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Sayfie Review Florida Leaders Summit Announces “Disrupt Florida: Education” and “Disrupt Florida: Water” Panelists

The Sayfie Review Florida Leaders Summit is proud to announce the following panelists for its "Disrupt Florida:  Education" and "Disrupt Florida:  Water" panels.  

Disrupt Florida:  Education


John Bailey, Executive Director of Digital Learning Now!  John co-founded Whiteboard Advisors, which provides strategic consulting for investors, philanthropies, and entrepreneurs.  John previously served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the Bush administration where he coordinated education and labor policy.  John has also worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as serving as a top technology and innovation advisor to the Secretary of Commerce.  


Will Weatherford, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives.  Speaker Weatherford is a small business owner, husband and father who resides in Wesley Chapel, Florida.  He has a record of championing education reform, promoting transparency and accountability in government, expanding school choice for Florida’s parents and children, and leading a redistricting process that put the process above politics and was upheld by a unanimous vote of the Florida Supreme Court.

Donna Shalala, President, University of Miami.  President Shalala became a Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami on June 1, 2001.  President Shalala has more than 30 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator.  She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  During her tenure, UM has solidified its position among top U.S. research universities.  Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami, one of the first billion-dollar capital campaigns completed in the United States, raised $1.4 billion in private support for the university’s endowment, academic and research programs and facilities.  

Dr. Daphne Koller, Professor, School of Engineering, Stanford University.  Professor Koller joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1995, where she is now the Rajeev Motwani Professor in the School of Engineering. Her main research interest is in developing and using machine learning and probabilistic methods to model and analyze complex domains.  Her current research projects span computational biology, computational medicine, and semantic understanding of the physical world from sensor data.  She is a founder of Coursera,an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Coursera’s technology enables its partners to teach millions of students rather than hundreds.  Dr. Koller will participate in the panel via videoconference from Stanford.

Disrupt Florida:  Water


Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  Adam was elected Commissioner by an overwhelming majority in a statewide vote on November 2, 2010, and serves as a member of the Cabinet, alongside the Governor, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.  Prior to being elected Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam served ten years as a U.S. Congressman, representing the 12th district of Florida. He was elected by his peers to represent all Republican members of the House of Representatives as Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the third highest ranking position in Congress and the highest level position held by any Floridian in Congress.  Before joining Congress, Adam served as member of the Florida House of Representatives, first elected at the age of 22.  Adam is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Resource Economics.


Cynthia Barnett, Journalist.  Cynthia is a long-time journalist who has reported on freshwater issues from the Suwannee River to Singapore.  Author of the books Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. and Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, she is now working on a human and natural history of RAIN.  Ms. Barnett has worked for newspapers and magazines for 25 years. Her numerous journalism awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi prize for investigative magazine reporting and eight Green Eyeshades, which recognize outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master's in American history with a specialization in environmental history, both from the University of Florida.  In 2004, she was awarded a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, where she spent a year studying freshwater supply.

Melissa Meeker, Vice President, CSA Ocean Sciences Inc.  Melissa currently works at CSA Ocean Sciences Inc., a marine environmental consulting firm that specializes in multidisciplinary projects concerning potential environmental impacts of activities throughout the world.  Melissa previously served as the Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District, and the Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Projects for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  In addition, Ms. Meeker served on the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board from 2007-2009 and, in 2004, was appointed Chair of the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable Treasure Coast.  Her accomplished private sector experience includes serving as National Water Resources Program Director for a major international environmental consulting firm and founding and managing her own strategic consulting business.  A Florida native, Ms. Meeker earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a Master of Science in Environmental Resource Management from the Florida Institute of Technology.