The Florida Bar

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
2014-2015 Academy Fellows
2014-2015 Academy Meetings
Academy Partners
Academy Committee
News & Photos
Contact Us


Applications to become a Class III Fellow of the Leadership Academy are now available. PDF document opens in new window
Applications are due on or before January 31st.
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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.
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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 to become a Class III Fellow of the Leadership Academy are now available. PDF document opens in new window
Applications are due on or before January 31st.

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.
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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.
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Academy Fellows

Photos of the Fellows PDF document opens in new window

North Branch

Lemar Flores Alejo, Orlando
Shaunda Lee Brown, Apopka
Andrele Brutus, Lakeland
Amy Jo Carter, Orlando
Ramona Swantise Chaplin, Jacksonville
Ryan Edward Davis, Orlando
Iris A. Elijah, Tallahassee
Jason M. Ellison, Saint Petersburg
Meredith A. Freeman, Tampa
Lisa Gong Guerrero, Orlando
Starling Newcomb Hendriks, Naples
Vivian Cortes Hodz, Tampa
Angela Lynn Huston, Tallahassee
Stephanie Crane Lieb, Tampa
Stephen A. Liverpool, Tampa
Frederick Vashaun Longmire, Pensacola
Kimra Denise Major-Morris, Apopka
Jason Paul Mehta, Jacksonville
Jennifer L. Morando, Orlando
Michelle Erin Nadeau, Clearwater
Katharine Walter Payne, Punta Gorda
Sara K. Peacock, Tampa
Anitra F. Raiford, Fort Myers
Meshon Trinette Rawls, Gainesville
F. Joseph Ullo, Jr. , Tallahassee
Tanya Maryann Williams, Inverness
David Yamin, Tampa
André Tylor Young, Orlando

South Branch
Huda Ajlani, Ft. Lauderdale
Anthony Dax Bello, Miami
Maria Frances Caldarone, Vero Beach
Daniel Cervantes, Miami
Jennifer Cohen, Miami
Ileana Cruz, Miami
Avery A. Dial, Ft. Lauderdale
Brendalyn V.A. Edwards, Miami
Patricia Elizee, Miami
D. Porpoise Evans, Miami
Elizabeth Walker Finizio, Ft. Lauderdale
José Rafael Flórez, Ft. Lauderdale
Byrnes Nick Guillaume, West Palm Beach
Brian M. Karpf, Weston
Tamesha LaToya Keel, Miami
Jacqueline Cisneros Ledón, Miami
Beatriz A. Llorente, Miami
Sophia A. Lopez, Coral Springs
Robert Lee McLeroy, IV, Palm Beach Gardens
Victoria Mesa, Lake Worth
Liana Rose Nealon, Miami
Rebecca Ocariz, Miami
Anthony Hunter Quackenbush, Hollywood
Dwayne Antonio Robinson, Miami
Jenna Gail Rubin, Boca Raton
Melanie Victoria Santiago, Miramar
Effie D'Anger Silva, Miami
Heather L. Smith, Fort Pierce
Alice Sum, Miami
Lisa Marie Thelwell, Miami
Matthew Nelson Thibaut, West Palm Beach
Anthony J. Visone, Port St. Lucie
David Joel Zelner, Palm Beach Gardens
Fellows at the Inagural Meeting in Orlando

Leadership Academy with Justice Polston at Pro Bono Awards Ceremony


PDF document opens in new windowClass of 2013-14
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2014-2015 Meetings

Joint Meetings
Annual Convention, Kissimmee (June 27-28)
Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, Bonita Springs (July 11-12)
General Meeting, Tampa (Oct. 16-17)
Board of Governors Meeting, Tallahassee (Jan. 29-30)

Miami (Nov. 14-15)
West Palm Beach (March 13-14)

Jacksonville (Nov. 14-15)
Orlando (March 13-14)
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Academy Partners
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance

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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
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News & Photos
Florida Bar News Articles:
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Contact Us
Questions regarding the Academy or becoming an Academy Partner should be directed to
Arnell Bryant-Willis.

[Revised: 03-03-2015]