Florida Women’s Hall of Fame
The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame was created by Florida Statute in 1982 to honor women who, through their lives and efforts, have made significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and for all citizens of Florida. The FCSW maintains and facilitates the permanent Florida Women’s Hall of Fame display in the state Capitol.
Following deliberations, the Commission recommends 10 nominees to the Governor, who will select up to three women for induction into the Hall of Fame.
Check back for exciting details regarding the 2017 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.
2016 Women’s Hall of Fame Booklet
Three Outstanding Women Inducted into the
2016 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame
January 2016 – Florida Governor Rick Scott selected three outstanding Florida women for induction into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame – Carol Jenkins Barnett, Helen Aguirre Ferré, and Elmira Louise Leto. Governor Scott chose the three women from a list of 10 distinguished nominees selected by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women for making significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and all citizens of Florida. The induction ceremony for the Women’s Hall of Fame was held on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. on the 22nd floor of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.
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. She has served as vice chair of the Florida Council of Economic Education, co-chair of the Florida TaxWatch Center for Educational Performance, and as an executive board member of the Florida Council on Economic Education. In 1997, she became a founding board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland. In 1998, Mrs. Barnett initiated the “Feed Me a Story” children’s reading initiative and in 1999, she was appointed vice chair of the Florida Partnership for School Readiness Board. In 2000, she founded Family Fundamentals, a Success by 6 outreach facility. As vice chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, her leadership and contributions led to the establishment of the statewide early literacy initiative, ReadingPals in 2012. The program is provided in conjunction with the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Central Florida, which she was instrumental in establishing. ReadingPals was recently expanded in 2015, adding five new programs, for a total of 15. There are over 200 reading locations around Florida, with approximately 2,000 volunteers and 2,500 students from pre-kindergarten to the third grade. Mrs. Barnett was awarded the Women in Philanthropy Award at the United Way Women’s Leadership Summit in 2015. She has served on the boards of Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, All Saints Academy and the Florida Council on Economic Education. Currently, she serves on the United Way Leadership Council and the Polk Education Foundation Board of Directors.
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. She has also been a regular guest on many acclaimed national television programs including PBS News Hour, CNN Headline News, and Univision’s “Al Punto”, among others. In the print media, Helen was a respected weekly columnist for The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. For many years, she also wrote for and held leadership positions at the renowned Spanish-language daily newspaper Diario las Americas. Additionally, Helen worked as a national host for Univision America Radio which aired in the ten major U.S. Hispanic media markets, and worked as a political analyst for Univision during numerous national conventions and elections. Helen is the co-founder of Operation Saving Lives, a humanitarian task force assisting the victims of Hurricane Mitch in Latin America, which supplies medicine, food, and water to the area. She is also the first woman to chair the Board of Trustees of Miami Dade College, the largest institution of higher education in the nation, which graduates the most Hispanics and African Americans. Helen has served on the Board since 1999, working diligently to maintain high academic standards and making college affordability a top priority. Helen received the American Red Cross Spectrum Award in 2013. She has been recognized by the Cuban Women’s Club, the American Nicaraguan Foundation, and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of the United States, amongst others, for her success.
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. She is a founding member of the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League and the Monroe County Continuum of Care, where she has been an active participant and officer on the Board of Directors since 1999. Elmira is a wonderful role model for the community, especially young women. Her faith and perseverance in addressing local homeless and social issues, and her advocacy efforts on behalf of women, children, and families have made such a difference in the lives of many families faced with desperate and sometimes life-threatening situations of domestic violence. Her philosophy and mission is “We must educate the public that homelessness is not always by choice or because of drugs, but that poverty due to lack of education, skills for employment and affordable housing show a higher percentage of reasons for homelessness. We must provide the tools to individuals so that they can become empowered to be productive members of society.”
“The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame committee must choose only 10 nominees from hundreds of applications received. We are honored to have so many highly accomplished women in Florida,” says Elizabeth Pines, chair of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Committee. “What makes our job so difficult is choosing from the scores of women who are leaders in every sector of society. These nominees have truly impacted their communities and the state of Florida in the most profound ways.”
“It is an honor for the Florida Commission on the Status Women to be involved in the recognition of women and their accomplishments each year through the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. The Governor has chosen three outstanding women,” stated Yvonne Fry, chair of the Commission. “Their impact on all citizens of Florida provides evidence of the critical role that women have played in shaping our state.”
The Commission accepts nominations for the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame from the public each year from April 1 – July 15.
Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Video Channel
Learn more about the Florida Women’s Hall Fame and it’s members on our YouTube Channel.
Below is the 2016 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.