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11:30 AM, Hot Topics - State of Democracy in Florida

Wednesday, January 11, 2023, 11:30 AM until 1:00 PM
Winter Park Events Center
Winter Park Events Center
1050 W Morse Blvd
Winter Park, FL  32789

(407) 599-3571
Additional Info:
Hot Topics Luncheons
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only

Hey Democracy, are you okay?

A majority of Americans think that our democracy is in trouble according to multiple recent polls.
Join us as we discuss:

  • What history tells us about how democracies become autocracies
  • What is being done in Florida to strengthen or weaken our democracy
  • Are our rights are being whittled away here in Florida


Former Justice Charles T. Wells assumed his duties as Justice of the Florida Supreme Court on June 16, 1994, after being appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles. Justice Wells became Chief Justice in July 2000 and served through June 2002. He presided over the election cases which came to the Florida Supreme Court concerning the 2000 presidential election. Justice Wells is a frequent lecturer on a variety of legal subjects. Since the 2000 election, he has lectured throughout the United States on the Florida Court’s processing and administration of the election cases. Justice Wells retired on March 2, 2009.

Talli Dippold is the CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. She is a respected voice and has extensive leadership experience in the field of Holocaust education. Dippold holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s in Holocaust and genocide studies from Gratz College, where she graduated as valedictorian and received the Philip G. Solomon Prize for Holocaust studies

Jason Garcia is one of Florida’s leading investigative journalists and the publisher of “Seeking Rents,” a newsletter and podcast that explores the ways businesses influence public policy. Garcia previously worked for the Orlando Sentinel, where he wrote an award-winning series on corporate-tax avoidance and led an investigation into a statewide “ghost candidate” election scandal that exposed the role of operatives for utility giant Florida Power & Light and sparked a criminal investigation in Seminole County. He previously covered the Walt Disney Co. and the global theme-park industry and worked as a staff writer for Florida Trend magazine. Garcia is originally from Toronto.

Dr. Fernando I. Rivera is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Puerto Rico Research Hub at the University of Central Florida. His research interests and activities are in the sociology of health/medical sociology, disasters, and race and ethnicity. His published work has investigated how different mechanisms are related to certain health and mental health outcomes with a particular emphasis on Latino populations. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his B.A. degree in sociology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. He also completed a NIMH sponsored post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University.

Moderator: Fred Lauten currently works as a mediator and arbitrator at the law firm of Upchurch, Watson, White, and Max. He joined the firm in January 2020. He served as Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit from 2014-2019. Prior he was the Administrative Judge of the Circuit Civil Division and the Circuit Criminal Division of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.


Judge Lauten has also presided over the Complex Commercial Litigation Division. He has presided over the Violation of Probation Division, Circuit Criminal Division 17, a Circuit Criminal Division in Osceola County and served in every division in the Orange County Court. Judge Lauten served on the bench for 26 years.