Women's Wall of Honor 2013Okaloosa County Commission on the Status of Women
2013 Wall of Honor
Michelle Anchors, Mary Burnette, Mary Florence, Martha Gorecki, Mary Hahn, Valene Harris, Deborah Hewitt, Ginger Maddox, Tammy McDaniel, Louise Meyers, Rachel Morrison, LuAnn Pulliam, Gwendolyn Slife, Gail Waller.
(Individual descriptions were written at the time of nomination and have not been updated since. Most of these women have gone on to do even more amazing things for their community and their neighbors.)
Michelle Anchors, Vanderbilt University (BA 1987) and University of Florida (JD 1991), is partner at Keefe, Anchors & Gordon, P.A. Senate President Gaetz appointed her to the Florida Commission on Ethics. Governor Bush appointed her Chair of the Committee for a Sustainable Emerald Coast. She is one of the founding members and first President of IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida. Former positions include: Chair of Okaloosa County School Readiness Coalition, Board of Directors of UWF Foundation and Board of Directors of FWB Medical Center. Michelle, Steve and their two children are members of St. Simon’s Episcopal Church.
Nominated by the Junior League of the Emerald Coast
Mary E. Burnette spent 30 years in the classroom. After her 1951 graduation from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, she was recruited as the first African-American teacher in Okaloosa County, where she oversaw the start-up of the County’s then segre¬gated Brooks Elementary and W.E. Combs High Schools. In addition to teaching all students and all grades in the beginning, Mrs. Burnette was instrumental in recruiting administrators and instructors, and using parents as teacher’s aids. She started and served the Okaloosa County Head Start Program from 1967-89. Mrs. Burnette was a true pioneer who made a difference in our community.
Nominated by the Okaloosa County Commission on the Status of Women
Mary Florence is an award-winning leader, organizer and entrepreneur. Her high-content, high-quality, high-energy contributions to banking and her business – Baskets by Mary – are a tribute to her ability in leadership and membership roles in many civic and social organizations. In the past 28 years Mary has received numerous awards from Eglin Federal Credit Union, was recognized as the Emerald Ladies Journal and the ABWA Woman of the Year, and by the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce with its “Beyond and Above” award. Mary is a successful businesswoman, wife, mother and grandmother, and is a credit to her community.
Nominated by Patricia H. Payne
Martha’s enthusiasm and beautiful smile is a blessing to the Republican Women of Okaloosa Federated. Her joyful singing at club meetings is patriotic and uplifting. She was the driving force to honor all women in the Armed Forces with a plaque at the NWF Regional Airport through the FWB Women’s Club. Martha volunteers at church by doing Sunday mission work, delivering Sunday flowers to nursing homes and singing with Note-A-Belles for the residents. Teaching school in Okaloosa County for many years, Martha is fondly remembered by former students. Martha is married to her husband of 39 years and is a two-time cancer survivor.
Nominated by the Republican Women of Okaloosa Federated
Mary Hahn was a Certified Public Accountant in Boston before joining the Peace Corps’ first small business development project in Hungary in 1993. She then began a career as an international consultant training accountants in former Communist countries across Eurasia. After settling in Okaloosa County, Mary served as a deacon and elder in the First Presbyterian Church and belonged to the League of Women Voters, the American Institute of CPAs, the FWB Chapter of the American Society of Women Accountants and the local Weavers Guild. Mary also served as an inspiration to many at her local AA meeting, where she proudly celebrated 29 years of sobriety in 2012.
Nominated by the League of Women Voters of Okaloosa County
Valene Healey Harris holds a degree in Education, and is a former first grade teacher and art specialist. She currently serves as local President of the Relief Society, an organization set up to strengthen families and homes and to serve those in need. Valene also serves as an Honorary President of the Spouses’ Club at Eglin Air Force Base. She volunteers at Meigs Middle School cataloging new books, and delivers layettes for the new babies at Eglin’s hospital. Valene has recently been named to the Fisher House Board. She is the mother of four daughters.
Nominated by Judith Anne Wiseman
Deborah L. Hewitt is an incredible mother, grandmother, and wife. She is everything we imagine a role model should be. She is a woman of integrity, and her standards reflect in her everyday life. She holds a standard of sophistication and class even in the worst of times. She puts others’ needs before her own, and gives her all in everything she does. She is dedicated to her career as a Nurse Practitioner at White Wilson Medical Center, and strives to better herself every chance she gets. Deborah should be honored for being a loving, kind, selfless, passionate, intelligent and beautiful woman.
Nominated by her family: Fred Hewitt, Christina and David Roland, and granddaughter Kaydence Roland
A native Floridian, Ginger graduated from the University of West Florida before joining the US Navy. After a notable naval career, she retired as a Lieutenant Commander and began a second career as a college professor of computer science and history at Northwest Florida State College, earning a Doctorate in Education from the University of West Florida. Chairman of the Quilt of Valor program for the Flying Needles Quilt Guild of Niceville, Ginger is the driving force in providing quilts of comfort to veterans, both locally and through the national network, in recognition of military service and sacrifice.
Nominated by Christina Belcher
Tammy McDaniel is a leader, an organizer, an innovator, a mother and a businesswoman. There’s a long list of organizations in which she has been involved, but she’s not just a joiner. It seems like in every group to which she has been committed, she takes an active role and works hard to fulfill her duties and frequently goes the extra mile. As a result, she has received many awards. After working in the travel industry for many years, she took the big step of starting her own business “Tammy’s Journeys,” which has flourished under her leadership.
Nominated by Jean Dutton
Louise Postell Meyers is being recognized for her many years of service to the community and church. Ms. Meyers was born in Selma, Alabama, where she taught school before moving to the Department of Public Welfare and then on to Hurlburt Field. She later retired from Eglin AFB. She has been a member of the League of Women Voters and the Pilot Club, and is a charter member of the American Association of University Women. She has been a “matriarch” of the First Presbyterian Church of FWB, a role in which she served as a mentor and dedicated Christian. We salute her service.
Nominated by Helen Hunt Ridgon
Rachel Morrison is the 2012-13 President of Junior League of the Emerald Coast. Former JLEC positions include President Elect, Chair of CPR and Chair of the Child Clothing Project. Rachel grew up in Okaloosa County, and since her teen years has been a dedicated service leader through church, scouts, sports and school. Rachel served on the Board of Directors and volunteered for many years with Niceville-Valparaiso Little League, and attends Niceville United Methodist Church. Rachel attended Troy University on an athletic scholarship and now owns an insurance company. She and her husband Chris have three active boys.
Nominated by the Junior League of the Emerald Coast
LuAnn Pulliam is one of the most decorated ballroom dancers in the world in Theater Arts & Cabaret divisions, including five World Championship titles, British and US Theatrical Champion, Ohio Star Ball and the Fred Astaire National Rhythm Champion. Co-owner of the top-ranked FWB Fred Astaire Studio, she also choreographed The Truman Show and has funded a dance scholarship at NWFSC. As a mother of three, LuAnn strives to give back to her community. She is co-director of Extreme Etiquette for Youth and director of the Dancing with Desire fundraiser, makes guest appearances, and volunteers at local schools and with Relay for Life and the MDA.
Nominated by Mitzi Henley
Gwendolyn Slife is being recognized for the many “behind the scenes” contributions she performs as the wife of the installation commander at Hurlburt Field. She advocates for the needs of families on the base, assisting young military spouses in adjusting to military life and leading the base’s largest charitable organization – the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club – in achieving its goals. Gwendolyn is a devoted wife and mother, characterized by her keen insight, positive outlook on life and her signature unselfishness. She is a good friend and a role model for all to see and acknowledge.
Nominated by Helen Hunt-Ridgon
Gail Waller’s military family arrived on the Emerald Coast in 1996. She worked for Sam’s Club in the marketing department and became active in the local Chambers of Commerce. Gail graduated from 2003 Leadership Okaloosa, volunteered as a loan executive with the United Way, and was on the United Way Marketing Committee. A former member of the Okaloosa County Commission on the Status of Women, Gail volunteers her time and energy with the YMCA and the American Business Women’s Association – Emerald Coast Chapter, taking a leadership role in various organizational activities. She is currently Branch Office Administrator for Edward Jones Investments.
Nominated by the American Business Women’s Association of the Emerald Coast