ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Americans throughout the country helped Donald J. Trump become the 45th President of the United States of America, and one of those leaders lives right here in Orlando: the incredible Bertica Cabrera Morris. And while I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have an acrylic jet, there’s no doubt she has the mind and influence of a political superhero.
A few years ago I was considering a run for political office. A friend (her brother Jose) suggested, “you need to talk to my sister Bertica.” Soon I would meet Bertica and realize she was a powerful political resource. I thought it was time to find some small way to celebrate this anomaly in Florida politics, an admired woman with immense integrity, intelligence, professionalism and wit. Don’t be fooled by her 5’4″ (or so) frame–Bertica knows her politics and she knows how to manage the ever-evolving landscape of life in ways often admired and awed at a distance. With photos of family surrounding her desk she doesn’t hesitate to share that it is her faith and family that inspire her.
“A political dynamo is a great way to describe Bertica. She has the ability to quietly accomplish and get things done in business and politics most simply cannot comprehend, rendering her very effective,” said Attorney Frank Kruppenbacher (below), who is widely known as one of the most powerful figures in Central Florida politics. “What is equally, if not more impressive, is [that] when Bertica is your friend, she is your friend. Her loyalty and dedication to her friends speaks volumes to her character.”
When you walk into Bertica’s downtown corner office, which overlooks Orlando City Hall and the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, you quickly realize how connected she actually is. Photos of her with presidents, governors, senators, congressmen, many local elected officials and countless awards line her walls and shelves.
When I arrived for my first meeting with Bertica, a number of years ago, she was wrapping up a call with the Governor’s office. I remember distinctly because she said, “Sorry, give me a moment. I’m on a call with the Governor.” And I thought, great, how do I follow the Governor?
Uniquely, she immediately made me comfortable with a smile that is infectious and a maternal tone to her voice that calms you allowing you to know you can trust and believe in her. On her desk, stacks of business cards which clearly she prefers over rifling through technology to contact what must be a priceless rolodex of resources. Her phone and computer are obvious close companions. You realize quickly that she knows time is valuable and her words will be clear and concise. It is in this meeting that she gave me my first piece of advice: “Spend time building bridges and mending fences.” Wise words to live by if you’re in politics, business or interested in peace in your life in general.
“Bertica Cabrera Morris is a treasure for the Republican Party of Orange County and for the entire State of Florida. No campaign or party event, for the last three decades, has been truly complete without Bertica’s tremendous and unique talents,” says Lew Oliver (below), an attorney and Chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, Florida. “Her energy, devotion, fundraising skills, eloquence on behalf of the Hispanic Community and on behalf of women and entrepreneurs is an exceptional resource for anyone and everyone in Republican politics. There is literally no one else in Bertica’s class; she is one of a kind.”
Bertica was born in Havana, Cuba, and got her start not in politics, but in the banking industry. She fled Cuba to escape Castro’s communist regime. Bertica began her journey in Spain, then onto California before landing in Florida in 1979.
“Bertica has a very deep love and respect for America because her family fled a communist dictator where people were killed who disagreed with their government. For her, politics is not a game,” said John Dowless (below), political strategist and Edgewood City Council President. “It’s about protecting the values that make America the exceptional country that we are. That’s why she’s willing to give so much of her time, talents and resources.”
Bertica was the first female administrator within the Orange County Public School system. In the early 1990’s she served as Assistant to the Chairman (known today as Mayor) of Orange County in Charge of Community Affairs.
“When I took office as Mayor of Orange County, Bertica was one of the first people I reached out to for advice and guidance,” recalled former Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty (below).
In 1993, she made the jump to open her own Public/Business Relations and Government Affairs Consulting firm in downtown Orlando where she remains the sole proprietor. Bertica helps with strategic planning for a gamete of Fortune 100 to Fortune 500 companies. Early on her efforts caught the attention of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who appointed her to the Central Florida Transit Authority (LYNX).
“Women who get into politics often look to other successful women who have flourished in what was once a male-dominated industry. Young women and girls who follow Bertica’s lead today will be Florida’s leaders of tomorrow,” expressed Republican consultant and local political television commentator Michelle Ertel (below).
Bertica went on to serve on the Board of Directors for World Cup Soccer, City of Orlando Sister Cities Committee and on the board for the Arts Council for Central Florida. More recently, she is the immediate past Chairman of the Valencia College Board of Trustees, appointed by then Florida Governor Jeb Bush and reappointed by former Florida Governor, now United States Congressman, Charlie Crist. Bertica is a member of the Board of Directors for Tiger Bay, Central Florida’s premier non-partisan political club.
Andrea Kudlacz (below), seventeen-year Executive Director of Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, saw Bertica’s influence firsthand. She mentioned to Bertica that if the opportunity ever arose to have Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) speak at Tiger Bay it would be wonderful. “Last fall, immediately following the general election, lo and behold, Bertica got us Governor Haley Barbour. That visit would never have happened without her,” Kudlacz recalled. “People from all political parties gave kudos to the meeting content and the Governor. The Governor privately shared with me he would always be available for Bertica and her causes. I thought that was a huge compliment to her. It made me a fan of hers for life. She’s a woman of her word and an extremely valuable member of our Board of Directors.”
Some might be familiar with Bertica’s role in Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s first campaign. She was one of his original supporters and hosted one of his first campaign fundraisers as his Chairwoman for the I-4 corridor. And while she admits she was a Rubio supporter prior to President Trump getting the nomination she’ll tell you, “Once Trump had the nomination, I was all in for him and I still am. I am a very loyal person. Trump is our President and I will do all I can to help the Administration.”
During the past year, Bertica was best known for serving as a surrogate to the 2016 Republican National Committee/Convention and to the Donald J. Trump campaign. She represented both organizations in Spanish and English to hundreds of media outlets nationally and internationally. Bertica expressed, “It was such an honor. Better yet…we won!” And when you consider some of the perceived challenges the media suggested regarding the Trump campaign, with both women and Hispanics, Bertica and her surrogate campaign media work helped dispel those myths. And still does.
“Bertica, unfailing, brings her smarts and common sense to every campaign and project in which she involves herself. She has been invaluable to GOP efforts many times, but never more than for the Donald J. Trump campaign last year. It’s a bonus to call her friend,” said Susie Wiles (below), Florida Trump Campaign Director, two-time Campaign Manager for Florida Governor Rick Scott, and Managing Partner of Ballard Partners.
Just last week Bertica was invited to the White House, along with a small group of women from all over the United States, celebrating their work with the Trump Presidential campaign. During her visit she was thanked by our President, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and the President’s cabinet. “It is so humbling to be recognized and to be thanked. The trip to the White House has to be one of the highlights of my career,” Bertica stated.
“Bertica continues to be a dedicated, tireless and effective force for the Florida Republican Party,” noted Mike Beale, CCIM, Chief Executive Officer/Principal, Bishop Beale Properties.
“Bertica understands that the only way to dismantle the Democrat hold in Orange County is to become active in this community and beyond,” explained Jay Rodriguez, National Chairman, Hispanic Republican Organization.
You might ask, “When does she have time for family?” Well, family is a priority to Bertica. She is happily married to her husband Brian Morris and they have five adult children. She and Brian just recently became grandparents. Additionally, Bertica’s nephew is a familiar name in Orange County politics. Eddie Fernandez (below), an attorney in private practice, is the former Orange County Clerk of Courts. Fernandez said, “There are very few people known simply by their first name. When her name is spoken everyone stops, listens and acts. Her lifelong commitment and participation in the political process speaks for itself!”
I leave you with some of the best advice I received this past year from Bertica. It sums up the kind of person she is and how really grounded she is in what can best be described as an unusual time in politics. “Take this all in. Don’t focus on the finish line. Focus on the people you’ll meet along the way. Therein are the gifts.” We all thank you Bertica Cabrera Morris. You truly are one in a million.
Randy Ross is a political contributor for Florida National News.