Barbara Jo Palmer

Barbara Jo Palmer is a pioneer in the development of programs for female athletes and is nationally recognized for her efforts to establish equity in sports for women. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Florida State University in 1970 and 1974.

After earning her master’s degree, Palmer accepted a position at Impact Enterprises Inc., and later became a recreation supervisor in Merritt Island. On August 3, 1977, Palmer became FSU Women’s Athletic Director. Upon her appointment, Palmer also inherited the $1 million deficit as she struggled to financially support women’s intercollegiate teams without a full-time coach. As a result, she was an active lobbyist with the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women which eventually convinced the Florida government to budget $2.8 million for women’s collegiate programs at eight universities.

Under her directorship, FSU women’s collegiate teams won five national championships and 226 All-American awards. By 1982, she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame for her lobbying activities. From 1984 until 1985, she sat on the board of directors for the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators.

In 1990, she was inducted into Florida State University’s Hall of Fame. Five years later, she was shortlisted for the opportunity to become FSUs Athletic Director. In 2007, she was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators.

In 2011, Palmer was appointed Chief of Staff with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. She later became its director upon appointment from Governor Rick Scott in August 2012.