Document 54620

Table of Contents
Headquarters Communications Staff....…………...……..……………..…………….3-5
Department Regions and Circuits………………………………………………………..6
Regional Communications Staff……………..…………………………..…...………7-10
Community-Based Care Contacts…..….………….………………….…………….11-12
Open Government and Confidentiality...…………..……………………...…………...13
Executive Leadership Team.……..………...………………………………...………14-20
Regional Leadership Team…..……….……...……………….……………...……....21-22
2014 Media Guide provided by:
Office of Communications
Florida Department of Children and Families
1317 Winewood Boulevard, Room 202
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0700
Office: (850) 717-4450 Fax: (850) 487-0800
[email protected]
(Updated May 2014)
Headquarters Communications Staff
Alexis Lambert, Communications Director
Office: (850) 413-0771
Cell: (850) 445-0933
[email protected]
Alexis Lambert joined DCF as Communications Director in May 2013. She
previously served as Communications Director for Chief Financial Officer
Jeff Atwater, one of four statewide elected constitutional officers. She has
served as the lead spokesperson for several state agencies including the
Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the predecessors
to the Department of Economic Opportunity. She has developed, launched
and managed numerous statewide media campaigns and has proven
success in using earned media to influence community partners,
policymakers and the public. Alexis is a Tallahassee native and has a bachelor’s degree in
communications from Mercer University.
Michelle Glady, Press Secretary
Office: (850) 717-4450
Cell: (850) 459-2063
[email protected]
Michelle Glady joined DCF as the Press Secretary in November 2013.
Previously she worked as a senior account supervisor at a national public
relations agency serving destination clients throughout the United States.
She conducted large media tours throughout her client destinations and
worked with national, regional, local and trade media on a daily basis. She
began her communications career at the PARC and All Children’s Hospital
in Tampa Bay. Michelle graduated from Florida State University with a
bachelor’s degree in public relations.
Headquarters Communications Staff
Niki Pocock, Chief Marketing Officer
Office: (850) 717-4449
Cell: (850) 459-2063
[email protected]
Niki Pocock joined DCF in December 2011 as the director of digital media
and outreach. She has launched social media, marketing and public
relations campaigns for organizations including the Florida Department of
Education, Florida Healthy Kids, and the Florida Dental Association. She
has also served in the press office at the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, where she was a public information officer for
Florida State Parks, Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, Green Lodging,
Clean Marinas, environmental education, and during the 2005 hurricane season. Niki has a
bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Florida.
Nina Ashley, Public Affairs Director
Office: (850) 717-4597
Cell: (850) 556-1633
[email protected]
Nina Ashley joined DCF in October 2013 as Public Affairs Director. She has
30 years of communications experience as a journalist, spokesperson,
speechwriter, and outreach and project manager. She was a reporter for
newspapers in Georgia, Nevada and Florida and won several awards for
editorial, feature and news writing. She previously worked with the Agency
for Health Care Administration and the Department of Insurance/
Department of Financial Services (DFS). While working with DFS, she
oversaw the development and presentation of more than 1,000 free
consumer workshops and numerous educational materials on insurance and financial matters. She
earned a bachelor’s degree in English with emphasis in Journalism from Valdosta State College.
James Feeney, Chief Video Producer
Office: (850) 717-4562
Cell: (850) 228-6947
[email protected]
James Feeney is a multi-award-winning filmmaker who joined DCF in April
2013. Originally from Boston, MA, an enlistment in the United States Air
Force brought him to northern CA where he began work as a network
administrator. He continued work in this field throughout his enlistment and,
later, as a Department of Defense contractor stateside and for two years in
Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. James moved to Tallahassee, FL in
2010 to begin the Master of Fine Arts program at The Florida State
University College of Motion Picture Arts, graduating in 2012 and writing/directing the most
successful film in this school’s 23 year history. He began work as DCF’s Chief Video Producer
following an international tour with that short film.
Headquarters Communications Staff
Jon Bristow, Webmaster
Office: (850) 717-4489
[email protected]
Shortly after graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University with degrees in
Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering in 1997, Jon Bristow left
England and began his career in the U.S. working with DCF as a contract
programmer on the FLORIDA system that processes eligibility for federal
benefits. In 2007, he joined DCF full-time as a report analyst in Information
Technology Services before becoming the Webmaster in 2008. When the
web team moved into the communications office in January 2012, Jon
brought his knowledge, innovative web design techniques and international flair to the agency’s
communications team.
David Taylor, Web Services
Office: (850) 717-4519
[email protected]
David Taylor joined the communications office in January 2012 after serving
as an applications programmer for Information Technology Services. David
is part of our web services team assisting in the maintenance and
development of the department's web presence and specializes in graphic
design, layout and accessibility compliance. He began work at the
department in April 2000 and was promoted to his programming position in
2006. He began his state career in 1985 and also has worked in Agriculture
and Consumer Services and at the Department of Management Services.
Department Regions and Circuits
There are six Department regions statewide: Northwest, Northeast, Central, SunCoast, Southeast
and Southern.
When the agency was reorganized in 2007, the state was divided into 20 circuits that align with the
state’s 20 judicial circuits.
Regional Communications Staff
DaMonica Rivas, Northwest Region Communications Director
Location: Tallahassee
Office: (850) 778-4056
Cell: (850) 590-6649
[email protected]
DaMonica began her career at the Department of Children and Families in 2009 as
a senior clerk in the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. In 2010, she
left the Department to pursue an internship with the Executive Office of the
Governor (EOG) where she where she was later hired. During her time in the
EOG, she worked with several deputy chiefs of staff and assisted with external
affairs events and messaging.
Shortly after joining the EOG, DaMonica was offered a position as the External
Affairs Coordinator at the Florida Department of Education (DOE). Over the course of three years, DaMonica
oversaw logistical management for DOE and EOG education related events and meetings, developed
marketing materials and messaging for statewide initiatives, assisted with social media and media relations,
coordinated internal communication, and served as the agency coordinator and liaison for the Florida State
Employee's Charitable Campaign and Prudential-Davis Productivity Award Program.
DaMonica is a graduate of Florida A&M University where she obtained her Master's degree in Public
Administration and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.
Circuits: 1, 2 and 14
Counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon,
Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington
Media Markets: Panama City, Pensacola and Tallahassee
John Harrell, Northeast Region Communications Manager
Location: Jacksonville
Office: (904) 723-5470
Cell: (904) 233-7792
[email protected]
John Harrell has been with DCF since 2004. He has been interviewed and
quoted by numerous media outlets. Harrell has done several live interviews
on the national cable program Prime News on the HLN cable network,
where he’s discussed child welfare issues and how agencies investigate
high-profile cases. He’s also appeared on Inside Edition and Nancy Grace.
Prior to joining DCF, John spent twelve years working in broadcast and print media in Jacksonville.
He was the news director at one of the city’s leading radio stations and a traffic reporter for two
television stations. He also worked as a freelance writer for several publications, including The
Florida Times-Union and HealthSource magazine. For his work with the Florida Public Relations
Association’s Jacksonville chapter, John was honored with a President’s Award for helping to
increase the membership and overall visibility of the organization.
Circuits: 3, 4, 7 and 8
Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton,
Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Volusia
Media Markets: Daytona Beach, Gainesville and Jacksonville
Regional Communications Staff
Kristi Gray, Interim Communications Director
Location: Orlando
Office: (407) 317-7042
Cell: (407) 770-8777
[email protected]
Kristi Gray began her career with DCF in 1994 as a case manager working
directly with children and families in the child protection system. She later
worked as an adult protective investigator and in 2000 was promoted to a
client relations coordinator. Kristi served as the Community Relations
Manager for Orange and Osceola counties, where she developed and maintains strong partnerships
with local social service organizations. In 2009 she accepted the new role as Public Information
Officer for 12 counties. Kristi was recently appointed as the Interim Communication Director for the
Central Region. She obtained a Bachelors degree in Social Work from Florida State University and
received a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida.
Circuits: 5, 9,10, and 18
Counties: Brevard, Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk,
Seminole and Sumter
Media Markets: Ocala and Orlando
Anna O’Brien, Central Region Media Relations Specialist
Location: Orlando
Office: (407) 317-7952
Cell: (321) 239-6541
[email protected]
Anna O’Brien joined the Central Region communications team in February
2012. She was born and raised in Central Florida and is an avid equestrian.
Anna is currently enrolled at Valencia Community College seeking a degree
in Public Relations and Organizational Communications. She looks forward
to attending the University of Central Florida after the completion of her
A.A. Anna’s goal is to obtain her Master’s in Communications.
Circuits: 5, 9,10 and 18
Counties: Brevard, Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk,
Seminole and Sumter
Media Markets: Ocala and Orlando
Regional Communications Staff
Natalie Harrell, SunCoast Region Communications Director
Location: Tampa
Office: (813) 337-5854
Cell: (813) 784-1898
[email protected]
Natalie joined DCF as Regional Communications Director for the SunCoast
region in January 2014. She began her career as a television news
producer in the Sarasota and Tampa media markets before becoming the
City of St. Pete Beach’s first-ever Public Information Officer. As the official
spokesperson for the city hall, police, fire and public works departments,
she responded to all crisis communications while managing department
strategies for improving public relations and citizen outreach. Following St. Pete Beach, Natalie
managed all media relations for Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance as well as several other non-profit
organizations throughout Tampa Bay. Most recently, she served as Interactive Marketing Manager
for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. Natalie graduated from the University of South Florida
with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.
Circuits: 6, 12, 13 and 20
Counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and
Media Markets: Fort Myers, Naples, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Tampa
Paige Patterson-Hughes
Southeast Region Communications Director
Location: Fort Lauderdale
Office: (954) 375-3354
Cell: (954) 410-3931
[email protected]
Paige Patterson-Hughes joined DCF in 2012 as the director of
communications for Broward and Palm Beach counties after having served
for 12 years as the South Florida public information officer for the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement, where she handled media relations for
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. Paige handled
high-profile cases including voter fraud investigations, high-rise burglaries, public corruption and
Internet crimes against children. She also has prior experience as a public relations executive and
journalist. Paige is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds a bachelor of science degree in
Circuits: 15, 17 and 19
Counties: Broward, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and Palm Beach
Media Markets: Treasure Coast, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale
Regional Communications Staff
Ana M. Valdes, Southern Region Communications Director
Location: Miami
Office: (768) 257-5056
Cell: (305) 345-8407
[email protected]
Ana Valdes joined the Southern Region as Director of Communications in
March. She previously spent 10 years as a reporter at The Palm Beach
Post, where she covered social services, politics, local government and
breaking news. Ana also helped launch and later worked as a reporter and
editor at La Palma, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper previously
owned by The Palm Beach Post.
A native Miamian, Ana graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor's of Science degree in
Journalism and another in Spanish. While still in college, she worked part-time as a clerk and
weekend reporter at The Miami Herald, and was later granted a 10-week Kaiser Family Foundation
health reporting internship at The Sun-Sentinel, where she traveled to Washington DC and Boston to
discuss effective ways of covering health news. She was also part of the Miami News Service, a
student-run news wire service at UM's School of Communication.
Circuits: 6, 12, 13 and 20
Counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and
Media Markets: Fort Myers, Naples, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Tampa
Community-Based Care Contacts
Florida’s child welfare system is operated by 20 community-based care lead agencies across the state. The
following information allows the media to contact the community-based care agencies directly on issues concerning
adoptions, foster care, and in-home and out-of-home services for children and families.
Northwest Region
2 and 14
Community-Based Care
Contact Name
Families First Network
Linda Roush
(850) 453-7745
[email protected]
Big Bend CBC
Barbara Flury
(941) 626-5729
[email protected]
Northeast Region
Community-Based Care
Contact Name
Partnership for Strong
Jenn Petion
(352) 244-1521
[email protected]
Family Support Services
of North Florida
Lisa Collins
(904) 421-5800
ext. 797
[email protected]
Kids First of Florida
Irene Toto
(904) 278-5644
ext. 2007
[email protected]
(St. Johns)
Family Integrity Program
Ven Thomas
(904) 209-6080
[email protected]
Community Partnership
for Children
Mark Jones
(386) 547-8924
[email protected]
SunCoast Region
6, 13
Community-Based Care
Contact Name
Eckerd Community
Terri Durdaller
(727) 439-5421
[email protected]
Sarasota Family YMCA
Andrea Mertyris
(941) 371-4799
[email protected]
Children’s Network of
Southwest Florida
Aimee McLaughlin
(239) 226-1524
[email protected]
Community-Based Care Contacts
Central Region
Community-Based Care
Contact Name
Kids Central
Heartland For Children
Kim Daughtery
(863) 5198900 x 204
[email protected]
CBC of Brevard
(Brevard Family
Geo Ropert
(321) 2053155
[email protected]
CBC of Central Florida
Glen Casel
(321) 3204124
[email protected]
9 & 18
Southeast Region
15, 17
Community-Based Care
Contact Name
Elizabeth Wynter
(954) 5572282
[email protected]
Devereux Families, Inc.
Southern Region
11 & 16
Community-Based Care
Our Kids of Miami-Dade/
Contact Name
Kadie Black
[email protected]
Open Government and
Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law sets a high standard of open records and transparency
of public information and meetings, and open government is also a core value of the Department
of Children and Families and the Office of Communications.
Our citizens deserve services that are provided in a creative, seamless and transparent manner.
The Department is committed to providing easy access to public records and the policies and
procedures related to Department records.
The Department’s Communications Office staff and statewide media contacts are sometimes
unable to release case-specific information involving Child Protective Investigations and/or
Adult Protective Investigations due to the restraints outlined in Chapters 39 and 415 of the
Florida Statutes:
39.202- In order to protect the rights of the child and the child's parents or other persons
responsible for the child's welfare, all records held by the department concerning reports
of child abandonment, abuse, or neglect, including reports made to the central abuse
hotline and all records generated as a result of such reports, shall be confidential.
415.107- In order to protect the rights of the individual or other persons responsible for the
welfare of a vulnerable adult, all records concerning reports of abuse, neglect, or
exploitation of the vulnerable adult, including reports made to the central abuse hotline,
and all records generated as a result of such reports shall be confidential.
The Department of Children and Families’ Communication Office will work with media outlets
and the public to fulfill all public records requests to the greatest extent possible.
Some situations may occur in which a case may be exempt from the restraints outlined in Chapters
39 and 415. View both chapters in their entirety at:
The Department of Children and Families also must abide by the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which, in most cases, prevents the disclosure of personal
health information and medical records. View HIPAA in its entirety at:
Executive Leadership Team
Mike Carroll
Interim Secretary
Mike Carroll has more than 20 years of service with the
Department of Children and Families overseeing programs
ranging from substance abuse and mental health to family
safety and adult protective services to economic selfsufficiency programs. Most recently, he served as the
Regional Managing Director for the 11-county SunCoast
Region which spans from Pasco to Collier County since
As Regional Managing Director, Mr. Carroll committed
himself to developing innovative and significant system
improvements—many of which have become models for
statewide implementation. He is recognized as a skilled
organizational and systems assessor. He was integral in the
regional implementation of the Managing Entity concept in substance abuse and mental health,
transitioning to a community-based system of care in child welfare, and redesigning the economic
self-sufficiency delivery system. His previous management experience includes foster care and child
care licensing, strategic planning, quality assurance, economic self-sufficiency eligibility programs,
and special programs including one focused on reintegrating ex-felons into the community.
Mr. Carroll has served on the Florida Sterling Board of Examiners for 13 years, and is currently a
master examiner and facilitator for the Governor’s Sterling Award process. He has a Bachelor of
Science in Business Administration from Boston College and is a Certified Public Manager.
Mr. Carroll is married to Debra and has two children, Samantha and Jason. He is active in the local
community and has served as a youth coach and mentor for more than 25 years.
Executive Leadership Team
Gerald Peter “Pete” Digre
Deputy Secretary
Pete Digre is the Deputy Secretary. He has more than 40 years of
experience in the health and human services field, with an emphasis on
community-based care for children, youth and families. He has held
leadership positions for social service agencies in Los Angeles County,
Philadelphia County and the state of Illinois. In addition, he previously
served as Deputy Secretary for Operations at the Florida Department of
Health and Rehabilitative Services, which precedes DCF. Pete holds
bachelor's degrees with honors in Sociology and Philosophy from the
University of Minnesota, a master’s degree with honors in Social Work from George Williams
College, a master’s degree with honors in Public Administration from Roosevelt University, and a
doctorate of Ministry from the University of Chicago.
Nevin Smith
Interim Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Nevin Smith has a PhD and an MPA in public administration from the Florida State
University Askew School of Public Policy as well as a B.A. in Business from the
University of South Florida. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at both
Florida State University and Barry University teaching both graduate and
undergraduate courses in public administration related to organization behavior,
research methods, and public policy. His private sector career includes experience
as the CEO of a regional information technology company and as a member of a
consulting firm that produced economic development reports for business and
operating efficiency improvements for government. His public sector experience includes city, county and
state government in Florida. At the state level he has served as Secretary of the Department of
Administration, as a senior management official in the Department of Environmental Protection, and in charge
of an antiterrorism/antidrug program related to Florida seaports at the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement. His responsibilities at the Department of Children and Families include duties both as the overall
agency budget officer and the Interim Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
Scott Stewart
Assistant Secretary for Administration
Scott Stewart was appointed as the Assistant Secretary for Administration
in 2011. He was previously the agency’s Chief Information Officer,
responsible for overseeing information technology systems and
coordinating data sharing between state and federal agencies and among
our employees and partners. Previously, Scott served as Chief Information
Officer for the Agency for Workforce Innovation and worked as an IT
director and officer for the Florida Department of Corrections, the state’s
Department of Business and Professional Regulation and other state agencies. Scott also brings
private sector expertise from working with Walt Disney World and Scotty’s. Scott earned his Bachelor
of Science in Business Administration from Florida Southern College in Lakeland and his Master of
Business Administration from Nova University in Fort Lauderdale.
Executive Leadership Team
Janice Thomas
Assistant Secretary for Programs
Janice Thomas has been a valuable member of the DCF team for over
three decades. Her experience with the department spans a number of
services including child protective investigations, child protective services,
foster care, adoptions, adult protective investigations and economic selfsufficiency. Her positions have included Investigator, Unit Supervisor,
Operations Program Administrator, Program Manager, Operations
Manager, Circuit Administrator, and Northwest Florida Family and
Community Services Director. Her years of knowledge, passion for the
mission and hands-on experience in the field give her a unique perspective to continue the positive
progress to protect Florida’s most vulnerable.
Drew Parker
General Counsel
Drew Parker was appointed General Counsel in May 2011. Before coming
to DCF, Drew worked for Ard, Shirley & Rudolph, P.A. in Tallahassee,
where his practice focused primarily on representing public and private
clients in civil and administrative litigation. Prior to his time in private
practice, Drew worked for the Florida Department of Financial Services in
its Constitutional Issues Section, where his responsibilities included
representing Florida’s Chief Financial Officer’s in matters related to the
CFO’s constitutional duty to approve and settle claims against the State of
Florida. Drew earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Sociology, as well as his
Juris Doctor degree, from Florida State University. Drew also earned a Master of Divinity degree
from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts degree from the University of
Notre Dame.
Jane Johnson
Chief of Staff
Jane Johnson is Chief of Staff of the Florida Department of Children and
Families. Johnson previously served as the Health and Human Services
Policy Coordinator for the Governor’s Office in Florida. In that role, she
developed and coordinated health and human services policies and
oversaw the development of agency budgets for six state agencies
including DCF. She also previously served as the Director of the Florida
Agency for Persons with Disabilities. In addition to her public sector
experience, Johnson has experience running a small business and held top
positions at non-profit agencies including Children’s Home Society, Florida
Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, and the Florida Association of Homes for the Aging.
She has served on several boards and commissions including the Florida Disabled Outdoors
Association, Governor’s Task Force on Autism, Affordable Housing Study Commission and is a
Guardian ad Litem.
Executive Leadership Team
Keith Parks
Inspector General
Keith Parks became the Inspector General for the Department's Office of
Inspector General (OIG) on November 4, 2013. He was born and raised in
Indiana and attended Ball State University, where he obtained bachelor's
degrees in Criminal Justice and History. Keith's work experience includes
two years as a Correctional Probation Officer for the Florida Department of
Corrections in an Investigative Unit, and more than 10 years with the
Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services, six of
which were as the Supervisor of the Criminal Investigations Section
investigating white collar crime cases. Prior to being named Inspector
General, Keith was the Chief of Investigations for the OIG for nearly eight years.
Tim Parson
Director of Legislative Affairs
Tim began his career in the legislative process in 2005 working for the
Secretary of the Florida Senate where he assisted the Secretary in her
duties during the annual legislative session. Following his time in the
Florida Senate, he worked for a private lobbying firm where he tracked and
analyzed legislation as well as worked on numerous political campaigns
across the state. In 2007, he became the legislative assistant for
Representative Greg Evers, who in 2010 became a State Senator. In 2011,
Tim joined the Office of State Senator Ronda Storms, Chair of the Senate
Children, Family & Elder Affairs Committee, where he was responsible for
the Senator's legislative proposals. In 2012, Tim became the Deputy
Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Children and Families. Following a successful
Legislative Session in 2013, he was promoted to Director of Legislative Affairs.
Pat Badland
Director of Operations
Patricia Badland is responsible for coordinating and integrating the work of
all of our program areas throughout the regions. She joined DCF in July
2005 and has also served as the director of the Family Safety Program
Office and administrator for the Assistant Secretary of Operations. Her
professional career began in 1980 as an assistant for the 10th Judicial
Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program and later as the Director of the 2nd
Judicial Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program. From 1987-2005, Pat served
the judicial system in a variety of capacities, including lead staff to the Commission on Family Courts,
analyst for the Dispute Resolution Center and Chief of the Office of Court Improvement for
dependency, delinquency, dissolution, child support, domestic violence and drug courts. Pat
graduated with a BA in 1980 from the University of South Florida, Tampa.
Executive Leadership Team
Kristin Vallese
Director of Executive Communications
Kristin Vallese is the Department’s Director of Executive Communication,
managing a myriad of duties including correspondence, client relations and
internal and external communications. Kristin was recently the interim CEO
and Director of Outreach and Operations for the Florida Children’s Services
Council and has extensive experience in management, strategic
communications and legislative affairs. Previously, Kristin was the Director
of Communications for the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida
Association of the American Institute of Architects.
Grainne M. O’Sullivan
Director of Children’s Legal Services
Grainne M. O’Sullivan, currently serves as Director of Children’s Legal
Services. She joined the Department in May 2013 as Children's Legal
Services Regional Director, coming to that role from the Office of the
Attorney General where she supervised all juvenile dependency cases and
conducted training on juvenile law for attorneys, state agents and the
Dependency Court Improvement Project. She previously served as an
Assistant Attorney General from 2001 to 2005 and as Staff Attorney for the
Legal Aid Society of Broward County in 2001, where she represented
elderly clients at administrative hearings in immigration, bankruptcy,
landlord-tenant, divorce, and Medicare matters. She earned a political science degree from the New
York Institute of Technology and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. While in school, Grainne
represented clients seeking asylum in the United States in federal court as part of the Safe Harbor
Project and was a Student Assistant District Attorney for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in
Brooklyn, NY, where she was responsible for a full misdemeanor caseload and functioned as a
prosecutor in the largest district attorney’s office in the nation.
Andrew McClenahan
Director of Public Benefits Integrity
Andrew McClenahan joined DCF in November 2013 as Director for the
Office of Public Benefits Integrity. He previously served as the Public
Safety Director for a private sector company dealing in forensic crime
prevention. Andrew has over 18 years of law enforcement experience at
both the city (Tallahassee Police Department) and state levels. He served
for 10 years as a law enforcement Captain in the Office of the Inspector
General for two agencies (DEP and FWCC) combatting waste, fraud, and
abuse while leading highly sensitive and technical internal criminal and
administrative investigations. Andrew has a bachelor's degree in
criminology from Florida State University and enjoys staying active in serving the community.
Executive Leadership Team
James Cheatham
Director of the Florida Abuse Hotline
James Cheatham graduated from Florida State University in 1994. He
spent the early part of his career in operations management for companies
including Blockbuster Entertainment and Scholastic Book Fair. He worked
in the Child Care Services Program Office at the Department of Children
and Families from 2004 to 2013, and is a Certified Public Management
graduate. James has a wife and three daughters.
Sharron Washington
Sharron Washington, Economic Self-Sufficiency Director for the Central
Region, has stepped up as Interim Economic Self-Sufficiency Program
Director. She has steadily advanced into higher positions during her 14
years with the Department, beginning with DCF in 1999 as an abuse
registry counselor. She has served as Central Region Economic SelfSufficiency Director, overseeing public assistance in 12 counties, since
April 2012. Before joining DCF, she was a Student and Family
Enhancement (SAFE) Team leader with the Tallahassee Marine Institute.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University and is a certified public
Hiram Ruiz
Director of Refugee Services
Hiram Ruiz, appointed Director of Refugee Services in 2008, was born in
Cuba and raised in Miami. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from
Florida State University. He spent eight years as a social worker in
London, England, and later worked in Vietnamese refugee centers in
Scotland and England. Hiram spent three years working with refugees in
Somalia and Sudan with the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees. After returning to the United States, he joined the District of
Columbia’s refugee program. He subsequently spent 16 years as a Senior Policy Analyst with the
U.S. Committee for Refugees, a private, Washington, D.C.-based refugee advocacy group. He
traveled to more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to assess the needs of refugees
and advocated for adequate U.S. and international responses. Hiram has authored more than 20
publications on refugees and wrote articles and chapters for numerous other publications, including
Forced Migration Review, International Journal of Refugee Law, State of the World's Refugees, and
the Brookings Institution's The Forsaken People, Case Studies of the Internally Displaced. Ruiz later
served as Director of Communications for USCR. In 2004, he returned to Miami as the political
director of a local union.
Regional Leadership Team
Vicki Abrams
Northwest Regional Managing Director
Vicki began her career in 1977 with the former Department of Health and
Rehabilitative Services at Florida State Hospital’s Mentally Retarded
Defendant Program. After serving as the Executive Director of the Gulf
County Association for Retarded Citizens, Vicki returned to HRS in 1984
with the Developmental Services Program Office in Panama City. From
there Vicki worked in Contract Management for Developmental Services
(now Agency for Persons with Disabilities), Family Safety, and ACCESS
Florida. She also has experience in managing Volunteer Services, and
operations in Foster Care, Child Care Licensing, Adult Services, ACCESS
Florida, and Substance Abuse & Mental Health.
Lisa Mayrose
SunCoast Regional Managing Director
Lisa Mayrose is an 18-year social services veteran and longtime
Department of Children and Families employee with a wide array of
program and operations experience. A member of the Florida Sterling
Board of Examiners for the past eight years, Lisa is a proven leader and
skilled organizational and systems assessor. Since 2007, she has served
as Regional Director of Family and Community Services overseeing all child
welfare, adult services, and childcare programs in the SunCoast region.
From 2004 - 2007, Lisa served as Operations Program Administrator where
she provided oversight on all Department programs including child welfare
investigations and preventative services as well as economic self-sufficiency programs. Her
progressive experience in the Department during her 15-year tenure also includes field training and
family services. Before coming to the Department, Lisa worked with the Department of Labor and
Employment Security and Marion-Citrus Health Centers. Lisa graduated from Rutgers with a
Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology.
David Abramowitz
Northeast Regional Managing Director
In 2012, Col. David Abramowitz, a former Inspector General with the United
States Armed Forces Command, began leading the Northeast Region,
which covers 20 counties including Jacksonville, Gainesville and Daytona
Beach. David has 30 years of experience with the U.S. Army, starting as an
aviation officer, then serving as a battalion commander in Germany and a
brigade commander in Korea. In 2007, he served as commandant of the
Sergeants Major Academy in Fort Bliss, Texas, and then as chief of staff for
the Iraq Assistance Group in Baghdad. He graduated with a bachelor’s
degree in science from the United States Air Force Academy, and has a
master’s degree in international security strategy studies from the United States Army War College
and a master’s degree in military art and science from the United States Army Command and
General Staff College.
Regional Leadership Team
William “Bill” D’Aiuto
Central Regional Managing Director
Bill D’Aiuto, appointed in 2012, began his career on the front line as a
public assistance specialist for the agency. During his 20-year tenure, Bill
has held various positions, bringing a wealth of experience to the Central
Region. He served as the region’s ACCESS Director and was also the
Circuit 5 Administrator. Bill is a graduate of the 2006 Department of
Children and Families Executive Leadership Program and played a crucial
role in the modernization of public assistance. He was also a critical figure
in the Haiti Repatriation Operations of 2009, assisting with the emergency
re-entry of more than 12,000 Haitian-Americans to the United States. Bill
earned his Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts Degrees from the University of
Central Florida.
Dennis Miles
Southeast Regional Managing Director
Dennis Miles joined the department in 2003 as a child protective
investigator and worked his way up as a supervisor, program administrator
and director of support services before being named the Director of Family
and Community Services. In 2012, Dennis was appointed as Regional
Managing Director for the Southeast Region, heading up operations in Palm
Beach and Broward counties. Dennis was honorably discharged after a 13year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, leaving with the rank of Captainselect. At the time, he was Company Commander in the 3rd Assault
Amphibious Battalion. Before coming to the Department, he also worked at
the Palm Beach County Tax Collector’s office and in the financial services industry. A proud Gator,
Miles earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Florida in 1985 while on
active duty.
Gilda Ferradaz
Southern Regional Managing Director
Gilda Ferradaz started her career with the Department of Health and
Rehabilitative Services in 1976, assuming progressively more responsible
positions. She served as Circuit Administrator for the Florida Department of
Children and Families for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties from 2006 until
2011. Currently, she serves as Interim Regional Managing Director for the
Department of Children and Families, Southern Region, encompassing
Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Programs under her responsibility
include Child and Adult Protective Services, Child Care Licensing,
ACCESS, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
Ferradaz holds a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in sociology and a Masters in Business
Administration, both from Florida International University. She has served on a number of boards
including the South Florida Workforce and Investment Board, The Homeless Trust, The Children’s
Trust, the Juvenile Justice Board, the Early Learning Coalition and the Community Based Care
Alliance. She is also an active member of her church and has volunteered on boards of local non-forprofits.