Executive Leadership Team
David E. Wilkins,
Secretary David Wilkins brings decades of experience in business and charitable leadership to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
His vision for the Department is focused on empowering front-line staff, engaging communities, improving programs and helping families become accountable and self-sufficient. Early in 2011, Secretary Wilkins launched several business improvements focused on operational efficiency and improved customer service in child welfare, benefit eligibility determination and in the substance abuse and mental health service delivery area.
Secretary Wilkins has emphasized the necessity of community engagement in helping children, families and vulnerable adults across the state. He has reorganized his regional operations to focus on community empowerment. With the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott, he kicked off a new initiative called “Partners for Promise,” which connects businesses to people in the community who need a helping hand. He launched a faith-based agenda for the Department, and he created “Camps for Champions,” a statewide program that gives thousands of foster children the chance to go to a summer camp and connect with nationally recognized celebrities.
In March 2012, Governor Scott appointed Secretary Wilkins as Florida’s Chief Operating Officer for Government Operations. As COO, he will assist all executive branch agencies in increasing efficiencies and reducing government bureaucracy. Secretary Wilkins is the chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, serves on the Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Strike Force and sits on the Attorney General’s Commission on Drug Abuse and Prevention.
In 2010, Secretary Wilkins retired from Accenture after a 29-year career with the global management, consulting, technology and business operations company. Promoted to partner at the age of 32, Wilkins served in numerous management roles in a business that had more than 200,000 employees and a market cap of more than $34 billion. His work included overseeing local offices and directing business in more than 25 countries. He led the government strategic planning and corporate acquisitions and operated several business units. For the last five years of his tenure, he was in charge of the global sales organization of the Accenture Health and Public Service business, which was one of the five major business units in the company.
Secretary Wilkins was an active volunteer for the United Way and at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, serving on the board of directors for both organizations. He also helped launch “Orphan’s Heart,” a successful international child care services program. He and his wife Tanya have been recognized for their philanthropy and civic leadership numerous times and are active in their local church.
A native of Kentucky, Secretary Wilkins graduated Magna Cum Laude from Lambuth University in 1982 with a B.S. degree in Management Information Systems. He was president of the student body and his fraternity. He was a varsity scholarship athlete in basketball and tennis. Secretary Wilkins, his wife and three teenage daughters live in Tallahassee and are active in numerous charitable and community organizations.
Suzanne Vitale was appointed Deputy Secretary in July 2012. 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.
Gerald Peter “Pete” Digre,
Assistant Deputy Secretary for Operations
Pete Digre is the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Operations. 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 Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Rob was most recently the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, overseeing a social services agency with more than 5,000 employees and a $1.7 billion budget. Previously, Rob served as chief of staff for the Florida Department of Health and a special assistant for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Children and Families. Rob graduated from Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale, earned his B.A. from Harvard College and his law degree from Cornell Law School.
Chris comes to us from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement where he most recently served as Chief of Investigations, overseeing major investigations including public corruption and police officer-involved shootings.
Chris has worked closely with DCF for more than 25 years in a variety of roles at FDLE and local law enforcement. He also currently serves as co-chair of the North Florida Child Death Review Team which researches the role of child abuse and neglect in the deaths of children in Circuits 2 and 3.
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
Amanda Prater was named Chief of Staff in 2012 after serving as the department’s Legislative Affairs Director. She has also served in state government focusing on health and human services over the past six years. She has worked as a health and human services analyst in the Governor's Office of Policy and Budget, the Governor's Legislative Affairs Office, the Florida House Majority Office, and most recently, the House Health and Human Services Committee. She has extensive experience concerning the legislative process and health and human services issues. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Political Science.
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.