To provide legal and social services to victims of domestic violence and to promote awareness and education within our community, legal community and law enforcement agencies.
“Nine years, over 500 restraining order hearings and over 250 educational seminars and
community outreach activities!”
Advocating… Educating… Empowering
Founded in 2009 by four dedicated Bay Area attorneys, Are You Safe set out with a mission to become advocates in the community, ensuring that victims and their children could find a sense of safety and security by having their own Pro Bono attorney help them navigate the legal system.
Five years, nearly 150 restraining order hearings, over 100 educational seminars and community outreach activities and over 1,000 pro bono hours later, Are You Safeʼs advocacy work has only grown. We now provide free counseling to both victims and their families, while also promoting awareness and education to the numerous communities that make up the Tampa Bay Area through our seminars and speaking engagements.
What We Do
- Advocate for Domestic Violence Victims and their children in obtaining Restraining orders, also known as Injunctions for Protection
- Assist Domestic Violence Victims in completing documents to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order
- Provide free representation at the Final Hearing for Restraining Order
- Assist Domestic Violence Victims in obtaining services needed to re-establish their lives without the abuser
- Provide free counseling services to victims to empower them to leave domestic violence relationships for good
- Provide free domestic violence educational seminars to local businesses, schools, religious organizations, and professions in an effort to stop domestic violence before it starts
ARE YOU SAFE, Inc. – Board Of Directors
Linda Shiflet – President
Linda was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She attended University of Chapel Hill for undergraduate school, and the University of Miami, for law school. Her first job was with Bay Area Legal Services in their Dade City office. She then worked as an appellate attorney with the Public Defender’s office in Lakeland . After doing appellate work for 4 years, she became a felony trial attorney with the Public Defender’s office in Tampa, handling felony cases. The last 20 years of my career, she has worked as an assistant State Attorney in Hillsborough County. She was in the domestic violence division as supervisor for over 6 years, helping train young assistants in the handling of domestic violence cases in the criminal realm. She is now assigned to the felony intake of domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse and neglect cases. She has interviewed and worked with unknown numbers of victims and has developed a deep understanding of the horrible violence many of these victims experience, both physical and psychologically. During her career, she has assisted in training in domestic violence issues with law enforcement, and others in the public to help them gain an understanding of domestic violence. In an effort to continue her work in helping victims of domestic violence, she reached out to R-U Safe to offer my aid and assistance.
Billy Bullwinkel – Vice President
Billy Bullwinkel graduated from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, where he also was a member of the Bulldog wrestling team. Billy is currently Chief Development Officer at Gulf Coast Injury Center, Tampa Bay’s premier chiropractic and medical clinic providing treatment for injuries sustained in car accidents, slip and falls, worker’s compensation, and sports injuries. Billy has been involved in marketing and fundraising efforts for several non-profits for over 10 years and is bringing his experience to continue to grow Are You Safe. In his free time he is a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at Fivay High School with his identical twin brother Matt.
Ash Ludwig – Treasurer
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Ella Shenhav – Secretary
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Lawrence Jacob Hodz, P.A.
Lawrence was born in 1977 in Jacksonville, Florida where he lived until moving to Orlando, Florida to attend the University of Central Florida.
Lawrence received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Central Florida in 1998, graduating in just three years. Immediately after graduating, Lawrence attended law school and received his Juris Doctor from Florida State University College of Law in 2001.
Following law school, Lawrence moved to Tampa, Florida and practiced insurance defense in the area of workers compensation. In 2002, Lawrence joined a prestigious national law firm with its home office in Tampa, Florida. Initially, Lawrence was an associate working in the Immigration and Nationality Law Department and also did some work in the Personal Injury/Civil Litigation Department. While there, Lawrence began taking cases and representing clients in the area of Marital and Family Law. As his case load grew, Lawrence began the firm’s Marital and Family Law Department and became a partner/shareholder with the firm before the age of 30. In 2010, Lawrence left the firm to join his wife Vivian in her practice, which was known as the Law Firm of Vivian Cortes Hodz, P.A. Upon Lawrence joining Vivian, the firm became known as Cortes Hodz Law Family Law and Mediation, P.A.
Lawrence continues to represent clients in the areas of marital and family law. Lawrence has represented clients from all walks of life from the unemployed to former and active professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s and business owners.
Lawrence is a member of the Florida Bar, the Hillsborough County Bar association, the Stann W. Givens Family Law Inn of Court and sits on its executive committee and devotes significant time coaching baseball at the Bloomingdale Youth Sports Association.
Joe Marshburn is Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager for the Bank of Tampa at the downtown branch office. He works closely with law firms and attorneys, responding to their needs with keen insight and the highest degree of personalized service. While Joe is not only a proud husband and father, he is very involved in philanthropic activities with such organizations as the YMCA. Joe’s current role as a board member of Are
You Safe, Inc. is to assist with strategic planning, marketing and fundraising efforts.
Rachael Rudin, P.A. (Chair, Injunction Committee)
Rachael is an attorney with the Family First Law Group, PLC, a legal practice devoted entirely to marital, family law, estate planning and probate. She is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, and serves as a Guardian ad Litem in contested family law matters. Rachael was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, but has lived in Tampa since 2006. She graduated with honors from Louisiana State University in 2006, earning her B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Business Administration. In 2009, Rachael graduated with her Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law, where she served as a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Team.
Rachael currently serves on the Hillsborough County Family Law Executive Council and co-chairs the Continuing Legal Education committee. She is also a member of the Family Law Section and Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar, and a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, and the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers, co-chairing the organization’s Mentoring committee in 2013-2014. Rachael has been a volunteer with Are-You-Safe since 2013, and became a board member in 2015.
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Cory Baird, Esq. (Founder/Past President)
Shortly after establishing the Baird Law Group with his wife, Cory survived a serious head-on car collision. His firsthand injury experience inspired him to become a tireless advocate for the rights and concerns of personal injury victims. Cory has since litigated a wide range of injury cases throughout Florida, including motor vehicle wrecks, premises liability, negligent security, bounce house negligence, and medical/dental malpractice.
Cory worked as a Certified Public Accountant with Deloitte and Touche before obtaining his Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from Stetson University of Law. He is a Past President, Treasurer, Director and co-founder of Are You Safe, a charity that provides free services to domestic violence victims.
Jason Valkenburg, Esq. (Founder/Past President)
Jason Valkenburg is a co-founder of Are You Safe and a partner at Valkenburg & Velez. Born and raised in Winter Park, Florida, Jason moved to the Tampa area in 1998 to attend Stetson Law School, where he received his Juris Doctorate in 2001. After graduating from law school, Jason began to work at the State Attorney’s Office for the Honorable Mark Ober. While working at the State Attorney’s Office, Jason tried numerous jury trials gaining a thorough knowledge of trial advocacy. After three years of service with the State Attorney’s Office, Jason joined his wife in private practice at Valkenburg & Velez. Valkenburg & Velez is a general practice law firm with a primary focus on Personal Injury, Family Law, Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation. Since joining Valkenburg & Velez, Jason has continued to represent his clients in the successfully in the courtroom using the skills he gained at the State Attorney’s Office to his client’s advantage.
As a co-founder of Are You Safe, Jason’s goal is to create domestic violence awareness and to promote the mission statement of Are You Safe. Jason knows that Are You Safe may not be able to eradicate the threat of domestic violence, but hopes that with the organizations involvement in the community, as well as other organizations, domestic violence will be more recognizable. With heightened recognition Jason hopes that victims will be able to get the help they need to leave an abusive situation and live a happy life free from the threat of violence.
Natalie Baird, Esq. (Founder/Past President)
Natalie Baird is a Florida native; born and raised in Lakeland, Florida. She attended Nova Southeastern Law School and has practiced family law related cases since graduating law school in 2001. She and her husband, Cory, own and manage their law firm, The Baird Law Group. Natalie’s primary focus is family law cases involving domestic violence.
Natalie is a survivor of domestic violence herself. She has a passion for assisting victims through the legal process and being an advocate against domestic violence in our community. Natalie served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Spring of Tampa Bay and also served on its Board of Directors.
Natalie, along with her Husband, Cory, and two (2) other local attorneys, Miriam Velez and Jason Valkenburg, founded ARE YOU SAFE to help domestic violence victims obtain domestic violence injunctions in court. The mission of Are You Safe is to allow every victim and their children to escape an abusive relationship, to have representation at a domestic violence injunction hearing and to assist the victim in transitioning out of an abusive relationship.
KRISTIN E. DIMEO formed Litigation Support Advisors, P.L.C., a CPA firm in Tampa exclusively providing litigation support services and business valuation services, in December 2006. Kristin was formerly the Senior Manager at Stahl Consulting Group, P.A. in Tampa. She has received Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of South Florida and Boston University. Kristin received her ABV (Accredited in Business Valuation) credential from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is experienced in many areas of litigation support including family law, commercial damages, personal injury, eminent domain and forensic accounting. She has performed business valuations for the purposes of marital dissolution, shareholder disputes, commercial damages, estate and gift tax and eminent domain. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accounts (FICPA), the Institute of Business Appraisers, and an affiliate member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. Kristin is also a member of the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group and the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay. She serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of Chapters Health Systems, LifePath Hospice and Are You Safe, Inc.
Patsy Evans, LMHC, D.O.M.
Patsy, a.k.a. Dr. Harmony and The ALLternative Therapist, is one of Florida’s leading Mental Health Counselors operating primarily throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. She is also a licensed Acupuncture Physician and brings her unique blend of skills to bear in services encompassing collaborative divorce, Traumatology, family mediation & holistic psychotherapy. Patsy is also a Supreme Court Certified Family Court Mediator. Through her own personal experiences and her unique insights, she has forged an extraordinarily successful methodology designed to combat uncomfortable feelings which may be interfering with your daily life, relationships, work and health.
Her accreditation and certifications are extensive and her resume is impressive, but it is her character, insight & her complete engagement that makes her the counselor of choice to clients in the know. She is both endearing and personable, but is also an acute observer, qualities which help facilitate her disarming approach to conflict resolution.
Mrs. Evans has been a professor, public speaker, researcher and advocate for the alternative culture community and the alternative dispute resolution movement. She is the developer of the new counseling paradigm, The ALLternative Transitions Model, and currently is training students and counselors in this innovative method of treatment. Patsy is also very active in community service volunteer work within several charitable organizations such as R-U-Safe.org and HarmonyUs, Inc.
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Inspirational Speaker and Domestic Violence Educator: Valerie Miller
Valerie LaShawn Miller is a Legal Secretary III at the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office for the Felony Bureau Chief. She has been working there for 21 years. Valerie attended the Mt. Tabor Bible College and served on the Board as the Secretary. She has an Associate’s Degree & Bachelor’s Degree in Theology graduating both times with Summa Cum Laude Honors.
She is a Certified Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Advocate. She is on the Board of Education with the “Are You Safe Organization” and volunteers as a Domestic Violence Educator and Speaker for the organization.
Valerie has been married to John Lester Miller for 18 years and is the mother of three daughters, ValTrenda, Maria and Toniqua. She is the stepmother of two, Brittany and John Jr. and a proud grandmother of eight. She is an active member of the Ekklesia Ministries Church of God in Christ, where she serves as an Aspiring Missionary on the Missionary Board under the leadership of her Pastor, Major C. Jones II. She is now working with “Bruised but not Broken Ministries” that minister to the abused men and women. Most of all, she is a Phenomenal Woman with a testimony and a Heart & Passion to help empower the physical, emotional and sexual abused men, women and children to revive from living in fear of mankind to living in victory!
If you are interested in booking Valerie to speak at your next event or give a seminar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 813.997.7432.