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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.

Leadership Academy 2015-16 Class III Photo
On This Page:
Mission and Goals
Becoming a Fellow
Scholarship Opportunities
2015-2016 Academy Fellows
2015-2016 Academy Meetings
Academy Partners
Academy Committee
News & Photos
Contact Us


2016-2017 Leadership Academy Application Class IV PDF document opens in new window Applications must be submitted by January 15, 2016.

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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 meets approximately every other month for a total of six meetings, plus graduation. These meetings include meeting during the Bar's Annual Convention in June, the September Fall meeting, and the January meeting of the Board of Governors in Tallahassee. The three other meetings are at various locations around the state. 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?

2016-2017 Leadership Academy Application Class IV PDF document opens in new window Applications must be submitted by January 15, 2016.

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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2015-2016 Academy Fellows

Photos of the Fellows PDF document opens in new window

Jackson W. Adams, Orlando
Michelle A. Adams, Oviedo
Denise Beamer, Orlando
Andrew Boyer, Sarasota
Rosemonde Cely, Orlando
Jami A. Coleman, Tallahassee
Victoria Cruz-Garcia, Tampa
Robert W. Davis, Jr., Orlando
Bridget Friedman, Lake Mary
Ericka Garcia, Orlando
Elizabeth Joy Gibson, Orlando
Ryan L. Gilbert, Gainesville
Brock A. Hankins, Orlando
Lindsay Hanson, Lake City
Jenay E. Iurato, Tampa
Chardéa C. Murray, Jacksonville
Nicole Mariani Noel, Tampa
Anthony J. Palermo, Tampa
Maria del Carmen Ramos, Tampa
Linjé Rivers, Tallahassee
Nancy J. Rothstein, Jacksonville
John Sawicki, Tallahassee
Katherine C. Scott, Tampa
Jason Paul Stearns, Tampa
Kit Van Pelt, Clearwater
Gloria R. Walker, Gainesville
Latoya Shaday Williams, Jacksonville
Alvan Balent, Jr., Miami
Lisa Capote, Miami
Melanie Chung-Tims, Coral Gables
Sarah Alexandra Cohen, West Palm Beach
Leora B. Freire, West Palm Beach
Stephen Richard Gross, Fort Lauderdale
Lacey D. Hofmeyer, Miami
Julian Jackson-Fannin, Miami
Antonya Johnson, Fort Lauderdale
Nick Johnson, Palm Beach Gardens
Brian H. Koch, Fort Lauderdale
Karline Lee, Fort Lauderdale
Karla C. Martinez, Lake Worth
Barnaby L. Min, Miami
Ian E. Robinson, West Palm Beach
Chanel Rowe, Miami
Alex John Saiz, Miami
Stacy Schwartz, Fort Lauderdale
Jalal “Jay” Shehadeh, Fort Lauderdale
Danielle A. Sherriff, West Palm Beach
Cherine Smith Valbrun, Fort Lauderdale
Beranton J. Whisenant, Jr., Miami
Evian L. White, Miami
Jorja M. Williams, Boca Raton
Sherria D. Williams, Miami Gardens


2014-15 Fellows

2013-14 Fellows
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2015-2016 Meetings

Annual Convention, Boca Raton (June 26-27)
Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference (July 10-11)
Fall Meeting, Tampa (September 17-18 )
Orlando (November 13-14)
Board of Governors, Tallahassee (January 28-29)
Ft. Lauderdale (March 18-19)
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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 2015-2016 members.

Juliet Murphy Roulhac, Chair

Melanie Shoemaker Griffin, Vice Chair
Kevin Anthony McNeill, Vice Chair
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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: 12-23-2015]