Meet the 2017 Palm Beach Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Matthew Benzion, Attorney, Matthew Benzion, P.A.
Matthew Benzion is a dedicated Father and family man, an attorney and activist, and a concerned American and Floridian citizen.
Matthew owns and operates his own law firm with a practice concentrated in Family Law. The Family Law field encompasses divorce, child custody, and alimony and child support disputes. Naturally, it can be a highly contentious area of law. Matthew brings to this arena a therapeutic approach that focuses on defusing tension and conflict and resolving disputes in a manner that avoids as much destruction and turmoil as possible, while setting the family up for success once all the lawyers are gone. This is how Matthew, a naturally agreeable person of kindness and compassion, has found peace in an area of law that does not normally promote much of it.
When Matthew isn’t enjoying time spent with his children and wife, his head and heart are in politics: state, national and world issues, and public policy-making and debate. Matthew co-founded a Non-Profit organization, known as People Over Politics, that is dedicated to the unbiased exposure of truth and corruption in all things political, and that is also driven to promote just and progressive policy making. Matthew is also the CEO of a new Association created to organize and empower young and future generations to make policy changes that serve their interests and the best interest’s of the future. Matthew also provided pro-bono general counseling and legal advice to local groups and activists and served as a speech writer for local leaders.
Matthew believes that it is important to have balance in life, and he achieves his balance through his law practice, family, and political activism. Matthew feels that it is his duty and moral obligation to serve others and to try to effect positive change in this world, and so Matthew has set his intention upon just that.
Tonya McCollin Cajuste, Freelance Writer
Cajuste holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and has spent her career working in various management and directorship capacities across all business sectors - non-profit, for-profit, and government.
Currently, she is a freelance writer specializing in the areas of legal and investigative pieces, special interest, and content writing. She serves on the Board of Directors for Northwood Village Main Street, the non-profit serving the revitalization and economic enhancement of the businesses and residents in West Palm Beach’s north end. ¶
fter receiving a heart and kidney transplant in 2015, Cajuste doubled down on volunteerism and served on projects with multiple agencies throughout Palm Beach County including Bow Down Church, the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast, the Guardian ad Litem Program, and Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County. Dedicated to improving her community in every way, Cajuste serves as a vocal advocate in the areas of child abuse, education, healthcare, and human trafficking.
Committed to service that is useful as a mechanism for overall improvement to the human condition, Cajuste is a Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial District and a mentor for Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies. Though she enjoys the one-on-one, personal contact and impact of mentorship and advocacy, she recognizes that only through changes to policy can we truly garner generationally impactful results.
Morgan L. Cintron, Community Relations Manager, Florida Sugar Cane League
Morgan was born and raised in West Palm Beach, where she currently resides with her family. She is a graduate of Florida State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science with a minor in Communications. Morgan has experience working in state and federal politics. She was part of the finance team that helped raised millions of dollars for Alex Sink’s Congressional race. Morgan also spent time in D.C. working for Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer as one of his fundraisers at his leadership PAC. Her first job in politics was working for the Florida Democratic Party as the executive assistant to the Chairman. She now works for the Florida Sugar Cane League as a Community Relations Manager focusing on Northern Palm Beach County. Morgan is a board member of the Jupiter/Tequesta Rotary Club & is also an advisory council member at the Quantum House.
James Winchester Cohen
James Winchester Cohen, better known as J.W. Cohen or Jim. Influential and well respected, Jim is an advocate for economic equality, civil liberties, and personal development. Jim serves as a volunteer for the Guardian ad Litem program in the 15th Judicial Circuit – where he advocates for the alleged neglected, abandoned and abused children in the dependency court system. He’s a member of the Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) and a Committeeman for Precinct 7066 in Palm Beach County, FL. Jim also serves as a board member of a local political club in West Palm Beach, FL.
Jim believes in equal pay regardless of the person’s race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and/or sexual identity. Being a big believer in personal freedom and civil liberty, Jim makes monetary donations to ACLU and several other like-minded organizations; Jim believes everybody should live their lives - free of discrimination from individuals, institutions, and the government. A champion for personal development, Jim recognizes the power and importance of self-realizations and introspection. “Knowing who you are, and what is your potential, makes it easier for you to reach your goals! – J.W. Cohen
Jim aspires to create a nonprofit 501c3, 501c4, and/or a 527 organization that promotes economic equality, civil liberties, and rights, education, job creation, personal development, and several other activities that promote the wellbeing of humanity.
Suze Fleureme- Courtney, Litigation Paralegal, ADT
In her current position as a Litigation Paralegal with ADT, Suze Fleureme-Courtney, supports the Chief Litigation Counsel in all aspects of litigation management including factual investigation, case and document management, preparation and coordination of discovery, trial preparation and support.
Before joining ADT in 2014, Suze spent five years working for a diverse range of organizations, including Palm Beach Clerk & Comptroller’s Office and Bank of America. Suze’s varied background in law, justice system, and client support provided the perfect foundation for the analytical ability and logical reasoning needed for litigation.
In 2015, Suze earned a Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. Passionate about racial and gender equality, Suze aspires to use her law degree to bridge the gap between races and genders while promoting diversity and racial inclusion, social equality and economic development.
Carla Erskine, Associate Attorney, Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell
Carla Erskine is originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica and moved to Florida in her youth in pursuit of both academic and athletic goals. Ms. Erskine studied at the American Heritage School of Boca/Delray while competing on the junior circuit of the United States Tennis Association. Ms. Erskine completed her undergraduate education at Villanova University, where she was a double major in Political Science and Geography & Environmental Studies and was a member of Villanova’s Division 1 Women’s Tennis team for four years; serving as a team captain during her senior year.
Ms. Erskine is currently an Associate Attorney at Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell based in West Palm Beach, handling land use & real estate, corporate business matters, and providing advice to fitness professionals and athletes in aspects of sports management. Outside of the office, Ms. Erskine is a nationally qualified fitness competitor in the Bikini Division of the National Physique Committee (NPC).
In her free time, Ms. Erskine harnesses her longstanding interest in social justice issues by finding ways to give back to the community. During law school, Ms. Erskine worked as a civil advocate in the Northeastern University School of Law Clinical Programs addressing civil rights and restorative justice, prisoners’ rights, and domestic violence issues. Currently, Ms. Erskine partakes in pro bono type activities when possible, volunteers with organizations such as the Urban League of Palm Beach County, and participates in other community based initiatives or philanthropic events through her organization Purposeful Citizen and/or her title as Miss Boca Raton USA 2018.
Jasmine Govan, M.S. Communications Professional
Jasmine Govan is a qualified Communications Extraordinaire! She holds a Master’s Degree from Florida State University in Integrated Marketing and Management Communication.
Jasmine is no stranger to Marketing and Public Relations, with experience serving as a Public Relations Chair, a Communications Director, an Account Manager, and a Marketing Coordinator for about seven years in several different organizations. Her major accomplishments in these roles range from producing and maintaining content for various social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc.); running social media analytics tracking; creating graphics for legislative ads and flyers on Microsoft software; and also interviewing, editing and designing a marketing video.
Before joining New Leader’s Council (NLC) in 2017, Ms. Govan was involved in a wide realm of organizations, including small business startups, nonprofits, and government agencies. This diverse range of opportunities led her to be passionate about the possibilities of communications. Jasmine possesses an infinite amount of tactics intended to restore a cohesive communication balance between company and public, as well as, executive and employee. She believes that every entity needs effective communication, because it is the means of connection between people and places.
New Leader’s Council is such a bountiful organization that breeds innovators in a way that allows every fellow to learn directly from their peers. By joining NLC, Jasmine plans to use the training and skills necessary to promote the next generation of progressive leaders.
“I am always willing to learn and put my best foot forward, so that I can ultimately become something greater than myself.” –Jasmine Govan
Devan Griffith, Actuary, National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI)
Devan is an actuary with the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). In his role, Devan leads research projects relating to the estimates of the United States worker’s compensation residual market losses, improving the accuracy of current methods and addressing new legal and economic influences. Before joining NCCI, Devan held multiple actuarial positions at large insurance companies concerning pensions, small business property and liability insurance, and personal auto insurance. In each step of his career, he has focused on discovering new trends, reshaping traditional methods, and developing visions of the future.
Keeping in the tradition of his work, Devan is a big believer in winning the quantitative argument. Whether this is in healthcare reform, climate change, racial inequities, or tax reform, Devan is passionate about simplifying the problem and providing a clarifying answer to the country’s most complex and polarizing issues. With a background in financial, economic, and a range of mathematical and statistical research, Devan is passionate about the possibility of developing a new media that recaptures rational policy debate and effectively engages and educates the American public.
Devan is an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, holding a degree in Actuarial Mathematics from Bryant University.
Robert Gusrae is a South Florida native who is committed to helping local people and businesses with financial issues. After obtaining his B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University, Robert attended Florida State College of Law where he obtained his J.D. Since completing his education Robert developed his skills representing people and small businesses trying to find their way through troubling economic times. Through this work, Robert has noticed certain similarities of circumstances which bring people to the brink of financial ruin and has committed himself to repairing those societal conditions which foster these circumstances.
Robert has practiced in front of state and federal court judges arguing new law and new interpretations of the current statutes and case law. Robert has developed a reputation for novel legal arguments and as a resource for brainstorming by other practicing attorneys.
Robert seeks to combine his knowledge of law, politics, and passion for helping people to develop connections which will help him create meaningful change. Robert’s long term ambition is to represent the people of South Florida and attempt to bring about the change that is needed via our political system. Robert is available to discuss how he can help anyone with their personal financial situation.
Jaevery McFadden, Recreation Leader, City of Riviera Beach
Jaevery McFadden is a young leader and entrepreneur residing in West Palm Beach, Florida. Jaevery graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2010 with a Bachelor's of Science in Sociology, and a minor in Social Work. After graduation, Jaevery began his career as a Linebacker in the National Football League.
After leaving the NFL in 2012, Jaevery decided to pursue his passions of entrepreneurship and working with youth. In 2012, Jaevery founded and created TheDeansListU.com, which he is still developing today. While pursuing his business ventures, Jaevery worked for the City of West Palm Beach as a Recreation Specialist. Currently, Jaevery is a Recreation Leader for the City of Riviera Beach.
Throughout his life, giving back to the community has been very important to Jaevery. Jaevery has worked within the community as a football coach at William T Dwyer High School, and has volunteered at the Community Redevelopment Agency of Riviera Beach, as well as the Parks and Recreation Department of West Palm Beach. Jaevery is bold, driven, and dedicated to bettering himself, and the world around him. In the future, Jaevery will to continue to grow his businesses and will continue to give back to his community.
Venette Pierre, Family Strengthening Program Manager, Achievement Centers for Children and Families
Venette Pierre is a lifelong Floridian. A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a degree in Public Relations, Venette currently works as the Family Strengthening Program Manager at the Achievement Centers for Children and Families. In this role, Venette manages the family strengthening team providing family education opportunities, intensive case management and active skill building workshops to low income families in the Delray Beach community.
Shortly after graduation, Venette worked as a marketing coordinator for a global travel firm in Orlando. While there, Venette initiated digital marketing campaigns to generate revenue. Venette also worked in the healthcare field providing administrative support to providers and creating initiatives to help prioritize patient-provider relations. After working in inpatient healthcare, Venette decided she wanted to take a more proactive approach to assisting families in low income areas access education and resources. This desire helped bring Venette to her current role at the Achievement Centers.
A big believer in education equality, Venette hopes to continue to actively support parents in advocating for their child’s education needs despite barriers. Venette has recently started her own consulting firm with hopes of empowering natural talents in the community with the skills and resources they need to pursue entrepreneurship as a career choice. She is currently the Economic Empowerment Chair for the South Palm Beach County Chapter of National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Lucie Pinto, Community and Quality Assurance Manager, ExamSoft Worldwide
Lucie was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Film & Television from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008. She went on to work for Documentary Filmmaker Aviva Kempner in Washington, DC. In 2012 she moved to Florida and worked towards her Masters in Criminal Justice that she completed in 2014.
In 2012 she also began working for ExamSoft Worldwide which is an Exam Testing Software. She began her career as an Account Manager, was promoted to Software Support manager and now holds the position of Community and Quality Assurance Manager. She is most passionate about helping her employees grow professionally and ensuring ExamSoft’s clients are Satisfied. She manages the Online Community for ExamSoft which consists of 1700 members and manages Quality Assurance for the Support Team.
In October of 2016 she became a LuLaRoe Fashion Consultant. Lucie’s current ambitions include forming an LLC for her Fashion Consultant business and building a team of people to work beside her. Her goals for 2017 is to grow her business, gain skills in social media management and public speaking. Lucie lives in Delray Beach, FL with her Husband and beloved Cocker Spaniel Dachshund Mr. Sonic.
David Sholl, Corporate Litigation Attorney
David Sholl is a corporate litigation attorney focusing on construction finance and business tort matters. From large national conglomerates to local businesses David serves as an aggressive advocate and ally for his clients.
David was born in Philadelphia, PA where he grew up playing tennis and lacrosse. In college he picked up rugby and also founded a chapter of the national fraternity, Kappa Sigma. Currently, David serves as the Vice-President of the Palm Beach County Young Democrats and is looking forward to engaging people of all ages on important progressive issues.
David graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and a minor in history. He received his Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University: Shepard Broad College of Law in 2013. While in law school Mr. Sholl served on law review where he had his article on arbitration published and was a member on two competitive moot court teams. He was also president of the Defense Counsel Society. In practice David continues to give back by spending as much time as possible with his pro bono clients.
Charnequa Simpkins, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Palm Beach County Health Department
Shay Simpkins is a Miami native and an advanced practice registered nurse with an interest in women’s health. She obtained her bachelors degree from the #1 HBCU in the nation, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She is also an alumna of the prestigious Emory University where she received a Masters of Science in Nursing degree with a concentration in Women’s Health and Adult Primary Care. Most recently, Shay has earned a Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree from the University of Miami.
She is currently employed at the Palm Beach County Health Department on the Family Planning and Sexual Health units. She absolutely loves her chosen field of work. Nursing has intrinsic value. There aren’t many careers that truly have the ability of affecting and connecting with another human being like nursing. In her opinion, the most rewarding part of being a nurse is being granted the opportunity to improve or even save another person’s life. It’s a very fulfilling career and she loves it.
Shay is passionate about teen pregnancy prevention and reducing the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections (STI) among this special population. Shay has always shown interest n empowering adolescent girls to strive for greatness and achieve their highest potential. To fulfill the needs of the community, Shay plans to open a mobile teen health clinic that will offer healthcare services to underprivileged adolescents in underserved areas.
Shay is a proud member of the nursing sorority, Chi Eta Phi and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She decided to pursue a New Leaders Council fellowship to combine her interest in healthcare and entrepreneurship. In her spare time, Shay enjoys reading, traveling, watching HGTV, and practicing her Spanish skills.