We welcome Mr. Nathan Monell, who will offer our members initial greetings and will be our keynote speaker for General Session III.
Nathan Monell, CAE
Nikki Fried, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services
We welcome Commissioner Fried, who will give a presentation at our General Meeting I.
Nicole “Nikki” Fried, Florida’s 12th Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is a lifelong Floridian, attorney and passionate activist.
Born and raised in Miami, Commissioner Fried graduated from the University of Florida, where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and juris doctorate degrees. While in law school, she served as student body president, the first woman to hold the position in nearly two decades.
Prior to being elected, Fried worked as an advocate in Tallahassee representing at-risk children, the Broward County School Board, and for the expansion of patient access to medical marijuana.
As an attorney, she was head of the Felony Division at the Alachua County Public Defender’s Office and worked at law firms as a government consultant, advocating on behalf of clients before the Florida Legislature. Working in private practice in South Florida, she defended homeowners against foreclosure during the 2007-2008 housing crisis.
Throughout her career she has served with numerous organizations including the Young Lawyers Board of Governors, Broward Days Board of Directors, Legal Needs of Children Bar Committee, LeRoy Collins Institute, Girls Scouts of Southeast Florida, University of Florida Governmental Relations Advisory Committee, University of Florida Board of Trustees, Florida’s Children First, and others. Fried is a member of Florida Blue Key, the oldest and most prestigious leadership honorary in the state of Florida.
Dr. Dakeyan C. Graham
Dr. Graham will be speaking at our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Breakfast on Friday, July 19th.
A product of Hillsborough County Public Schools, Dr. Dakeyan C. Graham, more affectionately known as “Dr. Dré”, currently serves as the Director of Instrumental Studies at his alma mater, C. Leon King High School. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Education (University of Florida), a Master’s in Educational Leadership (Concordia University), and a Ph.D. in Music Education (University of South Florida). During his 10 years in HCPS, his students demonstrated determination, focus, and tenacity as they earned a performance position in the prestigious Carnegie Hall. While serving as the president of the Hillsborough Secondary Music Council and founder of the Eastern Coalition of Music Directors, Dr. Graham travels around the state as an adjudicator for both the Florida Bandmasters and Orchestra Associations. In 2012, Dr. Graham was a finalist for Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year and a semi-finalist for Grammy Music Educator of the Year in 2013. He was selected as the 2019 Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year. He assists in leading worship at citylife church and teaches youth and adult martial arts throughout the Brandon area. His passion is to continue to positively impact the next generation of world changers. He is blessed to share life with his wife, Casey (also an HCPS educator), and daughter, Aaliyah.
Desmond Blackburn, PhD
Dr. Blackburn is our esteemed keynote speaker for General Session II.
Desmond Blackburn, Ph.D, is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Teacher Center (NTC). NTC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving student learning by guiding a new generation of educators. Founded in 1998, NTC works in conjunction with school districts, state policymakers, and educators across the country to increase the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders at all levels, with a focus on those working in underserved communities.
Desmond began his career in education in 1996 as a High School Math Teacher for Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) where until 2015 he additionally served as an Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of School Improvement, Area Superintendent, and the Chief of School Performance & Accountability. In 2015, he became the Superintendent of Schools for Brevard Public Schools (BPS). Under his leadership, BPS achieved 65% proficiency on 3rd grade literacy assessments, the 10th highest graduation rate in the state, three schools earned the distinguished Blue Ribbon award, and the State of Florida graded BPS an “A” for two consecutive years.
As a school district leader, Desmond served both state and national organizations including the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) and Chiefs For Change. He is a Broad Academy Fellow and Governor Rick Scott recently appointed him to serve on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission. His fraternal affiliations include the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
He was born in Mt. Vernon, New York to parents, Desmond and Diana. He and his wife, Kelli, have been married for 21 years. They have two sons, Dean and Grant.