Leon Russell, Board Chair
Leon W. Russell has served on the Board of Directors for The Children’s Campaign since 2002. Mr. Russell retired in January 2012 after serving as the Director of the Office of Human Rights for Pinellas County Government, Clearwater, Florida. He had held this position since January 1977.
Mr. Russell served as the President of the Florida State Conference of Branches of the NAACP from January 1996 until January 2000, after serving for fifteen years as the First Vice President. He has served as a member of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP since 1990. He has served the Board as the Assistant Secretary and also as Vice Chairman. In 2017, he was named Chairman of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP.
In September 2007, Mr. Russell was elected President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies. The IAOHRA Membership is agency based and consists of statutory human and civil rights agencies throughout the United States and Canada, and also includes representation from several other nations. These agencies enforce state and local civil rights laws, and are actively engaged in reducing and resolving intergroup tension and promoting intergroup relations.
He is also a member of the International City Management Association; member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators; past Board Member of the Pinellas Opportunity Council, past President and Board Member of the National Association of Human Rights Workers; and member of the Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice with responsibility for recommending reforms to improve the juvenile justice system in the state of Florida.
Maggie is currently a Behavior Change Strategist at The Taproot Agency, an award-winning integrated marketing communications firm. In this position she conducts qualitative and quantitative research to inform messaging and strategy recommendations for her clients.
In her spare time, Maggie volunteers for the Guardian Ad Litem program and coaches the recently formed Tallahassee Women’s Rugby team.
Maggie graduated from Florida State University where she earned dual degrees in Public Relations and Political Science. She is an alumnus of The Apprenticeship Center at The Children’s Campaign.
R. Jai Gillum
Currently the Executive Director of The BEST Project at United Way of the Big Bend. She has formerly worked for Florida Department of Financial Services as the Director of Appointments for Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and as Development Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend. She received her Masters in Public Health, Health Policy and Management at the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.
Gillum is a board member for Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, Friends of the Leon County Public Library, 2-1-1 Big Bend Inc., and the National Selective Service System. She is the Chairperson for the Youth Leadership Tallahassee and the United Way of the Big Bend – BEST Project Leadership Team and is also a founding member of the Oasis Center for Women & Girls.
Among her many awards she has received the Leadership Tallahassee Distinguished Leadership Awards – Leadership Pacesetter in 2010, FAMU Institute of Public Health Community Service Legacy Award in 2010, and has been featured in theTallahassee Democrat’s 25 Women You Need to Know in 2010.
Dr. Saralyn Grass
Dr. Saralyn Grass is the Help Me Grow State Director with the Children’s Forum, Inc., where she works to promote healthy development for every child in Florida. Saralyn came to Tallahassee in 2006 to take a position at the Forum and has stayed involved with the agency for the last 10 years. Over the last year, Saralyn took a break from her work with children to help her husband, Gabe, grow their business, Grasslands Brewing Co., where she still serves as Co-Founder and Community Ambassador. Saralyn earned her Bachelor’s from the University of North Florida, her Master’s from Virginia Tech, and her Doctorate from Florida State. She and her husband are proud parents – of a now 17-year-old daughter, who Saralyn met through her work as a volunteer with Guardian Ad Litem. Growing seems to be a recurrent theme for Saralyn these days (growing Grasslands, Help Me Grow Florida and her own growing family)!
Saralyn recently won a Golden A.C.E. (Authentic Community Engagement) award from the Network of Young Professionals and a Pinnacle Award from 850 Magazine. In addition to the Children’s Campaign, she serves on the boards of Kid’s Incorporated, Inc., The Village Square, and is the chair of Keep Tallahassee Beautiful. Saralyn is still an active volunteer with Guardian ad Litem and is currently in Leadership Tallahassee’s Class 33.
Dr. Grass was recently appointed to the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and to the Leon County District Advisory Council by Leon County School Board Member Rosanne Wood. She looks forward to serving the children in this great city, as well as the state of the Florida, through her work with the Campaign!
While receiving her double Master’s degree in Public Administration and Social Work from Florida State University, Christina served different roles at The Children’s Campaign through The Apprenticeship Center including the Public Policy Resident and the Online Advocacy Coordinator. Throughout her time with the organization, she developed an in-depth understanding of juvenile justice, child welfare, early learning, and other issues impacting children by researching best practices and advocating for them at the public policy level.
Currently, Christina works for Baycare Behavioral Health working towards bettering communities in the Tampa Bay area. She started her work as a Targeted Case Manager advocating for children and families experiencing mental illness. She now participates in activities intended to change public and organizational policy about drug use and abuse. She works towards changing local and state environmental codes, ordinances, regulations and legislation, and organizational policies and procedures in Pasco County.
Christina has a passion for providing support to community members and enhancing access to services for children and families who are experiencing substance abuse and mental illness.
Julia Taylor has a strong business and education background having served as the Director, Boutique and Agenda, Stein Mart, Inc., Assistant Vice President, Institutional Advancement at the University of North Florida; and State Director of Development for PACE, Inc.
Current community leadership positions include: Leadership Council – Justice for Girls, Duval County Initiative, Women’s Giving Alliance, and Jacksonville Women’s Network. Past community involvement includes the following: Chairman of the Board, Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless; President of the Junior League of Jacksonville, Inc.; First Vice President, Association of Junior Leagues International; President, Volunteer Jacksonville, Inc.; Chair, State of Florida Guardian ad Litem, Fourth Judicial Circuit. National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association Board of Directors; President, Executive Committee, Episcopal High School of Jacksonville; and Chair, Jacksonville Public Library Foundation, Inc.
Julia is a graduate of both Leadership Jacksonville, Inc. and Leadership Florida, Inc. She was named a “Women of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council – Northeast Florida.
Julia and her husband John are residents of Amelia Island, FL, and have two sons and a daughter-in-law.
Bill White served most recently as the Elected Public Defender of Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties.
Appointed Chief Assistant Public Defender in 1976, Bill provided 34 years of service to the community in the Public Defender’s Office. In his tenure with the Public Defender’s Office he tried every type of criminal case, argued before the Supreme Court of Florida, and presented pleadings in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bill received the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s Defender Services Award (the highest national honor given to an assistant public defender), the Florida Public Defender Association’s Outstanding Service Award, the Florida Public Defender Association’s President’s Award, and the Kesler Mentoring Connection, Exemplary Volunteer Mentor 2006.
He is active with Take Stock in Children, serving as the Chair for the Leadership Council, a member of the student selection committee, and mentor to five students.
Bill grew up in north Florida and attended local public schools. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science at the University of Florida, he earned his Juris Doctor Degree, University of Florida, College of Law. He served with the United States Navy – 1968 – 1972. Bill and his wife Judy have been married 41 years. They live in Neptune Beach, have one daughter and a granddaughter, who is perfect.