Julie Waldman

Julie Waldman

Deputy Center Administrator, Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Julie Waldman works to advocate for those who don’t have a voice themselves, such as children, the elderly and the disabled. Waldman’s ferocity stems from her knowing what is right and who she is in life. She has faith in following her personal compass and consistently works to enrich the lives of those around her. Waldman is motivated daily by a hot shower and a cup of coffee but said the feeling of empowerment to follow her passions keeps her going long after the coffee runs out. Waldman is a committed mentor to young women through many female and mentorship programs. She encouraged each young woman to find their inner warrior and works to build their self-esteem.


“Remember, between the water and the rock, the water always wins. Understand the considerable power of your words — the power to heal and the power to harm,” said Waldman.


What does it mean to be Fierce?

I am no shrinking violet – I know the law, I know what is right and I will not be intimidated or back down. Because I know who I am in life, I follow my own strong compass with integrity, with the conviction that my efforts to enrich the lives of those around me are destined for eventual success. I am fierce in advocating for the rights of others, especially the most vulnerable among us – children, the elderly and the developmentally disabled. Being fierce means I understand that life is about service to others, not serving myself.


What does success, achievement and accomplishment mean to you?

We all experience large and small successes on a daily basis. We should celebrate our own success, as well as the success of others, for success breeds success! An achievement is a culmination of many successes, and probably some failures as well. I’m proud of my achievements because they are stepping stones in meeting my goals. True accomplishment denotes a level of expertise and is accompanied by a sense of humility, as a truly accomplished person understands the sacrifices and failures, as well as the successes and achievements, that have shaped and molded her.

What motivates you in the morning?

Coffee and a hot shower will always get me started but being empowered to follow my passions on a daily basis keeps me going long after the caffeine runs out! I have been very fortunate throughout my career to do work that engages both my mind and soul and allows me to have a positive impact on those around me.

What or who is inspiring you right now? Why?

After many years of community engagement, I want to continue to serve our community by running for election to the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court. Being a first-time candidate, I am finding the process to be exciting, informative and gratifying, albeit exhausting! As a lawyer, I have always had great respect for the democratic process and am electrified by the opportunity to participate!

What was the best decision you’ve made? What’s the worst?

The best decision I ever made was to accept a job in Gainesville, Florida, although I knew next to nothing about the area. It’s been my home now for over 25 years and I have deep roots in the community. North Central Florida has everything I could want in a home – like minded friends, a thriving business community, culture, fine dining, great shopping and great natural beauty.

What has been your biggest obstacle and how have you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle is my enthusiasm for getting involved in a good cause. There are so many opportunities to be impactful, and I am not deterred by what others might consider a blistering pace! However, I realize my own limits in striving to serve others and have learned to take a realistic look at my current commitments, my schedule, and my personal priorities before I take on a new challenge. I have developed an ability to say “no” to unreasonable requests or onerous expectations.

How do you address negativity in your life and in business?

My therapist has a warm, wet nose. I find quality time playing and cuddling with my canine partner revitalizes me with warm fuzzies. From this more positive perspective, I am better able to cope with nay-sayers or crumbling plans. I have laid aside all fear of ever “running out of ideas,” as I am good at thinking outside the box and have discovered within me an inexhaustible fountain of creativity!

Is there a particular instance or occurrence that you credit for building your confidence and self-esteem?

My father wanted his three daughters to be independent and self-sufficient. By the time I graduated from high school, I could use a budget, shop for groceries, cook simple nutritious meals and manage a checking account. I could do these things because my father cared enough to teach me and because he believed in my potential. This gave me the freedom to pursue my passions ardently and in a way that expresses my innate creativity.

How do you empower other women?

I am committed to mentoring young women to give them opportunities to develop confidence and self-esteem, encouraging their inner “warrior.” I served as an advisor to my undergraduate sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, on four different campuses and have participated in many mentoring programs in the local community, including Take Stock in Children, the Justice Teaching Initiative and the Florida Bar Law-Related Education Committee. Additionally, I developed an externship program in conjunction with the University of Florida enabling me to professionally oversee law students and provide some real-world experience to them. My participation in Alachua County Teen Court provides me the opportunity to speak directly to young women at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives. In my spare time, I provide counsel and employment advice to the women enrolled in the Displaced Homemakers Program at Santa Fe College.

What change do you want to see in your industry?

I have devoted my career to public service advocating for Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. During my tenure, awareness of the developmentally disabled community and respect for their needs and rights has increased dramatically.

Do you have any advice for young women as they try to achieve their goals?

Aim high, and then make a long-range plan to get there. Break your plan down into a series of short-term goals, and don’t forget to reward yourself when you achieve your milestones! Remember, between the water and the rock, the water always wins. Understand the considerable power of your words — the power to heal, and the power to harm. Because of this great power, take great care and daily discipline to avoid using your word against yourself, against your sisters or against anyone else.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Serving Florida’s most vulnerable citizens with respect, compassion, integrity and proficiency.

How to you defy the current stereotypes, stigmas and double standards that women have today?

I am blonde and bubbly, but that doesn’t mean that I am any less a dynamo! I am the Deputy Center Administrator of a 24-hour residential facility, Tacachale, which is one of the largest employers in Gainesville. I have climbed the ranks as a lawyer in State Government, traveling more miles and working longer hours than most of my male colleagues. I have compassion for myself, so that I may have compassion for others. Although short, I am not small and have learned to celebrate my outer beauty with style and panache. At the same time, nothing gets in the way of my inner strength. I am funny, warm and creative but I can assume a persona that makes people quake. I am woman, hear me roar!