Meet the 2018 Tallahassee Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)
Publications Coordinator, DXC Technology
Born in Miami and raised in Port Saint Lucie, FL., Joanny “Joey” Arellano is a 2015 graduate of Florida State University. Joey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in English: Editing, Writing, and Media with a certificate minor in Disaster Management and Homeland Security.
Joey currently works for DXC Technology as a publications coordinator and is instrumental in drafting, editing, and publishing materials from various platforms for the client. As a first-generation college graduate of Mexican heritage, Joey’s undergraduate experiences fuel his desire to be successful and give back to the community he is a part of. A way Joey gives back is by sitting on the Sigma Lambda Beta Education Foundation Communications Committee as the Special Projects chair. One of his long-term goals is to start a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the literacy rates in children of migrant parents in order to not leave these children behind. Joey’s motivation to start this organization is rooted in two philosophies: Every person has the right to improve his or her way of life by way of education and everyone’s human capital increases with the knowledge he or she acquires.
In his spare time, Joey enjoys teaching himself Mandarin-Chinese and French, cooking, playing tennis, and working out at his local MMA fitness gym.
Environmental Consultant, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Katie is a 6th generation Floridian from Winter Haven, Florida, where she grew up fishing and paddling on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes and Peace River. She received an undergraduate degree from Florida State University in Environmental Science in 2014 and recently a Master’s of Science in Forestry and Natural Resource Conservation from UF. She will be starting another Master’s Program in Public Administration and Planning in the Spring of 2018 at Florida Gulf Coast University.
She has worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee for 3.5 years and has just moved from the Nonpoint Source Management Section where she coordinated the 319 Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Load Grant Programs. She is now an Environmental Consultant in the Basin Management Action Plan Program where she is helping manage the Indian River Lagoon and Western Everglades watersheds. She is a certified Florida Master Naturalist and a member of the Leon County Canopy Roads Committee. One of her favorite pastimes is coordinating Junior League of Tallahassee events and trainings to improve the Tallahassee Community. She loves having lunch with her grandma, hiking the state parks of Northwest Florida, and playing flag football for a local nonprofit fundraiser.
Biologist I, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky and later Tampa, Florida, Daniel Corbett has always had a sense of adventure and a penchant for public service. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and developed a love of the outdoors and conservation, a passion that ultimately led him to attend Florida State University and receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science. After earning his degree he was hired by a state agency as a biologist. In his position, his duties include protecting fisheries in various ways, aiding in education programs around the state, and working with researchers and educators from around the world to improve our understanding of our marine resources. He also aids the agency's legal department in assessing penalties for major violations.
Outside of work, Daniel served as a fellow with the Hillary Clinton Campaign during the 2016 election. During this internship he connected with a diverse group of Tallahassee citizens and learned about the issues that were important to them. He also was responsible for training hundreds of volunteers on voter registration and canvassing standards, empowering them to make their voice known in their own communities. His fellowship, coupled with his past experiences, drove him to seek out additional opportunities to serve others.
Daniel is presently awaiting responses from law school programs and looking forward to the training and experiences the New Leaders Council will provide him. He continues to search for new ways to involve himself in his community, occasionally taking a breather to walk his rescue dog Ernie, try new recipes in the kitchen, and DM his weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
North FL Finance Director, Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate
A lifelong Floridian, Daniela Fernández was born and raised in Miami to Nicaraguan and Cuban immigrant parents. She is the youngest of four and a first generation American college graduate. Daniela began her path in politics while attending Florida State University, where she was elected the first Latina president of FSU College Democrats. Since then, she has advocated for gun control measures, opposed discriminatory immigration policies, and anti-choice policies within the Florida Legislature. Daniela currently serves as the North Florida Finance Director for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s re-election campaign. Her role includes managing all fundraising efforts in 32 counties in North Florida. She has served the Florida House as Legislative aide to a Miami Democrat House member.
Daniela has worked as executive finance assistant to the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party. An advocate for her community, Daniela strongly believes in working directly with disenfranchised communities to help create policies that effectively address issues they face. Daniela graduated, summa cum laude, with a degree in History & International Affairs from Florida State University in 2016.
BB&T @Work Financial Wellness District Manager, BB&T Bank
Kemal Gasper currently works for BB&T Bank and serves the role of BB&T @Work Financial Wellness District Manager. Kemal serves as the leader of BB&T @Work Program across the state of Florida and uses his passion of financial wellness to partner C-level executives to help develop financial wellness programs for their company and employees. Kemal manages BB&T’s relationship with the commercial and corporate banking teams and financial wellness consultants who deliver first-class financial wellness seminars helping clients and communities create economic success and financial security in their lives. Kemal Gasper serves on the local BB&T Senior Leadership Teams in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa. Kemal is very passionate about diversity and inclusion and serves as a board member of BB&T’s African American Affinity Group.
Kemal currently serves on the Board of Governors for the JAX Chamber, which has a 2017 focus on improving the quality of life in the Downtown Jacksonville. Kemal is also currently an Executive Committee Member of Atlantic Circle which is United Way of Northeast Florida’s Young Professional Affinity Group. In 2015 Kemal served both as the Chair of ImpactJAX, which is the largest young professional business organization in Jacksonville, and on the Board of Directors for the JAX Chamber. Kemal was appointed by former Mayor Alvin Brown to serve on the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville Board of Directors in 2013 for a nine-year term.
In 2017 Kemal was named as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Young Professionals in Jacksonville by the Jacksonville Business Journal, in 2016 named Top 20 Under 40 Black Pages Magazine, and in 2013 named Top 30 Under 30 for Buzz Magazine. Recently, Kemal was selected to take part in the Steinfellowship Leadership Program through United Way which helps Young Professionals with Leadership Development while building personal and professional relationships.
Operations Review Specialist, Florida Department of Revenue
Brittney Geathers is an Operations Review Specialist for the Florida Department of Revenue. There she is on the communications team in the Director’s Office for the Child Support Program. Her past experiences include working for Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Housing Development Authority, and Walt Disney World. Additionally, she owns a small business, Resumes by Brittney, LLC where as a professional resume writer she uses her writing skills as a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, empowering them to move forward in their careers. She enjoys being a volunteer facilitator on career-related topics to youth and professional organizations.
Passionate about the advancement of women and girls, Brittney is an alumna of Running Start, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase the number of young women in politics. She attended the Young Women’s Political Summit 2013, which enabled her to serve as an ambassador on behalf of the organization. Politically and civically involved, she has served as an elections officer in Virginia and worked on numerous political campaigns. Brittney is a past board member for Girls2Divas a nonprofit one-on-one mentoring program for middle and high school girls in Tallahassee, FL. She is an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, and the National Resume Writers’ Association.
Brittney graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management. She is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Florida A&M University.
Assistant Attorney General, Florida Office of the Attorney General
Born in Queens, New York and raised as a “military brat”, Ginette Harrell graduated from Florida State University in 2005 with a Criminology degree. She continued her studies at Florida State University and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. Ginette is an Assistant Attorney General working in Tallahassee, Florida. Prior to this position, Ginette was a Supervising Attorney for the Department of Children and Families where she was the voice for arguably the most vulnerable population.
While residing in Jacksonville, Florida, Ginette was an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida where she taught Child Advocacy for four years. She was also an adjunct professor at Florida Coastal School of Law where she taught Children and the Law as well as Lawyering Process and Pre-Trial Litigation Drafting.
Ginette is dedicated to serving and giving back to the community. She is a volunteer lawyer for the Legal Aid Foundation of the Tallahassee Bar Association where she represents the interest of indigent clients in family law cases. Additionally, Ginette is a member of Junior League of Tallahassee where she is committed to improving the lives of children and families through volunteer work. Ginette is a proud wife and mother of three young boys. In her limited free time, Ginette can be found enjoying her family and friends and working out.
Founder, Hayes Mural Works, LLC
Cosby Hayes is the founder of Hayes Mural Works, in Tallahassee Florida. After graduating from Florida State with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, Cosby moved to Miami, FL. Surrounded by murals and public art, Cosby began to create his own large scale public works of art. In 2016 he moved back to Tallahassee with the goal of establishing his own business dedicated to bringing colorful, socially-conscious works of art to his own community. And shining light on important issues facing our community while also celebrating diversity in his hometown. Hayes Mural Works has worked with many local businesses and leaders within the community as a consultant for public and private art projects. Cosby plans to establish a not-for-profit in Florida, dedicated to the proliferation of public art and social justice through communal beautification.
Austin Howe is currently studying Political Science at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. While he was born in Tampa, Florida, he grew up mostly in Chesapeake, Virginia. While having many hobbies growing up, working on websites ended up being his most lucrative one.
After graduating early from High School, he spent a year at ODU before being hired by AutoMercado as a junior web developer. Within a few months, he was transferred to AutoTrader.com in Atlanta. Over the next decade, he worked at companies ranging from a startup to a Fortune 500; living in Atlanta, Orlando, and San Francisco. After a successful career in technology, he’s decided to complete his degree and shift into politics. He believes that technology can improve civil engagement, education, and improve democratic participation. During his spare time, he works on side projects testing out concepts and exploring the beautiful state of Florida.
Executive Assistant, City of Jacksonville
Haleigh Hutchison is a proud Florida native, originally from South Florida but moved to Jacksonville to attend college at the University of North Florida. While at UNF, Haleigh found her passion for all things politics through the help of the Model United Nations Club and the Political Science program.
Since her graduation in 2015, Haleigh has volunteered and worked on multiple campaigns including helping create and run the Jacksonville for Bernie Sanders grassroots campaign. After a year in marketing at a Downtown revitalization nonprofit, Haleigh found her way back into politics. Haleigh is currently the Executive Council Assistant to Jacksonville City Councilman and former Jacksonville Mayor, Tommy Hazouri. While there, Haleigh has had the opportunity to meet and work with other local officials, draft legislation, help constituents and work on a range of issues from helping pass the Human Rights Ordinance to the protection of the St. Johns River.
Haleigh is very invested in her career, her city and the local Democratic Party. She has held leadership roles in both the Jacksonville and Florida Young Democrats, has participated in various leadership and campaign management workshops and is now currently a graduate student at the University of Central Florida in the Masters of Public Administration program.
Behavior Specialist, Leon County Schools
Aaron Johnson is a native of Broward County. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and is currently enrolled at Barry University where he is pursuing a master’s in Public Administration.
Growing up one of Aaron’s many talents and passions has been sports. Sports are one of many hobbies that Aaron likes to engage in, but also uses it as a tool to teach within the community. During his spare time Aaron relishes in coaching youth sports that range from city all the way to private leagues such as the Big Bend Pop Warner.
Aaron is currently employed at Heritage Trails Community School where he works as a Behavior Specialist for Leon County Schools. Everyday Aaron’s goal is to help each student exhibit positive social behavior, so that they can become the best possible version of themselves. Since being employed at Heritage Trails Community School under the Leon County School District, Aaron has been featured and recognized as ‘School Related Employee of the Year” in 2014 and 2017. In addition he has served as a partner coordinator where he has formed several partnerships between the school and various establishments.
Another special area of interest that Aaron delights himself in has been community service. Aaron was able to work his way up by simply understanding what it meant to serve first. He is a former Guardian Ad Litem volunteer and continues to support the organization through their First Beginnings Project, which provides assistance to youth in the community who are venturing out on their own for the very first time. Currently Aaron is the President of the Virtual Kiwanis Club of the Big Bend, which is a community service organization that serves children within the community.
In 2015 Aaron graduated from the Neighborhood Leadership Academy from the City of Tallahassee. Within this program he was able to gain a concrete understanding of government operations and city services and programs that are available to residents. Moreover, Aaron has also served as the precinct captain for the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee where he was able to assist with registration for voters within Leon County. In addition he has assisted with several campaigns of leaders within the roles of county sheriffs, up through local county commissioners.
Program Coordinator in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Florida State University
Keilah Johnson is a 2017 Master of Science in Education graduate of Indiana University. Keilah currently serves as the Program Coordinator in Florida State University’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. In her role, she creates programming and advises the Multicultural Greek Council. Keilah’s interest in education began when she joined Cultural Leadership, a youth education and leadership nonprofit organization as a highschool student. After completing the year long program, Keilah discovered her passion for education, specifically regarding accessibility and engaging in identity work with students.
Keilah went on to earn degrees in Political Science and Communication from Saint Louis University. As a highly involved student leader, it was her positive undergraduate experience that inspired Keilah to pursue a career in Higher Education/Student Affairs. Upon graduation, she served as Collegiate Development Consultant for Delta Gamma Fraternity. In her role, Keilah traveled across the United States and Canada visiting collegiate chapters and assisting with leadership development, recruitment and group dynamics.
Keilah is a proud midwesterner and is happy to call St. Louis, Missouri her home. When given the opportunity, she loves to talk about the amazing perks of living in the middle of the country. In her free time, Keilah enjoys traveling, cooking, and staying active.
Restorative Practices Specialist, Department of Children and Families
Janelle King joined the Office of Child Welfare with Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) in August 2016 as the Restorative Practices Specialist. Janelle serves as the Office of Child Welfare's representative on the implementation, training, and ongoing coordination of restorative practices throughout the state. Before joining DCF, she worked at Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice in the Office of Probation as well as in the Office of Residential Services. She serves as DCF’s lead for the Crossover Youth Workgroup and also is the lead coordinator for DCF’s Florida Youth Leadership Academy.
Janelle works with a restorative practice program based in Tallahassee that teaches Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Janelle has received extensive training in restorative justice, restorative practices, and nonviolent communication. She is licensed through the International Institute for Restorative Practices in restorative practices and is working on becoming a certified NVC trainer. She is the secretary of the Florida Restorative Justice Association.
District Executive Assistant, Florida House of Representatives
Kiaira Nixon works tirelessly as a change agent in urban communities. As a native of Jacksonville, Florida she is honored to serve is the District Executive Assistant to Representative Tracie Davis of Florida House District 13. A role that allows her to continue as a liaison between Florida’s government and citizens of Jacksonville; more importantly, an emerging young voice in politics and the community.
Prior to this position, she worked for several elected officials as a research assistant and legislative intern to House Democratic Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Mia Jones. She attended Florida A&M University, where she was a correspondent for the university’s Student Government Association in addition to holding several other executive positions. Kiaira’s desire is to be a voice for marginalized citizens, fight to advance women’s rights and fight to end systematic racism by instilling the importance of education, equality, and accountability.
Kiaira’s volunteer activities include providing food to the homeless at the Clara White Mission, raising funds for multiple charitable organization walks and mentoring local teens. Currently, she is active in the American Association of University Women & FAMU National Alumni Association.
Graduate Research Assistant, Florida State University
Aaron is a first year PhD student at Florida State University studying Education Policy and Evaluation with a focus on adult learners in community colleges. His professional experiences range from the K-12 setting, higher education, veterans’ affairs, and adult education and literacy.
Aaron also served on the College and Career Navigation Task Force for the Adult Education and Literacy Alamo Consortium in San Antonio and created organization-wide standards for college and career readiness for undocumented and DACA-mented students in the consortium. During his time in graduate school, he became interested in community organizing and civic engagement, so he joined his university’s League of United Latin American Citizens Council (LULAC) and eventually served as president. Aaron hopes to become a policy analyst/researcher or program evaluator in Washington, D.C. He holds a BA in Public Relations and MA in Adult Education both from Texas State University.
Local Program Coordinator, Florida Department of Transportation
Alicia Trawick works in Program Management for the Florida Department of Transportation. She was born and raised in Pensacola, FL and has lived and worked in several cities throughout the state.
Alicia earned her B.A. in International Relations from Florida State University and an M.L.S. in the same discipline, from the University of Denver. Her background in policy/research, economic development and project management has afforded her several opportunities to work in various roles related to advocacy and human rights.
In 2014, she founded an anti-street harassment organization in South Korea where she lived for several years. During her time abroad, she was also a volunteer researcher for a North Korean human rights organization that serviced refugees and strived to promote liberation for the North Korean people. After returning to the United States, Alicia was a TESOL professor at the University of West Florida and eventually transitioned to public service.
She is passionate about advancing gender equality, advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community and moving toward a more tolerant and inclusive society. Alicia’s an avid gardener and a cycling enthusiast and she can typically be spotted in a coffee shop enthralled in the latest edition of The Economist.