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Leadership Academy

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Training Today. Leading Tomorrow.

The Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy is a multi-session training program designed to assist a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers in becoming better leaders within our profession, in their chosen path, while enhancing their leadership skills. Each year a select group of participants are selected from applications submitted to The Florida Bar to become Academy Fellows.

During their one-year term, Academy Fellows follow a curriculum tailored to enhance their professional development, knowledge base and experience, including attending The Florida Bar events and special educational programs. Academy Fellows are given the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the Bar and their role in the legal profession, while enhancing their personal leadership skills. The Academy’s Mission is to identify, nurture and inspire effective leadership within the Bar and the legal community.


The Florida Bar will be accepting applications for 2020-2021 Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy Class VIII. The Leadership Academy is open to all Florida Bar members who are in good standing. In an effort to achieve diversity among the participants, qualified individuals will be sought from different backgrounds, large and small law firms, the private and public sectors, different practice areas, and different geographical areas of the state. The Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy Class VIII application form will be available December 2, 2019. To be considered, please submit your application on or before January 15, 2020 by 5:30 p.m. (EST).

Download the Leadership Academy Application

Mission and Goals of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr Leadership Academy

The mission of the Academy is to enhance the skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers selected from across the state that will enable them to become effective leaders throughout the Bar, our profession and the greater community.

The Goals of the Academy include:

  • To enhance leadership skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers;
  • To identify, nurture and inspire effective leadership within The Florida Bar and the legal community;
  • To enhance the diversity of leaders within The Florida Bar;
  • To raise the level of awareness and engagement among lawyers regarding issues facing the legal profession through the study of ethical, professional and public service issues.

Becoming a Fellow

Who Should Apply?

Applications to become a Fellow of the Academy are open to all Florida Bar members who are in good standing. Applicants with some history of leadership or involvement within The Florida Bar, their community, offices, and/or the legal profession are encouraged to apply.

Voluntary and specialty bar associations, Florida Bar sections and divisions, members of the judiciary, law firms, and bar members are also encouraged to nominate Fellows to the Academy.

Why Should I Apply?

As a Fellow you will be part of a select group of leaders who are provided the opportunity to:

  1. Develop and enhance leadership skills important to your future in the legal profession.
  2. Network, interact, collaborate, and build relationships with state and national bar leaders.
  3. Get an insider’s look at important role the Bar plays within our legal system, while exploring your role in the legal profession.

What Should I Know Before I Apply?

Attendance and Commitment Policy: Participation in the Academy as a Fellow requires a commitment of time and resources. Meetings typically will be held on Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon at various locations. Attendance at meetings is mandatory and Fellows may be dropped from the program for non-attendance. Fellows who complete the program will graduate and may receive CLE credit for their participation.  The Academy meets approximately every other month for a total of six meetings, plus graduation. Meetings are held during The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in June, The Florida Bar Fall meeting in October, and the January meeting of the Board of Governors in Tallahassee. The three other meetings are held at various locations around the state. At the conclusion of the program, Fellows will participate in graduation at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention.

Upon becoming a Fellow, you agree that after graduation you will become involved with and undertake Florida Bar committee, section or division service, local or voluntary bar service, other community leadership activity, and/or act as a mentor to a member of the incoming class.

Cost:  A tuition fee of $500 is due upon acceptance into the Academy. Fellows will be responsible for their travel expenses and accommodations while at meetings. A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available for those with financial need.

When Should I Apply?

The Leadership Academy Application will be available December 2, 2019.

Why Should My Employer Support My Application?

Fellows need to obtain the approval of their employers to participate in the Academy given the commitment required. With the invaluable leadership skills Fellows will learn from state and national bar leaders, employers can be assured that the business development possibilities and statewide networking opportunities are limitless for Fellows.

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships for travel and accommodations are offered to Fellows on the basis of financial need. To be considered for a scholarship from The Florida Bar, applicants should fill out the Scholarship Assistance Application and Certification within the application. Selection of Fellows is determined without consideration of financial need or scholarship interest.
Additionally, some sections and divisions, and other associations will offer scholarship opportunities to their members to participate in the Academy. Inquiry regarding those scholarship opportunities should be directed to those entities.

2019-2020 Academy Fellows

Amelia Hallenberg Beard, Freeport

Eneami Bestman, West Palm Beach

Dominique Burkhardt, Boca Raton

LaTesha M. Campbell, Jacksonville

Stephanie Marie Chaissan, Miami

Maisha Champagne, Fort Lauderdale

David William Alexander Chee, Miami

Matthew C. Frey, Tavares

Ashley V. Gantt, Sunrise

Domini J. Gibbs, Miami

Lisa Gabrielle Harvey, Orlando

Alexandra Kate Hershorn, Fort Lauderdale

Jasmyne Henderson, Tallahassee

Francesse Lucius, Miami

Matthew Luka, Tampa

Diana Dawn Maselli, Fort Myers

Michal-Ane McIntosh, Boca Raton

Shezan Mumtaz , Deerfield Beach

Henry Ortiz, Tampa

Michele K. Rayner-Goolsby, Clearwater

Takisha D. Richardson, Palm Beach Gardens

Courtney Richardson-Jones, Orlando

Ana P. Rodriguez-Newbern, Orlando

Stephen P. Smith, Port St. Lucie

Michael Stanski, Jacksonville

Janae E. Thomas, Tampa

Kristopher Warburton, Daytona Beach

Vanessa Wheeler-Sanchez, Jacksonville

V Danielle Williams, West Palm Beach

Darren Zeigler, Orlando



2018-19 Academy Fellows

2017-18 Academy Fellows

2016-17 Academy Fellows

2015-16 Academy Fellows

2014-15 Academy Fellows

2013-14 Academy Fellows

2019-2020 Meetings

June 28-29, 2019: Session I, Kickoff Full Academy Meeting, Boca Raton, Florida (The Florida Bar Annual Convention, Boca Raton Resort & Club)  

August 23-24, 2019: Session II, Atlantic Beach, Florida (One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa)

October 17-18, 2019: Session III, Tampa, Florida (The Florida Bar Fall Meeting, Tampa Airport Marriott)

January 30-31, 2020: Session IV, Tallahassee, Florida (Florida Bar Board of Governors Meeting, DoubleTree Hilton)

March 20-21, 2020: Session V, Orlando, Florida (Renaissance Orlando Airport)

 May 15-16, 2020: Session VI, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Riverside Hotel)

June 19-20, 2020: Graduation, Orlando, Florida (The Florida Bar Annual Convention, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek)

 June 21, 2020: Leadership Academy Gala, Orlando, Florida (The Florida Bar Annual Convention, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek)

Leadership Projects

As a part of the curriculum, the Leadership Academy Fellows are tasked with completing a project every year that relates to the legal profession or community that allows the Fellows to build skills and assist in helping improve the legal profession for Florida attorneys and citizens. Projects are available to the public upon completion at the end of each program year.

Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit

Mental Health Toolkit (PowerPoint)


Academy Partners



Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company


Academy Committee

The Leadership Academy Committee is charged with overseeing the activities of the Academy, the Fellows and their activities. Review the Leadership Academy Committee page for the current  members.

Anthony J Visone,  Vice Chair

John Howe, Vice Chair

News & Photos

Florida Bar News Articles:

Contact Us

Questions regarding the Academy or becoming an Academy Partner should be directed to
Arnell Bryant-Willis.
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