Our Team

Core Leadership Team
Stephanie Porta
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Chevalier Lovett
Sr. Vice-President of Operations
Maddy Garcia
Vice-President of Finances & Administration
Laura Johns
Vice-President of Resource Development
Stephanie Porta
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Stephanie@organizeflorida.org

Stephanie Porta was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. After graduating with honors from American University in Washington DC, she worked on several campaigns including raising Florida's minimum wage in 2004, passing police accountability reforms in Orange County, as well as winning foreclosure prevention programs and affordable utility campaigns and more.

In 2010, Stephanie co-founded Organize Now & Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment to work on the needs of Florida's low and moderate income communities and is currently executive director for both. For more than a decade, Ms. Porta has worked on successful campaigns for candidates and issues— including environmental justice, community safety, community development, health care, public education and more.

More recently, Stephanie led the effort to pass Earned Sick Time in Orange County in 2014. Stephanie has been recognized by the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly and Orlando Magazine for her leadership around government transparency and issues facing the working poor.

Chevalier Lovett
Sr. Vice-President of Operations
Chev@organizeflorida.org

Chevalier (Chev) Lovett, is a native of Winter Park, FL (born and raised) - and has spent the past 10 years working in the Non-Profit sector. An Alumni of Winter Park High School, Chev also studied at the University of Hartford and Rollins College. While working for the YMCA movement, Chev has served in many areas of leadership in: Camps, School Programs, Membership, and in executive leadership throughout the Central & North Florida areas. For two years Chev worked with City Year, Inc. in Orlando serving in the Impact department as the Manager of Jones High & Meadowbrook Middle Schools, and as the site leadership & professional development point. Although he loves all aspects of the non-profit world, he most enjoys Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, and Business Best Practices & Implementation. Chev is very passionate about education and socio-economic development.

In his free time, Chev most enjoys spending countless hours with his family, traveling to experience the world around him, playing piano and accompanying many talented singers, instrumentalists, and choruses, nerding out on books mostly in the genre of self-help, fantasy, and leadership development, and adding to his collection of classical music scores (so far at 1,200 manuscripts) and classical recordings (so far 3,500 CD's).

Maddy Garcia
Vice-President of Finances & Administration
Maddy@organizeflorida.org

Maddy Garcia has been called a "lifesaver" for her ability to help non-profit organizations get organized. Maddy brings a wealth of experience having worked in the banking sector for fifteen years and the non-profit sector for ten. Maddy comes with tremendous organizational and administrative skills. Maddy was born in Puerto Rico in the early 60's and migrated to New York in the early 70's. Growing up in the Bronx to non-English speaking parents, Maddy experienced many obstacles. Education and equality were on the top of her list. Her passion in social justice and education comes from her humble beginnings. Maddy always believed that education was the key that would open doors and so her dream of helping others began. During her 35 years as a resident of New York City, Maddy committed herself to helping and empowering minority students attend college. After leaving the banking industry in 1998 she landed her first job at a non-profit organization called Goddard Riverside Community center and later at Let's get Ready! She was able to help approximately 400 minority students attend college. In 2004, The College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY) presented her with a recognition award for her work and commitment. She joined Organize Now in March of 2012 as their new Chief Financial Officer and HR Director.

Laura Johns
Vice-President of Resource Development
Laura@organizeflorida.org

A native Floridian, Laura moved back to Central Florida in 1995. She worked as both a political and community organizer for three years and then was a HUD certified housing counselor and Director of Counseling Quality Control for Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA) until January 2012. Earlier this year she moved into the position of Director of Development and Partnerships, focusing on advancing the organization through capacity and resource building.

Yulissa Arce
Regional Director, Central Florida
Tim Heberlein
Director of Political Operations
Morgan Harvey
Program Design & Data Director
Linda De La Nuez
Operations Director
Yulissa Arce
Regional Director, Central Florida
Yulissa@organizeflorida.org

Yulissa is a committed individual with a deep passion for community service and environmental stewardship. She brings a diverse background and a passion for community organizing and education to Organize Florida and Organize Florida Education Fund. Ms. Arce serves as the Central Florida Regional Director, where she where she focuses on intersectional issue based and electoral organizing in Orange and Osceola counties.

Ms. Arce's professional background includes work in education, community organizing, and outreach for both the Public and Non-Profit Sectors. She served as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Orange County Property's Appraiser where she organized and created various community events and educational programs. These successful programs allowed for residents and non-residents to learn about the role of the agency and available resources. Before her time in government, she served as the Florida State Coordinator for Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. There she helped register over 40,000 people in the I-4 Corridor to vote in the 2012 General Elections and she lead the efforts for the Earned Sick Time Coalition Partner Campaign, gathering over 5,000 petitions for the cause.

Ms. Arce was raised in Orlando, Florida and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida.

Tim Heberlein
Director of Political Operations
Tim@organizeflorida.org

Tim Heberlein has been active in the Tampa Bay political community since 2006, most recently as the Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club Florida. He also served 4 years as the Political Director for the Florida Consumer Action Network, and organizes his community to advocate for economic and social justice. His activism has focused on grassroots organizing and field campaigning for progressive issues and candidates.

Heberlein has mobilized thousands of activists and voters around progressive campaigns, and trained many into progressive leadership in the Tampa Bay area. He has trained with the Capital Leadership Academy, National Organizing Institute, Camp Wellstone and the Midwest Academy, and been a panelist on several conference and televised forums.

Before working in advocacy, Heberlein worked as a case manager and counselor to Floridians with mental health diagnosis and substance abuse issues. Heberlein is also active in his community, just finishing his term as the Vice Chair of the Hillsborough Democratic Party, a Disaster Action Team Leader for the American Red Cross since 2006, and as a member of the Human Relations Committee for Hillsborough County. He is the son of two military service members and attended public schools all over the world. His wife Caitlin, a teacher with Hillsborough County Public Schools, and son Charlie live in Tampa.

Morgan Harvey
Program Design & Data Director
Morgan@organizeflorida.org

A lifelong Orlandoan, Morgan is deeply rooted in its nonprofit community having served on local boards focused on nonprofit capacity development and nonprofit professional development. Morgan holds two bachelor's degrees from Florida State University, an english degree with a focus in creative writing and a social science degree in international affairs. Morgan became involved in the work of FIRE and Organize Now in 2015 as part of her graduate coursework in nonprofit management. She is currently pursuing both a graduate degree in nonprofit management and a graduate certificate in fundraising from the School of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida.

Morgan is a jack-of-all-trades, with experience in accounting, journalism, sales, legal research, public relations, logistics as well as nonprofit and program development. Prior to joining FIRE, she served as the internship coordinator for a local public university where she spearheaded efforts to develop new partnerships on campus and deliver more services to students in public administration and nonprofit management disciplines.

Linda De La Nuez
Operations Director
Linda@organizeflorida.org

Bio coming soon

Staff Team
David Caicedo
Florida State Director - Vote Mob & Student Power Network
Liliana Cruz
Community Organizer - Kissimmee
Laura Dowler
Resource Development Manager
Debbie King
Community Organizer - Tampa
David Caicedo
Florida State Director - Vote Mob & Student Power Network
David@organizeflorida.org

David has over eight years of campaign and mobilization experience ranging from local, statewide and national electoral campaigns to more issue based movement building campaigns. His worldview is shaped by his upbringing in Brownsville, Brooklyn whose motto is "never did, never will;" and having experienced the immigrant struggle for citizenship first hand as the first U.S. born child of Colombian immigrants, who despite working fulltime union jobs, still lived in poverty. Before his current role, he was with a tenant support unit within the current New York City administration. After seeing that the struggles of poverty and marginalization was not only his, David was inspired to focused his career on what he calls the "fight left." His goal is to reshape political discourse through escalated youth engagement in electoral and movement politics.

Liliana Cruz
Community Organizer - Kissimmee
Liliana@organizeflorida.org

Liliana Cruz was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Since she was a young girl, she demonstrated her passion for helping others. Always involved in the nonprofit sector and many social and humanity movements, this lead her to study for a Bachelor's of Education from the University of The Sabana, Colombia with a specialty in Humanities.

In 2005, Liliana immigrated to the United States of America. Looking to grow more as a person and to fulfill her hunger of helping others, Liliana studied to become a Licensed Behavior Analyst to assist children with specials needs. For seven years Liliana worked with Hispanic children in public schools and helped developed behavioral programs and coordinated conferences with parents and schools as a consultant.

While working in the Latino community as a Behavior Analyst, Liliana realized that their community was in a very vulnerable situation, so she became a tutor in local after-school programs, where she helped undocumented families with their immigration forms and doctor appointments with two nonprofits geared to register voters.

In 2011, Liliana continued to organize her community registering voters with Mi Familia Vota. This experience in helping to re-elect President Barack Obama led to Liliana to join Organize Now in 2016 as a follow-up organizer to continue to spread her passion and care for the community while contributing to the mission and common purpose of the organization.

Laura Dowler
Resource Development Manager
LDowler@organizeflorida.org

Born and raised in Northeastern Ohio, Laura relocated to Orlando in 2015. Her passion for Social Justice has been a driving force in her life and career. She has experience as both a public and academic librarian and is an active member of the community committed to making the world a better place. Laura served in AmeriCorps from 2010-2011 in Akron, Ohio. During this service year, she and her team addressed poverty related health and nutrition issues with community centered programming. She holds a degree in English with a minor in Film from Ohio University and a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Kent State University.

Debbie King
Community Organizer - Tampa
Debbie@organizeflorida.org

Debbie was raised in Tampa and came from a politically active family. She believes that our community has untapped power to solve the many problems we currently face. Debbie envisions a Florida where we lead the world in addressing global warming through radical sustainable energy policies focusing on inclusive economic development, where women and other minorities have an equal place at the table in major local and statewide policy decisions, and where our progressive movement revolves around building deep lasting relationships with people who are organized, supported, and encouraged into leadership roles. The cornerstone to her vision is you; what tools do you need, what do you envision for your future? She wants each Floridian to use their power to be the change they wish to see in the world.

Debbie started rabble rousing in 2003 in the wake of the buildup of the war in Iraq. She has volunteered in local and national electoral campaigns, worked and volunteered with the Florida Consumer Action Network, The Sierra Club, the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, Equality Florida and others.

Dayna Lazarus
Community Organizer - Tampa
Robin Lockett
Reproductive Justice Organizer - Tampa
Sophia Glover
Community Organizer - Orlando
Diane Jones
Community Organizer - Orlando
Dayna Lazarus
Community Organizer - Tampa
Dayna@organizeflorida.org

Dayna Lazarus was born and raised in St. Petersburg, FL. She graduated from the I.B. program at St. Petersburg High in 2007, and went on to New College of Florida where she graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies with a focus on Environmental Justice in 2011. Although she was accepted into the Peace Corps, she decided instead to travel the United States, and volunteer along the way. From Maine to Washington State, she worked with the Beehive Collective, California's Youth Service Bureau, Portland Rising Tide, the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, and more. After spending two years in Portland, Oregon, she enrolled at USF's Masters in Urban and Regional Planning program. She hopes to someday utilize a career in urban planning to accomplish the goals of grassroots organizations such as Organize Now, and conversely, to utilize her strong background in activism to coordinate city operation "for the people."

Robin Lockett
Reproductive Justice Organizer - Tampa
Robin@organizeflorida.org

Robin Lockett lives in Tampa, Florida. She has worked as a Legal Assistant for a State Agency, was recently the Owner of Lockett & Associates Appraisal Services for 10 years, she dissolved her company when the market crashed. She is the mother of 2 Cedric who lives in California and has 2 sons Gavin and Dallas and Xavier who has recently graduated from the University of the Cumberlands. She has been involved in the community for many years, she started out with the NAACP as the Political Chair working within the community educating the community regarding issues, conducting voters registration events, and hosting candidates forum; She was the African American Liaison for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections also educating the community regarding voting rights and conducting voter registration events; She worked as a Regional Director of Fair Districts decided to participate with getting this amendment on the ballot and was very successful. She decided to support the imitative because she felt it would provide power to the black community instead of history only offering 1 black seat and everyone fighting for that seat. Attempting to make sure the electoral lines were as fair as possible. Being the PTA Political Chair was an exciting experience, assisting with writing a platform and being involved in the process and President of the Hillsborough County Democratic Black Caucus is an adventure within itself. To have a vision that others want to be a part of and attempt to fulfil for the betterment of our community. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and being informed is a must. My goal has been to educate the community regarding who they are voting for and why! I really believe power is with the people and that's why working with Organize Now is exciting because they have and are proving that power is with the people, we just need to get them to really buy into it and once that is done the sky will not be the limit it can go beyond!

Sophia Glover
Community Organizer - Orlando
Sophia@organizeflorida.org

Sophia Glover is a Community Organizer with Organize NOW. Born in Louisiana, Sophia came to Central Florida more than 40 years ago. She has been active in her community for many years. Sophia has participated in voter registration drives, informed her neighbors about their voting rights and disseminated information about upcoming elections. She was a field manager for the Alan Grayson Congressional campaign in 2010 and after the campaign ended, was a trainer for Working America. Sophia was active in the Earned Sick Time fight in Orange County, and helped to collect signed petitions and educated her neighbors about the issue. Sophia currently lives in Apopka and she takes pride in her work and her family. She loves the people she works for and works with.

Diane Jones
Community Organizer - Orlando
Diane@organizeflorida.org

Diane is a life-long resident of Florida. Her passion for people has molded her into a dedicated organizer who has worked for the community and social justice for the past two years. Diane would like to see better paying jobs in Florida, affordable housing, rights restoration, and better opportunities for ex-felons. Having taken the lead on Organize Now's Racial Justice Committee, Diane will be working with members and local activists on how to affect positive change in at-risk communities by developing action plans around removing barriers of access to employment opportunities for all Florida families.

Mike Reed
Community Organizer - Tampa
Andrea Romero
Community Organizer - Kissimmee
Michelle Suarez
Sr. Lead Organizer & Climate Justice Organizer - Kissimmee
Mike Reed
Community Organizer - Tampa
Mike@organizeflorida.org

Mike Reed was born and raised in the Ybor District of Tampa, Florida by his ex-activist grandparents. He became interested in politics after the election of the first African-American President, Barack Obama. After volunteering for his campaign, he caught the organizers bug. He was dedicated to helping his fellow man and became involved in charity organizations such as the Heroes Alliance and Save The Children to help children around the world. After recent events in 2015 and the unstable nature of the current political climate he felt it was necessary to jump into the sea of politics and become an activist attending rallies and speaking out against Injustice.

Andrea Romero
Community Organizer - Kissimmee
Andrea@organizeflorida.org

Andrea Romero was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia and moved to Orlando in 1996. After 12 years of work for the Pharmaceutical and Fashion Design industries and relocating to different cities around Florida she felt a strong need to find more meaning to life and a way to give back. After a long year of retro-inspective work and travels around the world, Andrea decided to move back to Orlando where she joined Organize Now. She worked on the voter registration program during the 2016 election; informing our Latino communities about their voting rights and disseminating information about upcoming elections.

Andrea strongly believes in the integration of mindfulness practices into social justice and anti-oppression work, she believes oppressed communities can greatly benefit from contemplative practices because they can help us unlearn the conditioned responses that uphold systems of oppression, and this is now the emphasis of her work. During her free time, Andrea enjoys practicing yoga, connecting with nature, traveling to new places, reading good books and dancing Salsa and a good Tango.

Michelle Suarez
Sr. Lead Organizer & Climate Justice Organizer - Orlando
Michelle@organizeflorida.org

Michelle Suarez is a Climate and Environmental Organizer, Volunteer, Activist, Mentor and Community leader. Born in Bogota, Colombia, Michelle has resided in Central Florida for the past 16 years. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida. Her disciplines include Humanities: Philosophy, Religion, and Popular Culture, Music Performance, and Environmental Studies. Michelle has been a long-time advocate for Sustainability and Climate/Environmental Justice. Her organizing experience includes involvement with resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, on-campus Divestment campaign , and Change the Course trainings. Michelle believes in bringing change through an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach that includes racial, socioeconomic, gender, spiritual, and ecological lense. Michelle has been a vegetarian most of her life, enjoys reading, watching foreign and independent films, and taking care of Monarch butterflies, her two dogs and her Bearded Dragon lizard