Program Director, Fostering Panther Pride, Florida International University
Bio: Ana Ramos has been serving at Florida International University since February 2014. Ramos oversees the Fostering Panther Pride program and uses her experience in the social work field to connect with the students in the program. In her role with the program, Ramos tracks the students’ academic progress, links students to community resources, assists them with navigating the University’s policies and procedures, engages students in educational enrichment activities and workshops, aids students in securing scholarships to meet their housing or academic needs, and more. Prior to her employment at FIU, Ramos worked with Refugees Minors Program for two years and Family Resource Center before that.
Ramos has a background in elementary school teaching from Honduras, where she taught for four years. She then came to the United States and became a two time graduate from FIU; she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work.
President and CEO (Miami), Charity Services Center
Bio: r. Burdette has practiced law since 1972. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (B.A., 1969), Columbia Law School, NY, NY (JD., 1972) and University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida (MBA, 1982). Hi has almost 40 years of experience in many fields including securities law, finance, investment banking, patent prosecution and litigation and contract law.
In addition to his legal work, Mr. Burdette has a strong background in business, having translated his education in both law and business into a practice that included doing debt and equity reorganizations (turnarounds) of businesses that found themselves in difficult financial condition. Charity Services Centers, P.A., was founded by Mr. Burdette as a means of offering practical as well as legal assistance to charitable organizations so they can make the greatest possible contribution to the people who need their services in communities throughout the United States.
CEO, Educate Tomorrow
Bio: Brett is the CEO of Educate Tomorrow, a Miami-Dade County based 501c3 whose mission is to create independence for disadvantaged and foster youth through education, mentoring and the development of life skills. The White House named Educate Tomorrow a top 25 “Program of Promise” and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce awarded Educate Tomorrow the NOVO Innovation award in 2014 for non-profits. Voices for Children Foundation named Educate Tomorrow the child protector of the year in 2013. In 2014 Brett was selected to the National Urban Fellows Executive Leadership Program and to the Miami Foundation Miami Leaders program where he is sponsored to attend the FIU High Potential Leader Program. Before Educate Tomorrow Brett was an officer of buildOn where he led their International programs from 2005-2012 overseeing the construction of over 1,000 classrooms for more than 40,000 children in rural Haiti, Nicaragua, Senegal, Mali, Malawi, Niger, Nepal and India.
He is currently a board member of the Miami-Dade County Community Based Care Alliance, buildOn and Learning 1 to 1 Foundation. He is co-chair of the Education and Employment committee for the Miami-Dade County Homeless Youth Collective Impact. He is married to Virginia Emmons McNaught, co-founder of Educate Tomorrow and has a 3 year old daughter named Emma and a 2 year old son named Miles. Together Brett and Virginia received the Florida International University PATH award for Well-Being in 2015 for their work at Educate Tomorrow.
Executive Director, Florida's Children First
Bio: Christina Spudeas has been a long time advocate for delinquent and dependent youth in Florida. For the past two decades, Spudeas has worked tirelessly to defend the rights of children who are in the custody and supervision of state agencies or state contracted providers. Her diverse background includes child related public policy reform, legislative reform, and state advocacy for dependent and delinquent youth.
Youth Advocate, Florida's Children First
Bio: Geori Berman joined Florida’s Children First as the Florida Youth SHINE Coordinator in June 2013. As Coordinator, her goal is to provide a space for young adults to share their voice and advocate for positive change in the child welfare system. Geori’s main goal is to assist our 14 chapters by providing support and tools to create long-term sustainability and opportunities for youth to advocate in their communities. Geori’s core purpose in life is to empower future leaders to become positive change-agents in the world. Throughout the past three years working with FYS she has organized countless events, trainings, advocacy opportunities, and facilitated leadership development for current and former foster youth in the state.
Founder, 4 Generations
Bio: After a 25-year tenure as president of Voices for Florida's Children, a statewide advocacy network, Jack founded 4Generations Institute to promote intergenerational policies and programs that benefit the young, their parents, and more experienced family members.....also known as grandparents. In addition, Jack is President of Advocacy Resources, a consultancy specializing in communications strategies, public policy initiatives, and creative resource development. He holds a Master's Degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Hunter College, City University of New York.
Intern, Miami-Dade College
Bio: Janessa Collins is a college student at Miami-Dade College. She just finished here first academic year with a 3.2 GPA. She is a nursing major with an interest in the legal system. She is currently interning at the Children & Youth Law Clinic. And she plans on going to Florida State University after she obtains her AA.
Chief Executive Officer, Vita Nova
Bio: A graduate from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York with a degree in Psychology, Mr. DeMario earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and spent the next several years working with various agencies within the Child Welfare System in Palm Beach County. He has more than 24 years of experience working with youth and young adults in the child welfare system. Eight of those years were spent working with the Juvenile Justice Programs in Palm Beach County.
Jeff chairs the Florida Independent Living Services Advisory Council for the Florida Department of Children and Families. He also sits on state-wide and local committees for system reform, mentors with Florida Youth SHINE (FYS), and volunteers for Palm Beach County Public Schools.
Associate Dean for Experiential Learning & Professor of Clinical Legal Education, University of Miami School of Law Children & Youth Law Clinic
Bio: Kele Stewart is professor of Clinical Legal Education and co-director of the University of Miami School of Law Children & Youth Law Clinic. In the clinic, she supervises students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned and neglected children.
Professor Stewart earned a B.S. in 1994 from Cornell University and a J.D. in 1998 from NYU Law School. Prior to joining the University of Miami School of Law, she was an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, where she did voting rights litigation and advocacy and supervised law students in NYU's public policy clinic.
She also spent five years in private practice and doing an array of pro bono work at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and White & Case. Prior to law school, she worked as a case worker for teenagers in foster care, monitoring their development and conducting life skills training.
She serves on the Advisory Board of Florida's Children First, the Executive Board of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Independent Living Services Advisory Council.
Dr. Malou Harrison
President, North Campus, Miami Dade College
Bio: Understanding her role as Campus President, Dr. Malou Harrison takes pride in responding to the needs of more than 50,000 students and the community. She continues to advocate for a variety of programs that support student success both in and outside of the classroom. Dr. Harrison has been instrumental in spearheading initiatives at MDC North, West and the Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center that have increased the enrollment and success of students, particularly students of color and those attending college for the first time. She has also successfully led initiatives and programs that have sustained student persistence and completion and she has strongly advocated on behalf of our immigrant and documented MDC students and their families.
Graduate Fellow, Educate Tomorrow
Bio: Racquell Perry is a Miami native and a two-time graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, with a bachelor's degree in Criminal and Juvenile Justice and a law degree. She has been an Educate Tomorrow (ET) mentee since her senior year of high school and currently works as a graduate fellow with ET. She is a lover of good music, good company and good food.
President, Rios Research & Evaluation
Bio: Dr. Steve J. Rios owns Rios Research and Evaluation and is the conference chair for the Third Annual Florida Reach Symposium. Dr. Rios also is a co-founder of the Florida Reach Network, is a long-time mentor with Educate Tomorrow, and is the father of a 14-year-old daughter.
Educate Tomorrow, President & Co-Founder
Bio: Virginia Emmons McNaught is co-founder, President and Chief Business Development Officer of Educate Tomorrow. She served as the founding CEO of Educate Tomorrow from 2003-2010. In 2015 Virginia was recognized at the Red Cross Women's Spectrum Awards for her work in Education. She was awarded the Junior League's Women Who Make A Difference Award and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Everyday Freedom Hero Award. She was featured in the book America's Way to Change and was recognized at the White House by President Obama as developing one of twenty-five Programs With Promise. In 2012 Virginia was a finalist for the White House Fellowship. Virginia served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a remote village in Niger, West Africa and continues to support the schools she helped establish. She has represented the Peace Corps as a spokesperson for White House events. Raised as the youngest of eight from humble beginnings in Greendale, Wisconsin, she has traveled to over 45 countries. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where she was student body President and captain of the soccer team. She is a graduate of the University of Miami with a M.S. Ed in Community& Social Change.
David Ferrer, PhD
District Court Laiason, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Bio: Dr. David Ferrer holds a position as a Miami-Dade County Public Schools District Court Liaison at the Juvenile Justice Support Office (JJSO) in the Bureau of School Operations. He provides educational advocacy as a representative of the school system at the Juvenile Justice Center to court-involved students who are under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Juvenile Justice. He is also an adjunct professor at Carlos Albizu University in the Department of Education.
Dr. Ferrer has been in the field of education for over 20 years. His educational expertise is in Special Education, primarily in the area of emotional disabilities. His instructional experience ranges from elementary to senior high school which included working in a specialized center for severely emotionally disabled students. In addition to his classroom experience, Dr. Ferrer has administrative experience both with MiamiDade County Public Schools and Nova Southeastern University.
Dr. Ferrer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Florida International University and a Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education with a concentration in Emotionally Handicapped from Nova Southeastern University. He also earned a Specialist Degree in Administration from Nova Southeastern University, and was recently conferred with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Technology from North Central University.
Co- Founder Florida &Ohio Reach
Bio: I join you from Cincinnati Ohio and Miami University (of Ohio). I have 23 years of advising and retention experience working with students of all majors and backgrounds. First and foremost, I am a student advocate. In an effort to DISCOVER the campus and you, the students, I am living in a first year residence hall, Heritage Park Towers for this year.
Bio: John Emerson was the Postsecondary Education Advisor for Casey Family Programs for eighteen years. He oversaw postsecondary education and training practice and policy advocacy for young adults from foster care. He also directed the Casey Family Scholars Program, a national college scholarship program for students from foster care that provided over scholarships and support services to students from
John now provides consultation and technical assistance to states, higher education systems, and organizations regarding improving the delivery of support services and financial aid to opportunity youth. He authored Casey Family Program’s Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students from Foster Care and many articles on improving college access and success for students from foster care.
John also served as project director for development and research grants at the Washington Research Institute in Seattle, and directed a federal grant at the University of Washington. He has a Masters of Education degree from the University of Washington
Bio: Jovany Felix, a graduate from Florida State University with a B.S. in International Affairs and a M.S. in Information Studies, has spent the past 17 years working in higher education to assist underserved populations. Mr. Felix has worked with support service programs that assist students who are homeless, in foster care, have disabilities, are first-generation, and come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Mr. Felix currently serves as the Director of the Center for Disability Access and Resources (CeDAR), Director of the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS), and Director of Rattler CARES at Florida A&M University.
Bio: Ms. Guerrise, a New York City native, moved to South Florida in 2000 and went to work in the child welfare system in Broward County. She is very passionate about what she does and loves to work with the teen population. She has been involved with Transitional Independent Living and foster youth projects since 2003 and in 2008, she was hired as the Founding Executive Director of The FLITE Center.
She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the City University of New York, College of Staten Island. She obtained her Masters in Social Work from Barry University in Miami. She is a graduate of Leadership Broward Class 28 and a current member of the Junior League of Boca Raton.
Life coach, Educate Tomorrow
Director, Single Stop, Miami-Dade College
Student Services Coordinator, Miami Dade County Public Schools
Dr. Cookie Schultz
Youth Services Education Manager, Community Based Care of Central Florida
Academic Coach/Academic Advisor, Florida Atlantic University
Assistant Director, Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement, Unconquered Scholars Program, Florida State University
Executive Director, Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities
Florida International University Student, Florida Youth Shine
President, Kids Have Rights
Associate Director for Research & Policy, Florida College Access Network
College Coach, Miami-Dade College
Florida International University Student, Florida Youth Shine