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Jacksonville Mayor-Elect Deegan Taps Executive Team, Adds “Diversity & Inclusion” Head

Donna Deegan is handing over $185,000 in taxpayer dollars for “diversity & inclusion” to the former chairman of America’s largest Islamic advocacy organization.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — Jacksonville Mayor-Elect Donna Deegan announced her 13-member executive team this week, including three new positions: Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Chief Health Officer and Chief of Public Safety.

“This exciting team of leaders from across the political spectrum represents the culture of collaboration that we intend to create here at City Hall,” Deegan said at a press conference on Tuesday. “They have spent their careers solving problems, thinking outside the box and engaging the public.”

Below is the full list of appointments:

  • Executive Assistant: Erica Connor – Former practicing attorney, law school counselor and legal recruiter. (Salary: $85,000)
  • Chief of Staff: Pat McCollough – Deegan’s campaign manager and retired U.S. Marine sergeant major. ($230,000)
  • Chief Financial Officer: Anna Brosche – The Relationship Partner at BDO Alliance and former Jacksonville City Council President and mayoral candidate. ($250,000)
  • Interim Chief Financial Officer: Mike Weinstein – CEO of Kids Hope Alliance and former chief financial officer for multiple past mayors.
  • Chief Administrative Officer: Karen Bowling – Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of North Florida (UNF) and former chief administrative officer under Mayor Alvin Brown. ($275,000)
  • Chief Communications Officer: Phil Perry – Communications director for Deegan’s campaign and former communications director for Florida’s LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus. ($185,000)
  • Director of Strategic Initiatives and Liaison to the Press: Melissa Ross – Former Host of WJCT's “First Coast Connect” and co-host of “The Florida Roundup.” ($185,000)
  • Chief of Public Safety: Lakesha Burton – Former Assistant Chief and 24-year veteran with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, former candidate for Jacksonville sheriff. ($185,000)
  • Chief Health Officer: Sunil Joshi – Allergist and immunologist and former president of the Duval County Medical Society. (Salary TBD)
  • Director of Diversity and Inclusion: Parvez Ahmed – Professor of Finance at the UNF and two-term member of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. ($185,000)
  • Director of Economic Development: Ed Randolph – Director of Economic development for JEA and former Director of Business Development for the city.
  • Interim General Counsel: Bob Rhodes, effective July 1. ($242,000)

Former Jacksonville general counsel Jason Gabriel will serve as chair of the Qualification Review Committee and lead the search for a new general counsel, according to WJCT.

Deegan and her executive team will assume their new roles on July 1.


More than any other appointment, Ahmed signals Deegan’s commitment to current Left-wing ideals. Conservatives have long viewed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives as counterproductive virtue signaling at best and discriminatory bureaucracies at worst.

Governor Ron DeSantis and journalist-turned-activist Christopher Rufo have led a charge to abolish taxpayer-funded DEI programs in the state and replace their core ideals with those of “equality, merit, and colorblindness.” Rufo was one of six DeSantis-appointed board members who shifted the balance of power at New College of Florida, which recently axed the school’s DEI office.

Jacksonville taxpayers will fund the $185,000 salary for Ahmed, who previously served as national chairman of the nation’s largest advocacy organization for Muslims – the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“CAIR was named in 2007 as an unindicted co-conspirator in charges brought against the Holy Land Foundation,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The foundation is a Muslim charity that was ultimately convicted of funneling more than $12 million to Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist organization considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government. Charges were never brought against CAIR in the case.”

Deegan’s “diversity and inclusion” efforts will also likely elevate homosexuals and those confused about their gender. On Sunday, she posted a message celebrating LGBTQ+ “Pride” Month.