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Daniel Webster Leadership Award

Congressman Daniel Webster

This annual award recognizes individuals for their outstanding leadership and unwavering commitment to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. It is named in honor of Congressman Daniel Webster who, as Florida Speaker of the House in 1998, worked tirelessly to pass the legislation that created Healthy Families Florida, an evidence-based child abuse prevention program.

I am tremendously proud to have been a part of bringing Healthy Families to our state. I am honored to have my name attached to the award given annually to recognize individuals who have demonstrated their ongoing commitment to sustaining, enhancing and growing Healthy Families Florida Congressman Daniel Webster

Congressman Daniel Webster and Healthy Families Florida Present Prestigious Leadership Award to DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris

September 15, 2023

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Congressman Daniel Webster and Healthy Families Florida today announced Secretary Shevaun Harris as the recipient of the 2023 Daniel Webster Leadership Award. This accolade is presented annually to recognize individuals for their outstanding leadership and unwavering commitment to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Healthy Families Florida is a nationally accredited, evidence-based, voluntary home visiting program proven to prevent child abuse and neglect by building on family strengths to promote healthy child development and family self-sufficiency. In partnership with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, the Healthy Families Florida program has helped thousands of children by empowering parents with education and community support.

The award is named in honor of Congressman Webster who, as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 1998, led the legislative creation of Healthy Families Florida.

During this past year, Secretary Harris has worked to ensure that more families have access to this powerful program by helping improve referrals and engaging the Department’s HOPE Navigators as referring partners. She also supported the additional investment of funds to ensure that Healthy Families program staff are fairly compensated for the work they do.

The award ceremony took place during Healthy Families Florida’s annual Leadership Meeting. It began with a special video from Congressman Webster announcing Secretary Harris as the 2023 award recipient.

“Since assuming her leadership role at the Department of Children and Families in 2021, Secretary Harris has been a strong supporter of the Healthy Families program,” Congressman Webster said. “Recognizing the power in prevention, she has worked with her team, the Legislature, and scores of partners like the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida to shift the focus of the child welfare system to prevention.”

Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida President and CEO Jennifer Ohlsen and Healthy Families Florida Executive Director Rebekkah Sheetz then presented Secretary Harris with the award

“Secretary Harris understands that families are resilient and that they thrive when connected to the resources they need before they are in crisis,” Ohlsen said. “She is a good steward of public funds, focusing investment on programs and services that provide proven benefits to those we serve.

“Secretary Harris works hard every day to serve the families of this state,” Sheetz said. “Her unwavering support of prevention programs is a testament to her dedication to strengthening families and helping children thrive.”

The Secretary accepted the Webster Leadership Award and shared her gratitude for those working in the child welfare field in Florida.

    “I am honored and humbled to accept the Daniel Webster Leadership Award,” Secretary Harris said. “The work Healthy Families Florida is doing in our State is truly transformative and aligns so well with the Department’s mission. I am truly grateful for their partnership and dedication to prevention efforts.”

    Since 2009, Daniel Webster Leadership Award winners have included legislators, policy makers, law enforcement officials, and community leaders who have demonstrated a passion for and commitment to effective abuse and neglect prevention. Previous award winners include U.S. Congressman Aaron Bean and Florida Senator Doug Broxson.

Senator Doug Broxson is Presented Daniel Webster Leadership Award
Pictured: Jennifer Ohlsen, President and CEO of Ounce of Prevention Fund; Secretary Shevaun Harris; and Rebekkah Sheetz, Executive Director Healthy Families Florida