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Helen Gordon Davis

Faces Behind the Places: Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women

Helen Gordon Davis was a standout supporter of women and minorities in the Florida House and Senate

Hillsborough County is full of inspiring, iconic, and interesting places, and there are remarkable people behind them. In this occasional series we explore namesakes of some of the county's well-known buildings, parks, roads, and institutions.


Who was Helen Gordon Davis?

Davis, 1926-2015, was a state-level elected public official who championed issues critical to women and minorities. Raised in Brooklyn and trained as an actress, Davis in 1974 became the first Hillsborough County woman elected to the Florida House. While serving 18 years as a state representative and senator in Tallahassee, she used courage, determination, and wit to get results. She is a member of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame and was the first recipient of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Why name the Centre for Women after her?

Davis and her husband, Gene, helped found the Women's Survival Center, which became the Centre for Women, and then the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women. During and after her legislative career she worked for equal pay for women, fair compensation for divorcees and widows, and better day care, among other causes. "She had the presence of mind to stand up and speak out in a very articulate and poised manner and people really listened to her," former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jan Platt told The Tampa Tribune in 2015.

About the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women

The Centre, 305 S. Hyde Park Ave. in Tampa, is a nonprofit organization that for more than 40 years has strived to empower women. It serves about 3,000 women, girls, families, and seniors each year with the goal of independence and self-sufficiency. Programs include, among others, individual and family counseling, employment preparation, substance abuse treatment, and after-school and summer programs for girls. The Centre has a contract with Hillsborough County to provide rehabilitation for families in need.

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