Katy Sorenson is the president and CEO of The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami, a program to educate elected officials at the state and local level in the important issues of governance. Sorenson’s commitment to civic activism began in 1965 after attending a civil rights demonstration with her cousins, and it continued throughout her career as an elected official. Sorenson was often recognized for her excellence in office, receiving the first ever Marjory Stoneman Douglas Environmental Award from the Friends of the Everglades, the Elected Official of the Year award from the Dade Cultural Alliance, the Public Official of the Year from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Champion for Children Award, the Women of Impact Award, and the Herbert Hoover award as Conservationist of the Year, among many others.
In 1994, she was first elected to represent District 8 on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners after defeating the incumbent in a grassroots campaign. Her southern district included more than 170,000 residents of diverse backgrounds, and it encompassed three cities and a significant portion of the agricultural lands of the county. As a commissioner, she was an outspoken advocate for human rights and equality for all residents, for the environment and managed growth, regional cooperation, child welfare issues, and support for the arts. Her proudest achievements were defeating plans for an ill-conceived airport at Homestead Air Reserve Base, a site located between Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, and sponsoring and passing an amendment to the human rights ordinance which guaranteed civil rights to gay and lesbian citizens.
She served as Vice Chair of the Commission from 2002-2004, was on the executive committee of the South Florida Regional Planning Council, and was Chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Organization. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Counties. In 2004, she was selected to attend Harvard University’s Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government at the Kennedy School of Government, which provided much inspiration for the Good Government Initiative.
Today Sorenson serves as Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Building Better Communities Bond Program of Miami-Dade County; as Co-Chair of the External Advisory Committee of the Robert Stempel School of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University; as the Vice Chair of the CLEO Institute; as an advisory board member of the Tropical Audubon Society; as a member of the Board of Directors of Florida Women of Achievement; as an advisory board member of the New Leaders Council; and as an advisory board member of ReServe Miami.
Sorenson received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She served as a legislative aide to Illinois State Senator Dawn Clark Netsch, as a political consultant, and as the executive director of California Women Lawyers Bar Association. She has been married to Janis Dzelzkalns, M.D., since 1978 and they have two adult children, Emma and Arnie. She and Janis live in Pinecrest with their cat, Inga.