Fluent in Floridian is a podcast featuring the Sunshine State’s brightest leaders talking about the issues most important to the people of Florida and its more than 100 million yearly visitors. These issues include health care, economic development, environmental protection, transportation, tourism, politics, taxes, education, energy and more.   

Fluent in Floridian is a new podcast featuring the Sunshine State’s brightest leaders talking about the issues most important to the people of Florida and its more than 100 million yearly visitors. These issues include health care, economic development, environmental protection, transportation, tourism, politics, taxes, education, energy and more.   

Latest

Episode 102

Florida Behavioral Health Association CEO + President Melanie Brown-Woofter

Melanie Brown-Woofter has always been an advocate at heart. Growing up in the tight-knit community of Wakulla County, caring for others was a way of life. It is no surprise this pattern translated over to her college community in Gainesville. Being called to nursing she used her instincts to change the world, one patient and one family at a time.

It was not until she entered the world of policy that Melanie learned she could impact millions of Floridians. Through implementation and regulation, she ensures that policy is upheld so that recipients receive the resources they need. As the President and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association, she aims to reduce stigma around mental health and substance use, promoting early intervention for well-being and resilience.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, making this conversation between Melanie and SMPR founder and CEO April Salter all the more prevalent. Tune in to listen to this insightful discussion about Melanie’s leadership journey throughout the medical field.

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Episode 101
Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center Executive Director Robin Hassler Thompson
Advocacy

Robin Hassler Thompson is a seasoned activist with a reputation for unwavering dedication and hard work. Her passion began as a high school senior in South Florida while volunteering for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. Her life journey led her to work in international law and legislation, and eventually to serve as co-founder and executive director of Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center, which supports survivors of human trafficking.

Her love for public service flourished throughout her education and early career. However, it wasn’t until Thompson witnessed sex and labor trafficking in Bangladesh that her life changed forever. She returned to the States inspired to make a change.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, making this conversation between Thompson and SMPR President Heidi Otway especially enlightening. Tune in to hear more about her professional journey from public servant to human rights advocate.

Episode 100
SalterMitchell PR Founder + CEO April Salter
Economics

April Salter is a shining example of what it means to be fluent in Floridian. From her idyllic upbringing in Key West to her dynamic career as an entrepreneur and PR professional, April's story is a testament to her love of the Sunshine State. 

April's professional journey has been fueled by her passions. Her influential role as communications director for Governor Lawton Chiles' was where her love for communication and community blossomed. Her belief that a life well lived is continuous learning is what led her to establish several businesses, including SalterMitchell PR, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2024.

In this special conversation with April and SalterMitchell PR President Heidi Otway, the two discuss April’s career journey, the thrills and challenges of entrepreneurship, and their decades-long friendship.

Episode 99
VolunteerFlorida CEO Josie Tamayo
Law

Josie Tamayo has never been afraid to be “the first.” Inspired by her mother’s legal career in Cuba, Tamayo grew up in rural Georgia to become the only Hispanic woman to graduate from her law school class.

Tamayo’s passion for helping others drew her to a career in public service, where she charted a course from state attorneys' offices to the Second Circuit Court bench to serving as counsel for six of Florida’s state agencies.

Today, Tamayo’s current role as CEO of VolunteerFlorida reflects her years of passionate community service: a pathway that she now gets to help others walk.

Episode 98
Crisis Management Advisor & Best-Selling Author Melissa Agnes
Media

As social media emerged in the early 2000s, many top corporate executives and business leaders wrote it off as a passing trend. Frustrated by crisis management professionals’ hesitancy to embrace digital communications, Melissa Agnes saw an opportunity to serve a developing industry. Nearly 15 years later. Agnes is a leading voice on all things crisis management and communications. She joins SalterMitchell PR Founder and CEO April Salter to share her story and discuss today’s communications challenges.

Episode 97
Professional Golfer Kamaiu Johnson
Sports

When Kamaiu Johnson was spotted swinging a tree branch at golf balls that rolled astray near his grandmother’s house, onlookers could see that the teen was a natural talent. Although the odds were stacked against him, the middle school dropout from a single-parent home had his life changed when City of Tallahassee Golf Course Manager Jan Auger bought him a bucket of golf balls and set him up at the driving range.

With the support of the community, Kamaiu worked tirelessly for a decade to earn a spot on the PGA tour. Now, he is one of the few black golfers at the professional level and he’s committed to giving back and making golf look “more like America.”

In this inspiring conversation with SalterMitchell PR Founder and CEO April Salter, Johnson shares stories from the fairway and explains why his journey in golf is so unique.

Episode 96
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie
Politics

From his familial roots in law enforcement to his experience leading regional emergency management teams, Kevin Guthrie embodies the idea of a humble civil servant. So much so, in fact, that when he was selected to lead the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), it took days to track down the man who was simply referred to as “the local guy.”

Several years into leading the Division, Guthrie has settled into his role formulating the state’s response to natural and manmade disasters. From the Surfside condo collapse to the COVID-19 pandemic, Guthrie and FDEM lean on evolving technologies and the partnership of local, regional and state emergency response teams to coordinate responses in real time.

In this insightful conversation with SalterMitchell PR Founder and CEO April Salter, Guthrie shares how his experiences in law enforcement and local government led him to become the state’s top emergency response official.

Episode 95
Lobbyist Yolanda Cash Jackson
Advocacy

Yolanda Cash Jackson may be Florida Trend’s latest Floridian of the Year, but the self-described “girl from Liberty City” has been making her mark as a lobbyist for over two decades.

In her compelling conversation with SalterMitchell PR President and Partner Heidi Otway, Jackson shares her story of growing up in South Florida and pivoting to a lobbying career in her late-twenties. They also discuss Jackson’s notable achievements, such as spearheading the effort to install a sculpture of Mary McLeod Bethune — founder of Bethune-Cookman University — in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol and securing record funding for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Episode 94
Hotelier Harris Rosen
Economics

Harris Rosen has made a name for himself as Florida’s largest independent hotelier. A self-made millionaire, Rosen is president and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. But, he would have never pursued a career in hospitality had it not been for a chance encounter with Marilyn Monroe as a child.

Not just a hotelier, Rosen is a visionary businessman whose ventures include an in-house healthcare company and extensive philanthropic work, ranging from early childhood education and cancer research initiatives, to his storied ‘adoption’ of the Tangelo Park neighborhood in Orlando.

Episode 93
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor
Politics

Growing up in Tampa in the era of Title IX, Mayor Jane Castor stood out from the crowd – literally. She sprouted to over six-feet tall by the second grade.

The first in her family to attend college, a full athletic scholarship allowed her to pursue a criminal justice degree at the University of Tampa. Meanwhile, a federal spending freeze rerouted her ambitions from the Secret Service to the Tampa Police Department, where she became the first openly gay woman to serve as chief.

After more than 30 years of serving and protecting, she turned her attention to leading the city and was elected the 59th Mayor of Tampa. Today, she continues to serve the nation’s third-fastest growing city on issues ranging from affordable housing and public transportation, to economic and community development.