Christopher O'Donnell, Vulnerable Communities Reporter

Christopher O'Donnell

Vulnerable Communities Reporter

I’m a political junkie and I love literature so this job fits like a glove. But journalism wasn’t my first career. I was born and grew up in England and programmed computers for a living. I switched to reporting when I moved to Florida in 2001. I got my first break at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune after earning a journalism degree from the University of South Florida. I joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2016 after a three-year stint at the Tampa Tribune, where I covered city halls on both sides of Tampa Bay. When I’m not shouting at cable news, I love watching real football from England (alright, soccer) and riding my road bike on trails.

Housing agency lawsuit against Rick Kriseman and the city dismissed but new challenge already filed.

St. Petersburg Housing Authority Vice-Chair Harry Harvey (left), and St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love (right), during a Committee of the Whole All Council meeting in January. Harvey is one of three former board members suing the city after he was removed from office for lax oversight on the recommendation of Mayor Rick Kriseman.        [DIRK SHADD   |   Times  ]
A judge dismisses the St. Petersburg Housing Authority lawsuit against the city and Mayor Rick Kriseman. But board members removed from office have already filed a new lawsuit.

He used to find children ‘not terribly interesting.’ At last count, Tampa man had fostered 17.

Fatherhood came late to Chris Fellerhoff, walking here with his 2-year-old son at a playground in Tampa. Married at 37, he became stepdad and now, 10 years later, the father of three adopted children and four foster kids. [ANGELIQUE HERRING   |   Times]
Chris Fellerhoff can't recall much about his own father, but later in life he found his path to becoming a parent.

Can drug-addicted expectant mothers keep their babies out of foster care? Hillsborough has a plan

Polita Williams, left, La’Quana Hagins and her son, Marques English, 2, attended Hagins’ graduation ceremony at Hillsborough High School in May. Williams, a nurse in the Nurse Family Partnership program, cared and supported Hagins for two years as she juggled having and raising Marques while still attending high school. [Courtesy of Healthy Start Coalition]
Eckerd Connects will partner with the Healthy Start Coalition to help families at higher risk of later having children removed.

Women who previously worked for Pinellas CEO echo allegations of discrimination and verbal abuse
Six former YMCA employees plan to file affidavits supporting three Pinellas women suing Religious Community Services and its CEO Kirk Ray Smith

Hillsborough County to launch $3 million program to address foster system woes

Two beds can be seen in a girls’ cottage at Lake Magdalene group home in Tampa. The group foster home is owned by Hillsborough County where teens have been seeking refuge since the 1940s. The county is now planning to tackle more of the county’s foster care problems through a $3 million program to try and lower the number of children removed from families because of abuse and neglect.      BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
County pilot aims to provide more help for struggling families and reduce the number of children removed into foster care.