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LeRoy Collins Institute

College of Social Sciences and Public Policy

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Katy Sorenson

Katy Sorenson currently serves as a consultant on governance issues, women’s rights and citizen activism. She was the founder, president and CEO of the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami, an organization founded in 2010 to cultivate leaders of excellence in South Florida through the development and training of elected officials, as well as those aspiring to run for office, and to engage the community in its governance through outreach and education.

Sorenson’s commitment to civic activism and social justice began in 1965 after attending a civil rights demonstration with her cousins, it continued throughout her career as an elected official, and it informs her work today.

In 1994, Sorenson was first elected to represent District 8 on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners after defeating the incumbent in a grassroots campaign. Her southern district included more than 170,000 residents of diverse backgrounds, and it encompassed three cities and a significant portion of the agricultural lands of the County. As a commissioner, she was an outspoken advocate for human rights and equality for all residents, for the environment and managed growth, regional cooperation, child welfare issues and support for the arts. Her proudest achievements were defeating plans for an ill-conceived airport at Homestead Air Reserve Base, a site located between Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, and sponsoring and passing an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance which guaranteed civil rights to gay and lesbian citizens.

Sorenson was often recognized for her excellence in office, receiving the first ever Marjory Stoneman Douglas Environmental Award from the Friends of the Everglades, the “Elected Official of the Year” award from the Dade Cultural Alliance, the “Public Official of the Year” from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Champion for Children Award, the Women of Impact Award, and the Herbert Hoover award as Conservationist of the Year, among many others.

She served as vice chair of the Commission from 2002-2004, was on the executive committee of the South Florida Regional Planning Council, and was chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Organization. She also served on the board of directors of the Florida Association of Counties. In 2004, she was selected to attend Harvard University’s Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government at the Kennedy School of Government, which provided her with the inspiration to start the Good Government Initiative.

Active in the community, Sorenson currently chairs the Citizens Advisory Committee for Miami-Dade County’s General Obligation Bond program; co-chairs the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University; and serves as president-elect of the Florida chapter of the International Women’s Forum. She is a member of the advisory board of the CLEO Institute, an environmental organization dedicated to educating the public about climate change. She also serves on the board of the Leroy Collins Institute, a nonpartisan statewide policy organization which studies and promotes creative solutions to key private and public issues facing the people of Florida and the nation. Finally, Sorenson serves on the advisory board of the Tropical Audubon Society and ReServe Miami, and she is a mentor to a number of young professionals.

Sorenson is a weekly contributor to the Sun Sentinel’s South Florida 100, and is featured regularly on WPLG Local 10’s This Week in South Florida as a roundtable commentator.

Born in Chicago and raised in Milwaukee, Sorenson received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She served as a legislative aide to Illinois State Senator Dawn Clark Netsch, as a political consultant, and as the executive director of California Women Lawyers bar association. She has been married to Janis Dzelzkalns, M.D. since 1978 and they have a growing family of two adult children and their spouses, and two award-winning grandchildren. Sorenson resides in Pinecrest, Florida.

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