKNOW Politics (International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics) through UN Women. Jessica is a modern-day abolitionist in the fight to end modern-day slavery, currently serves as an Editor for DC Stop Modern Slavery, and previously gave a TEDx Talk that inspired the creation of an educational virtual reality video game for which she serves as an expert consultant. She is also a speaker on violence, millennial action, civic engagement, sustainable development, equity and equality. While currently serving on multiple task forces and councils, Jessica is starting her own nonprofits for access to education and sex trafficking survivors. She hopes to serve her home county of Broward with the progressive family of NLC leaders.
Jelani Harvey, Practice Transformation Consultant, Florida Blue
Jelani Harvey was born in Kingston, Jamaica and immigrated to the United States with his family as a child where he has called Broward County home for almost two decades. After finishing school, Jelani attended Columbia University obtaining his Bachelors in American History and subsequently attended Johns Hopkins for his Master's in Public Health. Mr. Harvey also has extensive knowledge and experience in the health care arena spending the past few years consulting with providers on Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) initiatives for CareFirst Blue Cross and now Florida Blue. In his role, he works with medical professionals to identify ways to decrease costs while also increasing quality of care for patients. He also had the pleasure of interning for the Obama Administration in 2013-2014 for Office of Management and Budget where he worked on overseeing the Department of Health. This experience gave him further insights into the working of the federal government. Aside from work in the health care, Mr. Harvey has great interest in environmental issues and was recently elected to the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation District. He ran for this position as way to better align his interests of public health with environmental exposures and looks forward to keeping communities in Broward County healthy.
Jill Horwitz, Natural Resources Specialist, Broward County Board of County Commissioners
Jill Horwitz is a South Florida native and trusted local environmental advocate. With over 15 years in ecosystem protection and climate resilience planning, Jill blends her expertise in natural resource management with her passion for building collaborative partnerships to achieve full community-scale benefits. Jill holds a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from FAU, a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from U.F., and is LEED-GA accredited. Early in her career, she led the P.I.R.G. field office at UC Irvine, ran special event fundraising at the South Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and advocated for Everglades protection while at the National Parks Conservation Association. Now Jill uses her talents to make a difference in local government, through her role as a Natural Resource Specialist in Broward County’s Energy & Sustainability Program. Jill was lead author of Broward County’s Climate Change Element, which won the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning by the American Planning Association, and coordinates the “Sustainability Stewards of Broward”, a peer exchange of over 450 local sustainability professionals. She also works with local governments to advance of Adaptation Action Area designations, build resilience into planning and design through the Resilient Redesign project, and incorporate health into sustainable community planning through Healthy Community Zones. One recent accomplishment she is proud of, is Broward’s 4-STAR Community rating, where she worked with over 30 community partners to achieve national recognition for Broward’s excellence in sustainability. When she isn’t advancing community equity, sustainability and climate resilience, Jill enjoys kayaking with her kids, working in her garden, practicing yoga, and experimenting in the kitchen with a Heidi Swanson recipe.
Rudy Jean-Bart, Assistant Professor of History, Broward College
Rudy Jean-Bart is a native of Miami, FL. Rudy is an Assistant Professor of History at Broward College's South Campus where he teaches American History, African American History and Women’s History. He is also the advisor of the student organizations Food for Thought and the African Student Union. Jean-Bart started off his teaching career in January of 2009 as an Adjunct Professor at Broward College Central Campus with one class and ten students. Since that humble beginning Rudy has excelled at Broward College. In the academic year of 2009-2010 Jean-Bart was named Broward College Central Campus Adjunct Professor of the Year. In 2012 he became a Full-Time Professor at the College’s South Campus and in the 2015-2016 academic year was named Broward College South Campus Professor of the Year. Jean-Bart is also the founder and CEO of Rudy Jean-Bart Inc. which affords him the opportunity to do motivational speeches as well as presentations discussing branding, entrepreneurship, history and race. Rudy Jean-Bart Inc. is the parent company of both the blog site Raliman and the clothing line Raliman Clothing. Both the blog site as well as the clothing line are designed to bring about social awareness as well as a message of empowerment. Rudy has also served as a board member of Sahara of South Florida, which is an organization that fights to "reduce the incidence of domestic violence in South Asian communities of South Florida through public awareness, education and advocacy." Jean-Bart is passionate about both racial and gender equality. He also is a spoken word poet.
Phillip Jerez, District Outreach Coordinator, U.S. House of Representatives
Originally from the Bronx, Phillip Jerez is a District Outreach Coordinator for a South Florida Member of Congress and a graduate of Columbia University in the City of New York. While at Columbia, where he earned his degree in Psychology, Phillip was especially involved in the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a program that assists low-income high school students apply for college. Upon graduation, Phillip became a Corps Member with Teach for America in Miami-Dade; continuing to engage in issues related to urban education and at-risk youth. Specifically, Phillip taught 9th grade World History and 11th grade U.S. History at Miami Central Senior High School. Additionally, Phillip served as Chair of the High School’s Social Studies Department during his second year. While Phillip greatly enjoyed working with his students, he became increasingly frustrated by the impact external factors played in his students’ ability to excel in and outside the classroom. This led Phillip to pursue an opportunity in government where he could be a part of the solutions to these macro-issues of education funding, the social safety net, poverty, and literacy. As the District Outreach Coordinator, Phillip is charged with leading outreach opportunities, especially among minority communities. Projects have focused on police/community relations, STEM education, and minority health initiatives. Phillip joins the New Leaders Council eager to learn how government can provide equitable pathways and opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and religion. "
Nancy Metayer, Community Activist
Nancy Metayer is an environmentalist, water advocate, and humanitarian. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Sciences from Florida A&M University. After analyzing her career goals, she decided to pursue a Masters of Health Science degree in Environmental Health Sciences from John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health. Nancy has always been intrigued about water quality and its impact on public health, and through activism she is determined to encourage others to feel the same way
John Moreno-Escobar President and Founder JME Consultants
John Moreno-Escobar is a successful social entrepreneur, community leader and executive innovator. His passion is education equality, and access to higher education for all. John is a native Colombian from Bogotá. His expertise is creating and maintaining multi-sectoral partnerships and high level relationships based on the collective impact model.
Shezan Mumtaz, Attorney, Geller Legal, PLLC.
Shezan Mumtaz is currently an attorney with Geller Legal, PLLC., a full service law firm dedicated to helping all of its clients with their legal needs. Shezan was born and raised in South Florida to a family who encouraged integrity and striving for success. At an early age, he developed a passion for helping others and motivating those around him. He graduated from North Miami Beach Senior High School in 2008, where he was senior class president and later pursued a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami. During his time in college, Shezan actively engaged in helping his community excel. He was a Titan on the School of Business’s Hyperion Council – a student organization dedicated to introducing the business mindset to the local community. Shezan was also an American Reads Tutor with the Upward Bound Math and Science Program at the Miami Science Museum. He tutored complex math and science courses to underserved high school students who had dreams and ambitions of achieving great success in the classroom and beyond. After graduating from the University of Miami in 2012, Shezan entered into the corporate world and held incredibly fortunate positions with some of the best employers in America. However, soon after, he felt like something was missing from his life. Although he believed he was contributing to society in his given capacity, he felt like it was not the best application of his talents. Throughout his life, Shezan was constantly surrounded by technology and amazing ideas that could help shape the world but was in a position with limitations. Fascinated by the legal system, technology, and ability to help others personally, Shezan decided to enroll in law school. He attended Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law in 2013 and during his time as law student, was engaged in extracurricular activities. Applying his passion for technology, he quickly became involved with law school’s Intellectual Property Law Society and eventually became President of the organization. As president, he introduced fellow students to the ever-expanding world of patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Upon completion of law school and passing the Florida bar exam, Shezan joined Geller Legal, PLLC., where he currently works in the Business Litigation and Intellectual Property Department. When Shezan is not legally advocating for his clients, you can find him helping local community members with their political campaigns or learning about the newest advancements in technology
Dino Munroe, Senior Analyst – Team Lead, TCA Fund Management Group
Dino P. Munroe Jr. graduated from the City of Pembroke Pines Charter High School and went on to attend Emory University in Atlanta, GA. At Emory, Dino participated in student government and completed the AmeriCorps Bonner Leaders program. Dino graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 2012. Upon graduation, Dino moved back home to South Florida and worked with the School Board of Broward County and in the Global Business Services Department at The Burger King Corporation. Dino currently works as a Senior Analyst – Team Lead at TCA Fund Management Group. Dino is dedicated to his community and volunteers with the Urban League of Broward County’s Young Professionals Network as the Community Service Committee Chair, The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, and numerous other local and national community service organizations.
Brittany C. Ross, Education Advocate, Southern Poverty Law Center
Brittany C. Ross has focused her professional career on ensuring educational equity and opportunity for all, especially for those of historically underserved populations. As a descendant of civil rights activists and educators who fought for equality, Brittany’s steadfast belief is that “access to equitable education is a civil rights issue of our time.” Through research, policy analysis, and advocacy she defends the rights of all students with the intent of creating lasting change through legislation and community empowerment. To further contribute to the cause, she is founding her own Education Foundation to impact educational outcomes and opportunities for the students of South Florida. She has worked with leading education and advocacy non-profits including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, and the Council for Opportunity in Education. In addition to her professional work, she is actively involved in her community. She serves on the Education Advisory Board for the City of Sunrise, serves as the Civic Engagement Co-Chair for the Urban League of Broward County, Young Professionals Network, and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Communication Studies and Spanish from Clemson University and a Master of Education in Higher Education from the University of Florida. She is also pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy. In her spare time she truly enjoys international travel.
Joevahn Scott, Sr. Major Account Executive, Ricoh
Joevahn is a Major Account Executive at Ricoh, a global technology company, where he partners with colleges and universities to streamline their workflows and processes. He focuses on improving teaching and learning technologies, campus print programs and campus mail rooms. Joevahn earned a BS at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an MBA at Villanova University. He started his career as an Army officer, an experience that culminated in his assignment as an embedded advisor with the Iraqi Army. His prior business experience includes six years in operations management roles with three S&P 500 companies. Joevahn also spent two years as an entrepreneur helping small businesses access capital, contracts and mentorship opportunities. Joevahn and his wife, Shannon, have been married for 12 years and have a nine year old son named Bakari. They are residents of Parkland, FL.
Amber Vaughan, Business and IT Career Advisor, Kaplan University
Amber Vaughan is an energetic, communicative and results-driven professional currently working in higher education. Skilled in employer and community outreach; relationship building and networking; speaking to large groups and motivating others, she welcomes opportunities where her personality and ability to think outside the box, can be used to bring ideas and projects to fruition. Amber is passionate about helping others realize their career potential through academic exploration and career coaching and helps job seekers align their interests, strengths and education with employment opportunities. As a result she is currently in the process of launching her own Career Consulting service, to assist entry to executive level job seekers and career changers, navigate the roads to fulfilling employment. Ms. Vaughan's commitment to other's success goes beyond her professional obligations and is evident throughout the work she’s done with various organizations within the community to increase voter registration turnout and awareness; to collect supplies for areas devastated by natural disasters as well as partner with other organizations that promote community development as well as youth enrichment. A proactive and forward-thinking agent of change, her personal philosophy is ""Attitude can take you places that education and experience cannot. Be the attitude you want to be around."" Amber Vaughan is a mover, shaker but more importantly a doer, committed to self-improvement and the betterment of society, whose journey is only just beginning!
R. David Walker, President, South Florida Audubon Society
R. David Walker is a resident of Wilton Manors. He graduated with honor from American Public University System (APUS) with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Fish and Wildlife Management, along with an undergraduate certificate in Public Land Management. He is in the process of completing his thesis for a Master of Science degree in Environmental Policy and Management with a concentration in Environmental Planning and a graduate certificate in Environmental Sustainability. He has held many leadership positions starting from his time in high school as he fought to stop discrimination against LGBT. At that time, he founded and served as President of his high school Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). In college, Mr. Walker played a significant role in forming two professional organizational chapters at his university and held leadership positions: President of the APUS student chapter of the Wildlife Society Chapter and vice President of the National Association of Environmental Professional. He is currently serving as President of the Golden Key International Honor Society. Presently, Mr. Walker works as President of South Florida Audubon Society, is an elected representative of the Broward Democratic Party as Precinct Committeeman. He also serves on the Wilton Manors Community Affairs Advisory Board, the Wilton Manors Environmental and Sustainability Committee, and the South Florida Audubon Society Board. Over the years, Mr. Walker educated people on the environment as an Advanced Florida Master Naturalists of the Florida Master Naturalist Program and Habitat Steward of the National Wildlife Federation. He volunteered as a judge for middle and high school student science projects in the field of environmental science. In addition to public outreach, Mr. Walker has over ten years hands-on experience working in environmental related fields to help improve current environmental conditions that threaten endangered species, the ecosystem, and natural resources through scientific research and educating the public. He worked and volunteered with different state and government agencies and conducted wildlife and environmental studies and data collections through the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. National Park Service, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. In 2015, he received the ultimate honor from President Obama, the Official U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award, for all of his leadership and community service in Broward County and around the state of Florida. Mr. Walker is passionate about bringing awareness to great causes, helping to improve our communities, and contributing to future prosperity of our country.
Richard Yates, Lecturer, University of Miami
Richard Yates earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in composition at the University of Miami in 2015. His dissertation was a chamber opera about the life of the twentieth-century singer and African-American political activist Paul Robeson. The opera is meant to foster discussion on how artists can impact contemporary political and social issues, especially racial equality. Richard completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Composition (B.M. and M.A.) at the Boston Conservatory and the University of Minnesota. He also earned a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Minnesota. Richard has taught music theory, ear training, composition, and musicology courses at the University of Minnesota, University of Miami, Florida International University, and the New World School of the Arts. Richard is very excited to be a part of the New Leaders Council in 2017.