Pamela Burch Fort: Working for the public’s interests
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
Pamela Burch Fort has spent over 35 years protecting the public’s interests as an attorney, top Legislative staff, and the President of her own business, though she could easily be mistaken for a 30 year old. Born in Panama City, Florida, to parents who are both educators, she credits them for her commitment to education. Her father was a statistics and physics instructor who later became Vice President of Gulf Coast College. Her mother started her career as an English teacher and retired from the position of Director of Student Services for the Bay County School District. It should, therefore, be no surprise that at an early age, Pamela was an avid reader and was already looking forward to a career in law and politics.
She received a B.A. degree in government from FSU and her law degree from the FSU College of Law. Early in her career, she represented eleven (11) law firms on legislative issues, including the lawsuit against the tobacco industry that resulted in an $11 billion settlement for Florida taxpayers and smokers. In 1979, she joined the staff of the Florida Legislature where she served 16 years as staff in the Senate working as a legislative analyst; then as Staff Director to the Committee on Economics, Consumer, and Community Affairs; Insurance, Commerce, and the Committee on Banking and Insurance. Her responsibilities as Senate Staff Director included managing staff, research, and analysis of information on legislation affecting state agencies, consumer affairs, professional regulatory boards, public housing, and local governments. She, also, provided staff support to the Senate Select Committees on Sales Tax on Advertising, Business Development, the Governor’s Medical Malpractice Working Group, Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Study Commission on Property Insurance and Reinsurance, Workers Compensation Reform, Gaming, and Telecommunications.
As a member of the legislative staff from 1982-1992, she participated in the Florida redistricting process and managed the Florida Democratic legislative and congressional 2002 redistricting effort. In 2012, she served on the Board of Fair Districts Florida, responsible for the successful ballot initiative that amended the Florida Constitution for needed modifications to redistricting standards.
Pam has been President of The Commerce Group since 1995, where she works almost non-stop assisting businesses, associations, local governments, law firms, and political candidates in analyzing issues and developing strategies to address legislative, business, and political concerns. Her current community service and volunteer commitments include advocacy on behalf of the ACLU of Florida, the Florida Conference of NAACP Branches, Tallahassee Chapter of New Leaders Council, as a member of the Advisory Board of Access Democracy, and as a founding member of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists.
She is married to James Fort, a chemist, and they have two adult children. She is an active member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She says every waking moment, with the exception of time with family and commitments to work and service, is spent editing her online portal, FortReport.com, to keep the public informed on political issues impacting their lives. With a schedule like hers, it is good she is a member of the Taoist Tai Chi Center and is out of the house each day by 6 a.m. for Ashtanga Yoga to prepare for her very busy days. Thank you, Pam, for your hard work on behalf of Floridians.
Send recommendations for future Persons of the Week to email@example.com.