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 2019 recipient

Betty Castor
Betty Castor

Born in Glassboro, New Jersey, Betty Castor was the first woman to be elected to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, where she served as chair and on the Environmental Protection Commission. After being elected to the Florida State Senate in 1976, she promoted legislation to end discrimination and fund spouse abuse shelters throughout the state.

In 1986, Ms. Castor became the first woman to serve on the Florida Cabinet when she was elected Education Commissioner. She helped develop the Healthy Kids program, which provides health insurance to low-income children enrolled in public schools. Nine years later, she became the first female president of the University of South Florida, where she expanded residential housing on the Tampa campus and grew the institution's honors program, among other accomplishments. After leaving USF, Castor became president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for three years. She is currently chair of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough County Public Schools Citizen Oversight Committee.

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

  • 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