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Movers & Shakers: New titles for Joyner & Altman, Bob Graham aide moves on

Bob Graham assistant moves on

Chip Burpee ended his 15-year tenure as assistant to former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham Friday.

“All good things must come to an end” Burpee wrote in an e-mail to the press, calling Graham a true statesman and public servant.

Burpee will be the new government relations manager for JM Family Enterprises, an automotive company. Graham hasn’t named Burpee’s replacement as of Monday, his office confirmed.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner joins Vanguard Attorneys

Vanguard Attorneys announced Arthenia Joyner as the firm’s new counsel.

“She is a dedicated professional who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the firm. With her unyielding passion for justice and for serving the local community, she is an asset not only to our Tampa office, but to our entire community as a whole,” said Frank Marsalisi, the firm’s managing attorney.

Joyner has been a private practice attorney for 43 years, longer than any other black female in Florida, and was also the first female black attorney in Hillsborough County, according to a press release.

Sen. Thad Altman joins astronaut organization                                                                                                                           

Sen. Thad Altman is the new president and CEO of Astronauts Memorial Foundation, a non-profit group for astronauts who've sacrificed their lives.

Altman's duties will include working with staff to develop new educational and memorial programs, seeking new fundraising and partnership opportunities, recommending budgets, serving as a liaison between the AMF and NASA, and managing human resources, according to a press release from the organization.

Altman, a current Florida senator, also served in the state House and as a Brevard County Commissioner. He's also a 55-year Brevard County resident and has played a key role in the in transforming of the Space Coast from a rural community to a global aerospace leader, the release states.

“While we had a number of highly qualified candidates apply for the position of president of AMF, the search committee unanimously agreed that Mr. Altman had the ideal background and experience to lead the Foundation at this point in history,” stated U.S. Navy Capt. Mike McCulley, who chaired the search committee for the position.

DOC secretary looks elsewhere for work

Ken Tucker, secretary for the Department of Corrections, wants to leave his position to direct an anti-drug initiative known as the North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

Tucker has been at DOC for less than one year. But he could not stay with the agency past March of 2013 because his deferred retirement plan (known as DROP) will kick in. Gov. Rick Scott is aware that Tucker is seeking another position.

DOH gets interim deputy secretary

State Surgeon General John Armstrong named University of South Florida professor Dennis Cookro as the Department of Health’s interim deputy secretary and Children's Medical Services deputy state health officer, according to an agency press release.

He is also an associate professor in USF’s Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine, according to DOH.

Former Deputy Secretary Steven Harris left DOH in July to be medical director of the Department of Corrections.

Cookro has directed of three county health departments, in addition to various other public health positions.

At USF, he is an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine.

Kevin Derby joins the Florida Chamber

Former Sunshine State News Associate Editor Kevin Derby begins work as communications director with the Florida Chamber of Commerce today.

Big changes at DCF

After Gov. Rick Scott appointed Department of Children and Families Secretary Dave Wilkins to oversee state contracts, Wilkins announced he would be reorganizing.

“Successful organizations continually evolve and adapt in order to best position themselves for raising the bar on excellence and performance,” he said in an e-mail to staff.

The e-mail announces the following changes.

Suzanne Vitale is DCF's new deputy secretary, responsible for the overall agency performance. She has 24 years of experience in health and human services, serving at executive levels in other states and the federal government. She joined DCF in 2010, according to the e-mail.

Pete Digre will be the assistant deputy secretary for operations. He will oversee the regional operations, family and community service programs, Children’s Legal Services, and lead the implementation of the agency's Child Welfare Transformation Initiative.

Digre replaces John Cooper, who is leaving the agency.

Former legislative director Amanda Prater will be DCF’s new chief of staff.  Prater previously worked as a health and human services analyst in the Governor's Office of Policy and Budget, the Governor's Legislative Affairs Office, the Florida House Majority Office, and most recently, the House Health and Human Services Committee.

She replaces Vivian Myrtetus who left the agency to pursue a private sector career in Miami, the e-mail says.

Elisa Cramer is the new director of Family and Community Services. Cramer started at DCF as the communications director in West Palm Beach County, and has more recently served as the Community Development Administrator for that region.

DCF will name a new assistant secretary for administration in the near future.

Movers & Shakers is a weekly update of political and agency personnel changes. Send tips to or @britt_alana.