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Lunch & Learn: “Legislative Update & Florida Tech Policy 101”

March 24 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Are you head to the Florida capitol for “Tech Day at the Capitol?” If so, you should check out this workshop!


  • Are you interested in getting the most recent legislative update for Florida?
  • Want to hear more about hot topics in the tech space?
  • Want to know how to better connect with lawmakers?
  • Do you know how a bill become law and the importance of your voice?

Sheela VanHoose, Partner at The Southern Group and Vice Chair of the Tech Hub Policy Committee, and Merdoche LaFrance, Director, Local Engagement (State & Local Government Affairs) and Member of the Tech Hub Policy Committee, will help you answer answer those questions and much more!


Sheela VanHoose joined the Southern Group in 2019, bringing with her over 14 years of public policy, advocacy, and campaign experience. She is an education advocate who has worked on legislative and policy initiatives for large public, private and nonprofit organizations. Sheela has worked across multiple states to successfully secure over $64 million in state legislative appropriations for computer science professional development; and helped pass an $800 million capital bond campaign. Across Florida, Sheela consults with clients on education and workforce related issues. She is seen as a policy thought leader across the country and often speaks about the intersection of technology and education.

Merdochey LaFrance is the Director, Local Engagement (State & Local Government Affairs) at Verizon. She is a servant leader evidenced by her service to the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, the Junior League of Miami, the Black Professionals Network , and the United Way Miami-Dade’s Young Leaders Society. Merdochey is a results-oriented professional with dynamic background in external affairs distinguished by expertise in community and government relations. She has been recognized for the ability to generate consensus among diverse stakeholders and constituencies (grasstops/grassroots outreach), leverage company/organization’s business goals to develop and execute meaningful corporate citizenship programs, develop targeted strategy on matters of government/public affairs, establish and maintain rapport with high level executives, board members, and stakeholders, lead cross-functional and cross-departmental teams, and explore and pitch partnerships; cultivate and steward partners.


Southern Strategy Group has offices in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay, and Miami and serves as a turnkey solution for organizations seeking access, advocacy, and advice. Southern Strategy Group has 16 affiliated offices throughout the United States allowing its team to navigate government in Florida and 10 other states. Every day across Florida, throughout our network of 20+ lobbyists, we are navigating Tallahassee, advancing interests, amplifying voices, influencing decision makers, cutting through the red tape, and impacting local communities.

Verizon is transforming the way people, businesses and things connect, as one of the world’s leading providers of technology, communications, information and entertainment products, Here, we have the ability to learn and grow at the speed of technology, and the space to create within every role. We’re a diverse network of people driven by our aspirations and shared purpose, committed to shaping the future. Together, we are moving the world forward — and you can too. Pursue your ambitions and shape your future in a career here.

⭐ You don’t want to miss this one!


South Florida Tech Hub
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