About Floridians for Democracy Institute
To accomplish our Mission we are organized as two nonprofits:
- Floridians for Democracy Institute (FFDI) is a 501c3 organization with charitable and educational purposes which provides education and awareness of the risks to freedoms in Florida.
- Floridians for Democracy (FFD) is a 501c4 organization, which promotes social welfare, education and awareness of the risks to freedoms in Florida.
The organizations are driven by despondence over the most destructive legislative sessions in memory as well as hope and determination to protect democracy.
We coordinate a Florida network of social justice advocates dedicated to saving and preserving democracy.
We envision a state of Florida where all residents have equal opportunity, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation as granted by democratic freedoms dictated in the constitution.
We connect individuals and organizations to amplify the achievement of shared goals to win the fight to preserve democracy. With greater collaboration, we speak with a louder voice to confront the erosion of democratic freedoms.
Dr. Michael Martin, Chairman
- President Emeritus, FGCU
- 50+ years in Public Higher Education
Jim Nathan, President
- Retired president, Lee Health
- Adjunct professor, Florida Gulf Coast University
- Co-Founder, SWFL Voices for Racial Justice
Wayne Smith, Treasurer
- President, Smith Family Foundation
Jan Martin, Secretary
- Retired Educator
- Lifelong Volunteer
- Politically Active
- Juris Doctor Candidate, University of Connecticut
- Immediate Past President, Student Body, Florida Gulf Coast University
- Double Major in History and Political Science
- Retired Naval Officer
- Retired newspaper executive
- Owner Artisinal Woodworking
- President, FairDistricts Now; Treasurer, Progress Florida Education Institute, Founder, Florida Civic Engagement Table (State Voices affiliate)
- Co-author Winning Local and State Elections (Simon & Shuster) and "Giving the Media Your Message"
- National strategic planning and campaign management consultant; led more than 300 workshops on media communications, grassroots organizing, and electoral action in 43 U.S. states, Canada and Russia.
Small group forms
A small group assembled to discuss autocratic actions in Tallahassee and decided they needed a “1939-like” project. To get started, they initiated plans for a large in-person event.
During a virtual meeting with more than 85 participants from Naples to Sarasota, the group decides to expand to state-wide participation. The mission is to create a network of organizations to protect democracy and 501c3 (Floridians for Democracy Institute) and 501c4 (Floridians for Democracy Inc.) organizations are established.
Two virtual meetings are held with 150+ participants each time. Guest speakers were Nikki Fried & Bobby Block. Media coverage by WGCU-FM. The group grew to 450 registered supporters.
The group grew to more 500 registered supporters and regular meetings were established as well as a newsletter. Meetings were held with a county sheriff, a state representative, and David Pepper, author of Saving Democracy. The website development and Strategic Action Plan initiated.
Next Plans Unfold
Strategic Plan and website "go live!" Next steps: Volunteer roles and network partners identified; funding the effort pursued.
FFD hosts Zoom featuring speakers Karen Svoboda (Defense of Democracy), Andrew Warren (former Hillsborough Co. State Attorney), Tommy Doyle (Lee County Supervisor of Elections) with 75 participants.
Education Under Siege! How Should We Respond?
“Education Under Siege! How Should We Respond?” Zoom session hosted by FFD featured Dr. Pat Okker, Immediate past President of New College; and Gwyn Gittens, past Chair Lee County School Board; representatives of the Purple Group; and Maz Tuchman, an impressive candidate for Miami-Dade School Board. 114 people participated.
Messaging Hope and Optimism
58 participants watched speaker Simon Rosenberg in “Messaging Hope and Optimism” via zoom. FFD hosted a Pro-Democracy Summit with David Jolly with 97 participants on Zoom.
Voices For Democracy
Speakers Florida State Reps Rita Harris and Anna Eskamani talk to 40 participants on Zoom about “There Has Been a Freight Train of Bad Bills in Tallahassee.”
FFD also partnered with Florida Veterans for Common Sense and Choose Democracy Now for a Veterans Day Expo in Sarasota. More than 300 attended. The event was livestreamed. Professor Ruth Ben-Ghait, author of Strongmen discussed “Fascism at Our Doorstep.”
Dave Aronberg talked about the challenges and opportunities of democracy in Florida and beyond with 85 participants. Six individuals are recognized as “Voices for Democracy” Dr. Robert Hilliard, Dr. Maddie Stewart & Bobbie D’Alessandro (Purple Group), Phyllis Andrews & Michael Sales (Collier Freedom), and Jan Sommer.
Speakers Leslie Poole from Rollins College and Jaclyn Lopez from Stetson (professors and historian) spoke about the importance of our environment. They began by paying homage to Dick Jacobs with a video and some of his slides. Mr. Jacobs was a dedicated environmentalist, photographer and author of Democracy of Dollars who recently passed away.
Event Series Launch
FFD launches Democracy at Risk event series. “Assaults on Our Freedoms” featuring speaker Karen Svoboda, The Purple Group and Bob Schaeffer.