Meet the panelists for the Real Talk: Obstacles and Opportunities town hall

Discussion happened Feb. 17

ORLANDO, Fla. – During News 6′s Real Talk: Obstacles and Opportunities town hall, we wanted you to hear from the firsts.

Our panel featured the first Black judge in Seminole County, the first Black Miss Florida and the first Black photographer at News 6.

Before the hour-long discussion began at 8 p.m. on Feb. 17, we invited you to learn more about the panelists so you could understand their experiences and submit questions about their journey to get where they are today.

Miss Florida 2003 Ericka Dunlap

Ericka Dunlap is crowned as Miss America 2004 (Associated Press)

Ericka Dunlap is an Orlando native who graduated from both Boone High School and the University of Central Florida. While in college, she competed in the Miss Florida pageant and won the title in 2003, making her the first Black woman to earn the crown. That paved the way for her to become Miss America in 2004. She now serves as a mentor and coach as she hosts workshops and speeches on self-care, etiquette, diversity and inclusion and cultural competency. She writes that her “mission is to encourage people to find their passion and to live with authenticity and enthusiasm.”

Seminole County Judge Donna Goerner

Seminole County Judge Donna Goerner (Courtesy)

Before she became the first Black woman to serve as a judge in Seminole County, Donna Goerner worked as a private attorney and an assistant state attorney. Goerner was elected in August 2020, sworn in in January and currently serves in the juvenile division, which covers probate, guardianship and mental health cases. She earned her associate, bachelor’s and juris doctor degrees from the University of Florida. She was awarded the honor of Irving Awerman Outstanding Trial Attorney of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and currently sits on the Board Certified Criminal Trial Committee.

United Foundation of Central Florida second vice president Julien Serrano-O’Neil

Julien Serrano-O’Neil (Courtesy)

Julien Serrano-O’Neil, a Morehouse College student and 2017 graduate of Maynard Evans High School, now dedicates his time to helping the Pine Hills community where he grew up. At Morehouse, Serrano-O’Neil is a Bonner Scholar, a political science major and the school’s civic engagement coordinator. Closer to home, he serves as the second vice president of United Foundation of Central Florida, a nonprofit that helps revitalize communities in Orange County through early intervention and providing access to opportunities, both educational and otherwise. Serrano-O’Neil was previously the first president of that organization. He writes that he has “an interest in advocacy as it (relates) to community development, ensuring a safer, happier, and prosperous way of life for others.”

News 6 photojournalist Tee Taylor

Honoring News 6 photographer Tee Taylor during Black History Month

Tee Taylor joined the News 6 team in 1970 and became a photographer two years later at a time when there were no other Black men or women behind the camera at the station. He was born in Quincy in 1948 and spent his childhood working on tobacco fields earning first $10 per week then later $20 per week starting when he was 5 years old. Before entering the news business, he spent four years in the Air Force. He applied at News 6 not even a week after his service ended. He’s covered 12 Super Bowls, shuttle launches and countless other high-profile events during his tenure. These days, he’s known as a pioneer in the Orlando television market and one of the best in the business.

Rewatch the entire town hall below:

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