April 16, 2024

Photo: Eileen Escarda

Police officer Nina Justice decided to finish her career as a school resource officer.

A Day in the Working Life


Carlton Proctor | 2/26/2016

» $105.4 billion
» 12.6% of Florida’s GDP
» GDP rank: No. 2

» Employment: 1.16 million
» 10.61% of total employment
» Employment rank: No. 3

Among government workers in Florida:

» Local government employees: 62.7%
» State workers: 17.6%
» Members of the military: 8.3%
» Federal employees/civilian: 11.4%

Ben Cuthbert
» Senior Master Sergeant, Air Force

On the Line

Senior Master Sgt. Ben Cuthbert is lead production superintendent at Eglin AFB’s 96th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, a group of 350 highly trained personnel who maintain a fleet of F-16 and F-15 fighter jets.

For him, there is no typical day on the flight line, and that’s what he loves most about the job. “We work in a very dynamic environment,” he says. “Every day is different with a new set of problems.”

Cuthbert, 36, is among the 8% of government employees in Florida who work for the U.S. military. Joining the Air Force out of his Texas high school, Cuthbert has 17 years in the Air Force and already has attained the secondhighest enlisted rank possible. He’s one of some 23,165 active duty Air Force personnel who serve in Florida.

Among the service branches, the Air Force has the second-highest number of active duty personnel, trailing the Navy, which has more than 26,000 sailors in Florida. Overall, the number of military personnel has fallen from 103,030 in 2006 to 95,866 in 2014.

Nina Justice
» Police Officer, Fort Lauderdale

Role Model

Nina Justice is a school resource officer at Stranahan High School. During her career, the 28-year officer has patrolled neighborhoods, investigated auto thefts and economic crimes and worked as a truancy officer. A stint as a school resource officer convinced her to finish the last few years of her career in that role. “I asked myself what was the most fulfilling assignment during my entire law enforcement career, and I realized what I most enjoyed was working with kids and families.” Justice says her greatest satisfaction is being part of a team that helps students stay out of trouble and in school. “The kids I work with are looking for leadership and role models, and that’s something I try to give them every day.”

Karl Holley
» Development Services Director, Sumter County

Dwindling Numbers

Karl Holley is head of planning, zoning, inspections and code enforcement for Sumter County, home to The Villages, one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S.

A typical day for Holley, 55, involves overseeing management and quality control for contracted inspections and ensuring the county’s online, automatic permitting system is functioning efficiently.

The county has chosen to meet the challenges of rapid growth without a lot of new employees, outsourcing its inspections and code enforcement to the private sector. “The majority of our field operations actually are handled by contract employees,” Holley says. “We have just two qualified building inspectors on our staff.”

Throughout Florida, local governments are employing fewer people than they did just a few years ago. Between 2008 and 2014, the number of local government employees fell 6.6% from 778,281 to 726,696.

For Sumter County, the decision to outsource inspections was “a logistical adjustment in reaction to the wild ride we experienced from the housing downturn,” says Holley. “And it’s worked very well.”

53:1,000Ratio of government workers per 1,000 population in Florida, the secondlowest of any state. Only Nevada has fewer government workers on a per-1,000 population basis.

203,545Number of state government workers, down from a peak of 211,931 in 2010

Leslene E. Gordon
» Community Health Director, Hillsborough County

Broad Scope

Leslene E. Gordon provides the leadership for a number of public health programs, including school health, family planning, dental services and outreach educational programs that focus on diabetes and obesity prevention. Among her daily responsibilities is gathering data from focus groups, interviews and area private hospitals. “We analyze the data we collect, share it with our partners and stakeholders, and we then ask those partners what they see as health improvement priorities,” she says. From that data-gathering, Gordon’s department created her county’s current Community Health Improvement plan. “In our community, the public and private sectors are working together more and more. And I think we will see some real improvement in community health in Hillsborough over the next few years.”

Dawn Corrigan
» Rental Assistance Program Manager, City of Pensacola


A typical day for Dawn Corrigan involves managing a five-person team that administers a countywide voucher program that helps some 2,400 families afford rental housing. Her team also performs more than 1,400 inspections annually to ensure landlords maintain rental housing that conforms to the rules and standards of the voucher program. Despite the program’s efforts, the need for housing in Escambia County remains high. “We currently have 1,400 applicants on our waiting list, which is probably a two-year wait,” she says.

Tasks performed by Florida’s local public health agencies include:
Testing public swimming pool water; testing water at beaches for contamination; investigating cases of foodborne illness; inspecting tattoo parlors; providing help to quit smoking; providing medical and dental services to residents who can’t afford them; testing jail inmates for HIV; providing immunizations for diseases like measles and vaccines recommended for foreign travel; issuing birth and death certificates; licensing day care centers; educating and supporting new mothers; organizing and staffing shelters for special needs residents during hurricanes; monitoring the spread of infectious diseases; collaborating with hospitals and community organizations in identifying problem areas in the community and working to address them.

Tags: Government/Politics & Law, Economic Sectors, A Day in the Working Life

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