Fast Track

Graci McGillicuddy Named to Florida Women's Hall of Fame

Plus, the Sarasota Audubon Society named its new president and more.

By Staff June 10, 2024

Graci McGillicuddy, left, has been named to the Florida Women's Hall of Fame.

Image: Lori Sax

Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced the selection of Graci McGillicuddy to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. McGillicuddy is the co-founder of All Star Children’s Foundation, a child advocacy center which combats child abuse and provides a safe place for foster children. In addition to a multitude of other awards, she was honored with the “Spirit of Service” Award by the Florida Senate in 2009, the highest honor bestowed on civilians. McGillicuddy’s longtime advocacy has led to the reframing of human trafficking victims in the eyes of the law and public opinion, transforming them from criminals to victims, deserving of support and care.

Sarasota Audubon has announced the hire of Sara Reisinger as its president. Additionally, the organization named its 2024-2025 board officers: Kathryn Young, first vice president; Lynn Jakubowicz, second vice president; Andy Schneider, treasurer; Mary Heinlein, secretary; Sara King, member-at-large; Helen King, member-at-large. Outgoing president Jeanne Dubi will continue as director of special projects, overseeing the Quad Parcels campaign.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat  recently announced that five Florida public school arts teachers will spend part of their summer on Manasota Key while working on their own artistic endeavors. They are Greg Burdick, a theater arts educator, director, and playwright in Central Florida (Polk County); Dealey Dansby, a sculpture and ceramics visual artist currently teaching elementary and middle school art at Carrollwood K8 in Tampa (Hillsborough County); Shaun Fergus, an art instructor at Fort White Middle School (Columbia County); Dr. Kayleen Justus, director of steel bands at Leon High School in the Tallahassee area (Leon County); and Vanessa Watkins, a distinguished glass artist with a focus on restoration art at Markham Woods Middle School (Seminole County).

The University of South Florida recently announced the appointment of Elizabeth Spiller as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Spiller has more than 10 years of experience as an academic leader, having served most recently as the executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Sarasota County Schools has announced that Raymond Wilson has been appointed as the new principal of Venice Elementary School and that Jamie Lowicz has been appointed as the new principal of Atwater Elementary School

Embracing Our Differences recently announced the addition of Jeff Spalter to the organization's board of directors. Spalter previously served for 36 years as a senior financial executive at ExxonMobil.

Public relations professional Hunter Carpenter has been designated as Accredited in Public Relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board.

Nolan Wiggs, trust officer at Caldwell Trust Company, has attained his certified financial planner (CFP) certification and has been authorized by the CFP Board. 

Five Sarasota County Schools educators were recognized last week with the Charles & Margery Barancik's Ripple Effect Teacher Award for their expansive impact in the classroom and beyond. The recipients are Stacy Bellanca, literacy teacher, Garden Elementary School; Carrie Koontz, second grade teacher, Taylor Ranch Elementary School; Jillian Nelson, ESE resource teacher, Sarasota Middle School; Brittany Smith, music teacher, Venice High School; and Shannon Wynne, fifth grade teacher, Pine View School. Each teacher received a $5,000 gift.

Empath Health has announced the promotions of Tarrah Lowry and Bivek Pathak to its executive leadership team. Lowry has been appointed as chief operating officer and interim president of Trustbridge, and Bivek Pathak will assume the role of chief information and digital strategy officer

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce has been named a finalist for the 2024 Chamber of the Year award, presented by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

The Boxser Diversity Initiative is proud to announce that Renée James Gilmore has joined its board of advisors. Gilmore is executive producer and host of ABC7’s Empowering Voices and founder of The Saja Group, LLC, a consultancy that helps communities and businesses benefit from inclusion and cultural diversity.

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida announced that it has received the “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality High Performer” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation was awarded in the 16th iteration of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). 

Forty Carrots Family Center has welcomed new board of trustees member Hal Johnson. The organization's 2024-2025 board officers include chair Ben Jones; treasurer Valerie Dall’Acqua, and secretary Dawn Doughty. Remaining board of trustee members are Kevin Cooper, Jag Grewal, Jackie Griese, Karimu Hill-Harvey, Chris Jarmul, Eric Kaplan, Bob Lewandowski, Alan Ross, Tammie Sandoval-Badger, Joleen Searles, Susan Sakhai, Kevin Stencik, Susan Travers, Michelle Kapreilian (ex-officio) and trustee emeriti Kim Githler and Jeff Steinwachs

Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources was honored with a 2024 National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials (NACPRO) award, recognizing its achievements in 2023. Turtle Beach Campground was been recognized as the Small Park of the Year by the Florida and Alabama RV Park and Campground Association

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties (BGCSDC) was recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America with three awards at the organization’s 2024 national conference in Atlanta. BGCSDC’s Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center received the Roxanne Spillett Program Excellence Honor Award for Workforce Readiness, and Roscelyn Guenther, director of program Services at BGCSDC, was recognized with the CAPE: Safety Superhero Award (National Trainer Initiative) and the Commitment to Safety Award presented by BGCA Child Safety & Quality Assurance for her commitment to safety and training excellence.

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