Best Activist
Jasmyne "Toot" Taylor

When Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, some of us were lucky enough to get out of Miami. But for many others, leaving was never an option. Valencia Gunder, who founded the nonprofit Make the Homeless Smile in 2014 (which has since served more than 38,000 meals between Miami and Atlanta), not only organized volunteers to distribute food to thousands in need in neighborhoods like Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, and West Grove, but also depleted her own savings in the process. Since the storm hit, she's been part of a necessary conversation on the importance of resilience hubs — places such as schools that can regularly offer services such as classes and financial advice, as well as shelter and emergency supply distribution during natural disasters. She's also the criminal justice program manager with the New Florida Majority and has advocated for the passage of the "Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act," which aims to get state prisons and county jails to make tampons and sanitary napkins available to inmates.

Best Politician
Stian Roenning

We'll admit up-front that a lot of state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez's bills don't have a chance in hell of passing through the Florida Legislature. But that's because "JJR," as he's informally known, is one of the only true, unabashed progressives in all of Tallahassee. In previous interviews with New Times, Rodríguez has stressed that his goals are a bit grander than simply building a few extra roads in Miami-Dade County or bringing a bit of extra cash home for his district. He'd like to see a sea-change in GOP-dominated Tally — which is why he's consistently allied himself with civil rights leaders, activist groups, and other folks fighting for equal rights across Florida.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®