Our founders established Dean Mead more than 36 years ago. From its inception, the leaders of our firm agreed that community service and philanthropy would be a core element of the business model. They placed education as one of our primary giving platforms. We have always focused on investing in opportunities for the educational advancement of young people. From volunteering and sponsorships, to scholarships and endowments, we have remained committed to shaping the lives of future generations.
Elementary education lays the foundation for children to gain basic knowledge and is a prerequisite for success. Our attorneys and staff are dedicated to positively shaping the lives of future generations. Here are just a few examples of how we put words into action.
A few of the attorneys in our Viera office volunteered their time at Suntree Elementary to teach the “Our Region” curriculum to fourth grade students, which is a program connected to Junior Achievement of the Space Coast (JA). The organization’s mission seeks to inspire and prepare Brevard County’s young people to succeed in a global economy. Laura Minton Young currently serves on the JA Board of Directors.
Our firm’s president, Marc Chapman, facilitates our relationship with the Urban Think Foundation in Orlando. Each year, we “sponsor a scribe” to attend Urban Think’s Young Writers Summer Camp where each student learns to write his or her first book, attends a book signing and discovers his or her literary voice. The organization strives to enrich Central Florida’s cultural landscape by developing and growing educational and creative literary art programs.
The attorneys in our Tampa office participated in the John Germany Young Readers Initiative by reading to youth at Title I schools. This program improves the students’ reading skills and encourages a lifelong love of learning and reading.
In August, our Orlando attorneys and staff hosted a back-to-school drive in collaboration with ATHENA NextGen. We collected items such as backpacks, notebooks, crayons, lunch boxes and bicycles. The items were donated to children at Hamilton Elementary School in Seminole County, where 92% of the students live in poverty. We recognize the importance of providing school supplies to all students. Corporate and community initiatives such as back-to-school drives help to ease the burden for parents and families.
Charlie Egerton, one of the Founders of the firm, has volunteered as a leader of the YMCA for more than 30 years. Previously, he served as Board Chair and Scholarship Chair of the Downtown YMCA, where he led the annual capital campaign for the Phillip & Peggy Crosby YMCA in Winter Park. Currently, he’s a member of the Metro Board Executive Committee of the YMCA of Central Florida. In addition to providing physical activities, the “Y” offers reading coaches and mentors to elementary and middle school age children. This type of learning environment fosters a winning formula for success in school, as well as on the playing field, and in life.
In addition to financial support, our attorneys and staff are encouraged to support education through volunteerism and leadership. No matter the grade level, the common goal among learning institutions and philanthropic organizations is to create a positive experience for young people. Some of the most successful endeavors involve mentorship, leadership skills development, and the recruitment of volunteers to aid parents and teachers.
Dana Apfelbaum, attorney in our Fort Pierce office, serves on the board of the Early Learning Coalition of St. Lucie County which oversees and funds the School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) programs for at risk and income eligible children in St. Lucie County.
This past October, Apfelbaum, chaired the planning committee for the inaugural Lip Sync Battle of The Parent Academy St. Lucie County (The Parent Academy). Proceeds from the event were over $16,000. The Parent Academy was founded in 2009, in part by Brad Gould who also works in our Fort Pierce office. The Parent Academy’s mission is geared toward empowering the community to support the needs of parents and caregivers.
Gould is also on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties. The program matches adult mentors with children who are facing adversity. The goal is to create trusting relationships over a period of time. Often times, young people gain a sense of security and important life skills from their big brothers and big sisters that was never available to them before joining the organization.
Rob and Michelle Naberhaus, attorneys in our Viera office, are both active in the local community. For example, Rob is an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America Central Florida Council. Michelle volunteers for the Girl Scouts of America Citrus Council. They enjoy scouting because it’s a family activity they can enjoy with their five children. Additionally, the organizations are well-known for building character, confidence, and life skills.
Joel Zwemer, in our Fort Pierce office, is a Board member of the St. Lucie County Education Foundation. For the past couple of years, our firm has sponsored the Annual Evening for Education Gala. Among the event’s highlights, the Foundation raises awareness about its mission, grants, scholarships and various recognition programs for St. Lucie County School District employees.
Greg Lawrence, in our Orlando office, has been a Board member of the Joe R. Lee/Eatonville Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida for several years. The Boys & Girls Club inspires at-risk kids to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The organization is comprised of 30 clubs in Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. They offer five core programs including “Education & Career Development” that helps kids set goals and explore future career opportunities.
From mentoring programs in middle school and high school, to awarding scholarships to college students, our firm is dedicated to providing access to educational resources for students and families across Florida.
For nearly two decades, Michael Minton has been a champion for the President’s Challenge to SOAR/Take Stock in Children (TSIC) scholarship administered by Indian River State College (IRSC). TSIC is a comprehensive program helping at-risk, low-income children to succeed by providing college scholarships to 8th and 9th grade students and volunteer mentors. TSIC services start in middle school. They continue through high school and transition into college. The TSIC initiative at IRSC celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a special recognition ceremony. Our firm was honored to participate in the festivities and celebrate the many deserving recipients from area schools across the Treasure Coast. It was a great opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of graduates of the program.
In addition, Minton is Chair of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation (HBOIF) that hosts the annual Love Your Lagoon gala dinner. All proceeds from the event support graduate students’ research on the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) conducted at Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. This program partners FAU Harbor Branch faculty mentors with selected fellows who are doing critical research on the various issues facing the IRL. In addition to fellowships, the proceeds from the gala support the annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium. The symposium is a multi-institutional, multi-agency effort that provides a forum for discussing IRL science and its application to management of the lagoon.
For more than three decades, our firm has established and funded several scholarships to benefit students who have attended Florida’s universities. We have established endowments at the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville, the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, and Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. Most recently, we established the JD Alexander Scholarship Fund at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland to provide scholarship funding for outstanding Florida High School graduates enrolled as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degree-seeking students.
Many of our attorneys are graduates of the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law in Gainesville, and they contribute significantly to the University of Florida Foundation and law school. For example, Michael Minton is Chair of the Nominating Committee and Past Chair of the Board of Trustees for the University of Florida Law Center Association, Inc.
Two of our attorneys juggle demanding law practices with serving as adjunct professor and guest lecturer. Lauren Detzel, Chair of our Estate & Succession Planning department, has been an adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Law since 1989. Peter Dunbar, of our Tallahassee office, is a lecturer on state government structure and operations at Florida State University. Previously, he taught political science classes at the undergraduate level at the University of Florida. Both lawyers are driven by their passion for constant learning and the opportunity to share their knowledge with future generations of attorneys.
In addition, Detzel volunteers her time as a member of the Board of Trustees. Back in 2015, she spearheaded a multi-year effort as a founding board member of the Florida Tax Institute. The program provides scholarships to law students in the Graduate Tax Program at the University of Florida.
Tampa attorneys, Melanie Griffin and Ciara Willis, are members of the Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers (HAWL) Mentoring Program. The Mentoring Program pairs law school students from the Stetson University College of Law and Thomas M. Cooley Law School, who are members of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers chapters at their respective schools, with members of HAWL. In addition, our firm’s Tampa office sponsored the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association 10th Annual Scholarship Gala. Proceeds from this event were used to fund scholarships for local Hispanic students pursuing legal careers.
Education takes many forms beyond the classroom. Bill Townsend, of our Tallahassee office, is involved with Theatre Tallahassee. The theatre provides a wide variety of quality productions, education programs, and community outreach projects to the diverse population they serve.
As a leading law firm with offices and connections throughout the state of Florida, we take pride in all of our educational partnerships. We are committed to advancing our platform for generations to come.