Media Contact:
Natalia Jaramillo
[email protected]

Miami-Dade County Mayor announces new Office of Neighborhood Safety

MIAMI ( August 03, 2021 )

Today, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the creation of the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), a new division that will bring together residents, community stakeholders, and county representatives to address critical issues regarding public safety and quality of life. The office will develop and promote strategies to address the continuum of public safety including prevention, intervention, reentry, and neighborhood revitalization, and will support the successful implementation of the Peace and Prosperity Plan along with other proven anti-violence programs and strategies in collaboration with community partners. 

“I’m so proud to launch the Office of Neighborhood Safety at a pivotal moment in the conversation about gun violence and public safety, to help reimagine our approach to reducing violence and poverty through crime prevention and community revitalization,” says Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “We know that we must engage our communities year-round, not only during crises, to really tackle violence and create long-lasting change in quality of life and peace and prosperity. And I’m confident we have the best team to deliver on this mission, with far-reaching experience and deep commitment to our community.” 
Annika Holder, Division Director, Office of Neighborhood Safety 
Annika Holder is an adopted Miamian originally from New York with extensive experience in public administration in New York, Atlanta and Miami-Dade County. Since last year she has been working as Interim Department Director and formerly Assistant Director at Miami-Dade's Community Action and Human Services Department (CAHSD). Previously, Annika has worked as Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Educational Services for the Department of Social Services at the City of New York, and has led important departments at Parks and Recreation in Atlanta and New York. Annika holds her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs from the City University of New York.  

“I am thrilled and proud to lead this innovative work investing in safer neighborhoods across Miami-Dade alongside our extraordinary team. Everyone deserves to live safe, healthy lives, and through the Office of Neighborhood Safety, we will deploy proven strategies and work hand-in-hand with community partners to make sure all communities have the resources and support they need to prevent violence and build prosperity.” 
Chanel Jefferson, Legal and Policy Advisor, Office of Neighborhood Safety 
Chanel Jefferson is an experienced attorney who has dedicated her career to public service and advocacy on issues that disproportionately affect historically disadvantaged communities. She is currently the Chief of Staff for Miami-Dade County Commissioner of District 3, Keon  Hardemon. Prior to that, she served as in-house counsel at the Southeast Overtown / Park West Community Redevelopment Agency and as an attorney at the Law Offices of the Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez. Chanel earned her Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Marshall University where she graduated cum laude. She is admitted to practice in the State of Florida and the Supreme Court of the United States. 

"Miami-Dade is my home, and I’m excited about the opportunity to serve my community through the Office of Neighborhood Safety. After having worked on the Peace & Prosperity Plan and its supporting legislation, it is an honor to be part of the team chosen to bring this groundbreaking initiative to fruition and to ensure its success for the betterment of Miami-Dade County. As an attorney, I look forward to applying my skill set to work proactively on crime prevention, economic opportunity, and community revitalization to create sustainable change for our youth and their families."  
Juan Felipe Visser, Strategic Partnerships and Engagement Manager, Office of Neighborhood Safety 
Juan Felipe Visser, born in Colombia and raised in Miami-Dade, has dedicated his work to making cities and communities vibrant places to live. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015, he joined HR&A Advisors, a consulting firm that advises cities across the country on economic development and planning, where he is currently a Director focused on equity and engagement. While at HR&A, among other projects, Juan led the design and execution of Thrive305, the largest public engagement initiative in Miami-Dade County government history. He also managed a US-Puerto Rico Mayor exchange program to share disaster recovery best practices in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and the creation La Liga de Ciudades de Puerto Rico, a non-partisan league of cities to strengthen the island’s municipalities. 

“The Thrive305 survey and community discussions earlier this year reaffirmed that countywide, the top priority of our residents is public safety. I am honored to return home to Miami-Dade to serve the people of our county and this administration, working with communities, municipalities, and other key partners to advance a vision of neighborhood safety that addresses social and economic disparities and makes sure that every neighborhood has the resources needed to make them thriving, safe places.”  
Ira Thomas, Community Justice Manager, Office of Neighborhood Safety 
Dr. Ira Thomas has over 15 years of experience in urban education and social work, as well as leading and designing community and youth engagement programs. Most recently, Dr. Thomas served as a Justice Reform Coordinator with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) focused on reducing racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system. Dr. Thomas has experience as a professional educator, administrator, and youth counselor with a proven track record of working cooperatively and collaboratively with students, parents, and all community stakeholders. Dr. Thomas holds an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy and M.ED in Higher Education from Harvard University, a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. 

“I'm very excited to begin forging Mayor Cava’s vision to create peace and prosperity, not just in words but in measurable actions that will positively impact the lives of the very young people we want to see develop into successful young adults. I’m blessed to be working under the leadership of a Mayor who, like me, is a proud social worker committed to improving the quality of life for our youth and their communities who just need a chance and the resources to excel.”