Women's Hall of Fame

The Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame was created in 2011 by the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women  (COSW) to honor women who, through their lives and efforts, have made significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and for all citizens of Hillsborough County.

There is a display of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame at the Arthenia L. Joyner University Area Community Library.


NOTE: Due to COVID-19 there were no inductees for 2021 and 2022.

2023 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Fran Davin 
    Fran Davin
    A trailblazing public servant, Fran Davin has been a champion for women's rights, education, civil rights, marginalized people, environmental issues, and local and state legislation.
  • Judy Genshaft 
    Judy Genshaft
    During her 19-year presidency, Dr. Judy Genshaft led the University of South Florida to historic achievements for student success, academic rigor, research and innovation, philanthropic investments, and economic development.
  • Margarita Gonzalez 
    Margarita Gonzalez
    A progressive public servant, Margarita Gonzalez, a native of Cuba, was instrumental in the creation of many nonprofit scholarship endowments and was the first woman President of Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.

  • 2020 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

    • Mary Alice Dorset 
      Mary Alice Dorsett
      A spirited civil rights activist, Mary Alice Dorsett tirelessly advocated for the rights of African Americans. She challenged inequalities and advocated for the marginalized, poor and homeless.
    • Doretha Edgecomb 
      Doretha Edgecomb
      Doretha Wynn Edgecomb's vocation as an educator spanned decades of desegregation. The Education, Prevention, and Intervention Center's Doretha Edgecomb Female Symposium empowers students and creates strong women.
    • Janett Spraggins Martin 
      Janett Spraggins Martin
      Trailblazing public servant Jannet Spraggins Martin grew up amid sweeping social change. She was the first African American and only the second woman in Tampa's 137-year history to serve as City Clerk.

    • 2019 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Carolyn House Stewart 
        Carolyn House Stewart, Esq.
        She is the 28th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the first attorney to serve as the International President of this 110-year old organization.
      • Joanna Tokely 
        Joanna Tokely
        She has a 56 year span with accomplishments as an educator, civic leader, volunteer, civil rights advocate and supporter of women's rights throughout Hillsborough County and the United States.
      • Maryann Ferenc 
        Maryann Ferenc
        She is co-proprietor of Mise en Place, is a successful business owner and leader, as well as a passionate advocate for business in Tampa Bay.

      2018 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Julianne Holt
        Julianne Holt
        As elected Public Defender of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Holt has defended and protected the rights of the poor and, often, voiceless members of our community for 25 years.
      • Sylvia Campbell, M.D.
        Sylvia Campbell, M.D.
        The first female surgeon in Hillsborough County, Campbell is fearless in her support of those enduring breast cancer treatments and relentless in her commitment to share wellness, love and goodness both within our communities and throughout the world.
      • Ann Porter
        Ann Porter
        The first director of Hillsborough County's Head Start program, Porter has devoted her life to service as an advocate for low-income, minority and elderly Hillsborough County residents.

      2017 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Carol D. Morsani
        Carol D. Morsani
        Morsani based a lifetime of action on a philosophy of “learning, earning and returning.” She is recognized as one of the Tampa Bay area’s most cherished philanthropists and community leaders.
      • Gwendolyn Stephenson
        Gwendolyn Woods Stephenson
        The longest serving president of Hillsborough Community College (1997-2010), Stephenson was an innovative and inspiring educator who worked to make higher education accessible to all and to connect it with the increasing needs of Hillsborough County.
      • Geraldine Twine
        Geraldine McKinnon Twine
        As a young wife and mother in the segregated south of the 1960s, Twine defied barriers. In the face of social and societal obstacles, she acquired professional credentials, attained academic degrees, and continues to provide valuable volunteer services to the community.

      2016 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Betty Reed
        Betty Reed
        Committed to community service, compromise and cooperation, Reed introduced and passed legislation affecting health, education, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
      • Lee Bird Leavengood
        Lee Bird Leavengood
        As a leader in the founding of USF Leavengood forged a trail for women and seniors through her commitment to education, volunteerism and philanthropy.

      2015 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Josephine Howard Stafford
        Josephine Howard Stafford
        Josephine Howard Stafford was born in Jacksonville, Texas, and grew up in Fayetteville, N.C. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 1941 from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and her Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.) in 1952, from the University of North Carolina Law School, Chapel Hill. She was inducted, as a Private, into the United States Marine Corps. During WWII, she wrote a newspaper column, "The Voice of Femininity" while aboard the U.S.S. Heintzelman.
      • Matilda Martinez Garcia
        Matilda Martinez Garcia
        Matilda Martinez Garcia, devoted human rights advocate, was born in Tampa and is a second-generation Floridian. She has led an extraordinary life, witnessing both injustice and acceptance firsthand. Her resolve and energy for the welfare of others is legendary.
      • Dr. Sylvia Marion Carley
        Dr. Sylvia Marion Carley
        Dr. Sylvia Marion Carley, Tampa native, retired Hillsborough Community College administrator and current President and CEO of Marion & Associates, continues to enhance our community. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Bethune-Cookman University; Master's Degree from Clark Atlanta University; Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Florida; and a certificate in Higher Education Management from Harvard University.

      2014 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      The COSW would like to thank the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (Platinum Sponsor) and Richard and Susan Leisner (Gold Sponsors) for their support of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

      • Ms. Nancy Ford
        Ms. Nancy Ford
        A native and life‐long resident of Tampa, Nancy Torbett Ford was the only child of Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Torbett. She received a Bachelor of Arts in 1948 from Randolph‐Macon Woman's College in Virginia, and credited Randolph‐Macon with giving her confidence, leadership and volunteer opportunities, plus the firm belief that women can accomplish anything they want or need to do. Fittingly, in 1998 she was named an Alumna of Distinction by her alma mater.
      • Senator Arthenia Joyner
        Senator Arthenia Joyner
        Arthenia L. Joyner, representing Florida Senate District 19, is a dynamic individual whose personal life reads like a chronicle of the struggle for equal justice. She has not just lived history ‐‐ she made it. Born in Lakeland, Florida, Senator Joyner earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A & M University in 1964 and Judicial Doctorate in 1968 from its College of Law. She was the first Black attorney in Polk County and first Black female attorney in Hillsborough County and has been in private practice for 45 years – longer than any other Black woman in the history of Florida.
      • Ms. Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain
        Ms. Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain
        Eleanor "Ella" Collier McWilliams was born in Iowa, the nation's first state to admit women to its public university. She was in the first generation of college women, often called "co‐eds." In 1870, she married Fielding P. Chamberlain, a progressive and feminist advocate. They came to Florida in 1881 and settled in Tampa in 1883.

      2013 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Dottie Berger MacKinnon
        Dottie Berger MacKinnon
        Dottie Berger MacKinnon grew up on a farm in Kentucky, but left home at fifteen to live with relatives in Maryland. One of ten children, she often said, "that you learn to form alliances, to compromise, to go with the flow."
      • Deanne Dewey Roberts
        Deanne Dewey Roberts
        A fourth-generation Floridian, Deanne was born in Tampa and attended high school at the Academy of Holy Names. While there, she developed her speechwriting, debate and persuasive presentation skills, which would lead to a career in strategic communications and guide her professional path for the next 30 years. In 1974, she graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications.
      • Dr. Juel Shannon Smith
        Dr. Juel Shannon Smith
        Dr. Smith was born in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and graduated from Sapulpa High School in 1960 and from Langston University in Oklahoma in 1972 with a degree in Education. Dr. Smith relocated to Tampa and received her Masters and Education Specialist Degree with a Thesis on "Women Who Combine Career and Family" and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education in 1987 from the University of South Florida (USF).

      2012 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Phyllis Busansky
        Phyllis Busansky
        Phyllis Hendler Busansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut and graduated from Wheaton College with a bachelor's degree in English literature. She received an MBA from the Heller School at Brandeis University.
      • Gwendolyn Miller
        Gwendolyn Miller
        Gwendolyn Martin Miller was born in Tampa, attended Middleton High School, and received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from Florida A & M University. In 2003, she received the University's Distinguished Alumnus Award. She was an elementary school teacher for Hillsborough County from 1957-1970, and was the school district's Human Relations Specialist for 24 years.
      • Jan Platt
        Jan Platt
        Jan Kaminis Platt was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. The family soon moved to Tampa, where Jan's civic and political career began. She was an exemplary student at Hillsborough High School, and was voted Most Likely to Succeed. Jan attended Girls State in Tallahassee, where she acquired her love for government.

      2011 Women's Hall of Fame Inductees

      • Mary T. Cash
        Mary T. Cash
        Mary T. Brown Cash was born in Madison, Florida and came to Tampa from Ocala, in 1906, as an only child with her mother. Mary became an office person and maid for Dr. M.R. Winton, a white physician, who along with Clara C. Frye became her mentors. She graduated on November 16, 1916 from St. Agnes College of Nursing (Raleigh, North Carolina) and returned to work for Dr. M. R. Winton.
      • Elizabeth 'Betty' Castor
        Elizabeth "Betty" Castor
        Betty Castor was the first woman elected to the Florida Cabinet and the first female President Pro Tempore of the Florida Senate.
      • Helen Gordon Davis
        Helen Gordon Davis
        A legislator for almost two decades, Helen Gordon Davis championed the civil rights of the disenfranchised, particularly women and minorities. Born in New York City, she moved to Tampa in 1946. In 1948, she was the first white woman in Florida to join the NAACP. That year she was one of two white women to join the Woolworth Lunchroom "sit ins."
      • Cecile Waterman Essrig
        Cecile Waterman Essrig
        Cecile W. Essrig was born in Tampa, Florida. In 1967, she was elected to the Hillsborough County School Board – the first woman to be elected to any major political office in the county. She served on the School Board for twenty-one years, including two terms as chair, until her retirement in 1988.
      • Pat Collier Frank
        Pat Collier Frank
        Pat Collier Frank graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Georgetown University School of Law, Washington, D.C. She has had a distinguished career in public service to include serving as a Florida State Senator for ten years; a County Commissioner for six years; and Clerk of the Circuit Court/Comptroller from 2005-2020.
      • Sandra W. Freedman
        Sandra W. Freedman
        Sandra Warshaw Freedman was born in Newark, New Jersey and moved with her family to Tampa when she was two years old. She graduated from Plant High School and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Miami (Florida). She was the first female Mayor of Tampa and served from 1986-1995.  
      • Clara C. Frye
        Clara C. Frye
        Clara C. Frye was born in 1872 in Montgomery, Alabama, and trained in nursing care there arriving in Tampa around the turn of the century. She committed her life to providing medical care to Tampa's Black citizens.
      • Adela Hernandez Gonzmart
        Adela Hernandez Gonzmart
        Adela Hernandez Gonzmart was born in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from Hillsborough High School with honors. After graduation from the Juilliard School of Music with a Bachelor's of Music and Science degree, she went on tour appearing in concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall, Washington, D.C., Havana, Cuba and throughout Florida.
      • Sylvia Rodriguez Kimbell
        Sylvia Rodriguez Kimbell
        In 1990, Sylvia Rodriguez Kimbell became the first African- American woman to win a major political office when she was elected to Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners from District 3. She later served as Chair and was re-elected in 1992.
      • Sayde Gibbs Martin
        Sadye Gibbs Martin
        Sadye Gibbs Martin was the first woman Mayor of Plant City and the first female African American elected mayor of a major city in Florida. She was a graduate of Midway Academy, Plant City's high school that served the Black community and received her B.S. degree at Bethune Cookman College (Daytona, Florida) and earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of South Florida.