March 30, 2022

Florida’s Children First Celebrates its 20th Anniversary at Broward Awards Reception Honoring Advocates for Children on April 7

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Florida’s Children First (FCF), an award-winning non-profit organization that has been the voice of at–risk children and youth in Florida, will recognize truly remarkable child advocates and former foster youth at FCF’s 20th annual Broward County Advocates for Children Awards, held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on April 7.

FCF will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and highlighting its many achievements over the decades as well as the accomplishments of community leaders in Broward who support its mission of making positive changes in the lives of children. Joe Johnson, NPR and Beatles Brunch radio host, will return as the event’s emcee with an expected attendance of 300 supporters including community leaders, former honorees, and some surprise guests.

FCF is honored to present its 2022 Lifetime Achievement in Child Advocacy Award to its retiring Executive Director Christina Spudeas, who has dedicated most of her personal and professional life to public service, helping and advocating for children and ensuring the voices are heard and respected.

“During her 13-year tenure as FCF’s Executive Director, Christina has guided the organization to new heights, dramatically expanding its impact in Florida and national prominence,” said Howard Talenfeld, FCF President and Business Unit Leader of the Justice for Kids Division of Kelley Kronenberg.  “I am thrilled for the opportunity to spotlight her achievements that have impacted the lives of tens of thousands of children statewide.”

As a lasting tribute to Christina’s work as an advocate for children, FCF will launch the Christina Spudeas Discretionary Fund in her honor.  This fund will be used to help youth as emergency needs arise and to fill immediate gaps. Spudeas has spearheaded what has been considered some of the most significant legislative child welfare reforms and systemic changes. Many have been emulated by other states or adopted nationally as the standard of care around the country.

Spudeas has provided a platform for youth to have their voices heard and amplified through Florida Youth SHINE (FYS), a statewide youth-driven, peer-led organization that empowers current and former youth from foster care to become advocates for all youth in care. A Florida Youth SHINE alumni describing Spudeas said, “The world is a better place because we know Christina is out there fighting to make it better.” 

Additionally, FCF will honor Kyle Johnson and Elijah Sylverin with its 2022 Outstanding Youth Advocate Awards. Johnson’s recognition highlights his advocacy for the rights of youth in foster care due to his personal experiences in the system as a child. He is devoted to using his platform to promote inclusion and increased resources for vulnerable young adults. Johnson is a strong leader who serves on the FYS Statewide Board and works as a youth specialist. In these roles he plans advocacy events, empowers his peers to become advocates, and provides his expertise on statewide policies and training. Most recently, Johnson returned from Tallahassee where he spoke to dozens of legislators about his positive experience in the foster care system and how his peers can have that same support. He is currently working toward his bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Central Florida.

Sylverin is committed to child advocacy after enduring pain, loss, and instability. He found strength and support from FYS and his FYS peers when he joined FYS virtually during Covid. He not only found a platform, but he motivated and encouraged his peers to be comfortable sharing their voice to advocate for themselves.

FCF thanks its event sponsor, Schlesinger Law Offices as well as Statewide Presenting Sponsor, Kelley Kronenberg; and statewide sponsors: The Florida Bar Foundation, Guardian Trust, Stuart Building Products, The Shane McGee Foundation, and The Paul Palank Memorial Foundation.

For more information about FCF, Florida Youth SHINE and upcoming events, please visit



Kelley Kronenberg is a multi-practice business law firm with over 400 employees, more than 200 attorneys, and 12 locations throughout Florida and the United States. Founded in 1980, the firm is one of the fastest-growing law firms in Florida and amongst the largest in the U.S. The firm serves all types and sizes of public and private companies, including small businesses and individuals nationwide. Kelley Kronenberg has been recognized amongst the “Largest U.S. Law Firms” by the National Law Journal’s NLJ 500, Law 360 400, and Florida Trend in 2020, “America’s Top Corporate Law Firms” by Forbes and “Top 10” in NLJ’s “Women’s Scorecard” 2019. The firm has been the recipient of many accolades most recently including: “Best Multi-Practice Business Law Firm – USA,” Acquisition International; “Business of the Year,” “Top 100 Private Companies,” “Top Law Firms,” and “Largest Law Firms,” South Florida Business Journal; “Largest Law Firms,” Tampa Bay Business Journal, Orlando Business Journal,  and Jacksonville Business Journal; “Biggest Law Firms in Florida,” Florida Trend; “Top 100 Law Firms,” South Florida Business & Wealth; Florida’s Largest Law Firms,” American Lawyer’s, Daily Business Review “Review 100;” and “Best Law Firms,” U.S. News – Best Lawyers®. The firm earned the 2021 Ragan’s Top Places to Work and Top Workplaces USA award by Energage and “Top Workplaces for Communication, Top Workplaces for Clued-In Leaders, Top Workplaces for Top Leaders, and Top Workplaces for Innovation.” Kelley Kronenberg has also been recognized as a “Top Workplace” by the Sun Sentinel and a “Best Place to Work” by the South Florida Business Journal for two consecutive years.  For more information, visit



Erica Wander, Marketing and PR Manager