Happy Father’s Day, In Honor of Dedicated Dads Every Day

The Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida and the Leesfield Family Foundation are very proud to name the Most Involved Father Awardees who organized and contributed to the Fatherhood Reading Squad program in M-DCPS. Happy Father’s Day to all men who serve as positive role models for children. Your VIP status is honored and respected every day.

Steven Plater

Southside Elementary Museums Magnet School


Guillaume Novelli

Southside Elementary Museums Magnet School

David Beltz

Gertrude K. Edelman Sabal Palm Elementary

Mauricio Villasuso

Southside Elementary Museums Magnet School

Marco Lanaro

Southside Elementary Museums Magnet School

Mauricio Villasuso

Southside Elementary Museums Magnet School


A Fathers in Education Day message from Caron Butler

Former Miami Heat Player
Miami Heat Assistant Coach
3x Emmy Award Winner
Author and Investor
Dedicated Father

School House Rocks When Fathers Attend Fathers in Education Day Fathers in Action & Advocacy Week

Close to 200 schools celebrated the 9th Fathers in Education Day with fathers reading to children and engaging in fun activities.

At Palm Spring North Elementary School, the new M-DCPS Superintendent Dr. Jose Dotres was welcomed with a musical entrance performed by the children, then an interactive round table discussion with fathers on how he can better serve them as parents. The heart-warming part was seeing all the fathers walk into the school to join their children’s classes to read. That Day they were Dads to all the children.

Fathers in Action & Advocacy Week workshops lit up the social media waves with hot topics like How to be a Leader in your Home and Family, Let’s Talk Tech, Co-Parenting Like a Boss, Family Literacy and Spirituality and Family Values. Our community partners who lead the workshops emphasized actions and advocacy steps that fathers can take to elevate their standing as father to benefit their children and families.


Local, National, and Legislative Advocacy

The FTF is presently working on assuring that fathers name appears on M-DCPS school registration forms so they along with whoever is the first signature to appear is aware of educational plans and activities involving their children. We initiated the discussion which was later proposed as an Agenda Item during the April School Board meeting and unanimously approved. A committee is forming.

Worked with Rep. Vance Aloupis supporting HB 1053, a Bill if passed would have provided 4 week paternity and maternity leave for state employees as part of their 12 week sick pool. Three House Subcommittees unanimously passed it but the companion Senate Bill never made it to a Committee hearing. Lots of work to be done but we are working with several men’s groups to move the needle.

Proposal in the works of a breakthrough video on expectant and new fathers’ early Interaction with Newborns and Growing Babies to emphasize dad’s importance in stimulating babies brain development.

Fathers in Education Day

2022 Fathers in Action & Advocacy Week

During Women’s History Month and every day, the Fatherhood Task Force celebrates our professional team of women, who alongside our father ambassadors and dedicated dads, work to increase the involvement of fathers in children’s lives.

Holly Zwerling

President/CEO & Founder FTFSF

Marilyn Blumberg

Legal Advisor

Judi Jackowitz

Social Media

Hayley Jackowitz

Tech Consultant

Merline Leonce

Financial Advisor

Jacqueline Lynch

Education Advisor

Rachelle Theodore

Business Consultant

Denise Torres

Creative Graphics

Karina Arceo

IT Trainer/Grants Writer

Patrice Samara

Communications & Operations

Margo Zwerling

Marketing & Event Planning

Holly Zwerling, CEO/President of the Fatherhood Task Force was interviewed by M-DCPS School Board member Dr. Marta Perez on Feb. 17, 2022 for Education in Excellence Recognition


Facebook https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=291343339598734


Fathers in Education Day

(click image to download .pdf)

Fathers Lift Children


We invite all our supporters to help us move our Programs and Advocacy to greater heights in partnership with the community. Your donations matter, your support of more father engagement in children’s lives makes a positive and long-lasting difference for children. Thousands of fathers, children and families have been served because of your generous donations. 

  • The Fatherhood Reading Squad Program
  • Fathers in Education Day and Fathers in Action & Advocacy Week
  • The Best Practices of Fatherhood for High School Students
  • Advocacy Outreach on Paternal Health and Paternity Leave 

FTFSF Honorees:

Kacey Merchant, Corey Patterson, Jerry Rateau and Frantz Theodore
Four Great Fathers with Children 2-14

The Fatherhood Task Force honors and gives thanks to four deeply committed fathers actively raising the bar for Father involvement in the school system.

Kacey Merchant

Corey Patterson

Jerry Rateau

Frantz Theodoore

Supt. Alberto Carvalho & Holly Zwerling

At the invitation of M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, these four Fathers were the key presenters during a Zoom meeting. Superintendent Carvalho and school administrators discussed parental, social and racial justice issues as they affect children. Superintendent Carvalho has given his ongoing support to the work of The Fatherhood Task Force. 

The Fathers’ major points made during the meeting were: Literacy is the number one equalizer in all facets of life; Every child who faces academic challenges needs to be treated respectfully with what they present upon entering school; and every child should be recognized for their growth potential and provided social and emotional support to experience school success. 

Another point of discussion was that administrators, teachers, and security staff should actively exercise their training and knowledge of behavior, set good examples on how to talk to children, and practice patience and caring interventions when working with children and parents. Parents  should also learn how to connect with their child and foster social emotional well-being.

It was pointed out that Fathers should and need to be present in the school and respond to their children’s concerns. Fathers’ presence and engagement impact on children’s safety and how children behave towards each other. They encourage fathers to go to  PTA meetings and school board meetings, meet with their child’s teacher, specifically ask how they would deal with certain situations and conflicts in their classrooms and ways the school offers teacher support. 

During the discussion they examined how school culture reflects safety and equality; how often kids are complimented and work together, how children interact and relate to each other and how that gets played out in school so all kids feel they are judged and treated fairly. 

These fathers would like to see schools working for the greater good of each child and the community as a whole. It was suggested that schools from diverse areas work together and share projects  for mutual benefit and understanding to help to eliminate social bias and encourage more children to get involved.

They suggested that schools clarify and make funding information user friendly to enable parents to advocate for specific programming to assure that their children are on track for academic success. Statistics have shown that by third grade, children who can’t read on grade level have difficulty catching up. 

The Fathers mentioned that many parents come from many countries that have totally different systems of education. Schools should actively assist parents in having a clearer understanding about their child’s school system so they can get more involved.

We invite more Fathers to engage in children’s education by being vocal and networking with others to positively impact their children’s education.

We congratulate our honorees Kacey, Corey, Jerry and Frantz for actively participating in these important fact-finding sessions  with M-DCPS  Superintendent Carvalho, M-DCPS Office of Community Engagement and  the Fatherhood Task Force as well as getting involved when they see something that needs attention in their children’s schools and communities. They see themselves as a Fatherhood Response Squad available to elevate educational opportunities for all children.

Jonathan Eastman – Father, Imran Ali – Chief of Staff TCT, Kacey Merchant – Father, Holly Zwerling – CEO/President FTF, Donovan Lee-Sin – Director of Public Policy & Engagement , TCT, La’Mott Croom – Father, James Haj – CEO, TCT

FTF Advocacy News Update

FTF is communicating with the office of the Florida Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees about funding for future, expectant and new fathers’ health care as it affects birth outcomes. The Governor has provided 9 million dollars to the Health Department to focus on minority health and health equity affecting health care, infant mortality being one of them.

FTF is partnering with the Jasmine Project, a federal healthy start program in collaboration with the UM Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade to reduce racial disparities affecting Black infant mortality and improve maternal child health. The FTF partnership focuses on gender equity and fathers’ health (paternal child health) as a contributing factor in birth outcomes and the health of the mother. 

FTF is partnering with The Children’s Trust. The Children’s Movement of Florida and other community partners on promoting the READy, Set, Go Miami, a children’s early learning activity tool kit for community partners, fathers, mothers and significant others with a focus on engaging more fathers’ participation. Reading to children strengthens relationships.

Doing Good with the Deveau Group Podcast Interview with FTFSF Founder & President Holly Zwerlin‪g

“My talk with Holly is incredibly insightful for all our listeners especially fathers. I did not know what to expect with our interview but I was blown away at the breath of knowledge and perspective Holly brought to the interview.”



The Reading Teacher journal September/October 2020

We are so proud that our Fatherhood Reading Squad program in M-DCPS was published in The Reading Teacher journal September/October 2020 in collaboration with FIU, School of Education and Human Development. The title of the paper is Bringing Neighborhood Dads into Classrooms: Supporting Literacy Engagement. Hats off to all the fathers who participated in this volunteer program to inspire children to read and learn and to the schools, administrators and teachers who participated. This is the reference to the entire article:

Lynch, J., & Zwerling, H. (2020). Bringing neighborhood dads into classrooms: Supporting literacy engagement. The Reading Teacher, 74(2), 169-178.

The successful virtual Fatherhood Conference 20/20 in celebration of our 10th year anniversary lead us to new thinking about fatherhood and to new opportunities to move us to action. Fathers benefit by seeing themselves as advocates for parental social justice: Remember REAP: Fathers’ Rights to Equitable Access and Participation in all areas of children’s lives and when interacting with service providers.  For more info call 305-812-4000.


Click below to enjoy our 10th year anniversary video and the webinar with speakers National Fatherhood Leader Jeffery Johnson, Pediatrician Dr. Olunwa Ikpeazu, Activist  Brother Lyle Muhammad and Social Justice Practitioner Dr. Etiony Aldarondo. This is what Advocacy looks like!



Cooking At Home With Chef Cory

Chef Cory White is the recipient of the 2020 Involved Father Award


An uplifting and inspirational article in the Miami Herald featuring Fatherhood Task Force Fathers.

“A message to their sons —You are loved and smart, but you must fight for racial justice.”


JUNE 20, 2020


LINK: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article243497906.html


These dedicated, enthusiastic and diverse father/community leaders met for almost two years to develop the Best Practices of Fatherhood workshop for High School students under the direction of The Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida with the support of The Children’s Trust under the late Gus Barreiro, a champion for children. Their mission was to establish a program that would show young people they cared about their future as they contemplate life’s decisions. With one out of four children growing up without a father, the father team strongly felt that by encouraging young people to think about their future goals and the skills involved, they would impact their thoughts about finishing school, community building, family goals, and being engaged participant in making informed decisions. 

The fathers’ commitment to this program and their individual and group work with youth has earned them the distinction of Great Contributors to Youth Development. This program is in tribute to Gus Barreiro who tirelessly fought for young men who he spent many years mentoring and providing them hope for the future.

La’Mott Croom, Jonathan Eastman, Kacey Merchant, Antwayne Leland, Denrich Everitt, Ijamyn Gray, Corey Patterson


Through a participatory learning approach, high school students will learn what it means to be an engaged father as a life choice. Community father-leaders/facilitators collaborate with students to provide a life-long timeline supporting academic achievement, community building, family engagement, how to plan for the future and become the master of their own goals.

To inquire about scheduling a workshop at your school, community center or faith-based organization,
Contact Holly Zwerling 305.812.4000

Fatherhood Squad Reading and Mentoring Program Video

2019 Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent’s Choice Award

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Most Valuable Father Award

February: Antwayne Leland

Despite Challenges of Diabetes, Most Valuable Father Antwayne Leland, Stands as a Role Model at Son’s School. “I volunteer at my child’s school because I know the students need a male role model to guide them.”


July: Cory White (view full story)


January: Antwayne Leland (view full story)


June: Mayor Carlos A. Giménez (view full story)

June: Supt. Alberto Carvalho (view full story)

June: James. R. Haj (view full story)

June: David Lawrence, Jr. (view full story)

June: Vance Aloupis (view full story)

June: Lonnie Lawrence (view full story)

June: Dr. Wil Blechman (view full story)

June: Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky (view full story)

June: Dr. Etiony Aldarondo (view full story)

April-May: Brian Person (view full story)

February-March: Gregory Williams (view full story)

January: Emmanuel Philogene (view full story)


December: Alan Jackowitz (view full story)

November: Staff Sgt Select Jose Bolanos (view full story)

October: Henri Francois (view full story)

Fatherhood Magazine: Especially for future, expectant, new and experienced fathers and their families.

Paternal Healthcare & Education Conference

Focus on Expectant and New Fathers’ Health and Rights & Responsibilities