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Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy

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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 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 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.

Fellows at the Inagural Meeting in Orlando
On This Page:
Mission and Goals
Becoming a Fellow
Scholarship Opportunities
2013-2014 Academy Fellows
2013-2014 Academy Meetings
Academy Partners
Academy Committee
News & Photos
Contact Us


The application window for the Class II of the Academy has ended. Applications for the Class III Academy will be available Dec. 2014.

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 Bar and the legal community;
  • To enhance the diversity of leaders within the 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 bar members who are in good standing. Applicants with some history of leadership or involvement within the Bar, their community, offices, and/or the legal profession are encouraged to apply.

Voluntary and specialty bar associations, 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 receive CLE for their participation.

The Academy will encompass two branches, the Northern Branch encompassing the 1st, 2nd and 5th DCA areas, and the Southern Branch encompassing the 3rd and 4th DCA areas. Each branch will meet approximately every other month for a total of six meetings, plus graduation. These meetings include three meetings of both branches at the Bar's Annual Convention in June, the September fall meeting, and the January Tallahassee meeting of the Board of Governors, in addition to three Branch meetings. At the conclusion of the program, Fellows will participate in graduation at the Bar's Annual Convention.
While there is no tuition fee to attend the Academy, Fellows will be responsible for their travel expenses and accommodations while at meetings. Full and partial scholarships are available for those with financial need.

When Should I Apply?

Applications for the 2015-2016 class will be available in Dec. 2014.

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 state wide networking opportunities are limitless for Fellows.

Scholarship Opportunities

Full and partial scholarships for travel and accommodations are offered to Fellows on the basis of financial need. To be considered for scholarship from the Bar, applicants should fill out the Financial Need Statement on 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. Academy Fellows

The 2013-2014 Fellows include:
Photos of the Fellows PDF document opens in new window

North Branch

Mutaqee N. Akbar, Tallahassee
Sara Louise Alpert, Tampa
Bethanie Barber, Orlando
Douglas Alan Bates, Pensacola
Harold V. Bennett III, Lakeland
Alvin F. Benton Jr., Orlando
Robert Birrenkott, Gainesville
David D. Burns, Jacksonville Beach
Jesse Butler, Sarasota
Jodi Daniel Cooke, Pensacola
Jessica Goodwin Costello, Tampa
Brenda B. Ezell, Jacksonville
Kristina Elizabeth Feher, St. Petersburg
Jennifer Ann Ficarrotta, Tampa
Megan T. Fitzpatrick, Inverness
James David Gordon III, Port Charlotte
Ashley Wells Greene, Jacksonville
A. Felipe Guerrero, Orlando
Erum Siddiqui Kistemaker, Daytona Beach
Barbara J. Leach, Orlando
John J. Maceluch Jr., Tampa
Anne M. "Amy" McBride, Ft. Walton Beach
G.C. Murray Jr., Tallahassee
Zeina N. Salam, Jacksonville
Michael W. Schmid, Tampa
Laura Leigh Snell, Clearwater
Kelly G. Swartz, Melbourne
Whitney M. Untiedt, Gainesville
Melissa N. VanSickle, Tallahassee
Gregory T. Wilson, Panama City

South Branch

Pedro M. Allende, Miami
Brandon Arkin, Palm Beach Gardens
Annika E. Ashton, Miami
Annabella Barboza, Ft. Lauderdale
Tattiana Brenes-Stahl, Ft. Lauderdale
Vivian Z. Chavez, Miami
Michael T. Davis, Miami
Devang Desai, Coral Gables
Lillian B. Ewen, Port St. Lucie
Maria D. Garcia, Coral Gables
Aimee Gross, Weston
Joshua J. Hertz, Aventura
Donell Andre Hicks, Coral Gables
John M. Howe, West Palm Beach
Fritznie A. Jarbath, North Miami
Jay Kim, Ft. Lauderdale
Alexandra Bach Lagos, Miami
Tobi B. Lebowitz, Ft. Lauderdale
Alan C. Nash, Ft. Lauderdale
Antoinette Peck, LaBelle
Christopher W. Rumbold, Boca Raton
Herman J. Russomanno III, Miami
Nikki Lewis Simon, Miami
Grasford Washington Smith Jr., West Palm Beach
Kymberlee Curry Smith, Cooper City
Schuyler A. Smith, Miami
Joshua Byrne Spector, Miami
Gregory S. Weiss, Palm Beach Gardens
Daniel A. Zuniga, Jupiter
Fellows at the Inagural Meeting in Orlando

Leadership Academy with Justice Polston at Pro Bono Awards Ceremony

2013-2014 Meetings

Joint Meetings
Annual Convention, Boca Raton (June 28-29)
General Meeting, Tampa (Sept. 26-27)
Board of Governors Meeting, Tallahassee (Jan. 30-31)

Ft. Lauderdale (July 19-20)
Miami (Nov. 15-16)
West Palm Beach (March 14-15)

Clearwater (July 19-20)
Jacksonville (Nov. 15-16)
Tampa (March 14-15)

Academy Partners
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance

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 2013-2014 members.

Leadership Academy CommitteeRenee E. Thompson, Chair

Michael J. Faehner, Co-Chair - North Branch

Juliet Murphy Roulhac, Co-Chair - South Branch

News & Photos
Florida Bar News Articles:

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

[Revised: 03-11-2014]