Meet the 2017 Orlando Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Roberto Baptiste, Customs and Border Protection Officer, Department of Homeland Security
Mr. Baptiste was born in Haiti where he was raised in a community of neighbors, friends, and family. Mr. Baptiste learned early on the value of education, community, and selfless service. In May of 2001, Mr. Baptiste moved to Orlando, Florida where his thirst for education continued at Olympia High School, where he began his lifelong bond with the Orange County community. He continued his education at Valencia College, before graduating from the University of West Florida with a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations and Political Science. Eager to serve, Mr. Baptiste began his career in public service becoming a United States Border Patrol Agent in Yuma, Arizona. Today, Mr.Baptiste continues to serve as a Federal Officer, Firearms Instructor, Counterterrorism Instructor and Field Training Officer within the Department of Homeland Security. After returning home to Orlando, Mr. Baptiste obtained a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Central Florida. Mr. Baptiste is a proud Knight and Orange County Resident still eager and hungry to serve his community. The Orange County community has always been there to help guide, nurture, and support Mr. Baptiste, which is why in 2012 he decided to start giving back to young people locally utilizing soccer as a conduit to provide a pathway to success. He currently coaches varsity soccer at OakRidge High School where he contributes to many of the boys earning scholarship to attend college as first generation scholars. His community involvement led him to run for Orange County Sheriff in 2016. Although an improbable run, Mr. Baptiste ran on a platform to bring much needed changes on how we conduct policing in 21st Century America. A community driven and proactive policing were the cornerstone of his platform. Following his passion and a dream for a better America, Mr. Baptiste used his experience and community ties to serve as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton's Presidential race. Mr. Baptiste delivered Secretary Clinton's vision for a stronger America to the Caribbean Community across Central Florida Mr. Baptiste enjoys learning about different cultures and languages. He speaks French, Haitian Creole, English and Spanish. He enjoys coaching, being in the kitchen, trying different foods but most importantly spending time with his children and creating lifelong memories. Mr. Baptisteís family is his rock, and his love for them fuels his stubborn desire to help shape a better world and future for their generation and beyond.
Patti Brownsord, Senior Analytical Consultant, AAA National
Patti originates from a small town where she was highly involved in high school activities such as band, drama, and environment, academic, and civic clubs. In her senior year, she was President of Student Council, Valedictorian, and voted as "Most Likely to Succeed." She attended the University of Central Florida for Advertising/Public Relations with a Marketing minor, was in LEAD Scholars and the Honors School, and graduated suma cum laude. She went on to work full time at one of the largest ad agencies in Orlando and earned her MBA at UCF at the same time. When she left the ad agency to work at Clear Channel Outdoor in management, she attended Leadership Orlando, the largest community leadership program, Athena Leadershipís NextGen program, that supports women leaders in the community, and was a member of the Emerging Leaders with the Central Florida United Way. Patti is currently involved with numerous organizations that help different aspects of her community. Living in College Park, Orlando, she sits on the BOD and is a part of the promotions and organizing committees for the College Park Partnership where she helps manage the marketing projects for the communityís four big events each year. She sits on the BOD for the Homegrown Co-op, an organization which is trying to build a sustainable, local, organic market for Orlandoans to use as their primary food supply. Patti is also involved with Femcity Orlando, a local branch of a national organization made up of intelligent, ambitious women looking to build community, as the V-P, serving as a board member at large and supporting the President in any activities required to get the job done. Patti has always enjoyed volunteering and being involved in the community in which she lives. She supports MBA Orlando, Central FLís LGBT Chamber of Commerce, by volunteering for their business awards gala each year. She volunteers once a quarter with Femcity at various nonprofits, as well as helped develop a series of programs titled ìFairWagersî which addressed the current pay gap issues facing women and minorities. She also helps with the College Park Arts Center with some fundraising in order to help build a community theatre in College Park. When Patti is not volunteering, sheís enjoying her free time with her husband. They are regularly seen at one of the Disney Parks or hosting friends at home for one of their dinner parties.
Charles Cofield, Patient Care Aide, Supporting Independance, Inc
Charles J. Cofeld was born in Biloxi, MS to parents who both built successful careers in helping professions. He and his two sisters were one of the first set of triplets born in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Charles relocated to Lake City, FL with his family where he received his primary and secondary education. He then earned his BA Degree in Health Service Management from St. Leo University. Charles developed a passion for community outreach and finding solutions to alleviate socio-economic hardship. In 2014, he relocated to Orlando, FL to pursue a career in providing services to the homeless, elderly, and underserved populations facing adversity. He currently balances several positions as a home care provider, tax preparer for H&R Block, and executive director at a non-profit charitable organization, Serving People in Need that was founded in 2013. Charles began working with the charitable organization in July of 2015. His role has been to cultivate long term business opportunities, introduce/implement procedures that increase productivity and efficiency, and develop programs that distribute donations to organizations that serve the community.
Dawn Curtis, Drug Court Coordinator, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court
Dawn C. Curtis is currently employed with the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court Drug Court Program. In this capacity she serves as a Drug Court Coordinator for Dependency and Delinquency Drug Courts. She has worked in the governmental sector for over 15 years. In conjunction with the governmental sector, she has also worked with non-profit providers to help them build strong relationships and organizations within the community. Dawn has experience with assisting nonprofit Committee Boards in clarifying their organizational goals and identifying the leadership qualifications necessary to achieve these goals. In addition to her professional work with the governmental agencies, Dawn is an active board member with a number of nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member with My Rules and Realties and Keiser University. Dawn also serves as an active member of the National Congress of Black Women, Orange County Democratic Black Caucus, Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, and numerous mentor programs throughout Orange County, Florida. Dawn is a highly motivated youth advocate. She has remarkable mentoring and grassroots marketing skills. She has the ability to work with individuals at all levels in the private and public sector. She has proven success with program implementation, with yielded results of thousands of youthís lives being touched within the community. Dawn also received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University. She was awarded her Masterís degree in Business Administration and Human Resources from University of Phoenix.
Danielle Groves, Foundation Events Manager, Orlando Health Foundation
Danielle Groves grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Boyertown High School where she was a member of Student Council. In 2006, she came to Orlando to go to University of Central Florida to study Event Management at the Rosen School of Hospitality Management. During her time at UCF, she was involved in Campus Freethought Alliance and served as Treasurer in her junior year. Danielle also regularly volunteered her time to lead community volunteer projects through Hands On Orlando. The hospitality program requires students to complete three internships, so for her final internship, she worked as Corporate Services Manager for HOO by planning and managing corporate volunteer projects. This is where Danielle discovered her passion for working in the non-profit industry. She graduated from UCF with a bachelor's degree in Event Management and a minor in Hospitality Management in 2010. Danielle continued to work for HOO past graduation, and then moved on to other non-profit organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and Camaraderie Foundation, in various event management and development roles. She is currently Foundation Events Manager for Orlando Health Foundation and responsible for leading and organizing several fundraising events in support of Arnold Palmer Medical Center, The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families and Orlando Health. Danielle is grateful to have the opportunity to apply her talents and education to assist an organization that has such a positive impact on the Central Florida community. Danielle served as the Professional Development Chair for Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Orlando for two years from 2013-2015. In the recent 2016 Election, she volunteered many hours with the Florida Democratic Party and as a poll worker on Election Day. She has always had a passion for many progressive political issues and wants to continue to be able to give back to her community.
Temika Hampton, Uniserv Director/Staff Attorney, Orange County Service Unit
Temika Hampton is a Florida attorney with a passion for protecting civil rights. After working as a state probation officer for many years, Temika decided to pursue her lifelong dream of being a judge. In 2009 she returned to school and pursued her J.D. at Florida A&M University College of Law. Temika was a full-time probation officer by day and a part-time law student by night. In 2013, Temika earned her J.D. with honors and began her legal career shortly thereafter. While in law school, Temika held an internship in the Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Office and also completed pro bono hours with the Orange County Legal Aid. In 2012, Temika received the law student of the year award from Orange County Legal Aid due to her pro bono work. In 2014, Temika continued her desire to protect civil rights by working as an Assistant Public Defender for the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida. Temika currently combines her legal experience with a long career in the criminal justice field as a felony probation officer to provide superior representation for public school educators and employees in Orange County, Florida. As a Uniserv Director/Staff Attorney for Orange County Service Unit, Temika serves as an advocate for members on all matters relating to contract interpretation and implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. As a long time advocate of civil rights, Temika is using her current experience to provide free Know Your Rights and Civil Rights Restoration workshops in hopes of providing others with the necessary tools to better protect their civil rights. In addition to her J.D., Temika holds a M.B.A from Stetson University and a B.B.A. in Accounting from Stetson University.
Kadie Hayward Mullins, Director- Undergraduate Research, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Dr. Kadie Hayward Mullins is the Director of Undergraduate Research for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she also teaches graduate and doctoral courses in education/instructional design and leadership. She earned her bachelor's degree in history from the University of Tampa, master's degree in educational administration and supervision from Fordham University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses primarily on innovative and equitable educational and public policy practices and the impact of leadership, policy, and cultural factors on individual and community outcomes. Kadie has a long history of service and community engagement which she has continued in the Volusia/Flagler County area. She serves the City of Edgewater as chairperson for the Recreation and Cultural Services Board and as an advisor on numerous city projects, as well as on the Volusia County Children and Family Advisory Board. Kadie serves on the YMCA Camp Winona board of directors where she works to promote the mission of and access to Camp across the state. In addition to serving on the ìcampershipî and 100th-anniversary celebration committees, she is the Capital Campaign chairperson. She has been a member of the Kiwanis family since 2002, the Edgewater Fire-Rescue Association since 2006, the Daughters of the American Revolution since 2016, and was recently appointed to the NSB CAPS (New Smyrna Beach Community and Alumni Providing Scholarships) board of directors. She has volunteered with Junior Achievement of Central Florida, Kook 386, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, and locally for numerous community events. She is a runner for her amazing buddy, Bella, through I Run for Michael, an organization that pairs children and adults with varying abilities to athletes who dedicate their workouts to their buddy forging meaningful and lasting bonds. With a passion for shaping globally aware and civically responsible learners and leaders of all ages, Kadie and her husband recently founded The Givemore Group, LLC. Using the teamís skill set to help develop new and existing small businesses, community organizations, and programs, The Givemore Group supports initiatives aimed at promoting civic and community engagement and leadership development for individuals of all backgrounds and abilities. The organization also plans to conduct research to determine key factors in individual engagement with community advisory boards, school organizations, and political activism, using the results of the study to make recommendations to local officials regarding best practices to promote diverse, dynamic, and well-rounded leadership teams. Among all of her roles, the one Kadie loves most is ""mom,"" which she fills for her toddler daughter. They, with her husband, enjoy running local 5k races, reading, cooking, and exploring all that Florida has to offer.
Aubrey Kupermaan, Coordinator, University of Central Florida
Aubrey Kuperman is the Coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of Central Florida (UCF). While attending UCF as an undergraduate, Aubrey conducted her own research in Latin American history. She volunteered for several years with a non-profit literacy program in Downtown Orlando. Her time working with students, combined with her research mindset, ignited her passion for educational policy. This passion led her to join Public Allies Central Florida, a leadership development program that places participants in apprenticeships in the public sector. After graduating with a B.A. in History with University Honors and Honors in the Major in 2013, she began serving as the program coordinator for the Burnett Honors Collegeís civic engagement programming. In addition to her placement at the Honors College, Aubrey collaborated with her fellow Public Allies on a long-term project to support youth aging out of the foster system. This experience, along with the opportunities to join leaders in the public sector at area-wide policy summits and learn from them at trainings convinced her to pursue a Masters degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. While at Harvard, she focused on policy, as well as community and family engagement practices, often thinking of the students she worked with in Orlando. In fact, she felt compelled to return to Orlando upon graduation in 2015. She is an active alumna of Public Allies, leading trainings on Asset-Based Community Development theory for the current class of Allies each year. Aubrey has participated in Walk MS events for several years to raise money for research on Multiple Sclerosis and to support individuals and families living with MS. When not at work or volunteering, she can be found with her nose in a book, or attending local hockey games.
Jason Lawrence, Management and Budget Analyst, County of Volusia
Jason Lawrence is a Management and Budget Analyst for the County of Volusia where he assists in the development and management of the Countyís $850 million budget and completes special projects on behalf of the County Manager. He previously served as the Management Fellow for Leon County Government where he worked on initiatives related to citizen engagement, economic development, and intergovernmental affairs for the Leon County Board of County Commissioners. Prior, he worked in subsequent positions as an Analyst and Contracts Manager for the Florida Office of the Attorney General; and earlier as an Assistant to the Clerk of the Florida House of Representatives. Lawrenceís ultimate goal is to become a city manager or county administrator and esteemed scholar in local governance, economic development, and urban planning. He is a member of the Florida City and County Management Association, International City and County Management Association, National Association of County Administrators, each of which recognized him as an ìEmerging Leaderî in 2016; as well as the National Forum of Black Public Administrators and Southeast Evaluation Association. Lawrence received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 2011, and a Master of Public Administration from Florida State University in 2015. He is an eighth generation Floridian and native of Tallahassee. Heís also a fitness buff, foodie, travel enthusiast, news junkie, and devoted husband.
Justin Miller, Transitioning Navy Veteran
Justin is a native son of Central Florida, who was born in Orlando and grew up in the surrounding area. He is a graduate of Lyman High School, who pursued a career in the US Navy, which was a goal since early childhood. He is currently a transitioning veteran preparing to retire from the Navy after 20 years of military public service. His Navy assignments include shore duties within the Naval Security Group and Information Operations Command communities, both stateside and overseas (Republic of Korea), as well as USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72), USS SAN DIEGO (LPD 22), and Naval Special Warfare Development Group. His career as a Navy Cryptologic Technician and Intelligence Analyst (CTR) resulted in his supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Southern Watch (OSW), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and in support of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in the Arabian Gulf and Horn of Africa. He also led USS SAN DIEGOís interagency mission with NASA to develop hardware and recovery procedures for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) in preparation of NASAís Exploration Flight Test-one (EFT-1) in 2013. He is a warfare designated specialist in Information Warfare (IW), Surface Warfare (SW), and Aviation Warfare (AW), and is a Navy Master Training Specialist. His academic credentials include a Bachelorís Degree in Political Science and a Masterís Degree in Public Policy from American Military University. He is also a graduate of the US Navy Senior Enlisted Academy at the Naval War College. His personal awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal (2nd), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4th), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4th), Presidential Unit Citation, Battle Efficiency Award (3rd), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and various other service and unit awards. Justin is married to his high school sweet heart (a Lake Brantley High School alum) and has three children: two sons and a daughter. He is an active member of the Unitarian Universalist community, and he served as the ship's Unitarian Universalist lay-leader aboard USS SAN DIEGO (LPD22) during its maiden deployment from 2012-2015. Upon conclusion of his Naval service, Justin will be returning home and re-establishing roots in Orlando to pursue leadership and public service opportunities in finance (community development banking, corporate responsibility, public finance), communications and public relations, or non-profit leadership.
Shayla Mount, Attorney, Larsen & Associates, P.L.
Shayla J. Mount, Esq. is a proud native of Orlando, Florida where she currently practices Community Association Law at Larsen & Associates, P.L. She is passionate about her role in facilitating and advising over 300 HOA and Condo association boards as they serve to maintain and improve their neighborhoods and communities. Shayla attended Cypress Creek High School where she graduated with a diploma from the International Baccalaureate Program. The IB Program sparked her interest in international business and foreign affairs leading her to seek an honors degree in International Business from Howard University in Washington, D.C. While in D.C., Shayla was especially active on campus and in the community where she was a part of various social and community service organizations including Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity and Alpha Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 2008, Shayla was elected to represent the undergraduate membership of her sorority on the National Board of Directors as International Undergraduate Member-at-Large. Shayla was blessed with the opportunity to explore her interest in international business as an investment banking intern at Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers Investment Banks. After college, Shayla worked as a financial associate in the GE (General Electric) Financial Management Program before attending law school at U.C. Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law. Shayla used her time in law school to remain involved in both international affairs and local politics. During her second year of law school, she worked for the California Asylum Representation Clinic where she was able to successfully secure political asylum for her client. She also worked in the International Human Rights Clinic where she focused on issues affecting the prosecution of Cambodian leaders responsible for the atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge period. While in law school, she also interned for former California Public Utilities Commissioner, Timothy Simon. Shayla is happily married to her best friend and husband, Attorney Bruce Mount, who is also dedicated to the continued improvement and progress of minority communities throughout the Central Florida area.
Kelli Murray, Chief of Staff/Special Assistant Dean at the University of Florida Levin College of Law
Kelli Murray is currently chief of staff/special assistant to the dean at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Kelli practiced as an Associate at the Cleveland-based law firm of Baker Hostetler in Orlando with the firmís commercial litigation practice group, focusing on general litigation and family/marital law matters. Kelli was nominated and selected as a Florida Rising Star in 2013. She currently serves as a member of the Student Education and Admission to the Bar and Diversity and Inclusion Committees of the Florida Bar after appointment by two separate Florida Bar presidents. Kelli graduated with honors and a dual degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Florida where, among a host of other accomplishments, she was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame and Warrington College of Business Hall of Fame. She continued her education at The Florida State University College of Law, where she graduated with honors and was cited for Outstanding Pro Bono Service. During law school, she interned at the Florida Commission on Human Relations and, among other organizations, served as competition chair of FSUís Mock Trial Team, where she competed regionally and nationally. In addition, she was a summer associate for two summers at Baker Hostetlerís Orlando office before becoming a full-time associate. Kelli is actively involved in several voluntary bar associations including The George C. Young First Central Florida American Inn of Court, the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers, the Orange County Bar Association, and the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association. Kelli also serves as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem attorney and Teen Court volunteer through the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, where she also currently serves as a Trustee. Kelli is also involved in the Hugh OíBrian Youth Leadership Organization and Girl Scouts of America, Citrus Council, and is active in her church, Rejoice in the Lord Ministries.
Shante Pressley, Attorney, Brock and Scott PLLC
Shante Pressley was born in Georgia but has lived in FL, LA, AL, KY & SC and attended 10 schools, 3 colleges and 1 law school. The exposure to different environments has instilled an adaptive and perseverant nature in Shante. Currently, Shante is a Central Florida attorney. Shante received her Bachelors degree in Philosophy and minored in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2007. She graduated from Barry University School of Law in the Fall of 2010. She joined the Bar in 2011. She is admitted to practice in Florida and the U.S. Middle District of Florida. Shanteís professional memberships include the State Bar of Florida, Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys Council, a member of Attorneyís Title Fund, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Real Property Probate and Trust Law division of the Florida Bar and ACLU Legal Panelist for the Orlando Chapter. Shante is also a licensed realtor and title agent. Shante's greatest position is mother. Shante is the proud mother of two children, one boy and one girl. Shante wants to inspire others to go after their dreams and achieve that work/life balance. Shante's passion is defending civil liberties and bringing awareness to domestic violence.
Leydi Restrepo, Senior Business Immigration Paralegal, Kavurt Law Offices, P.A.
Leydi Tatiana Restrepo earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida in Political Science and her MBA with a concentration in International Business from Florida International University. Ms. Restrepo is currently working as a senior business immigration paralegal in Orlando, Florida. In addition to those achievements, Ms. Restrepo has a passion for volunteer work and helps with various charitable projects, such as clothing drives for the National Farm Worker Ministry. She was one of 20 students nationwide who was selected to participate in Microsoftís Intellectual Property Law Institute. Ms. Restrepo was also nominated as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the State Attorneyís Office ñ 9th Judicial Circuit. Through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Ms. Restrepo has interned for the Executive Directors of Court Services and Supervision Federal Agency in Washington, D.C. She is currently the Treasurer for the National Society of Hispanic MBAís and plays a vital role in the Recruitment and Retention committee for Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated. Ms. Restrepo was nominated and recognized by Florida International University's President as a Worlds Ahead Graduate for her involvement with the community and for going above what was expected of her as a student. She serves as a role model for the community and is proud to be a leader among her peers.
Bryant Santana, Community Relations Specialist, The Center for Independent Living
Bryant Santana is an advocate in the Disability and Mental Health community. His passion is advocating, educating and informing this community on professional development. He has been inspired about this community since attending the Career Opportunity for Students with Disability and being a student. In the beginning of the conference he saw students with a disability, mental health or both not prepared for life after graduation. This worried him to see that this community does not have a voice and sometimes are forgotten. Conference progressed well when he saw that students were well informed on accommodations, talking to employers and seeing that they have to ability to showcase the skills that they have. After the conference it inspired him as a student at the University of Central Florida to help create a student organization called ""Access at UCF."" The student organization was the first of its kind to being created and that its purposes is to help students to have a conversation with employers, know about workplace accommodations and prepare for life after graduation. This inspired him more to become more involved within this community and he started to gain an internship with the Center for Independent Living and Easter Seals, which focuses on the disability and mental health community. He started to gain the opportunities that came were like a domino effect in that he was starting to see his purpose in life to helping out as they came one after the other. He came across different resources in the Greater Orlando community that has let him spread to others. In academia, he has been part of many case competitions by competing with great groups every time. The different groups have won 1st place in the National PepsiCo case competition at the Prospanica Conference in 2016, 1st place in the Society for Human Resources Management National Collegiate Case Competition in 2016, 1st place in the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers in the Region 7 Regional Case Competition and 2nd place in the Phi Beta Lambda Future Business Leaders for the State of Florida Case Competition.
Kelda Senior, Public Information Coordinator, Quest Corporation of America, Inc.
Kelda is a communications and marketing professional with a passion for community outreach and public service. She currently serves as a Public Information consultant to the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) where she works to keep stakeholders informed about CFX construction projects and impacts throughout Central Florida. Her work in government began when she served as an intern-turned-staffer for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, then to the city of Mount Dora, where she established the cityís first city-wide public relations position. When sheís not working, Kelda enjoys volunteering her time to serve other Central Floridians. She currently serves as the VP of Professional Development and Media Mashup for the Florida Public Relations Association (Orlando Chapter), and serves as president of the Apopka Foliage Toastmasters club. Kelda advocates for under-served youth and equal education by volunteering as a mentor with Outreach Love, Inc., a tutoring organization serving the youth of downtown Orlando. Kelda received a B.A. in Journalism and Masters of Public Administration, both from the University of Central Florida. Originally from Jacksonville, FL, Kelda considers Central Florida her second home. She serves as an #Obassador for the Orlando Economic Development Commission, where locals are charged with representing ìthe other halfî of Orlando with social media posts that highlight all there is to love about Orlando and Central Florida. Kelda is eager to help promote minority women in government leadership roles, while encouraging others to ""step outside of their comfort zone"" through public speaking and leadership opportunities. Kelda believes all women should be be supported, challenged and respected in their workplaces.
Usha Tewari, Constituent Services, Orange County Property Appraiser
Usha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, and graduated high-school from Trinity Preparatory School. She attended Wheaton College in Norton, MA, studied for a summer semester in Oxford, England and followed that with a year in Paris, France focusing on European Union Politics and Economics. She comes from a political family in India. Her paternal grandfather was a freedom fighter during the Indian Independence movement, later became a Member of Parliament under the Indian National Congress Party and was Chairman of the Finance Estimate Committee. She is is a savvy networker, and has over ten years experience in campaign management and worked for the federal government for over six years. She is an effective team leader with a proven track record of successfully guiding and organizing activities and projects within the realm of the constituency for the elected officials, Medical practices, and non-profit organizations. She remains active in her community, having participated in the City of Orlando Mayor's Academy Program 2011. She presently serves as the City of Orlando Mennello Museum of American Art- Board of Trustees, and Climb Committee member for the American Lung Association.
Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Student, Princeton University
Samuel Vilchez Santiago, originally from Venezuela, is a second-year student at Princeton University, majoring in Politics with minors in Latin American Studies, Latino Studies, Spanish, and American Studies. At Princeton, Vilchez Santiago serves as co-President of Princeton Latinos y Amigos, the pan-latinx undergraduate organization, and as Liaison of the Questbridge Scholars Network, a community of high achieving low-income and first-generation students. He also founded the Princeton Hispanic Scholarship Fund Chapter, writes for the Orlando Sentinel Youth Voices Session, and is a member of Princetonís DREAM Team, where he mentors undocumented high school students in the Trenton area. Professionally, Vilchez Santiago has served as an intern at the Hillary for America national headquarters, Congressman Jared Polisís DC Congressional Office, Mi Familia Vota, the Orange County Democratic Party, and the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida. Vilchez Santiago is currently working to create a non-profit organization that will seek to support Latino families in the Central Florida area to navigate and have a voice in the Florida Public School System. In 2015, despite coming to the United States in 2010 as a political refugee with no English-Language Knowledge, Vilchez Santiago graduated from Colonial High School as Class Valedictorian and from Valencia College with an Associates in Arts Degree. At Colonial, Vilchez Santiago founded two student organizations: The Hispanic Honor Society and The College Dream Club. Between 2014 and 2015, he served as one of only twenty Florida Youth Commissioners, which allowed him to speak up for all of Floridaís youth in the Governorís Cabinet. He has also completed more than two thousand hours of community service with different organizations. Due to such academic, professional, and extracurricular involvement and leadership, Vilchez Santiago has been awarded the Youth Congressional Award and the President's Volunteer Service Award. As well, he was awarded the prestigious Coca-Cola, Gates Millennium, and Questbridge Scholarships, among others.
Codeye Woody, Director of Legislative and Congressional Relations, Orange County Public Schools
Codeye J. Woody is the Director of Legislative and Congressional Relations for Orange County Public Schools. Upon his arrival at OCPS, Codeye earned his bachelorís degree from the University of Central Florida in Political Science. Previously, Codeye worked as Staff Assistant in the United States House of Representatives where he supported the United States Congressman and Legislative Staff, which encompasses legislative and office operations. As a Staff Assistant, Codeye gained valuable legislative knowledge and experience that afforded him his current position. In his current capacity, Codeye advocates for PreK-12 educational issues at the state and federal levels on behalf of the School Board and Superintendent, while building relationships on behalf of the district that results in accomplishing the principles and priorities to support classroom and school needs for the 10th largest school district in the country. While living in the Orlando metro area, Codeye has served as Chair of Community Service & Projects for the Rotary Club of Baldwin Park and has also served as the chairman of Youth and Mentoring Committee for the Central Florida Urban League Young Professionals. While serving in key roles, Codeye was able to develop, implement and lead projects which engaged and empowered local communities by the use of events and workshops. Codeyeís special interests are criminal justice reform for students under the age of 18, PreK-12 education, community development, mentoring young males, and volunteering in youth ministry at his church.
Abdelrahman Zeini, Managing Partner, Broker, Adjunct Prof., The Zeini Law Firm, PA and Triple Z Realty, LLC, and Valencia College
Abdelrahman M. Zeini has been working in private practice ever since he received his JD Magna Cum Laude from Florida A & M University in 2007. The Zeini Law Firm PA specializes in real estate and business law. He is a professor at Valencia College where he teaches classes in real estate law and business law. His goals for the upcoming years are to grow the law firm and step into more teaching roles. Abdelrahman was inspired to work in a solo law firm by his view of need for affordable legal servicesóhe is proud to offer services to those who would otherwise be unable to afford them. He attributes his success, thus far, to hard work and goal-setting. He serves as Director of United Muslim Foundation providing care for the homeless and providing pro bono legal services for the Legal Aid Society. He is a member of the Orange County Bar, Young Lawyers Division of Florida, and the RPPTL. Abdelrahman is the proud father of three children. He loves to coach soccer in his free time, and also devotes much of his limited free time to advising area non-profits regarding legal matters.