Meet the 2017 Tallahassee Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Nathan Archer, Communications Director, Florida Center for Reading Research
Nathan Archer is a research communicator and editorial cartoonist residing in Tallahassee, Florida. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Nathan received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000, before obtaining a Master of Arts degree in arts administration from Florida State University in 2006. Having sharpened his communications and marketing skills throughout the non-profit and public sector, he currently works for the Florida Center for Reading Research, disseminating research findings in an effort to promote literacy across the state and region. A passionate free speech advocate, Nathan uses editorial cartooning to voice his own opinions online and in the pages of the Tallahassee Democrat. He is also the appointed LGBTQ liaison to Mayor Andrew Gillum’s office, serves on the Tallahassee Pridefest committee, and is a member of the Capital Equality Democratic Caucus.
Maggie Brandenburg, Behavior Change Strategist, The Taproot Agency
Maggie is currently employed as a Behavior Change Strategist at the award-winning Taproot Agency. Maggie works with a variety of clients -- from Fortune 500 companies to state agencies to national non-profits -- as a researcher, analyst and project manager. A member of both the International Social Marketing Association and the Social Marketing Association of North America, she takes a research-based, holistic approach to behavior change that incorporates public policy, community engagement and traditional communications tactics. She is active in the Social Marketing field and recently served as a University of South Florida Social Marketing Conference Planning Committee member. Previously, Maggie worked at The Children’s Campaign, one of Florida’s most successful children’s lobbying organizations. During her time at the Campaign, Maggie was instrumental in both short- and long-term planning. Maggie also holds experience working at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, where she managed the Communications Department through a leadership transition and regularly interacted with state media outlets. In her free time, Maggie volunteers with the Guardian ad Litem organization and serves as a board member for The Children’s Campaign. When not in business attire, Maggie is active in the Tallahassee rugby community as a coach for the joint Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and community women’s rugby team. Maggie graduated from Florida State University with dual degrees in Public Relations and Political Science.
Jessie Caudill, Assistant to the Deputy Director of Outreach, U.S. Senate
Jessie currently serves as the Assistant to the Deputy Director of Outreach and staff assistant for two regional state offices encompassing 28 Florida counties.Her role includes intern and office management, constituent services, casework referrals, and travel logistics management. She has also served as the personal assistant to Senator Bill Nelson's Chief of Staff. In August of 2014, Jessie graduated from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in political science with a minor in public administration. Jessie’s educational track provided her with a foundational knowledge of government relations and public policy development. In the past, Jessie worked as a SUS Public Policy Fellow at Cavarocchi, Ruscio, and Dennis Associates, LLC in Washington, D.C. At CRD, she helped to prepare lobbyists and public policy advocates as they worked to influence federal legislation on a wide range of public policy matters including health care and national defense. Jessie also interned at the Jacksonville Civic Council as a research analyst where she was able to develop legislative impact studies and an analysis of Mayor Brown's proposed $1.99 billion budget. Additionally, she interned as a student mentor with Project THRIVE where she aided autistic students in acclimating into a collegiate academic environment. Most recently, she worked as the Campaign Coordinator for the Lisa King for City Council - District 2 Campaign. As campaign coordinator, Jessie's responsibilities included staff scheduling, recruiting staff and volunteers, identifying and locating target voter populations, developing phone bank scripts, designing campaign materials, and general community outreach. In her community, she currently serves on the Junior League Done in a Day Committee where she assists in coordinating and staffing one-day-only volunteer events. She also serves a teen mentor. Jessie's hot button issues are social equality, rural healthcare initiatives, fiscal responsibility, and progressive energy reform. She is passionate about informing the public and improving the world through her profession.
Sean Cooley, Communications Manager, Audubon Florida
Born in Alaska and raised in various towns and cities across the United States, Sean Cooley has spent his life bearing witness to the power of diversity across the country. Having lived most of his life in North Florida towns like Panama City Beach, Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Sean considers himself a proud Floridian. Sean Cooley currently serves as Audubon Florida’s communications manager. Audubon Florida is the Sunshine State’s most influential conservation organization, and he continues to be inspired by the beauty of natural Florida. A graduate of Florida State University, Sean holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in communication and graduate certificates in project management and public administration. During his undergraduate studies, Sean was elected as student body president at Florida State University’s Panama City campus. When not lending a voice to Florida’s birds and wildlife, Sean is warmly known as “Professor Cooley” to the undergraduate students he’s had the privilege of teaching. His Christian faith has driven him to always help those in need and strive to make the world a better place for all. Sean is also a proud LGBT Floridian who has long-advocated for the rights and respect of disenfranchised individuals, including those in the lesbian, gay, bi, and trans community (and, of course, their allies). Right after finishing grad school, Sean accepted an offer to work in Florida’s capital city and has remained connected to Florida government ever since. Sean has three wonderful dogs and lives in Tallahassee with his husband Christopher, a small business owner.
Tatiana Daguillard, State Local Program Specialist, Florida Department of Transportation
Born in Long Island, New York and raised in Miami, Florida Tatiana Daguillard is a 2014 graduate of Florida State University with a major in History and minor in Classical Civilization. During her undergraduate studies Tatiana discovered her passion for servant based leadership, she committed herself to empowering local communities through economic development and social change. An avid museum enthusiast and preservationist, Tatiana’s academic interests lend themselves to her belief that “knowledge is power.” Recently awarded the prestigious Margaret T. G. Burroughs & Charles H. Wright Fellowship for her dedication and commitment to preserving, protecting and advocating on behalf of African American and/or African Diaspora histories, Tatiana is on a mission to shape future communities through education and advocacy and hopes to one day work for the Smithsonian Institute or the National Park Service. A supporter of transformative leadership, she believes in working directly with communities to guide change through inspiration and to create progressive long term solutions. Tatiana sits on the Community Improvement Advisory Council and the Transit Advisory Committee. She is a current Master of Applied Social Sciences in History candidate at Florida A&M University and works as the State Local Program Specialist for the Florida Department of Transportation. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering with the Junior League of Tallahassee, exploring the culture and heritage of the Big Bend region and being a mom to her 2 year old Terrier/Dachshund mix Chewie.
Austin Hensel, Assistant General Counsel, Florida Department of Transportation
A near-lifelong resident of Florida, Austin Hensel serves as an Assistant General Counsel with the Florida Department of Transportation, where he provides counsel and litigates matters of Florida Administrative Law. Prior to joining FDOT, Mr. Hensel worked alongside legal counsel for the United States Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration on automated vehicle issues. Mr. Hensel studied psychology and engineering as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.
Jessica Lamb, District Executive Secretary II, Florida House of Representatives
Jessica Lamb serves as the District Executive Secretary to Rep. Loranne Ausley in the Florida House of Representatives. Through her experience at multiple levels of government, she has gained insight to the inner workings of government and the impact certain policies have on Floridians and their families. She exhibits a passion for government and public service in Florida that has been ignited through first-hand experience of how elected officials can serve as stewards of their district, their state and their constituency. Jessica Lamb graduated Cum Laude from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She started her professional career with the Florida Democratic Party, working in conjunction with Graham for Congress. Following the campaign’s success, Jessica Lamb joined the official office of Congresswoman Gwen Graham, for Florida’s Second Congressional District. During the course of Graham’s Congressional term, Jessica Lamb served as a Constituent Services Representative and worked with a variety of federal agencies and their numerous programs. She specialized in Social Security, healthcare, education, environmental issues and social services. Her accomplishments in constituent services contributed to Congresswoman Graham returning over two million dollars in owed benefits to the people of North Florida during the 114th Congress.
Darren Mason Sr., Executive Council Assistant, City of Jacksonville
Darren Mason Sr. is a native of Jacksonville, FL and graduate of Terry High School. From an early age he displayed a passion for community organizing and public service , Darren has committed his life service to working with non-profit organizations, businesses, progressive candidates, and elected officials seeking to make intentional impact in our communities through his skills in providing result-driven field and fundraising operation strategies, digital communication outreach, and volunteer recruitment and management. Darren currently serves as Executive Council Assistant to Jacksonville City Council Member Joyce Morgan with the City of Jacksonville. He also serves as National Committeeman Florida Young Democrats, National Community Engagement Coordinator Black Caucus of Young Democrats of America, 2nd vice Chair Duval County Democratic Executive Committee, Co-founder/President of Florida Young Black Progressives, and was recently elected as 1st Vice Chair for Duval County Democratic Executive Committee. Darren began his journey through politics in 2008 as an intern for the Obama U.S Presidential Campaign in Lean County assisting the field director in managing the Southside campaign field offices. He also has interned for Mia Jones, Florida State Representative during the 2009 legislative session. In 2009 he served as the Student Body President at Tallahassee Community College representing close to 30,000 students. Since then Darren has worked on several campaigns throughout the state of Florida. Darren is an advocate for human trafficking, restoration of rights for ex-felons, and youth empowerment. He became the Tallahassee community Ambassador for Stop Child Trafficking Now, where he brought community awareness to child trafficking in Leon County and surrounding areas through 5k walks, recruitment and management of volunteers, and organized many fundraising events for the national organization. He also worked alongside Pastor Gregory James Founder/Executive Director, Reclaiming the Land, Inc. a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that specializes in advocating for the restoration rights of ex-felons in the state of Florida. During his time at Reclaiming the Land, Inc., Darren held various roles managing programs and grants for children of incarnated parents, assisted in developing re-entry work release programs, researched local, state, and national legislation, and organized statewide campaigns to remind families and friends of ex-felons in Florida they are a voice to the voiceless. Darren is also CEO/ founder of Youth Empowerment Company a full service empowerment coaching and consulting company that’s catered to needs of youth and families, professional coach/mentor for Duval County Public Schools 5000 Role Models of Excellence program and Dance Program Manager, Krumpin 4 Success, Inc. a youth program for at-risk youth, member of Zone Sheriff Watch . He has been a mentor to hundreds of youth throughout the state of Florida in Leon, Gadsden, Orange, and Duval counties Darren currently lives in Jacksonville, FL with his wife Sabrina Mason where they are raising their two beautiful children Darren Mason Jr. and Daliyah Mason. Darren and his family are proud members of Impact Church.
Analorena Melendez, CEO, A&E Wholesale of North Florida
Ana Melendez is the CEO of A&E Wholesale of North Florida, a distributor of over 4,000 convenience store goods and restaurant items with over 1,200 customers including Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Circle K. Prior to joining A&E, Ana was Director of E-Commerce at Essendant, a Fortune 500 distributor of office products, furniture, and cleaning supplies. At Essendant, Ana led the launch of Innovera, a private label brand of technology products available in Walgreens and Costco and grew the brand to $60M in annual sales. This included traveling to countries such as China and Taiwan with her global sourcing and quality teams. She also managed the $300M OEM technology accessories business for Essendant that included brands such as Logitech, Kensington, and Sony. Ana co-founded Mobilegear.com in 2012 and won 3 major design awards for the site's innovative take on e-commerce design. She has served on the junior board for Gift of Adoption and was active in Habitat for Humanity. Ana holds a BSBA in Marketing and an MBA from The Ohio State University. Her interests include art, performing on alto saxophone, sports, and traveling. Originally from Mexico City, Ana currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband Michael and her son Addison.
Nathanial Myers, Chief of Planning and Evaluation, Florida Department of Elder Affairs
Nathanial “Nate” Myers is the Chief of Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA), Florida's federally-designated State Unit on Aging that provides long-term care services to vulnerable aging and disabled adults. In this capacity, he leads and informs DOEA's strategic planning activities, evaluations of programs and services, grant development and management, and elder population research for senior management, the Florida Legislature, the United States Administration on Aging, and the people of Florida. He began his career in foreign language teaching before making his foray into public health at Emory University's Cancer Prevention Research Center as a field researcher and health coach. He has directed grant-deliverable activities at DOEA for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, served on DOEA's monitoring and quality assurance team, and has managed multi-million dollar contracts for the delivery of long-term care services. He also engages in strategic planning for other local non-profits, including Theatre Tallahassee where he serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors. For the past two years, he has also presided over the Southeast Evaluation Association, a regional professional association of program and policy evaluators, and has made recruiting and developing young evaluation professionals his first priority. Nate received his MS in Demography and Population Health and BS in Economics from Florida State University.
Joseph Petty, Owner, Database Developer GreenFlux, LLC
Joseph Petty is a veteran of the US Navy, a database developer, and a small business owner from Abingdon, IL. After seven years as a Nuclear Electronics Technician, serving aboard the USS Roosevelt, Joseph and his family moved to Tallahassee where he worked at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory as a Control Room Operator until January of 2016. Since then, he has started his own business, providing other local small businesses with custom software and mobile applications to go paperless. As an environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast, Joseph has also served as the Vice President of the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association, where he has raised over $23,000 for the organization through an annual mountain biking and trail running event he created. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Manufacturing Processes, a Bachelor's Degree in Nuclear Engineering and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Information Technology at Florida State University. Joseph’s interests include mountain biking, running, brewing beer and playing guitar. Originally from Illinois, he also spent time in Charleston, SC and Norfolk, VA while in the Navy, before settling in Tallahassee in 2009. One of the many things he loves about Tallahassee is the strong sense of community and pride that residents have here. Joseph is an active volunteer and is passionate about giving back to the city. Currently he is working on a project to coordinate the sharing of resources and volunteer labor between local non-profits.
Jacqueline Porter, Appellate Legal Assistant, Office of Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel, First Region
Like most Floridians, Jacqueline "Jack" Porter isn't originally from Florida. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Jack moved to the Fort Lauderdale area when she was twelve years old. She received her bachelor's degree in philosophy and religion at Florida State University and is now an appellate legal assistant to the First District Court of Appeals at the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, First Region. She also is currently a master's student at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy. Jack was recently appointed to the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls by Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, an advisory board to Tallahassee and Leon County on the impact of local policy on women and girls. In this role, she works with fellow commissioners to promote awareness on the status of women and girls locally and to develop actionable policy recommendations. In addition, she serves as a Leon County Literacy Volunteer at Refuge House and as a member of The Village Square's Community Engagement Committee. Jack knows the names of all the counties of Florida and knows some other things, too. In her spare time, she enjoys following local Florida politics, watching Bravo, and being a proud Virgo.
Janel Robinson, Florida Abuse Hotline - Abuse Counselor, Florida Department of Children and Families
Born and raised in Florida’s Tampa Bay, Janel Robinson is a 2014 graduate of the Florida State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Sociology with three minors in Psychology, African-American Studies, and Child Development. Through her four years at FSU, Janel dedicated herself to social change in her local community through grassroots organizing and servant leadership. Janel interned with the Back-to-Basics Health and Life Skills Initiative at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center as an undergraduate where she designed a pilot mentorship program to connect at-risk youth with college students. She then served as the 2012 – 2013 Political Actions Chair and then the 2013 – 2014 Second Vice-President for the FSU Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Janel organized for #NoVoteNoVoice, re-chartered the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority, and served as an FSU Representative with the Beyond Borders team at the University of West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. During this time, Janel also completed 900+ hours of documented service to the community which earned her: The FSU Women’s Student Union’s Spirit of Service Award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and the prestigious FSU’s Sean A. Pittman Award for her significant contributions to the welfare and support of African-American students. Since graduation, Janel’s passion has grown into the empowerment of marginalized populations with an emphasis on political education and minority youth. In 2016, Janel co-founded the non-profit, Black Women Empower Collective (BWEC). BWEC seeks to explore, encourage, and affirm the empowerment and solidarity of the sisterhood of the African diaspora. Janel currently serves as the Programming Director for BWEC. Janel works as an Abuse Counselor with the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Abuse Hotline by day and by night is a graduate student at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University working towards a Masters of Social Work. Janel desires to create sustainable change on the local and state level through legislative transformation and policy development. In her free time, Janel bakes cupcakes under the name of her online bakery, Baked Expectations.
Toma Sokolik, Technical Acccount Executive, LobbyTools, Inc.
Toma Sokolik, Technical Account Executive, LobbyTools, Inc. Toma hails from Macedonia, a small gem in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. The proximity to many foreign countries and his love for cultural diversity enabled him to develop a knack for learning languages. Presently, he speaks fluent Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and English, has conversational proficiency in German and basic understanding of Spanish which he isn't ashamed to admit he acquired by watching South American soap operas. ""Growing up with one TV and an older sister will do that to you."" Plus, all of my peers watched them. At the age of 17, he moved to Naples, FL as a foreign exchange student and often compares his experience to that of fictional character Fez from ""That 70s Show."" He graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Pre-Law and Criminal Justice, and in 2012, he earned a Master's degree in International Relations with concentration in International Economics from Florida State University. He currently works for LobbyTools, Inc, Florida's top legislative intelligence company, where he and his colleagues collaborate on leveraging problem-solving frameworks to develop solutions and maximize ROI for customers as well as building trusted advisor relationships with the same to ensure LobbyTools closely aligns with their business and legislative strategy. In his free time, he coaches youth soccer for Tallahassee Tottenham Hotspur FC. Soccer, or ""the real football"" as he ardently corrects his American friends, is a significant part of Toma's identity and culture.
Courtney Thomas, Graduate Student, Florida State University
Courtney is a proud native of Tallahassee, Florida and a graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minor in Communications. Courtney has had the amazing opportunity to work on not only one, but two winning Congressional races here in Florida. She worked as a field organizer on the Gwen Graham for Congress campaign and as the political director on the Al Lawson for Congress campaign. Courtney is currently a graduate student at Florida State University in the Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy program.
Alexandria Washington Case Manager, Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc.
A native of Mission Viejo, California; Alexandria Washington grew up in Melbourne, Florida until she relocated to Tallahassee, Florida on a softball scholarship to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. After completing her Bachelor degree in Health Science and Master degree in Public Health Ms. Washington began working on her Doctorate in Public Health in which she is currently finishing her second year. A passionate advocate for eliminating health disparities and ensuring that marginalized communities voices are always heard, Ms. Washington currently works for the Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc. as the Madison County case manager. In this capacity she is responsible for case management of residents in Madison County that have Sickle Cell Disease along with dispelling the myths and stigma surrounding sickle cell by providing innovation community outreach and health education. When she is not working in that capacity Ms. Washington seeks opportunities to be a servant leader in her community. She currently serves as the Surgeon General for the Student Government Association at her University, a Young People 4 Fellow, America Walks Fellow, Education Ambassador for Bright Pink, and Miss Black Florida US Ambassador. This year, her expertise and dedication to her community resulted in her being named one of Tallahassee Democrat’s “25 Women You Need to Know”.
Agata Wlodarczyk Employee Wellness Program Manager Florida Department of Health
Agata Wlodarczyk is the Employee Wellness Program Manager for the Florida Department of Health, where she works to implement evidence based strategies to promote health and productivity in the workplace. She graduated from Florida State University with an Master of Arts degree in Media and Communication Studies and has nearly a decade of experience in marketing and communication. Working in public health, Agata has been able to leverage her communications expertise to build partnerships, promote agency priorities and create effective marketing strategies. Agata is volunteers with the Junior League of Tallahassee, where she currently serves as the Communication Director on the Management Team. Over the past 3 years, Agata has lead the League's rebranding efforts and manages a team of women who help promote the League and their mission in the community. In her spare time, Agata enjoys traveling and is training to run her second half marathon in 2017.