Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award

The Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award honors a current or former government official or civic leader for improving government through leadership and vision. The award is typically presented at a regular Board meeting in April.

About the 2020 recipient

Arthenia Joyner

Senator Arthenia Joyner receives good government award

Born in Lakeland, Arthenia Joyner became the first African American woman to practice law in Hillsborough County, and was the first African American to be appointed by a governor to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. Her legislative accomplishments include serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate.

Ms. Joyner was the first African American woman selected as Democratic (minority) Leader, and she passed legislation to compensate wrongfully incarcerated people, as well as the Prohibition on Shackling of Incarcerated Pregnant Females, Infant Health Care Act, Task Force on Human Trafficking, and the Lead Poison Prevention & Education Act, among other measures.

A community leader whose legal career has spanned 51 years, Ms. Joyner has practiced law longer than any African American woman in Florida's history. The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Tampa-Hillsborough Library Board celebrated her many contributions to Florida and the community by naming the University Area Community Library in her honor.

About Ellsworth G. Simmons

A respected government civic leader, Mr. Simmons was a School Board member who went on to serve 21 years on the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners - 18 of those as chair. Through his leadership and guidance, new institutions - University of South Florida - and new communities - Sun City Center - were created in Hillsborough County. He was a central figure in the construction of Tampa International Airport, the founding of University Community Hospital, and the expansion of the Hillsborough County Health Department.

Selection Process

Each winter, a Good Government Award Committee examines the significant events, leadership opportunities and outstanding achievements of nominees and selects an individual or group. The committee submits its recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners for approval.

The Good Government Award Committee consists of nine members, two members representing the Simmons family and one member chosen by each commissioner.

Award Recipients

  • 2020 - Arthenia Joyner
  • 2019 - Betty Castor
  • 2018 - David Gee 
  • 2017 - Rubin E. Padgett 
  • 2016 - Jan Kaminis Platt
  • 2015 - Former Governor Bob Martinez
  • 2014 - Doug Belden
  • 2013 - Former Mayor Pam Iorio
  • 2012 - Dr. Judy Genshaft
  • 2011 - Dottie Berger MacKinnon
  • 2010 - Pat Frank
  • 2009 - Dr. Earl J. Lennard
  • 2008 - Judge E.J. Salcines
  • 2007 - Cal Henderson
  • 2006 - Louis E. Miller
  • 2005 - H. Lee Moffitt
  • 2004 - H. L. Culbreath
  • 2003 - Former Mayor Dick Greco
  • 2002 - Save Our Bays, Air & Canals
  • 2001 - Former State Sen. Malcom E. Beard
  • 2000 - State Sen. Tom Lee
  • 1999 - James L. Redman
  • 1998 - Nettie Mae Draughon
  • 1997 - Sam M. Gibbons