Becker & Poliakoff

Becker Celebrates Women’s History Month: Meet LaToya Sheals

Becker Celebrates Women’s History Month: Meet LaToya Sheals

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Becker is showcasing the inspiration, philosophies, and expertise of the women attorneys and lobbyists who help elevate our firm and client service. LaToya Sheals is a Senior Government Relations Consultant in Becker’s Government and Lobbying Practice. She has extensive experience in investigating and analyzing legislation and developing public policy on an array of issues such as Healthcare, Education, Transportation, Economic Development, Taxes, and Judicial matters within the State of Florida, Michigan, and Washington, DC.

Q: Explain your practice area and what you do.

A: Government Law and Lobbying – in this area, I provide clients with valuable insight and a deep understanding of the legislative, administrative, and regulatory process. In simpler terms, I consider myself to be a relationship builder, a connector, and an advocate.  It is an honor to help my clients by advocating on their behalf and connecting them with the right people who will help facilitate their needs.

Q: How did you know you wanted to become a lobbyist?

A: Good question.  I began my career in the legislative process as a policy analyst in Michigan while in law school. That work introduced me to the world of reviewing policy and creating laws.  When I returned to Florida, I had the privilege of working in the Florida Senate and I remember saying one day, I wonder what it would be like to be a lobbyist.  I guess you can say I manifested where I am today.  I spoke it into existence, and I am grateful that it came true.

Q: What is a significant achievement or milestone in your career that you’re particularly proud of?

A: During my first legislative session as a lobbyist, I had the honor of helping secure a record $30 million in recurring funds for Florida’s Private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Edward Waters University, Bethune Cookman University, and Florida Memorial University.  As an HBCU graduate myself, it was an honor to secure those dollars and to see how it has helped the students and the institutions.

Q: What qualities do you admire about the women in your life?

A: I think the thing that really gets me about the awesome ladies in my world is how strong they are.  I mean these women do it all: they’re running the household as wives and most, cooking meals, running businesses, cracking jokes, looking after us when we’re sick, and even teaching us things whether it be about our studies or life.  It’s pretty incredible.  Every now and then, I just take a minute to think about my mom, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, best friends, and cousins.  Watching them juggle everything is super inspiring. Honestly, if I had to pick one word to describe what I see in them, it would be strength.

Q: Who is your favorite female historical figure and why?

A: Shirley Chisholm because of her contributions to the political world. As the first black woman elected to the United States Congress and later the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, Shirley Chisholm showed me the greatness that I can achieve in this political world.

Q: What obstacles do women still face today?

A: There are several obstacles that women still face today such as: 1) Gender pay gap; 2) Workplace discrimination and sexism; 3) underrepresentation in leadership; 4) work-life balance; 5) healthcare access and rights.

Q: What is something you would like the next generation of women to know?

A: Understand the significance of your self-worth.  Recognizing your individuality and the unique contributions you offer is fundamental to building resilience and facilitating informed, beneficial professional and personal choices.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

A: If I could chat with my younger self, I’d say, “Hey, go with the flow because change is going to happen whether you’re ready or not.  Also, don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. Taking risks is how you learn and expand your horizons.  Oh, and another thing, relax and give yourself some credit. Trust your gut, have a little faith, and don’t forget to be thankful for the small stuff.”