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New Leaders Council

2016 Fellows

Meet the 2016 Orlando Fellows

Pernell Bush, President/CEO, No Limit Health and Education


Pernell Bush is a results driven entrepreneur and business professional with demonstrated success in environments that require relationship building, client management, and business development with a strong emphasis in community development. Mr. Bush is comfortable working and communicating with people from all backgrounds and having experience of trauma, abuse, addiction, gang violence, depression, and child-parent conflicts.

Todd Clarke, Front Desk, Loews Royal Pacific


I was born in Springfield, Missouri and when I was 13 years old my parents moved me to Las Vegas, NV. Five months ago, my wife and I relocated to Orlando, Florida to begin both our careers and family. I received a Political Science Bachelor's degree from my alma mater, UNLV. Also two Associate degrees from The College of Southern Nevada in Political Science and Japanese foreign language. Currently I am working with a non-profit called Serving People In Need. I have been involved in events and assignments with the Democratic Party in Florida. I have interned at a Congressional office in Las Vegas for Congresswoman Dina Titus. Now I am interning for a congressional campaign for Susanna Randolph. My primary income job is with Loews hotel at Universal Studios Florida.



Jesse Feder


Jesse Feder is an individual not of many words but more so of many actions. Since attending high school at Saint Thomas Aquinas, Jesse has taken a particular interest in politics. That interest grew into enthusiasm as he attended the University of Richmond. While being a Division 1 athlete in tennis, he took the opportunity to partake in campaigning for not only a candidate but progressive causes. After graduating as a Double Major in Business and History with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Jesse felt the next step to take was to go to law school. Thus, after graduating in 2013 from UR, he began law at Barry University School of Law in Fall of 2013. During this time, his enthusiasm for politics transformed into one of his life ambitions. Inspired by his political idols Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Jesse feels his best efforts to help the community could be channeled through either business, law, or even political office. With a wide array of interests & fields he would like to be active in, he is confident his ultimate goal of aiding and possibly leading others will be achieved.

Raquel Fernandez, Community Relations Coordinator, Scott Randolph, Orange County Tax Collector


Raquel Fernandez was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She moved to the United States with her family when she was fifteen years old. She then started High School in the 10th grade at Doctor Phillips High School, where she became part of the swimming and water polo team. She also joined the Young Professional business club and the French club. After graduating High School, she attended Valencia community college where she achieved her AA to then transfer to the University of Central Florida. At UCF she pursued her bachelor’s degree in Political Science. At age 16, Raquel became the legal guardian of her two younger sisters. All throughout college she was the legal guardian of her two younger sisters while also working a part-time job as a Senior Lifeguard and water safety instructor at Aquatica and Discovery Cove. At the beginning of her college career at UCF, Raquel had the opportunity to intern at Congressman Alan Grayson’s office for over a year. She then had the opportunity to become his Outreach Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator for the Congressman’s re-election campaign. After working on the campaign Raquel started working for the Orange County Tax Collector as his Community Relations Coordinator. While working at the Orange County Tax Collector’s office, Raquel graduated from UCF. She was named Latina Role Model from Hispanic Speak out TV. While she was at UCF, in her last semester Raquel was accepted to participate in the Youth and Advocacy Training with the Global Campaign for Education. The training took part in Washington DC where she learned the importance of a global equitable education, advocated for education in front of her Senators and Congress members, and had the opportunity to put in practice such training by participating in an advocacy day at Capitol Hill. Raquel has been politically involved since she started her internship at the District office of Congressman Grayson. She has participated in a couple canvassing jobs as well as being a member of the Orange County Young Democrats after being part of their board. She is also a member of the United Nations chapter in Orlando, and holds the status of a Unicef active volunteer. Raquel maintains her position at the Orange County Tax Collector’s office and is in the process of applying for her postgrad degree.

Mary Rebekah Fritz, Youth Services Program Manager, Community Based Care of Central Florida


Mary Rebekah is currently employed with the Community Based Care of Central Florida. She graduated from Florida State University as a dual major in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Social Science, with a minor in Religion in May of 2014. During her FSU career she has interned at both U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Office and at the Pew Charitable Trust, and worked as an outreach dance teacher at the Tallahassee Ballet. Mary Rebekah started studying at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University as an undergrad, and completed one third of a Master in Public Administration before transferring to the University of Central Florida to finish out her degree and to start her career. Mary Rebekah continues to be passionate about social justice and is active politically both locally and nationally. Her volunteer work includes anti-trafficking awareness campaigns and the organization of events to promote the empowerment of at-risk youth.

Shama Grimmage, Program Assistant, Florida A&M University College of Law 
and Founder of Your Journey Life Coaching


Shama Grimmage is a native of Orlando, Florida. She is the youngest of 3 daughters. A devoted friend and mentor to many. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling to new places, kickboxing and spending time with family. Ms. Grimmage is currently a Program Assistant at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Law, Legal Clinic. In this capacity, she is responsible for the support of all legal clinic faculty, working under the guidance of the Director of the Legal Clinic. She may supervise and train lower level staff, student employees, volunteers, and/or interns, as appropriate. Providing clerical and administrative support to the legal clinic, Ms. Grimmage serves as principal liaison between students, faculty, and staff, other departments, and/or external constituencies on day-to-day programmatic, operational, and administrative issues; facilitates seminars, meetings, special projects, and problem resolution. In her personal capacity, Ms. Grimmage is a certified professional life coach who has spent 3 + years helping professionals and students to create success that is balanced. She personifies success and entrepreneurship as the founder of her own life coaching company “Your Journey Life Coaching”. It is her goal to equip her clients to make better decisions in all areas of life by learning how to love themselves and becoming empowered with self-confidence. Having the opportunity to add her knowledge and life experience to her passion for helping others is truly rewarding. Ms. Grimmage obtained a Bachelor of Criminal Justice with a Minor in Pre-Law and a Masters in Elementary Education from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She is also a Doctoral Candidate at Nova Southeastern University earning a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership as well as Organizational Leadership. She has completed all coursework required for both concentrations and now focusing of completing the dissertation process. Ms. Grimmage prides herself in being an educator. Her love and passion for children extends beyond her work day. She previously worked as a teacher at a public elementary school in Leon and Orange County Florida. She is actively involved in her community where she was Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor. During her time a Nova Southeastern University, Ms. Grimmage has been an active leader, participating in Toastmasters International where she served as president. Ms. Grimmage is affiliated with Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor Society, Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society and Toastmasters International.

Malik Haughton, Fund Development Coordinator, Florida Justice Association


Malik Haughton is the Central and Northeast Florida Fund Development Coordinator for the Florida Justice Association. In this role, he is responsible for fundraising for political campaigns and for the Endowment for Association Giving to Law and Education (E.A.G.L.E). He organizes legislative and political briefings for his members, as well as cultivating relationships with trial lawyers throughout the region for prospective membership. During the 2012 election, Malik worked in the battleground state of Pennsylvania for the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama. As part of the Organizing For America team, he represented the campaign in meetings and events in predominately African American communities in Philadelphia, and was tasked with securing key partnerships with labor, allied groups, local elected officials, and other stakeholders. After the election, Malik returned to Washington to help execute the Swearing-In ceremony for the President's second inauguration. After the inauguration, Malik worked on several local D.C. races, focusing on finance and field work. He then returned to his hometown of Orlando, to be the Finance Director for Val Demings a candidate for Orange County Mayor. Malik finished the 2014 election cycle in Tallahassee, FL, where he coordinated the Get Out The Vote efforts for the successful congressional campaign for Gwen Graham. In 2014, Malik became a co-founder and principal of 360 Complete Solutions, a boutique political consulting firm that specializes in fundraising and targeted field strategy for state and local campaigns. Prior to his career in politics, Malik worked for one of the nation's largest banks, advising clients on personal finances. He primarily worked in under served neighborhoods. In his role, he educated customers on bank products and helped them create financial plans to achieve their short and long term financial goals. He also provided financial literacy training and outreach to low-income and ethnically diverse communities. When he's not fundraising or out on the campaign trail, Malik can usually be found in his 'man cave' watching the full lineup of ESPN channels. He enjoys watching professional and college sports, especially his beloved UCF Knights. Malik is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where he earned his Bachelors of Science in Finance. He lives between Orlando and Washington, DC with his wife, Kiara.

Te'ara Johnson, Quality Analyst, Medicare Specialist, United Health Care


Te'ara Johnson was born in Ft. Lauderdale Florida but considers Orlando her home. Currently she works for United Health Group as a Quality Analyst and Medicare Specialist, her main job function is to ensure that all Medicare Compliance guidelines are being upheld. Working within the Medicare field is what began her passion for the Medicare Community, she saw a disconnect and was determined to bridge the gap and in 2013 she founded Advocating for the Aging; hosting educational seminars for the Medicare recipients to be informed of their rights and benefits. Although she holds her Health Insurance License Te'ara does not charge for her services her main goal is proper education and to be a voice for the community. In her spare time Te'ara enjoys volunteering with her church and baking. She firmly believes that education is the key to success.


Clyde Lemon, Crime Laboratory Technician, Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Clyde LeMark Lemon hails from the small town of St. George, South Carolina, where he is the youngest of two sons by Dr. Incentlee B. Lemon and the late Clyde Lemon, Jr.  He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Benedict College, a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Juvenile Justice from North Carolina Central University, and another Master's Degree in Criminology from Florida State University.  He is currently a second year law student at Barry University School of Law.  Upon completion of law school, he wants to practice criminal law with a special focus on juvenile advocacy.  Clyde has been employed with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for five years and currently holds the title of Crime Laboratory Technician.  Clyde is also an entrepreneur as he is the owner of First Klass Memories Photography, which he has owned and operated for approximately two years.  In addition, Clyde is a dedicated member of the Orlando Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where he serves on the Guide Right Committee and the chapter's photographer.     

Dennis Levy, Entrepreneur 

Dennis Levy was born on February 9th, 1989 in New York, New York to Philip & Karen Levy. Dennis resided in New York through 2007 when he relocated to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he was awarded a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality & Restaurant Management in 2010. Since 2010, Dennis has since made central Florida his permanent residence working for companies like Disney, Herschend Family Entertainment, and SLA Management, as well as starting several hospitality and real estate-based businesses of his own.



Brianna Mobley, Development and Events Coordinator, 
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida


As a sixth generation Floridian, Brianna Mobley was born and raised in Central Florida. She began her academic career at Valencia College then transferred to the University of Central Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology in August of 2014. During her time at the University of Central Florida, Brianna was on the President’s and Dean’s List several times and involved with the Psychological Society and Mental Health Association of Central Florida. Brianna has worked in the not-for-profit sector for a few years – as a fundraising associate, associate producer, and executive assistant. She has been with Friends Talking Faith since 2012 and Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida since 2014. During her time with Friends Talking Faith, the local public radio program has gained much popularity and credibility in the Central Florida region and beyond. During her time at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Brianna has played a pivotal role in seeing three organizations merge successfully all the while getting attacked on a local and national level by elected officials and anti-choice groups. The year of 2015 has proven to be challenging and full of growth. Brianna is a compassionate advocate for reproductive rights and justice and is dedicated to progressive causes. Brianna’s favorite part about fundraising is seeing donors resonate and create a passion for the mission of the organization. It allows her to have a unique relationship with donors and advocates. In her free time, Brianna enjoys spending time with her dog, traveling, and giving back to her community.

Francesca Parker, Producer, Purple, Rock, Scissors


Francesca was born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida. She has an older brother who is currently a Firefighter with the City of Miami. Her Father, a native of Florida is a retired Firefighter also from the City of Miami and her mother is a retired banker originally from Jamaica, but spent many years in New York. As a young girl, Francesca developed a passion for movies, books, art, puzzles as well as the game of chess. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Throughout college she was involved with multiple leadership roles such as Vice-President of Ad Club and participated in many career related internships, most notably part of the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program. As part of that program, she was involved in a summer internship in NYC with an Ad Agency formally known as Draft FCB. This opportunity provided her the ability to interact with individuals working in her current industry and to learn more about the Digital/Creative world. Prior to graduation, Francesca worked as an intern with Purple Rock Scissors during her last semester at UCF. After graduation, Francesca remained in Orlando and began her career at Purple, Rock, Scissors, a Digital Creative Agency as an “Associate Producer”. Her job consists of managing the timeline, budget, and scope of website production and other web applications of varying sizes. She’s also responsible for the day-to-day client communications and internal team management of the projects to which she is assigned. After a year and a half, Francesca was promoted to the level of “Producer”, at which time her portfolio was greatly expanded to include larger scale projects and her responsibilities were increased to more strenuous client management situations. She has been working at PRPL for two and half years and continues to enjoy her responsibilities there. Since she was young, Francesca has had the dream of one day owning a business. Specifically, she would like to own a community bookstore as place to bring people together that love to read and share knowledge. She is aiming to accomplish this goal later in her life once she has acquired more experience.

Devin Parker, Relationship Specialist, Charles Schwab


A longtime resident of Orlando, Devin is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida. Receiving a degree in Public Administration, with a focus on Homeland Security and Emergency management, he has always felt a compelling obligation to service and positively impact the local community. This urge for service has led him into several volunteer and intern roles with Orange County Government and the congressional campaign, Shayan for Congress. Currently, Devin sits on the board of Orange County’s Citizen’s Corps Council where he acts as the Mayor’s Representative. In the community, Devin continues to offer assistance through his involvement with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated and Winter Park Masonic Lodge #239. It is Devin’s goal to combine and utilize his roles in his different social networks to usher in the changes he wishes to see in Central Florida. On a personal note, Devin is at large an adventurer, with interests including SCUBA Diving, rock climbing, and kayaking. In his personal time it is very likely that you may find him exploring about Orlando and experiencing all that the city has to offer.

Danielle Ridenour


Danielle Ridenour is a student at the University of Central Florida pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Rhetoric. Currently, she serves as the Storyteller for Code for Orlando, a local Code for America brigade, where she is responsible for all communication efforts. Her work with service nonprofits began in 2009 when she spent several years as a volunteer for BASE Camp, a local childhood cancer organization. Her interest in the nonprofit sector further spread to researching women’s health issues and advocacy, specifically chronic pelvic and vulvar pain. She also serves as a Student Ambassador to the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at UCF where she plays a vital role in developing relations with the University as well as potential students. Her studies at UCF fueled her interest in technology and user experience. In July 2015, Danielle had the opportunity to merge her interest in technology with her love for nonprofits and social issues. She began research on user experience and social justice initiatives with her mentor, Dr. Douglas M. Walls. They traveled to Limerick, Ireland to present a workshop on developing effective user experience initiatives for marginalized populations at SIGDOC 2015. In addition to serving her community, Danielle spends her spare time reading, expanding her knowledge in design and code, and traveling.

James Ryan 


Born in South Wales, James lived throughout the United Kingdom as a child and studied Law and Politics at Cardiff University. After his studies, James worked for the luxury retailer Thomas Pink, a part of the LVMH group, in store operations before embarking on travel. During his time traveling throughout Europe, Asia and the United States, James met his wife who was undertaking a PhD at the University of Florida. He emigrated to the United States in 2010. Following brief spells in Florida and Minnesota, James traveled to East Africa, the Middle East and Europe to support his wife’s dissertation research. Upon return they settled in St. Augustine where James was instrumental in running and operating an independent business specializing in luxury foodstuffs. As this business grew he moved to Orlando to oversee the development of several locations. Following several years advancing the business, James decided to retrain and enrolled at Rollins College where he is currently pursuing a dual degree program which will award him a BA in Public Policy and Political Economy and an MBA. James became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2014 and is now a dual citizen. James lives in downtown Orlando with his wife, Mackenzie, and their cat, Titchfield.

Nicole Varma, Social Media Director, Birth Defect Research for Children


Nicole currently works as the Social Media Director for Birth Defect Research for Children. Prior to moving home to Florida, Nicole worked in D.C. for seven years working with many local and national non-profits and campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s Campaign, Democratic National Committee, National Women’s Party/Sewall-Belmont House and Museum. For nearly 5 years Nicole worked at Break the Cycle, a national teen dating violence nonprofit where she not only raised awareness and funds for the organization and issue, she also worked on policy such as the inclusion of the Campus Save Act in the Reauthorization of VAWA and served on the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and their Grassroots Subcommittee where she lead their social media efforts. Nicole currently serves as the PR and Communications Chair for Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, on the League of Women Voters of Orange County Membership committee and as Social Media Chair of Young Non Profit Professionals Network of Orlando. Nicole graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a specialization in public affairs and a minor in sociology.

Rupa Venkatesh, Deputy Director, Constituent Services, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

Rupa grew up in South Florida and moved to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated with undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Film and has a Master’s in Public Administration also from UCF. Rupa is currently the Deputy Director of Constituent Services at U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s office where she has been employed for the past 7 years. She enjoys movies and reading her free time.

Coleman Watson, Manager Partner, Watson LLP


Coleman Watson is the Managing Partner of the law firm Watson LLP, and his background has a unique blend of engineering, business, and finance interposed with the practice of law. He is a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent & Trademark Office, and he counsels and advises clients on patent, trademark, and copyright licensing, intellectual property portfolio management, and the need for litigation. Coleman also has experience in election and political law, federal civil rights claims, business litigation, and a variety of federal white collar crimes, including conspiracy, bribery, illegal gambling, and numerous fraud offenses. Coleman devotes a significant portion of his practice to pro bono matters that advance social justice issues that are of interest to Watson LLP, including civil representation of victims of human trafficking and representation of incarcerated prisoners challenging inhumane conditions of confinement. Prior to launching his own law firm, Coleman worked for Baker Hostetler LLP, a U.S. law firm ranked on the Am 100. He also worked for several leading international companies, including American Express Company, where he worked in the Intellectual Property Strategy Group managing a global patent portfolio and developing technology for detecting fraudulent credit card transactions. Coleman is an engineer by training, and after receiving his undergraduate degree, he worked for two engineering firms ranked by Engineering News-Record magazine in the top twenty-five engineering firms worldwide. Coleman attended New York Law School, where he earned both his Juris Doctor, with a concentration in intellectual property, and his Master of Laws in Financial Services, with a concentration in capital markets. During law school, he served as an editor on the New York Law School Law Review. As an undergraduate at Georgia Institute of Technology, Coleman served in several leadership positions, including President of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. He also participated in several cross-country road bicycling rides for Push America, an organization designed to raise money and promote awareness for persons with disabilities. Before graduating, Coleman was nominated for Mr. Georgia Tech, a prestigious award based on superior academics, campus leadership, and philanthropy.

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