Message from the President – Fall 2017

Florida Bar Foundation President Jewel White
Florida Bar Foundation President Jewel White

Florida Bar Foundation President Jewel White was named Pinellas County Attorney in July. Board certified in city, county and local government law, White earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, and her law degree at the University of Florida. She is a former member of the Florida Supreme Court/Florida Bar Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services and of The Florida Bar Board of Governors. She has served as president of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, president of the Clearwater Bar Association, and a director of the Clearwater Bar Foundation.

If you’ve heard there’s a lot of change going on at The Florida Bar Foundation, but you’re not really sure what it’s all about, this expanded issue of Speaking of Justice will bring you up to date. As our cover story explains, the Foundation is undertaking a strategic reset at a time of decreased funding but also new opportunities for Florida’s legal services and justice systems. The Foundation board – after much consideration – decided we should do what other leading-edge foundations around the country are doing: serve as a catalyst for innovation and as a collaborator and facilitator in the pursuit of far-reaching, meaningful and sustainable improvements in the communities we serve.

The strategic reset document we’ve adopted (see is a roadmap for our new path forward, and I encourage you to review it. Several of the projects described in this issue illustrate our new direction: a collaboration with Toyota in applying business process improvement to legal aid; training staff attorneys to be proactive in working with local communities on racial justice issues; and statewide implementation of All are prime examples of how training, collaboration, technologyand community lawyering can empower legal aid staff, pro bono attorneys and clients and make civil legal aid operate more effectively and efficiently.

What you won’t necessarily discover in these articles is the fact that none of this change would be possible without the extremely talented and hard-working staff of the Foundation. They have not just gone along with this ambitious new approach, they have led it every step of the way. Their work is getting national attention. Melissa Moss, deputy director for strategic initiatives, was invited to serve on an advisory committee to the Legal Services Corporation on the governance and administration of LSC funded legal aid programs. She also was asked to be a featured speaker at a Law + Design summit of the Stanford Legal Design Lab. Meanwhile, each of our department heads – Ericka Garcia, Chuck Hays, Nancy Kinnally, Donna Marino, Lushawn Phillips and Jennifer Wimberly – as well as development coordinator Michelle Fonseca has presented at national conferences. Their presentations – at the American Bar Association’s Equal Justice, IOLTA, and Access to Justice Chairs conferences, the LSC’s technology conference (TIG), and the Management Information Exchange Conference – demonstrate Florida’s leadership on technology, outcomes measures, IOLTA administration, pro bono, fundraising, and data visualization and communications.

It’s an honor to lead an organization with such a brain trust as that of The Florida Bar Foundation staff and board, and I look forward each day to the next step ahead.