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FLORIDA COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN

Press Release
Contact: Kelly S. Sciba, APR Cell phone 850-559-1923 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3 PM EDT, September 10, 2013

Office of the Attorney General The Capitol, PL-01 Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050 Phone: (850) 414-3300 Fax: (850) 921-4131 www.fcsw.net / info@fcws.net

COMMISSION HONORS OUTSTANDING WOMEN FOR VOLUNTEER WORK IN THEIR COMMUNITIES


Tallahassee, FL (September 10, 2013) The Florida Commission on the Status of Women will honor Michele Anchors of Fort Walton Beach, Robin Hassler Thompson of Tallahassee, Susan Johnson of Winter Park, Kathryn Murphy of St. Johns, Sandra Day of Spring Hill, Dr. Sunita Lodwig of Osprey, Emma Reynolds of Lake Placid, Merdochey Taylor LaFrance of Miami, Michelle Dunaj Lucking of Coral Gables, Crystal Cooper of Jacksonville, Emily Harwell of Tampa, and Kailey Fernandez of Tampa with a FCSW Florida Achievement Award for their work in improving the lives of women and families in their communities. They will receive recognition at a special ceremony during our statewide conference on Friday, September 20, 2013, 12:00 p.m. 1:30 p.m. at the University of Tampa in Tampa, FL. In addition to the Achievement Award from the Commission, each will receive a congratulatory letter from Governor Rick Scott. The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is dedicated to empowering women in achieving their fullest potential, and to recognizing womens accomplishments, said Laurie Pizzo,

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Commission Chair. We are proud to honor these outstanding women for their tremendous achievements and dedicated service. Michelle Anchors of Fort Walton Beach has been involved in issues affecting the health, safety, education, and welfare of vulnerable children in the State of Florida. She spearheaded the creation of IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida, a nonprofit dedicated to enriching communities through the collective philanthropy of women. IMPACT 100 provides grants of at least $100,000 to support education, family, health & wellness, arts & culture, and the environment. She served two appointments as the Chair of the Committee for a Sustainable Emerald Coast, making recommendations in the key areas of land use and growth management, environmental stewardship, economic diversity and prosperity, and access to health, education, and culture. Michelle is currently a partner in the law firm of Keefe, Anchors, & Gordon, and serves as pro bono counsel to a number of nonprofit organizations in Northwest Florida. Robin Hassler Thompson of Tallahassee has dedicated her life and work for over 25 years to ending violence against women and girls, particularly in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. She is an attorney and is the current chair of the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. She helped to create and served as the first executive director of the Governors Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Florida, under Governor Lawton Chiles. Her focus is on policy and program reform at the local, state and national levels as well as internationally. Robin has received many awards honoring her contributions and was named one of the Tallahassee Democrat's 25 Women You Need to Know in 2011. Susan Johnson of Winter Park is the Founder and Board Emeritus of Support Our Scholars (SOS), established in 2003. Their motto is, Changing Womens Lives One Degree at a Time and their mission is to provide college bound women the vital combination of preparation, scholarships, and guidance necessary to complete an undergraduate degree. From that small beginning nine short years

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ago, SOS has graduated three women while eleven more are working toward their college diplomas. When she was 27 years old, Susan also founded the Jake Allen Center for the Deaf-Blind Children and Jake Allen Center for Deaf-Blind Pre-school because her son, Jake, who was born deaf and blind. She was Executive Director from 1983 1991. This was a one-of-a-kind school that provided an alternative education for deaf-blind children who were failing in the traditional school setting. The school and its curriculum were featured in numerous educational publications, Family Circle Magazine, and the cover story in Florida Magazine. Susan ran the school for nine years and built the Center to a $1-million operating budget with 50 employees that helped 16 severely disabled children from all over the country. Susan currently holds the office of Vice Chairman of Lighthouse Central Florida who provides education, independent life skills and job training and placement for people with sight impairment and their families and who also assisted in her son Jakes teaching and quality of life. Susan remains a strong advocate for the blind and visually impaired and a source of strength for families facing a lifetime of caring for, and loving, a child with special needs. Susan holds a Doctor of Humanities from Western Maryland University. She is married to baseball great, Davey Johnson, currently Field Manager of the Washington Nationals, and they have been blessed with six children and five grandchildren. Kathryn Murphy of St. Johns served her country for 24 years on active duty as a Navy nurse and honorably retired as a Commander. She holds both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Nursing. Kathryn has since dedicated her time to senior home care and owns two franchises of Comfort Keepers which allows seniors to age with dignity and respect in the comforts of their own home. Kathryn is also a certified geriatric care manager often providing free advice to those in need. For the last two years, she spearheaded a food drive with local college students and distributed over a ton of food each year to low-income seniors in the community. Kathryn is actively engaged in helping other women succeed in the business; she has served six years on the board of the Women Business Owners of North Florida Inc., in a variety of positions including President. She is active with the local university

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by mentoring students, serving as guest speaker and has provided an annual scholarship for several years. She has served on the Board of Governors for Jacksonville Chamber and is a member of the Leadership Jacksonville, Class of 2012. Sandra Day of Spring Hill became a lawyer because she needed an attorney when she was in college and she could not afford an attorney. She decided that she would help people whether or not they could afford the legal services. She has provided pro bono legal services to many clients over the years and has received numerous awards for her pro bono work. She practices law with her husband David, and they have prepared estate planning documents at no charge for policeman, firefighters and paramedics since September 11th, 2011. It is their way to say thank you to those who serve and protect after the horrific attacks on our country. Sandra is a founding board member of My Career Closet, which provides professional clothing for women who are in need. To date, they have helped over 200 women and the Day Law Office is a corporate sponsor as well as a drop off location. Dr. Sunita Lodwig of Osprey is the lead faculty in the Information Technology Program in the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership at the University of South Florida. She led the 4th Annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Summit sponsored by USFSM. She has worked on several fronts to raise awareness on security issues for the Internet, her target audience being senior citizens, girls, and their parents. She spent seven weeks in Tanzania to train high school teachers on bringing the Internet into the classroom. Dr. Lodwig continues to play an active role in an International Girls Initiative, an after-school program that focuses on increasing financial literacy, self-reliance, and social responsibility. Emma Reynolds of Lake Placid is a young woman who is growing great things in her community. In addition to working at her familys citrus farm in Lake Placid, she is the current Vice President and immediate past treasurer for the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association and is a board member of the Highlands County Farm Bureau, serving as Young Farmer and Rancher chair. She gives back to

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her community by serving as immediate past chair for Relay for Life Lake Placid after serving three years as chair, and has helped to organize the event for several years. She serves as a representative for District 6 to the state Young Farmer and Ranchers Leadership Group and is also a grower member representative to the Citrus Administrative Committee. She is well known for her service to her community and agricultural industry. Merdochey Taylor LaFrance of Miami has contributed significantly to improving the quality of life of Miami-Dade residents at just 30 years of age. She mobilizes others for the greater good through her service. Currently, she commits her time and talents to the North Central Dade Municipal Advisory Committee (Board Secretary), South Florida Youth Summit Planning Team (Speaker & Honoree Selection Co-Chair), and the Florida Diversity Council (2013 Florida Women's Conference Co-Chair, 2013 Women in Leadership Symposium Co-Chair, and the 2014 Young Women's Leadership Symposium Chair). In January 2010, Merdochey mobilized members in the Southern region of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, family and friends, through a touching e-mail campaign, to meet the needs of thousands of Haitians who were terrorized and adversely affected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which devastated Haitis capital and surrounding communities. In addition to her many acts of service to her community, she has been recognized with the YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade Power of Persimmon Emerging TrailBlazer Award (2013 Recipient), Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce H.Y.P.E. Difference Make Award (2011 Recipient), and the Florida International University Excellence in Civic Engagement Medallion of Distinction (2008 Recipient). Michelle Dunaj Lucking of Coral Gables has devoted her 30-year legal career and community activities to helping others in Miami-Dade County. During this time, Ms. Dunaj-Lucking was senior attorney at the Third District Court of Appeal, chief legal counsel for a pharmaceutical corporation, a published author, teacher, and an active member on many Boards and Committees. Her commitment to family law resulted in significant beneficial changes, predominantly in the areas of domestic violence and

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child support. She has made numerous contributions to women, which are highlighted by her roles as Chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women, Quasi-Judicial member on the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights, President of a Miami-Dade Zonta Club, and Vice-President of a retirement community. In these roles, she has advocated for womens issues through elected officials, locally, statewide and nationally. She has particularly helped women in homeless shelters, low-income women, and women participants in medical subjects research. Ms. Dunaj-Lucking was honored as a "Women of Impact" by the Women's History Coalition of Miami-Dade County in 2013, and received a Miami-Dade County Proclamation applauding her achievements as inspirational to the community. Crystal Cooper of Jacksonville empathizes with victims of crime as a result of her own home being struck with bullets from a drive-by shooting when she was very young. She distributed flyers seeking leads about the murder of 19-year-old Thomas Nunley who was hit and killed in the neighborhood next to hers. While working a full-time job, she has volunteered at the Justice Coalition, providing clerical assistance as needed. She has helped gather donations from local businesses for fundraisers, and with the logistics of these events. She received an Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Justice Coalition this year. Cooper plans to attend college and become a lawyer so that she can help innocent victims of violent crimes. Emily Harwell of Tampa has been involved in Girl Up, a program sponsored by the United Nations that educates and empowers American girls to address issues facing girls across the globe. She was selected from a national pool to serve as a Teen Advisor for Girl Up. She has created a curriculum to help other girls in the Tampa Bay community get involved with that program. She is co-editor-inchief of her school newspaper, and during her freshman and sophomore years of high school she completed over 300 hours of service. She is also involved in Latin Club, and is a Writing Center tutor. Kailey Fernandez of Tampa began a business, Girls Summer Camp, with her sister, for elementary school girls, which has developed her leadership skills. Since then, she has developed a

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program, Kaileys Kitchen, for Metropolitan Ministries that teaches children how to prepare healthy meals with foods that one might receive from a food bank. In maturing, she has developed leadership traits enabling her to serve her community in a bigger role- she is the Student Body President at Robinson High School. She was one of two juniors selected to represent her high school at Girls State in Tallahassee. In Addition, she received the Young Woman of Promise award by the Athena Society. The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is a nonpartisan board, statutorily created in 1991 consisting of 22 appointed members, administratively housed in the Office of the Attorney General, Pam Bondi. The Commission is dedicated to empowering women in achieving their fullest potential, to eliminating barriers to that achievement, and to recognizing womens accomplishments. Additional information on the Commission is available from its web site at http://www.fcsw.net.

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