Executive Leadership Team
Esther Jacobo has been with the Department since 2008 and most recently served as Statewide Deputy Director for Children’s Legal Services, where she was responsible for statewide litigation practices of CLS across the state. Ms. Jacobo received her Law Degree from St. Thomas University in Miami in 1992. That same year she was appointed as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County by Janet Reno and remained in that office until April 2007. In January 2001, she was promoted by Katherine Fernandez Rundle to Division Chief of the Domestic Crimes Unit. There, Ms. Jacobo supervised all domestic violence prosecutions in Miami-Dade County, participated in community-based initiatives to assist victims of domestic violence and developed protocol to be used in both the felony and misdemeanor courts with regard to these cases. In April 2007, Ms. Jacobo joined the prestigious family law firm of Elser & Foster-Morales in Miami. In February 2008, she was asked to take a leadership role at DCF under then-Secretary Bob Butterworth and Statewide Director of CLS, Mary Cagle. Ms. Jacobo has dedicated most of her public service career to the safety and well-being of Florida’s families. In 2012, Ms. Jacobo was inducted into the Miami-Dade College Alumni Hall of Fame for her commitment and dedication to serving her community.
Gerald Peter “Pete” Digre,
Pete Digre is the Deputy Secretary. He has more than 40 years of experience in the health and human services field, with an emphasis on community-based care for children, youth and families. He has held leadership positions for social service agencies in Los Angeles County, Philadelphia County and the state of Illinois. In addition, he previously served as Deputy Secretary for Operations at the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, which precedes DCF. Pete holds bachelor's degrees with honors in Sociology and Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree with honors in Social Work from George Williams College, a master’s degree with honors in Public Administration from Roosevelt University, and a doctorate of Ministry from the University of Chicago.
Assistant Secretary for Economic Self Sufficiency
Suzanne Vitale is Assistant Secretary for Economic Self Sufficiency. Suzanne joined DCF in 2010, first as the Circuit 15 Operations Manager overseeing child welfare, adult protection and ACCESS services and then as the Regional Managing Director of the expansive 16-county Central Region. She has 24 years of experience in public service, having served as the first Hispanic Deputy Undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, providing policy direction on nutrition and domestic hunger programs throughout the nation. This included food assistance, school breakfast and lunch programs, emergency feeding, after school and summer camp food programs, and the Women, Infants and Children program. Suzanne's broad career has spanned local, state, and federal levels, all focused on improving and transforming the health and human service delivery system. Suzanne holds a bachelor's degree from Radford University and is a graduate of the Executive Development Program at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Assistant Secretary for Administration
Scott Stewart was appointed as the Assistant Secretary for Administration in 2011. He was previously the agency’s Chief Information Officer, responsible for overseeing information technology systems and coordinating data sharing between state and federal agencies and among our employees and partners. Previously, Scott served as Chief Information Officer for the Agency for Workforce Innovation and worked as an IT director and officer for the Florida Department of Corrections, the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation and other state agencies. Scott also brings private sector expertise from working with Walt Disney World and Scotty’s. Scott earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Florida Southern College in Lakeland and his Master of Business Administration from Nova University in Fort Lauderdale.
Assistant Secretary for Programs
A graduate of Duke University and the University of Florida College of Law, Stephen spent 15 years in private practice before joining the Eighth Circuit State Attorney’s Office. In 2003, he was appointed as a General Magistrate and assigned the dependency dockets in Alachua, Levy and Gilchrist counties. He came to DCF in 2006 as a managing attorney and quickly rose to serve as the Northwest Region Director for Children’s Legal Services. He is the immediate past president of the Association of Administrators of the ICPC, the author of the ICPC Chapter for the Florida Bar Juvenile Law Handbook, a member of the faculty for the College of Advanced Judicial Studies for the State of Florida and an adjunct family law professor at the University of Florida College of Law.
Drew Parker was appointed General Counsel in May 2011. Before coming to DCF, Drew worked for Ard, Shirley & Rudolph, P.A. in Tallahassee, where his practice focused primarily on representing public and private clients in civil and administrative litigation. Prior to his time in private practice, Drew worked for the Florida Department of Financial Services in its Constitutional Issues Section, where his responsibilities included representing Florida’s Chief Financial Officer’s in matters related to the CFO’s constitutional duty to approve and settle claims against the State of Florida. Drew earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Sociology, as well as his Juris Doctor degree, from Florida State University. Drew also earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Chief of Staff
A former business owner and a seasoned professional in child and adult protection, Jane has served as the DCF Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator since December 2012.
Director of Children’s Legal Services
Mary Cagle began her career in the 11th Judicial Circuit State Attorneys Office under the guidance of Janet Reno. Since then, she has demonstrated her talent for leading by example and for working with many diverse populations to achieve a just end to any issue she confronts. These skills prepared her for her work in child welfare where she ran the CHARLEE program in Miami prior to joining DCF. Under Mary’s leadership, Children’s Legal Services has led the nation in advocacy for children and their families. Guided by her belief that state lawyers have a duty to protect our children’s best interest, Mary has transformed the way law is practiced in Florida on behalf of the thousands of children in foster care. She has tirelessly worked to restructure how legal services are delivered to dependent children and has relentlessly pursued solutions to some of the most difficult legal issues that face children and families.
Family and Community Services Director
Elisa Cramer was appointed Director of Family and Community Services in 2012. Elisa started at DCF in 2009 as the Communications Director in Palm Beach County, and has more recently served as a Community Development Administrator for that region. Prior to joining DCF, Elisa worked at The Palm Beach Post for 15 years, serving in various roles until March of 2003, when she was appointed to The Post's editorial board, where she remained until August 2008. Her columns and editorials on the welfare of children and women earned her the 2005 Extra Mile Award by the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County. Elisa earned a bachelor's degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., graduating with honors with a major in English.