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Laila Abdelaziz, Government Affairs Director, Council on American Islamic Relations Florida
Laila Abdelaziz has most recently accepted a new position as CAIR Florida's Government Affairs Director. Previously she served as Emerge USA's Tampa Bay Regional Director where she also managed Emerge USA's Emerging Leaders programs and the organization's advocacy programming in Florida's state legislature.
As a Palestinian-Russian, immigrant woman who grew up Muslim in post 9/11 America, Laila was literally raised and continues to live at the intersection of faith, race, and politics. She is an active member of Tampa Bay's growing progressive community, committed to working with marginalized communities to develop power and influence to improve their lives and communities.
An avid reader with a wide range of policy interests, Laila is committed to fostering an alternative to today's polarizing and ineffective political climate by working to develop a viable progressive narrative. She is currently a board member on the City of Tampa Human Rights Board and the Chairwoman of the Emerge USA PAC Tampa Bay Regional Advisory Board. She has spoken at conferences nationwide on a wide range of subjects such as gender politics, Islamophobia, Muslim America, and community organizing. She has also published opinion editorials in state and national publications.
Johnny Bardine, Owner/Managing Member, The Law Office of Johnny J. Bardine, PA
Johnny Bardine is an attorney living and working in Tampa Bay, Florida. A 2001 graduate of American University with a B.A. in political science, Johnny taught English in Japan for a year before attending law school at Stetson University College of Law, where he earned his juris doctor in 2006.
After graduation, Johnny worked as an attorney at a boutique international arbitration firm in Prague, Czech Republic, and then returned to the United States, where he worked as a field organizer for Obama for America is Pinellas County Florida. In 2009, Johnny opened his own law practice but remained active in local politics.
In 2011, he co-founded Bardine-Hazlett Political Consulting and has consulted or managed a number of municipal, countywide, legislative, and judicial campaigns in the Tampa Bay area. He makes his home in St. Petersburg with his wife Tina, their son Emerson, and their puggle Sampson.
John Brown was born in Tampa and has been a community organizer in his hometown for the past four years. He organizes his community to advocate for social and economic justice. Much of his involvement has focused on grassroots organizing and campaigning for progressive issues and candidates.
Brown has mobilized voters around progressive campaigns as the Regional Director for Special Projects with NextGen Climate. He's also served in every capacity of a campaign from field organizer to manager for statewide and local races and has developed relationships with local elected officials, as well as a number of nationally recognized consultants.
Brown is also active in his community as a member of his neighborhood association and the Hillsborough County Young Democrats. He is the son of a police officer and a social worker and has attended Hillsborough County public schools at every level. John will complete his masters degree in Social and Political Thought at the University of South Florida. He is expected to graduate in December 2015.
Mariuxi Cely, Spanish Tutor, The University of Tampa
Mariuxi Cely, or as she prefers, Mari or Maru is 27 years old and currently an MBA student at the University of Tampa. Mari was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador from a loving family and surrounded by sunny days thanks to beautiful Guayaquil. Since little she liked to stand out, speak in public, defending what she thought was right and being positive about life and its challenges. Mari enjoyed studying and playing sports since little, is very athletic and at the same time craves for alone time to reflect on goals and actions. She is a person who's in love with life and God's plan for her. Her faith is structured and strong, and has been one of the pillars for success in life. Since a very young age, she was interested in business, sales, and law. She studied her undergrad in Business with a mayor in Marketing in the No. 1 School in her country, called ESPOL. She represented Ecuador in a United Nations Model at the United Nations Embassy in New York City.
She has had the opportunity to live in different countries, like Germany, for half a year and Peru for 2 years. This experience helped her grow and mature, and gain a special care and respect for different points of view. She knows Spanish, English and German. She loves to learn new languages, meet new people and get to know new cultures. She has 5 years of working experience in Business and Marketing. She is in love with what she does, appreciates how dynamic Markets are and how interesting it is to find the best strategy to communicate with your market target.
Mari has worked for Business Schools as a Marketing Coordinator for over 2 years (www.humane.edu.ec), and also had the opportunity to be a University Professor for undergraduate students in Marketing and Advertising for over 2 years.
In the Telecommunications area IÕve worked for No. 1 wireless network operator in Europe and No. 2 in Ecuador, called Telefonica. She has also worked as a Marketing and Hosting Manager for No. 1 Network Company in the world called Huawei Technologies. Currently she is the Spanish Tutor in the University of Tampa.
Nicholas Glover, Florida Market Manager, Gas South
Nicholas Glover is currently the Florida Market Manager for Gas South -- the Southeast's leading natural gas supplier. In his role, he is responsible for the overall business and enterprise growth strategy for the State of Florida. Nicholas joined Gas South from Infinity Homecare in Tampa where he was responsible for acquisition integration, strategy, and sales operations. Prior to working with Infinity, Nicholas worked on Wall Street for seven years at American Express in business strategy and at the NASDAQ Stock Market in equity capital markets, where his work garnered accolades and awards including NASDAQ's highest honor, The President's Award.
In 2012, he Co-Founded bubbsie.com, an iPhone compatible photo-sharing app available in the iTunes store. His team conceptualized, launched and grew bubbsie to tens of thousands of unique users, culminating in the successful negotiation and profitable sale.
Additionally, Nicholas is currently serving as Commissioner of the Enterprise Zone Development Agency for the City of Tampa, representing districts 1, 2, 3 & 6. He also serves as a member of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee and as President of the Hillsborough County Young Democrats. He is a 2005 graduate of the College of Charleston, the nation's 13th oldest college, where he served as President of the Student Government Association. Nicholas was also recently honored as the Young Alumnus of the Year for his professional success.
Cesar Hernandez, Legislative Aide, City of Tampa
Cesar Hernandez is the current Legislative Aide to Tampa City Council District 7. He held the previous post as the Director of Community Engagement for the University Area Community Development Corporation. He is also a former Student Body President and Trustee for the University of South Florida.
Cesar was born and raised in Brooklyn NY, the first generation born in the United States from Guatemalan Immigrants. Cesar has a long history of global engagement; he represented the United States at the Education Without Borders global summit and the Festival of Thinkers summit in Dubai, where he held deliberations with world leaders and Nobel laureates on current global challenges. At the summit he had the #1 ranked policy presentation in the world on his policy research out of 3,000 participants on his examination on immigration challenges.
During the political hullabaloo of tuition hikes in 2011, he responded to the challenge in a passive protest by breaking the political speech record of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and spoke for 24hrs. Cesar holds the unofficial world record for longest political speech. Bold Initiatives such as these have been received well and earned him recognition by President barrack Obama when he was invited to a reception at the White House to meet the President and First Lady. Cesar is also an amateur documentarian and has produced three short films. One of which "The Prometheus Project" which highlights the blight and violence surrounding the University Area known as "suitcase city" was featured in the Gasparilla International Film Festival. He is an avid public speaker and is most known for his TEDx presentation delivered at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg Florida titled "The Power of the Selfless Being". He is a Social Entrepreneur and has a small clothing line Trendsetter Clothing which is fashion inspired my social movements across the globe.
He is the recipient of USF 2009 Overall Fraternal Chapter President of the Year, 2009 USF Outstanding Student Leader of the Year, 2009 Florida Fraternity Man of the Year, 2009 USF Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award and the 2009 USF Leadership Legacy Award. He is a proud Alumnus of the Hesselbein Global Academy and is dedicated to service, integrity and leadership. He is happily married and a proud citizen of Tampa.
Ali Ishaq, Strategy Development Manager, Jabil
Ali Sohail Ishaq is a citizen of the world having grown up/lived in Dubai (U.A.E), Karachi (Pakistan), Boise (Idaho), and Amman (Jordan). ali heads strategic business development for the Industrial, Energy, and High Velocity division of a Fortune 500 international manufacturing company in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Prior to this, Ali worked in management consulting in Washington, D.C. where he helped leaders create and implement organizational strategy for a wide array of federal government clients including: law enforcement, IT, and national health and disaster preparedness. As the lead for the company's risk and crisis communications capability, ali published articles in the International Association of Emergency Managers' Bulletin and the Public Relations Society of America's Strategist magazine. He was further recognized for "exceptional service" by National Incident Command, Coast Guard ADM Thad Allen for risk communications work during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. As a State Department Fulbright Fellow in Jordan, he worked with the United Nations University and Project on Middle East Democracy to train youth activists across the Middle East/North Africa region on civic engagement. He subsequently become President of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Fulbright Association alumni group, during which time he developed and successfully deployed the organization's young professionals initiative.
He grew up in an entrepreneurial household, heavily involved in his family's restaurant business in Idaho. In addition to the NLC, Ali is part of the Leadership Tampa Bay program-a training program for regional leaders. He completed his MBA at Duke University where he was the graduation commencement speaker and undergraduate studies at Boise State University where he was the graduation commencement speaker and student body president.
Becky Killik, Health Care Outreach Associate, Working America
Becky Killik is a Health Care Outreach Associate for Working America. Working America is the community group of the AFL-CIO and works on issues of earned sick time, raising the minimum wage, and wage theft in airing to helping those enroll in health care through the Working America Health Care Program. She is responsible for conducting outreach and education around Working America, their health care program, and the Affordable Care Act.
Previously, Becky organized for Planed Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida and worked on the Women Are Watching campaign. Additionally, she participated in the very first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act as an Outreach Organizer for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Becky graduated from the University of South Florida earning bother her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Becky was an active participant in student organizations and maintained leadership roles throughout her time at USF.
Continuing her deep interest in social justice, she plans to use the skills, information, abs opportunities the NLC provides to contribute her service to her community. Becky earned her BA in both Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies from the University of South Florida in 2011 and followed with her MA in Women's and Gender Studies in 2013. Her primary focus in her education was reproductive justice and access to healthcare.
Tarance LeNoir, Professional Educator, Pepin Academies
"Today I realize and recognize that I want more out of life. I want to do more. I want to Love more. I want to enjoy Life more. Goodness does not satisfy me. I am hungry for Greatness" Since graduating with a Bachelors and Masters degree, I have been educating students diagnosed with Intellectual Disabilities and working with their families. Much of my success has been in mentoring and empowering the lives of these youngsters. From my work in the classroom and volunteering with various community organizations and community activism, I have recognized the difference in the students and parents when advocates and other professionals become active participants in the success of children and their families by providing quality educational services. The families I work with feel safe and respected through love and support exhibited in the areas of, but not limited to; social development, positive interventions to addressing negative behaviors, implementing specialized instructional techniques, curriculum modifications/accommodations and increasing academic levels as a part of on-going instruction.
Another benefit to my role as an educational leader and advocate has been dedicated to implementing character building skills which allows students the platform and time needed to make better choices at school and in the community. While completing academic work as an undergraduate and graduate student, I was involved in two accomplished programs which were life changing and very beneficial to my success as a scholar.
Being a member of the Project for Preparing Individual Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT), a program that was geared towards encouraging Black males to become professional educators in the area of working with students and their families with special educational needs, which provided me the skills and tools needed to be an effective educator and an agent of change for diverse communities. At the graduate level, I was very fortunate to be employed as a project specialist at the Project for New Mexico Graduates of Color (PNMGC) a mentoring, research, program evaluation, and networking and leadership program which is an academic and social development initiative of the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) at the University of New Mexico. Its sole purpose is aimed towards increasing the number of African-Americans and Latino/as to attend and complete graduate school and become practitioners and/or scholars in their chosen discipline and are armed with a set of tools for success. The top-notch skills I gained from these two rigorous programs have adequately prepared me to move forward in the pursuit of further educational and leadership endeavors.
Michael Maurino, Director, Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
I work as the Government Relations Director for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, with work in public policy, transportation, and military issues.
Previously, I have worked for a Tampa City Council member as a legislative aide, and worked for the Tampa Bay Partnership as Public Policy Coordinator. I started working in politics by working in the state media shop for President Obama's 2008 campaign in Florida. Following that, I worked for the Florida Democratic Party and a Democratic research firm.
I graduated from the University of Florida in 2006, with degrees in Political Science and Telecommunications-News.
Bert McBride, Attorney, Trenam Kemker
Bert McBride was born in Tampa to Alex Sink and Bill McBride. He is a product of the public school system, attending Gorrie Elementary, Wilson Middle School, and Armwood High School. He played football at Armwood and helped them to two state championships and one runners-up in his four years here. He graduated as Valedictorian and Football Team Captain. From there, Bert earned a football scholarship to play at Stanford University. He played Center and Guard for four years, three of which under Coach Jim Harbaugh and with Quarterback Andrew Luck. While there he participated in numerous charitable activities including visiting local schools with other members of the football team and working on a public garden/park in San Francisco.
Bert graduated with a degree in Economics from Stanford in 2010 and decided to forego his fifth year of football eligibility in order to return home and assist on his mother, Alex Sink's gubernatorial campaign. Bert served as the Youth Outreach Director for the campaign and traveled all over the state to talk to young voters.
After the campaign, Bert moved to Washington, D.C. to work with the Department of Commerce. He served as an intern in the International Trade Association where he helped both American and foreign companies conduct business worldwide. From there, he moved over to serve as an intern in the office of Congresswoman Kathy Castor where he assisted constituents with their numerous policy and personal concerns.
After serving as an intern with Congresswoman Castor, Bert attended law school at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law. He graduated with honors and is now working as an attorney at the Tampa law firm Trenam Kemker. He currently participates in Project H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection) in conjunction with the Metropolitan Ministries and is a member of Tampa Bay Emerge, a project of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce for young professionals. He is also the co-founder of the recently formed Tampa Bay Stanford Club.
Canaan McCaslin, Senior Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement, Lutheran Services Florida
Canaan McCaslin is a native Floridian who recently moved back home to the Tampa Bay region from the Washington, DC area. He is currently the Senior Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement for Lutheran Services Florida, Children and Head Start Services. He earned a bachelors degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Latin American and African Studies from Georgetown University.
Canaan also has a masters degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. At Carnegie Mellon, Canaan focused on Policy Analysis and Economic Development. Canaan previously worked with the City of Tampa's Economic and Urban Development Department, assisting the leaders of the East Tampa Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) with research and analysis. He also has experience in both the US Senate and House of Representatives as a staffer. In particular, Canaan served as a staffer for Tampa's Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-14).
From 2011 until 2014, Canaan worked for Deloitte Consulting LLP as a Federal Government management consultant in Washington, DC, where he provided strategic and operational advice to various federal agencies. Canaan has professional experience in strategic communications, community engagement, project management, and policy development and analysis.
Kyle McIntyre, Radio-Frequency Transmissions Systems, United States Air Force Reserves
Kyle is a young, motivated professional with a great deal of experience beyond his years. He served for four years on active duty in the United States Navy, traveling the world and working security details with various military and police units from countries in South America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. After the Navy, Kyle enlisted in the United States Air Force Reserve while attending St. Petersburg College.
Kyle is currently in his final semester of undergraduate study at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where he is completing his B.A. in Political Science and Government. During his time at USFSP, Kyle has volunteered, interned, and worked on various local political campaigns, including the Special election for Florida's Congressional District 13, and the Florida States Senate race for District 22.
Lillian Okpaleke, Director of Marketing, Faith Home Health
Lillian Okpaleke (O-pa-le-k_) is the oldest of 7 children born to Nigerian immigrant parents. Lillian was born in Flint, Michigan. Her family later moved to Bronx, New York before resettling in Bradenton, Florida where she attended and graduated from high school. She graduated high school at age 16 and started college shortly thereafter. Lillian always had a passion for helping people since childhood. Since a child she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps of helping patients through the medical profession, Lillian likes to see a patient from beginning to end of their treatment. Being a Consultant Pharmacist allows her to work with patients, deal with their care, be advocate for patients to their physicians, ensuring patients take the correct regimen of medication. She also coordinates health fairs for the indigent who can't afford to see their doctors.
She has been practicing as a pharmacist for 10 years as a graduate of Florida A&M University School of Pharmacy Cum Laude. Lillian is known to go above and beyond the call of duty for her patients, and she strives to be the best. Lillian started her own pharmacy after graduating from Pharmacy School at the age of 22. She also has been an editor for a Pharmacy Technician text book, Calculation Simplified. She was also a college instructor for pharmacy students and technicians preparing for their board exams through Ultimate Medical Academy in Tampa, Florida. Lillian always had a knack for coordinating fundraisers for key events for organizations during her college career.
People always believed in her ability to see the success of an event from beginning to end. After establishing herself in the Tampa Bay Area as a pharmacist, she decided to formally offer services as 820 Productions to clients in Tampa Bay and throughout the United States including Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL, California, New York, etc. In her capacity as owner of 820 Productions, Lillian coordinates fundraisers, books local and national musical acts, creates fashion shows, and provides public relations services for clients. Lillian has been a professional for 7 years in this capacity. As far as event production, Lillian is known for her passion for excellence, personal integrity, honesty, and ability to create one-of-a-kind events that leave clients saying "Wow!" Lillian has worked with the White House as City Coordinator for the 2012 Barack Obama Reelection Campaign. In her time away from home, Lillian is a focused on being the worldÕs greatest mother to her son Toby, age 5. She is also very busy completing her third year of medical school at the University of Science, Arts & Technology in Tampa, Florida.
She will earn her M.D. in 2016 and looks forward to practicing geriatrics. Lillian has been a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority for the past 14 years and serves as the Public Relations Officer for the Nigerian Pharmacists Association of Tampa Bay. She is also coordinates the Annual Continuing Education Symposium that educates over 300 pharmacists. She also serves on the Local Organizing Committee for the Nigerian Association for Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists of Americas. Lillian is an active member of St. StephenÕs Catholic Church in Valrico, Florida. She also loves singing in the community and salsa dancing. Lillian has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and also lends her time to Feeding America Tampa Bay, a food bank. She is a Charter Member of Women of Color Golf, Inc. a non-profit which seeks to expose minority women to the game of golf. She is also a co-founder of Redefined, a progressive group for young leaders of Tampa Bay.
Lillian lives by her favorite scripture verse, Joshua 1:9 NIV "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Ralph Reid, Executive and Legislative Assistant, Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners
Ralph Reid has lived in the Tampa Bay area for over nine years, having first moved to the area to attend the University of South Florida (USF), where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & Individualized Interdisciplinary Honors Research and Comparative Studies with a minor in Leadership Studies, and his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in College Student Affairs. While attending USF, Ralph was involved in numerous student organizations and held leadership roles in the College Democrats at USF; Pi Sigma Alpha, The National Political Science Honor Society; The Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda; and the Student Government Association. Currently, Ralph works as an Executive and Legislative Assistant to Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice.
Prior to working for Commissioner Justice in a political capacity, Ralph worked with the Commissioner at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), where they provided leadership development and training. Additionally, Ralph assisted with the distribution and administration of grants to community non-profits. Ralph has a variety of experience in conference and facility management, facilitating social media training for non-profit organizations, programming and event planning, advising, mentoring, and leadership instruction. Ralph is an advocate for education and marriage equality. He currently resides in St. Petersburg.
Andrew Warren, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
Andrew is a federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice, specializing in complex white-collar criminal prosecution. During his seven years with the Justice Department, he has worked on several high-profile investigations, including the successful prosecution of Allen Stanford and others for perpetrating an $8 billion Ponzi scheme. As a prosecutor, Andrew has received several awards, including the 2013 Attorney General Award for Trial Litigation. He has served as an instructor at the Justice Department's national training center in Columbia, South Carolina, and he has lectured and served on panels both domestically and abroad teaching prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and judges about investigating and prosecuting complex fraud. Before joining DOJ, Andrew was an associate at a national law firm in its New York and Washington, DC offices, and he clerked for a federal district court judge in San Francisco.
Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, Andrew graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program at Eastside High School. He attended Brandeis University on an academic scholarship, where he graduated magna cum laude with a double-major in Politics and Economics. At Brandeis, Andrew served as captain of the rugby team and president of his fraternity. As an undergraduate, he spent one year at the London School of Economics in its General Course Program. After college, Andrew attended Columbia University Law School. Andrew returned to Florida in September 2013. He currently resides in Tampa with his wife and two daughters. He is active in the Federal Bar Association, the Hillsborough County Bar Association, and Congregation Schaarai Zedek, and he volunteers regularly at Trinity Cafe. He is also a die-hard Florida Gators fan.