Dottie Berger MacKinnon, formerly of Tampa, was a tireless advocate for women and has left her footprint throughout the Bay area. She was one of the founders of Joshua House, a safe haven for abused, abandoned, and neglected children, in Tampa and she passionately supported the children served there since 1992.
Louise Jones Gopher of the Brighton Indian Reservation in Okeechobee was the first female member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to earn a college degree, graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in business. As a former director of education for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, she has been a champion of education for all its members.
Sheriff Susan Benton of Sebring is the first female sheriff elected in a general election in the history of the state of Florida and is currently serving her third term. Sheriff Benton is a fifth-generation Floridian who has served in law enforcement for over 35 years. She has risen through the ranks by gaining the respect and admiration of her colleagues and superiors while continually seeking her education, attaining a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Certification as a Florida Public Manager.
Mary Lee Nunnally Farrior of Tampa has a commitment to improving the lives of Florida’s children that spans 55 years. Upon moving to Tampa in 1958, she began reading to underprivileged children. She continued to volunteer through the Junior League of Tampa, The Children’s Home and The Spring of Tampa Bay while raising her own four boys, and supported education through her commitment to the University of Florida.
Charlotte E. Maguire, M.D. earned her medical degree from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine in 1944, when women were not just an anomaly in medicine – they were unwelcome. Medical schools routinely rejected women applicants for no other reason than gender. Dr. Maguire was one of the first women to enter the University of Arkansas Medical School.
Evelyn C. Keiser of Fort Lauderdale co-founded the Keiser School in 1977 with Dr. Arthur Keiser. She fondly recalls the first day the school opened. Her first and only student at that time arrived late and feared that she had disrupted the class. Ms. Keiser nervously told her, “it’s OK dear, you are the class.” They never dreamed that 38 years later their one student and one program start-up endeavor would grow into Florida’s second-largest independent, regionally accredited university.
Helen Aguirre Ferré of Miami Shores is an award-winning bilingual journalist and communications consultant. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Barry University and an M.A. in Inter-American Studies from the University of Miami. For more than twelve years, Helen has been the face of public affairs programming at WPBT2 (PBS affiliate), hosting the weekly series ISSUES and launching ISSUES REPORTS, an investigative arm of journalism reaching audiences from Florida’s Treasure Coast to the Florida Keys.
Carol Jenkins Barnett of Lakeland has worked her entire life to make a difference for all of Florida’s children, giving thousands of children a better opportunity to fulfill their potential. Her generous gifts of time, talent and treasure continue to impact the lives of countless Floridians. Mrs. Barnett has served as president of Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc. since 1991, and as a member of the board of directors of Publix Super Markets, since 1983.
Elmira L. Leto of Key West is the founder and CEO of Samuel’s House, Inc., the umbrella agency of two permanent supportive housing units, Kathy’s Hope and Casa de Meredith and Mary Spottswood Women’s Center, Monroe County’s only emergency shelter for homeless women and children. Samuel’s House embraces all without question and provides a second chance to displaced women, women and men with children and intact families.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle is Miami-Dade County’s and Florida’s first Cuban-American State Attorney, having been re-elected six times since 1993. She was unopposed during the 2016 election and thus began her seventh term as the County’s top law enforcement officer.