TAMPA, FL (Jan. 10, 2017) – Girl Scouts of West Central Florida (GSWCF) is pleased to announce its 2017 Women of Distinction and Woman of Promise. All honorees have achieved success in their chosen fields and serve as inspiring role models for girls in our local communities, each exemplifying ethical leadership and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens through community service.
The 2017 Women of Distinction are:
Rosemary Armstrong (Tampa) – Rosemary has made vast contributions to the community using her time and legal talent to advocate for those who are most in need. A graduate of Columbia University Law School, she was a member of the board of Bay Area Legal Services for over 20 years, serving as its president three times. Rosemary also served for many years as a Bay Area Legal Services volunteer attorney, mainly representing women with children who were victims of domestic violence. She took that passion a step further in 2012 by founding Crossroads for Florida Kids, Inc. (Crossroads) a nonprofit organization which trains and mentors pro bono attorneys who represent children in their dependency and delinquency proceedings. As a result, thousands of hours of pro bono legal services are provided each year to vulnerable children in our community. Rosemary is the Executive Director of Crossroads, and also one of its volunteer attorneys.
In addition to founding a nonprofit organization, Rosemary is a former chair of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit’s Pro Bono Committee, and serves on the board of Florida’s Children First. Rosemary has received numerous recognitions and awards for her passion and dedication to pro bono legal services. In 2012, the Florida Supreme Court named her as the recipient of the statewide Tobias Simon Award. Rosemary was honored as a Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero in 2015, and this year she was named as a member of Florida Trend’s Legal Elite for her nonprofit practice.
Catherine Lynch Buckhorn M.D. (Tampa) – Cathy has broken many glass ceilings in medical academia with grace and confidence to become University of South Florida Associate Vice President of Women’s Heath, Associate Dean of Faculty Development, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. For the past 20 years, she has become known nationally and internationally through visual media, research publications, and lectures on women’s health. Most notably, Cathy has given lectures on the topics of menopause, HPV infection (particularly protecting girls and young women from cervical cancer), PAP smear guidelines, Cesarean section, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
Professionally, her academic medical career has enabled her to share her knowledge through teaching and mentoring nurses, nurse practitioners, medical students, residents, and fellows. Her medical expertise extends to the animal world as OBGYN consultant to the hominids of Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens. She is very active in the community as a member of numerous organizations including Athena Society, USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, USF Morsani College of Medicine Alumni Advisory Committee and Admissions Committee, and Georgetown Alumni Club. Cathy is married to Mayor Bob Buckhorn and serves as the First Lady of Tampa.
Doretha Edgecomb (Tampa) – Doretha recently retired after 52 years of dedicated service to the Hillsborough County School District. A Tampa native, Doretha is a product of the school district and dedicated her career to improving the local education system. During her long career she has held numerous positions which included reading teacher, middle school learning specialists, tutorial teacher, parent involvement coordinator, reading supervisor, and elementary school principal just to name a few. In addition, she taught at the USF College of Education. Most recently, Doretha served on the Hillsborough County School Board from 2004-2016. She was one of seven members responsible for making policy decisions and overseeing a total budget of $2.9 billion for the 8th largest school district in the nation.
Doretha has always played an active role in giving back to the community. Doretha was a leader during the Civil Rights Movement and inspired many youth to take action. She served as the chair of the Hillsborough County Children’s Board, Hillsborough Education Foundation, member; and the Council of Great City School, executive committee member. Doretha is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, NAACP, the East Tampa Revitalization Committee and is the president-elect of Athena Society, Inc. Her mother, Sarah Wynn, was an educator, Doretha was an educator and her daughter, Allison, became an educator as well – three generations of outstanding women, leaving a legacy in the Hillsborough County School District for many years to come.
Debbie White (Safety Harbor) – Debbie has been an outstanding role model to women and girls by being an active volunteer to numerous non-profit organizations over the past 30 years. After a 20 year sales career in Boston and the Tampa Bay area, she completed her working career as a Vice President at the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. Starting in 1999, she was able to devote her energies as a full time volunteer in the community. Debbie’s remarkable contributions include her work to help develop and launch Women in Philanthropy at the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation. Under her leadership, 50 women were inspired to join the giving society in the first year and it has grown to over 130 members who have contributed $1.5 million since its inception.
Debbie exemplifies the meaning of philanthropy, “love of humanity” through her many community volunteer roles. She is currently serving as the Mease Countryside Hospital Task Force Chair; President of the Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation Board; Co-Chair of the Advisory Board for the Dunedin Fine Arts Center; Member of the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Board; and Member of Pinellas County Board of Adjustment. Her past involvement includes President of Leadership Pinellas, YWCA of Tampa Bay and the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board; also Board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas and Board Member at Ruth Eckerd Hall Foundation.
The 2017 Woman of Promise, a deserving young woman under the age of 35, is:
Melanie Griffin (Tampa) – Melanie has obtained professional recognition at a level remarkable for a young attorney. She is an Equity Shareholder and the Managing Shareholder of the Dean Mead Law Firm Tampa Office, positions achieved by only about 18% women. She is known throughout Florida for her impressive courtroom and settlement victories, including involving commercial litigation, employment law, trust and probate litigation, and intellectual property, leading to seven consecutive listings in Florida Trend Legal Elite and Super Lawyers and a 2017 Best Lawyers in America publication.
Melanie is inspiring because professional success is accompanied by a tremendous commitment to giving back, particularly through mentorship. Over the past decade, hundreds of young people – from high school and law students to new attorneys and other professionals – have benefitted from Melanie’s overwhelming desire to help others. As a result, in 2016, she was honored with the TBBJ Angie’s Award in addition to being a Legal Services Finalist for BusinessWoman of the Year. Additionally, Melanie serves on the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers Executive Board, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Women of Influence Committee and Leadership Tampa Alumni (LT ’16), Hillsborough County Bar Association Trial & Litigation Section Executive Board, and FSU Seminole Torchbearers Board of Directors.
The 2017 Hall of Fame inductee, a deserving past Woman of Distinction that honoree that continues to serve her community, is:
Marion Rich (Clearwater) – Marion has been a dedicated volunteer for numerous nonprofit organizations throughout the Tampa Bay region for over 25 years. Starting her community volunteer work with the Junior League of Clearwater Dunedin, she has gone on to serve in leaderships roles on several nonprofit boards including: 211 Tampa Bay Cares, past board chairman; Junior League of Clearwater Dunedin, past president; Girl Scouts of West Central Florida; Film Foundation of Tampa Bay; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay; Ruth Eckerd Hall; and the Caladesi Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In addition to the board work, Marion has chaired major fundraising events for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation, American Heart Association, Film Foundation of Tampa Bay, 211 Tampa Bay Cares, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. Under Marion’s leadership, more than $1,000,000 total has been raised through these fundraisers in support of local charities. In 2002, Marion was recognized for her community involvement by the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce by being named that year’s Ms. Clearwater. The same year she was recognized as a Woman of Distinction.
Marion was the leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop for 12 years. During this time, the troop spent 5 years producing a documentary about famous women who were Girl Scouts. Each notable participant was interviewed and filmed in person in different parts of the country. Marion continued her involvement with GSWCF having served on the Board Development Committee, chairing the council’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, and various other committees.
These extraordinary women will be honored at the twenty-sixth annual Women of Distinction luncheon on March 21, 2017 at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC. The luncheon benefits nearly 20,000 girls served by Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. America’s best-known Olympian, Mary Lou Retton, will serve as the luncheon’s esteemed keynote speaker. Mary Lou became a household name after becoming the first American to earn the Olympic Gold Medal in gymnastics in 1984.
Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased by visiting www.gswcf.org/wod. General seating tickets are $75 per person; patron preferred seating tickets (which includes program recognition) are $150 per person. Sponsorships are also available; please contact Terri Costello at (813) 262-1688 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A high-res version of this photo, as well as additional individual photos, are available upon request.
Girl Scouts of West Central Florida (GSWCF) serves nearly 20,000 girls and nearly 8,500 adult members in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sumter counties. GSWCF receives funding from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and area United Way agencies. Did you know that more than 53% of all women business owners are Girl Scout alumnae? For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, visit www.gswcf.org or call (800) 881-4475.
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