Commissioner Nikki Fried Appoints Shenika Harris as First Ever LGBTQ Consumer Advocate
By Capital Soup // March 22, 2019
Harris will serve as the Department’s liaison to Florida’s LGBTQ community
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nicole Fried announced her appointment of Shenika Harris as the department’s first LGBTQ Consumer Advocate.
Established as a new position under Fried, Harris will serve as the Department’s liaison to Florida’s LGBTQ community, raising awareness on opportunities within the agriculture industry, and helping address discrimination and fraud targeted at the LGBTQ community.
“Historically, the State of Florida has turned a blind eye to discrimination against our LGBTQ community – but today is a new day in our state,” said Fried.
“We’re building a department that represents all Floridians, and it’s paramount that LGBTQ Floridians have a voice in defending their safety, economic security and well-being. I’m pleased to have Nik Harris as our LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, helping safeguard consumer rights within this underserved community.”
A licensed Florida attorney since 2004, Harris has worked at the Florida Department of Transportation for more than a decade and most recently served as Senior Attorney, where she provided legal counsel including negotiation, drafting, and review of contracts, intergovernmental agreements, permits and more.
Harris has been a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community and equality and diversity, serving as a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Florida Bar Association, and has been involved with the Human Rights Campaign as a member of the Board of Governors, Chair of the Steering Committee in South Florida, a National Community Engagement Co-Chair, and a Women & Leadership Fellow.
Harris has also been a member of the Dolphin Democrats’ Board of Directors and a LGBTA Democratic Caucus member.
“Commissioner Fried has made history and sent a strong message that Florida is open to all – that every consumer, resident, and visitor should be treated fairly, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida.
“Now is the time for Florida to lead the South by updating our civil rights laws and redeeming a history of anti-LGBT discrimination.”
This historic appointment follows Commissioner Fried’s becoming the first member of the Florida Cabinet to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity workplace discrimination protections shortly after taking office in January, underscoring her commitment to a diverse, inclusive Department and state.
“As Executive Director of a leading LGBTQ advocacy organization in Florida, created to defend equality in the wake of the Johns Committee, Anita Bryant, and other LGBT-focused persecution, I am thrilled that we now have an LGBTQ consumer advocate that will look out for our community’s best interests,” said Tony Lima, Executive Director of SAVE.
“Thank you Commissioner Fried for making certain that the LGBT community is included and represented.”
Harris most recently served as Senior Attorney at the Florida Department of Transportation, and has previously served as Assistant General Counsel at FDOT and as the Claims Administration Director for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.
Previously, Harris served at the Florida Department of Health’s Prosecution Services Unit as an Assistant General Counsel responsible for litigating administrative cases before the Department of Administrative Hearings, investigating and recommending proceedings to Board concerning medical professionals requiring assistance with substance abuse issues, letters of reprimand, suspension, revocation, fines, and more.
Harris is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Law and the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.
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