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Leadership Blue Gala Speakers Include Democratic Presidential Nominee and Former Vice President Joe Biden, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, DNC Chair Tom Perez, and Rep. Jim Clyburn

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Today, The Florida Democratic Party announced speakers for their annual Leadership Blue Gala, which will be held virtually for the first time — the list includes former Vice President Joe Biden, the head of the Democratic Party, and elected officials from across the country.

Party and elected officials include Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, the highest ranking statewide Democrat in Florida Commissioner Nikki Fried, and House Majority Whip Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Terrie Rizzo, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, expressed excitement about the innovative nature of this year’s Leadership Blue Gala and the impressive group of speakers:

“Today we are thrilled to announce the blockbuster line-up for our Leadership Blue Gala. Our democratic nominee and former Vice President, Joe Biden, Chair Tom Perez, Congressman Jim Clyburn, and Commissioner Nikki Fried are champions of our values and we’re so excited for them to join us. This year’s Gala will be unlike no other– not only because we are hosting Vice President Joe Biden, but also because this is our first entirely virtual Leadership Blue weekend. Although we wish we could be celebrating together in person, we are proud of the incredible and innovative steps our staff, volunteers, and county parties have taken to keep Floridians safe in this challenging moment. With less than 120 days until election day, the Florida Democratic Party and our allies across the state and the country are prepared to flip Florida blue!”

This year’s event will be held entirely virtually on the Florida Democratic Party’s Facebook from Friday, July 17th to Sunday, July 19th. Members of the media may request press credentials by completing the form HERE.

Credentials will be given on a rolling basis and availability permitting.

Please fill out the credentialing form here >>>

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden represented Delaware for 36 years in the U.S. Senate before becoming the 47th Vice President of the United States and now presumptive Democratic nominee for President.

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., was born November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the first of four siblings. In 1953, the Biden family moved from Pennsylvania to Claymont, Delaware. He graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School and served on the New Castle County Council. Then, at age 29, he became one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate.

Just weeks after the election, tragedy struck the Biden family when Biden's wife, Neilia and their one-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed and their two young sons critically injured in an auto accident. Vice President Biden was sworn in to the U.S. Senate at his sons' hospital bedside and began commuting to Washington every day by train, a practice he maintained throughout his career in the Senate.

In 1977, Vice President Biden married Jill Jacobs. Jill Biden, who holds a Ph.D. in Education, is a life-long educator and currently teaches at a community college in Northern Virginia. The Vice President’s son, Beau, was Delaware's Attorney General from 2007-2015 and a Major in the 261st Signal Brigade of the Delaware National Guard. He was deployed to Iraq in 2008-2009. Beau passed away in 2015 after battling with brain cancer with the same integrity, courage, and strength he demonstrated every day of his life. The Vice President’s other son, Hunter, is an attorney who manages a private equity firm in Washington, D.C. and is Chairman of the World Food Program USA. And his daughter Ashley is a social worker and is Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Justice. Vice President Biden has five grandchildren: Naomi, Finnegan, Roberta Mabel ("Maisy"), Natalie, and Robert Hunter.

As a Senator from Delaware for 36 years, Vice President Biden established himself as a leader in facing some of our nation's most important domestic and international challenges. As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 17 years, then-Senator Biden was widely recognized for his work on criminal justice issues, including the landmark 1994 Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act. As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years, then-Senator Biden played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. He has been at the forefront of issues and legislation related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.

As the 47th Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden continued his leadership on important issues facing the nation and represented our country abroad, traveling over 1.2 million miles to more than 50 countries. Former Vice President Biden convened sessions of the President’s Cabinet, led interagency efforts, and worked with Congress in his fight to raise the living standards of middle class Americans, reduce gun violence, address violence against women, and end cancer as we know it.

CHAIRMAN TOM PEREZ

The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Tom grew up in Buffalo where he learned the values of a union town: hard work, integrity, service, and perseverance.

After putting himself through college with Pell Grants and working on the back of a garbage truck, Tom passed up offers from white-shoe law firms, instead choosing to start his career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Justice Department prosecuting racially motivated hate crimes.

Tom had the privilege of serving in President Obama’s administration. First as head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, where he led the charge against police misconduct, voter suppression, anti-LGBT discrimination, and immigrant-bashing sheriffs’ departments. Then as Secretary of Labor, fighting to protect and expand opportunities for America’s working people – from better wages and overtime pay, to retirement security and collective bargaining rights.

But Tom’s strongest roots are in local organizing. In 2002, he became the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council. And as board president of CASA de Maryland, Tom helped grow the organization from a small service provider in the basement of a church to one of the largest immigrant advocacy groups in the mid-Atlantic.

NIKKI H. FRIED

Nikki Fried, Florida’s 12th Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is a lifelong Floridian, attorney and passionate activist.

Born and raised in Miami, Commissioner Fried graduated from the University of Florida, where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and juris doctor degrees. While at the University of Florida, she served as student body president – the first woman to hold the position in nearly two decades.

As an attorney, she was head of the Felony Division at the Alachua County Public Defender’s Office and worked in private practice in South Florida, defending homeowners against foreclosure during the 2007-2008 housing crisis.

Prior to being elected, Fried worked at law firms as a government consultant, advocating on behalf of clients before the Florida Legislature. In 2017, she formed her own firm to advocate in Tallahassee for at-risk children, the Broward County School Board, and for the expansion of patient access to medical marijuana.

Throughout her career she has served with numerous organizations including the Young Lawyers Board of Governors, Chair of the Broward Days Board of Directors, Legal Needs of Children Bar Committee, LeRoy Collins Institute, Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, University of Florida Governmental Relations Advisory Committee, University of Florida Board of Trustees, Florida’s Children First, and others. Fried is a member of Florida Blue Key, the oldest and most prestigious leadership honorary in the state of Florida.


JAMES E. CLYBURN

James E. Clyburn is the Majority Whip, the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives, and currently serves as the Chairman of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. He is also the Chairman of the Rural Broadband Task Force and Democratic Faith Working Group.

When he came to Congress in 1993 to represent South Carolina’s sixth congressional district, Congressman Clyburn was elected co-president of his freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was subsequently elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Vice Chairman, and later Chairman, of the House Democratic Caucus. He previously served as Majority Whip from 2007 to 2011 and served as Assistant Democratic Leader from 2011 to 2019.

As a national leader, he has championed rural and economic development and many of his initiatives have become law. His 10-20-30 federal funding formula was included in four sections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Congressman Clyburn is also a passionate supporter of historic preservation and restoration programs. His efforts have restored scores of historic buildings and sites on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities. His legislation created the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, elevated the Congaree National Monument to a National Park, and established the Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

Congressman Clyburn and his late wife, Emily England Clyburn, met as students at South Carolina State and were married for 58 years. They are the parents of three daughters; Mignon Clyburn, Jennifer Reed, and Angela Hannibal and four grandchildren.