Florida’s Children First 18th Annual Broward Reception Celebrates Outstanding Advocates for Children

Florida’s Children First (FCF), an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the rights of at–risk children and youth, recently recognized truly remarkable child advocates and former foster youth at FCF’s 18th Annual Broward County Advocates for Children Awards, held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 20.

Propelled by its new Statewide Presenting Sponsor, Kelley Kronenberg, FCF had its most remarkable event ever, with more than 300 people in attendance. These individuals gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of passionate community leaders in Broward who support the mission of FCF by making positive changes in the lives of abused, neglected and disadvantaged youth in or aging out of foster care.

“This year’s event is so special as we not only celebrate the accomplishments of amazing champions for children in our community, but it’s also the 15th anniversary of Florida Youth SHINE, our groundbreaking youth advocacy organization, which has now helped thousands of current or former foster youth use their voice to effectively change the system of care for years to come,” said Christina Spudeas, FCF Executive Director.

“Each one of these honorees has truly made an impact on our community and on the lives of our state’s youth,” said Howard Talenfeld, FCF President and Business Unit Leader of the Justice for Kids Division of Kelley Kronenberg. “I am thrilled for the opportunity to spotlight them and all of the many, wonderful advocates for children in Florida.”

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried received the 2020 “Outstanding Champion for Children Award.” Before Commissioner Fried was propelled to statewide recognition, she was a practicing attorney and lobbyist. She dedicated a tremendous amount of pro bono time lobbying to help FCF pass one of the most critical and comprehensive pieces of legislation protecting the rights of children in state custody. This landmark legislation provides legal counsel for children in the dependency system who are medically fragile, developmentally disabled, have very serious psychological problems or are victims of human trafficking.

The recipient of this year’s “Outstanding Corporate Advocate for Children Award” was Anita Byer of Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk. Ms. Byer is well known and respected as an outstanding businesswoman, and a cornerstone of her business practice is her personal belief in giving back and supporting the community. Harboring what she calls “an appetite for charity,” she has donated her time and her company’s resources and expertise for years – contributing where she could and how she could. Her activities in this realm have been exceptional.

FCF’s 2020 “Outstanding Youth Advocate Award” went to Heaven Williams. Ms. Williams is a standout in the Florida Youth SHINE program, having served as Vice President of her chapter. She currently runs a group at her former foster home, SOS Children’s Village, where she meets with adolescent girls and gives them a safe space to discuss and learn about various independent living topics. Not only does she mentor the young women at SOS, she also serves as a mentor at her church, sings in the choir and assists her pastor with social media content.

Event emcee Patrick Harris, a former WLRN personality and current VP of Membership at the Riverwalk Trust, led the ceremony and helped introduce attendees to this year’s incredible honorees.

FCF also thanks its Statewide Sponsors: Kronenberg Attorneys at Law, The Florida Bar Foundation, Guardian Trust, The Shane McGee Foundation, and The Paul Palank Memorial Foundation.

For more information about FCF, Florida Youth SHINE and upcoming events, please visit www.floridaschildrenfirst.org.