Ron Book is a renowned attorney and advocate in Florida. Through his law firm, Ronald L. Book, P.A., he works with a variety of clients in business, local government, health care, and nonprofits. Book also actively provides pro bono services on issues related to children, particularly protecting them from childhood sexual abuse. “I have been heavily involved in the foster care space,” he says. He is also highly recognized for his work in the homeless arena for over 31 years.
His decades-long career has seen Book literally and figuratively flying high. “Flying on Air Force One in 1980 with my boss Governor Bob Graham was a pretty high moment,” he says. “Flying out to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean and spending three days and four nights on an aircraft carrier with my friend, former NBA All-Star James Jones, was a pretty big high as well.”
Book was born in Pleasanton, California. When he was six months old, his parents were discharged from the Air Force. They then drove across the country to settle in North Miami. His mother, in particular, was instrumental in pushing him to use his voice to organize others. She encouraged him to advocate for change in his community.
The Start of a Lifetime of Advocacy
Today, Ron Book is known across the state as one of Florida’s most influential lobbyists. But Book got his start in advocacy at the early age of 13. “I decided kids needed lights in our neighborhood parks,” he explains. Following encouragement from his mother, Book drafted a petition to the city council in North Miami. “With the mayor of North Miami living around the corner from me, I organized my friends to picket his house,” he says. “When I got my night in front of the city council, I became victorious in my first effort at advocacy and bringing about change by getting approval to put lights up in all city parks.”
His success with North Miami’s city council encouraged Book. He continued organizing his friends as they became the first group of 18-year-olds to enjoy majority rights. “Nobody knew if 18-year-olds would even vote in that first election where majority rights were recognized,” he says. “But that didn’t stop elected officials and candidates from seeking the endorsement from a bunch of 18-year-old kids, including me, which provided me with access to the political process.”
An Award Winning Career
Book initially hoped to have a career in elected politics. But he eventually realized he’d be more effective as a lobbyist. He got a B.A. in Political Science from Florida International University. Then, he went on to earn his J.D. from Tulane University. “Law school helped build my advocacy skills and taught me how to put cases of advocacy together in a coordinated and focused form,” he says.
“I knew from the beginning that it was important to leave this place better than the way I found it,” he adds. “And the only way to do that is through true, pure, pro bono services, and giving back and making a difference.” Ron Book was one of 21 lawyers to receive the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards in 2023. The award recognized his work in fighting child abuse and homelessness. He was also inducted into the 2023 Tulane Law School Hall of Fame.
Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust
His work in advocating for the end of homelessness originated about 30 years ago. As Book explains, a number of prominent Miami-Dade players—including Alvah Chapman (former chairman of the Knight Ridder Corporation and the editor and publisher of the Miami Herald), Archbishop McCarthy, Monsignor Walsh, Sister Jean O’Laughlin, former Governor Jeb Bush, former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, and Rabbi Solomon Shiff—came to Tallahassee to meet with local lawmakers on passing a food and beverage tax to help fund the end of homelessness. “I got asked if I would take the issue on as a pro bono lobbying effort, and I agreed,” says Book. “Never thinking that it would lead to 30-plus years of involvement.”
With the successful passage of the tax, Book thought he would spend a year or two helping to implement the campaign. “The old cliché, ‘I got bit by the bug,’ certainly is the case here,” he says. “My parents taught me at an early age that to those much is given, much is expected. They also taught me, never quit before a job is done. Thirty years later, we have reduced unsheltered homelessness in Miami-Dade County by over 90 percent. The effort started with a little over 8,000 unsheltered individuals to the current number of just under 980. We will end unsheltered homelessness in my community in the near future.”
Ron Book’s Wishes for the Future
“What I hope in the next decade is that my community will not only reach the end of homelessness,” he says, “but be able to sustain it.”
As he continues in his lifetime of advocacy, Ron Book also gives advice to the next generation: “Nothing is impossible.” Believe in yourself, take risks, look in the mirror, and say anything is possible.
Dreams Abroad’s Spotlight series shines a light on heroes who are using their passions and fields of expertise to make a difference in their communities. Be on the lookout for additional Spotlights throughout the year—we can’t wait to introduce you to even more individuals creating positive change in the lives around them.