Shari Africk-Olefson was elected to serve Broward County residents as a Circuit Court Judge for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in August of 2018. Her duties have included overseeing cases involving Dependency (child abuse, abandonment, and neglect), Juvenile Delinquency, Domestic Violence, First Appearances (aka ‘Magistrate’ or ‘Bond Court’), Risk Protection Orders, and most recently Family Court.
On the bench, Judge Africk-Olefson has worked hard to improve child welfare in Broward County in numerous ways, including convening over one-hundred cross sector stakeholders with University of Miami cannabis researchers for a two year qualitative study and task force titled, "Cannabis and the Court: Improving Dependency Outcomes for Cases When Parents Use Medical Marijuana"; creating a weekly "Inappropriate Placement Docket" for children placed in a temporary shelter for more than the few days for which those facilities were intended; developing a CLE workshop to help raise awareness and engage lawyers in child welfare opportunities such as becoming a Special Needs Attorney ad Litem, Special Public Defender, or Family Court Guardian ad Litem, and; grounded in Attachment Theory and Maslow's Hierarchy of Need, mapping to improve Modification of Placement planning, transitions, and outcomes for children who have been removed from their parent's care and custody.
Prior to that, Judge Africk-Olefson served as Executive Director of The Carnegie Group think tank, based in Florida, Washington DC, and New York, where she convened and led cross-sector experts in housing, finance, healthcare, and pay equity, providing consulting, thought-leadership, expert witnesses, and speakers, among other services, for clients that included corporations, financial institutions, trade associations, government agencies, and GSEs (FreddieMac-Fannie Mae).
As a member of the Florida, New York, and District of Columbia Bar Associations, and Bar Certified in Real Estate law, Judge Africk-Olefson worked as an Equity Partner for several large law firms, representing financial institutions, developers, and healthcare companies in transactions, work-outs, and litigation. For over a decade, she served as President and CEO of a Fortune 300 title insurance joint venture.
Judge Africk-Olefson’s book “Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream,” was published by Prometheus, N.Y. in 2009. Her book, “Financial Fresh Start: Your Five Step Plan for Navigating the Recovery,” was published by AMACOM, N.Y. in 2012. Judge Africk-Olefson also contributed to a variety of publications for the legal community, including “Structuring Commercial Real Estate Transactions” (Aspatore, USA, 2011); “Florida Foreclosure Defense Strategies: An Immediate Look at the Best Practices for Assisting Distressed Homeowners in Florida” (Aspatore, USA, 2009), and; “Florida Foreclosure; What Lawyers Need to Know Now” (Andrews Publications, 2009). During the 2008 real estate and economic crisis, she was relied upon by members of Congress and the media as a respected subject matter expert, leading foreclosure prevention workshops and townhalls, and appearing weekly on major news networks including CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, CBS, PBS, and others. Judge Africk-Olefson helped pioneer the Collins Center for Mediation, applying her experience as a Certified Mediator to help save thousands of homes.
As members of our community for almost fifty years, Judge Africk-Olefson and her family have passionately supported child welfare, the arts, environment and marine life, affordable housing, Israel/Jewish organizations, human rights, and equality. She was raised in Great Neck, N.Y. and Fort Lauderdale, FL, graduating from Pine Crest Preparatory School in 1981. Judge Africk-Olefson earned Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Journalism from Carnegie-Mellon University; a Juris Doctorate degree from The Benjamin Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City; an LLM in Finance, Development, Real Property and Land Use from the University of Miami, a Masters degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Neurology from Nova Southeastern University; and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from New York University.