Media Guide

Regional Communications Staff

DaMonica RivasDaMonica Smith, Northwest Region Communications Director
Location: Tallahassee
Office: 850-778-4056
Cell: 850-590-6649

DaMonica Smith began her career at the Department of Children and Families in 2009 as a senior clerk in the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. In 2010, she left the Department to pursue an internship with the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG) where she where she was later hired. During her time in the EOG, she worked with several deputy chiefs of staff and assisted with external affairs events and messaging.

Shortly after joining the EOG, DaMonica was offered a position as the External Affairs Coordinator at the Florida Department of Education (DOE). Over the course of three years, DaMonica oversaw logistical management for DOE and EOG education related events and meetings, developed marketing materials and messaging for statewide initiatives, assisted with social media and media relations, coordinated internal communication, and served as the agency coordinator and liaison for the Florida State Employee's Charitable Campaign and Prudential-Davis Productivity Award Program.

DaMonica is a graduate of Florida A&M University where she obtained her Master's degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.

Circuits: 1, 2 and 14

Counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington

Media Markets: Panama City, Pensacola and Tallahassee

John HarrellJohn Harrell, Northeast Region Communications Manager
Location: Jacksonville
Office: 904-485-9675
Cell: 904-233-7792

John Harrell has been with DCF since 2004. He has been interviewed and quoted by numerous media outlets. Harrell has done several live interviews on the national cable program Prime News on the HLN cable network, where he’s discussed child welfare issues and how agencies investigate high-profile cases. He’s also appeared on Inside Edition and Nancy Grace. Prior to joining DCF, John spent twelve years working in broadcast and print media in Jacksonville. He was the news director at one of the city’s leading radio stations and a traffic reporter for two television stations. He also worked as a freelance writer for several publications, including The Florida Times-Union and HealthSource magazine. For his work with the Florida Public Relations Association’s Jacksonville chapter, John was honored with a President’s Award for helping to increase the membership and overall visibility of the organization.

Circuits: 3, 4, 7 and 8

Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Volusia

Media Markets: Daytona Beach, Gainesville and Jacksonville

Kristi GrayKristi Gray, Central Region Communications Director
Location: Orlando
Office: 407-317-7042
Cell: 407-770-8777

Kristi Gray began her career with DCF in 1994 as a case manager working directly with children and families in the child protection system. She later worked as an adult protective investigator and in 2000 was promoted to a client relations coordinator. Kristi served as the Community Relations Manager for Orange and Osceola counties, where she developed and maintains strong partnerships with local social service organizations. In 2009 she accepted the new role as Public Information Officer for 12 counties. Kristi was recently appointed as the Interim Communication Director for the Central Region. She obtained a Bachelors degree in Social Work from Florida State University and received a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida.

Circuits: 5, 9,10, and 18

Counties: Brevard, Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Sumter

Media Markets: Ocala and Orlando

David OcasioDavid Ocasio, Central Region Public Information Officer
Location: Orlando
Office: 407-317-7056

Prior to joining DCF in June 2014, David Ocasio served eight years as the Media Director for the Mayor’s Office in New York City working under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was a media first responder to emergencies and crises such as the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Flight 1549 Hudson River crash, Hurricane Sandy, MTA strike and Occupy Wall Street. He was instrumental in the productions of several government shows, two inaugural addresses, eight state of the city and budget addresses and three championship parades.

In addition, his efforts for providing tri-state region government informational transparency rewarded him with the 2011 Commissioners Award for Excellence in Technology for enabling the connected city.

His overall media experience as a writer, producer, director and editor spans more than ten years in the New York market. David graduated from Long Island University in 1997 where he earned his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Broadcasting/Communications.

Circuits: 5, 9,10, and 18

Counties: Brevard, Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Sumter

Media Markets: Ocala and Orlando

Natalie HarrellNatalie Harrell, SunCoast Region Communications Director
Location: Tampa
Office: 813-337-5854
Cell: 813-784-1898

Natalie Harrell joined DCF as Regional Communications Director for the SunCoast region in January 2014. She began her career as a television news producer in the Sarasota and Tampa media markets before becoming the City of St. Pete Beach’s first-ever Public Information Officer. As the official spokesperson for the city hall, police, fire and public works departments, she responded to all crisis communications while managing department strategies for improving public relations and citizen outreach. Following St. Pete Beach, Natalie managed all media relations for Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance as well as several other non-profit organizations throughout Tampa Bay. Most recently, she served as Interactive Marketing Manager for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. Natalie graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.

Circuits: 6, 12, 13 and 20

Counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota

Media Markets: Fort Myers, Naples, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Tampa

Paige Patterson-HughesPaige Patterson-Hughes, Southeast Region Communications Director
Location: Fort Lauderdale
Office: 954-375-3354
Cell: 954-410-3931

Paige Patterson-Hughes joined DCF in 2012 as the director of communications for Broward and Palm Beach counties after having served for 12 years as the South Florida public information officer for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where she handled media relations for Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. Paige handled high-profile cases including voter fraud investigations, high-rise burglaries, public corruption and Internet crimes against children. She also has prior experience as a public relations executive and journalist. Paige is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds a bachelor of science degree in journalism.

Circuits: 15, 17 and 19

Counties: Broward, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and Palm Beach

Media Markets: Treasure Coast, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale

DCF LogoBeatriz Lopez, Southern Region Communications Director
Location: Miami
Office: 768-257-5056
Cell: 305-345-8407

Beatriz Lopez joined as Regional Communications Director for the Southern Region in May 2016 after having served in Voices For Children Foundation and The Florida House of Representatives. She was born in Venezuela and raised in Naples, Florida, she later moved to Miami in 2006 to pursue her bachelor’s degree. Beatriz is a graduate of Florida International University and received a Master of Science in Mass Communications with a specialization in Global Strategic Communication. 

Circuits: 11 and 16

Counties: Miami-Dade and Monroe

Media Markets: Miami and Key West

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Media Contact Information



DaMonica Smith


Northwest Region

DaMonica Smith

Northeast Region

John Harrell

Central Region

Kristi Gray

SunCoast Region

Natalie Harrell

Southeast Region

Paige Patterson

Southern Region

Beatriz Lopez