Staff and Founding Members
Alice Vickers, Director
Alice Vickers is a founding member of Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection and acts as director for FLACP. Alice’s career has been devoted to representing the low income in housing and consumer issues through litigation and legislative advocacy. Prior to joining FLACP, she was a legal services attorney for 28 years; for 20 of those years, through Florida Legal Services, she advocated for clients on tenants’ rights and consumer protection before the Florida legislature. Alice has frequently testified before the Florida legislature supporting tenants’ rights and consumer protection and is regularly interviewed by the media on these issues. Most recently, Alice has lobbied on behalf of Florida Consumer Action Network, PICO United Florida, and the Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar, in addition to consulting with attorney groups on consumer protection and tenant rights issues. The Consumer Protection Law Committee of the Florida Bar named Alice the “Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year” for 2013. She was recognized “for outstanding and tireless efforts to protect and strengthen the rights of Florida consumers through legislative advocacy.” The National Association of Consumer Advocates awarded Alice the Consumer Advocate of the Year for 2014. Alice is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, vice chair of the Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee, immediate past chair of the Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar, and a board member of Florida Prosperity Partnership.
Sheila Meehan, Assistant Director
Sheila Meehan is a founding member of Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection and acts as assistant director for FLACP. Sheila has devoted her career to those whose rights have been infringed upon. In her career she has worked as a corporate researcher at the national headquarters of the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C. and as a labor organizer for the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild where she organized reporters at the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. After returning to Florida, Sheila investigated housing and employment discrimination at the Florida Commission on Human Relations. Following that, she was the Administrator of the Community Services Team, the national pro bono department of Holland & Knight LLP; the Assistant Director and founding staff member of the Innocence Project of Florida; and, the statewide pro bono director of Florida Legal Services where she coordinated FASH, Florida Attorneys Saving Homes, the largest pro bono project in the state of Florida that assisted homeowners who were facing foreclosure. During her tenure at FLS, she staffed the Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. Sheila’s volunteer work includes her work as Chair of the Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty.
Brad Ashwell, Legislative Director
Brad Ashwell is a founding member of Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection and acts as legislative director for FLACP. Brad’s career has centered on advocating for the public interest before the Florida legislature and state agencies. He began his career as the Fair Housing Advocate for Legal Services of North Florida, followed by working as a Senior Research Associate of Florida Common Cause. Subsequently he was the director for Florida Public Interest Research Group for 15 years, leading FL PIRG’s work. Brad was appointed to the Office of Insurance Consumer Advocate’s Personal Injury Protection Working Group in 2011. Most recently Brad has worked with a number of nonprofits on a variety of issues, including successfully leading the work in Florida against Amendment 3 in the 2012 election.
Founding Board Members
Lynn Drysdale Received her law degree from the University of Florida College of Law and has practiced at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid since 1988. Ms. Drysdale is a nationally known consumer protection advocate, whose work includes representing consumers in individual and class cases, legislative advocacy relating to pay day loans, spot delivery motor vehicle sales, military pension loans, automobile title loans, and predatory mortgage lending and servicing practices. Ms. Drysdale is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and has been a contributing writer for the National Consumer Law Center, the Consumer Financial Services Law Report, and co-authored The Two-Tiered Consumer Financial Services Marketplace: The Fringe Banking System and its Challenge to current Thinking About the Role of Usury Law in Today’s Society, a law review article for the South Carolina Law Review, Volume 51, Spring 2000, Number 3 with distinguished consumer advocate, Kathleen Keest, Esquire. Ms. Drysdale has testified twice before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee, three times before the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve Board and has testified before the Florida Legislature numerous times. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law and Florida Coastal Law School. She was awarded the 2002 National Consumer Law Center’s Vern Countryman Consumer Law Award, the 1999 Northeast Florida Consumer Council Consumer Advocate of the Year and the 2001 Florida Bar Foundation’s Steven M. Goldstein Award, First Runner-Up. Ms. Drysdale practices in JALA’s main office in downtown Jacksonville.
Jeffrey M. Hearne
Jeffrey M. Hearne is the Advocacy Director of the Tenants’ Rights Project at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., where he has worked since graduating from law school in 2001. His practice focuses primarily on federally subsidized housing and eviction defense. He directly supervises eight attorneys who specialize in landlord-tenant matters. In 2009, he became the Director of the Tenants’ Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. Through the Clinic, he teaches landlord-tenant law and supervises law students who represent tenants in eviction proceedings. He is currently the co-chair of the Florida Legal Services Housing Umbrella Group and he is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Housing Justice Network. Mr. Hearne also serves as the First Vice President and Legal Panel Chair of the Miami Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In 2011, the Daily Business Review named him the Most Effective Public Interest Lawyer by the Daily Business Review and in 2012, he was named one of the 40 under 40 Outstanding Lawyers of Miami Dade County. He is admitted to practice in Florida, as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida. He is a graduate of the University of Texas (J.D. 2001, B.A., Plan II, 1998).
Jennifer Newton received her undergraduate degree from Florida State University and her law degree from Loyola University. While a law student, Ms. Newton clerked for Legal Services of Greater Miami, the Honorable Jerald P. Bagley (11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Circuit Court), Southern Legal Counsel, and the EEOC. After graduation from law school, Ms. Newton clerked for the Honorable George J. Larke, Jr. of the 32nd Judicial District Court of Louisiana. Subsequently she joined Florida Legal Services where she was the directing attorney for the Florida Attorneys’ Saving Homes Project, the first statewide pre-foreclosure loan modification program in the country that sought to pair homeowners in distress on their mortgages with volunteer attorneys; at FLS she also was the consumer protection attorney in the Community Justice Project in Miami. Ms. Newton served as counsel in the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington D.C. Currently she is an associate in the Miami office for a statewide law firm specializing in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy and Financial Services. She is also an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law.
Kevin Thorpe is the senior pastor at Faith Church in Gainesville, Florida, joining the congregation as pastor in 1998. He has years of working with grassroots organizations to influence policy, including economic justice for Florida citizens. Mr. Thorpe is a member of the board of directors for Gainesville HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) and ACTION (Affiliated Congregations To Improve Our Neighborhoods) Network. The ACTION Network is related to PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) United Florida, a state-level organization for which he is a board member. Mr. Thorpe has also served on the Boards for the American Cancer Society, Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Florida, and African American Accountability Alliance.
Bryant Dunivan is an attorney with the Law Offices of Michael J. Owen, PLLC. He focuses his practice primarily in the fields of Debtor’s Rights, including Foreclosure Defense, Deficiency Defense, Bankruptcy, Fair Debt Collection violations, Fair Credit Reporting violations, and Credit Card/Debt Negotiations and Real Estate, including landlord-tenant matters, easements, purchase contracts, and deed preparation. Mr. Dunivan has a passion for defending consumer rights and seeks to keep all creditors mindful of their duties in collecting said debts. Mr. Dunivan is consistently in the court room advocating on his clients behalf and practices law throughout the entire state of Florida. Prior to becoming a licensed attorney, Mr. Dunivan received his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from Florida Gulf Coast University. After college, he attended the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, obtaining his Juris Doctorate. He is a member of the Florida Bar and is admitted to practice in the United States Court for the Middle District of Florida. He is also a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar, as well as the National Association of CPS (DCF) Defense Attorneys.
Organizational affiliations are shown for reference only; board members serve individually, not as representatives of their employers.