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Updates on Legislative and Public Affairs staffing at Disability Rights Florida

Monday, August 02, 2010

Disability Rights Florida is pleased to announce the appointment of Dana Farmer as Director of Legislative and Public Affairs. Dana obtained a Bachelor’s degree with a major in Criminology and a minor in Counseling, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida State University.  She is a past membeDana Farmerr of the Board of Directors for Refuge House of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Rape and Crisis Service, and Tallahassee AIDS Support Services (now Big Bend Cares).  Prior to Dana’s employment with Disability Rights Florida, she served in several capacities—notable among them are as the first Executive Director of Telephone Counseling and Referral Services, Inc., and Program Director for the Apalachee Center for Human Services, both in Tallahassee. Since joining the staff of Disability Rights Florida in September of 1991 as a PAIMI (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) Sr. Advocate, Dana has served in several high level positions, including Program Director for the PAIMI Grant. 


Sylvia SmithDisability Rights Florida is also pleased to announce the appointment of Sylvia Smith as Director of Legislative and Public Affairs. Sylvia received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Juris Doctor degree from the Florida State University with high honors and is a member of the Florida Bar. Prior to joining the staff of Disability Rights Florida, Sylvia was a Lead Attorney and Litigation Coordinator for the Office of the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, an Associate in the Law Offices of Cheryl L. Gentry, a criminal defense firm, and a sole practitioner in the Law Offices of Sylvia W. Smith where she represented death-sentenced Florida inmates in state post-convictions and federal habeas proceedings and appeals. Since joining the staff of Disability Rights Florida as a Sr. Attorney in March of 2000, Sylvia’s has served in several positions such as PADD Grant Coordinator, PADD Director, Director of Legal & Advocacy Services, and Advocacy Director. 

Dana Farmer and Sylvia Smith currently serve as Special Project Coordinators for Disability Rights Florida with responsibilities for Disability Rights Florida’s legislative and systemic advocacy. The title of Special Project Coordinator does not adequately reflect the responsibilities they have carried out over the past two to three years. In the legislative and systemic change arena, both have cultivated numerous valuable relationships that have been instrumental in benefiting Floridians with disabilities and achieving positive outcomes on priority Disability Rights Florida legislative and public policy goals. In addition to both specializing in abuse, neglect and rights violations and focusing on restraint and seclusion reform issues, each have provided leadership in specific substantive areas; Dana - in mental health, housing, employment and voting and Sylvia in developmental disabilities, juvenile justice and special education. They have supported Disability Rights Florida’s Board and PAIMI Advisory Council’s legislative advocacy and worked extensively in Disability Rights Florida’s public affairs, media and communications areas as well as in planning, priority setting and grant management.

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