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Office of the General Counsel
 

 

Meet the OGC Staff


Avery D. McKnight, Esquire
Vice President for Legal Affairs and General  Counsel

Practice Areas:

  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Higher Education Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Contract Law

Avery D. McKnight is the general counsel at his alma mater, Florida A&M University, and is responsible for providing legal advice and counsel to the FAMU Board of Trustees, President and Administration.  After graduating from the Florida State University College of Law as a Virgil Hawkins Fellow, he gained litigation experience in the State Attorney’s Office in the Second Judicial Circuit for Leon County, Florida.  From 1992 through 2005, he served in various capacities with the Office of the General Counsel at FAMU, including Acting General Counsel.  In 2005, McKnight transitioned to private practice as a Senior Associate with Allen, Norton & Blue, P.A., specializing in labor and employment law.  He has been recognized by the NAACP as a 2002 Achiever.  He is an ordained elder with the Church of God By Faith, Inc. and volunteers with Big Bend Hospice.  He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Character Center in Tallahassee, and is a member of the FAMU National Alumni Association.  In 2008, he was selected and featured in Florida Trend’s Legal Elite as a part of the Government Attorney Category.

Shira R. Thomas, Esquire
Deputy General Counsel
 

Practice Areas:

  • Contract Law
  • Research Transactional/IP
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Higher Education Law
  • Administrative Law

Shira R. Thomas, Esq. serves as the Deputy General Counsel at Florida A&M University. Attorney Thomas provides advice and counsel on transactional matters to each Department and Division within the University, with concentration in the areas of Sponsored Programs and Technology Transfer, Licensing, Procurement and Immigration. Ms. Thomas has a long history of legal service in Florida’s public sector. After graduating from the Florida State University College of Law as Virgil Hawkins Fellow, she joined the Florida Department of Environmental Protection legal team from 1994 through 1999. From November 1999 through September 2004, Attorney Thomas served as Assistant General Counsel with the Office of the General Counsel at Florida A&M University. In September 2004, she was promoted to Associate General Counsel and again promoted to Deputy General Counsel in July 2008. She is a member of the FAMU National Alumni Association, the Tallahassee Barristers and various other civic and legal organizations.


David C. Self, Esquire
Associate General Counsel

Practice Areas:

  • Real Property
  • Public Finance
  • Debt Management
  • Leasing

As an Associate General Counsel, David C. Self, II brings more than twenty five (25) years of private sector experience to the University’s legal staff.  Mr. Self specializes in real property, leases, debt management, public finance and general contract law.  In that capacity, Mr. Self advises the University on matters involving the campus “physical plant” – construction, expansion, campus leases and other contracts.  Mr. Self is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, B.J. and the University of Florida, College of Law where he served on the Law Review.  Mr. Self is an active member of several legal and civic organizations.


Iris A. Elijah, Esquire
Assistant General Counsel


Practice Areas:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Higher Education Law
  • Regulations, Policies, and Procedures

Iris A. Elijah serves as the Assistant General Counsel at Florida A&M University since 2013.  Previously, Ms. Elijah served as the Junior Associate General Counsel at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  At Florida A&M University, Ms. Elijah advises on matters in the areas of the Office of Academic Affairs, bankruptcy, higher education law, University regulations, policies, and procedures, and the Office of Student Affairs.  Ms. Elijah is a graduate of Florida International University College of Law and the University of South Florida.  Ms. Elijah is an active member of several legal and civic organizations including the Junior League and the National Association of College and University Attorneys. 


Abigail V. Raddar
Coordinator

Mrs. Raddar received a B.S. Degree in Office Administration from Florida A&M University and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1990.  Currently, Mrs. Raddar serves as Coordinator to the General Counsel and the University’s Agency Clerk.
 

Elma Williams
Executive Secretary

Ms. Williams is the Executive Secretary for the Office of General Counsel. She is the Assistant to the Deputy General Counsel and the Associate Counsel. Ms. Williams comes to FAMU with twenty years of legal experience. She is the University's Notary and Deputy Agency Clerk.