Meet Vennia V. Francois our featured attorney of the week.
Vennia Francois was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. One of nine children, she is a first generation American. Vennia’s parents immigrated to the United States from the Bahamas in 1971 with little more than an unshakeable faith in the promise of America and a determination to work hard. They earned their way into the middle class working multiple jobs, and eventually became small business owners.
Vennia attended Edgewater High School in Orlando and, after graduation, matriculated at the University of Florida, where she worked with the College Republicans on several Republican campaigns throughout the state. Vennia then transferred to Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, where she graduated with a degree in biology, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college.
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Although she originally planned to apply to medical school after college, Vennia found her calling volunteering on political campaigns and performing community service during her undergraduate years. She ultimately chose to pursue law rather than medicine so that she would be better equipped to effect community and political change and earned her law degree from Florida A&M in 2007. To pay her way through law school, Vennia worked for Michael and Steve Maher as an intake coordinator for the medical and nursing home malpractice division of The Maher Law Firm, one of Central Florida’s preeminent law firms.
Vennia has devoted virtually her entire career to public service. In 2005, while still in law school, she was appointed by Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty to the county’s Minority & Women’s Business Enterprise Committee (MWBE). That same year, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer appointed her to the Certification Appeals Board of Orlando, where she conducted hearings ensuring the integrity of the MWBE program. She held both positions for nearly two years. Vennia also interned for Florida Republican Congressman John Mica and Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez.
After graduating from law school, Vennia joined Senator Martinez’s staff full time as a policy advisor. After Senator Martinez’s retirement, Vennia continued in this role for his successor, Republican Senator George LeMieux. She developed expertise in a wide range of policy issues affecting Floridians, including education, banking, labor, and transportation.
In 2011, Vennia moved to the private sector, where she remained for two years before returning to public service in 2013 as a contract attorney for Lockheed Martin. Lockheed assigned her to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where she worked in the Enforcement Division, helping to protect the public from fraudulent and deceptive financial practices. Among other things, she was an integral part of a team prosecuting several high-profile court cases and enforcement actions. She remained at the SEC through November 2017.
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Vennia has also worked on several Republican presidential campaigns. In 2012, she volunteered as a state strategy room operator, local liaison, and rapid response team member for Lawyers for Romney. In 2016, Vennia was named as an African American National Steering Committee Ambassador for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, assisting the campaign with African-American voter engagement.
Vennia is a member of the Florida Bar, District of Columbia Bar, the United States Supreme Court, Orange County Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, the Federalist Society, Republican National Lawyers Association, the National Federation of Republican Women, AEI Leadership Network and the Junior League. Vennia is a board member of the Orlando World Live Foundation, advisory council board member to the Civil Rights Study Alliance, and United Abolitionist, the leading anti-trafficking agency in Central Florida. In her free time, she enjoys music, tennis, and golf (which she is terrible at but continues to work on). She is also a die-hard Florida Gators fan. Vennia grew up singing with her sisters at their church, Calvary Assembly of Winter Park, Florida, where she and her family have been members for over 40 years. While at Lee University, she sang with the Lee Singers, the University’s premier vocal ensemble. Vennia traveled extensively with the ensemble as an Ambassador for the University, performing nationwide and abroad.