Announcing the 2017 Women of Distinction and Woman of Promise
The Santa Fe College Women of Distinction recognizes outstanding female service in Alachua and Bradford Counties, and was created by the Women’s History Committee at Santa Fe College in 1987. Women of Distinction has honored more than 180 outstanding women in the community since its inception and acknowledges new women each spring at a formal ceremony.
The 2017 Women of Distinction ceremony will be held Thursday, March 16, at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Conference Center in Gainesville, Florida. All are welcome to attend to help Santa Fe College recognize over 30 years of exceptional women.
This year’s honorees are Women of Distinction (photo left to right) Barbara “Bobbie” Hall, Reverend Dr. Marie Herring, Esther B. Kelly, and Kathy Hobbs, and the Woman of Promise Nicole Klacko.
At the March 16 ceremony, the Santa Fe College Woman of Distinction Scholarship will be awarded. Past honorees of the Women of Distinction have raised over $100,000 and established an endowed scholarship fund. The Women of Distinction continue to accept funds to build the scholarship to benefit additional students each year in perpetuity.
Individual tickets for the Women of Distinction event are $40 per person. Tables and sponsorships are also available with more information online at www.sfcollegefoundation.org/events. Reservations should be made early, as seating is limited. For more information, please contact event coordinator Teri McClellan at 352-395-5201 or buy your tickets now.
About the Women of Distinction and Woman of Promise
(Additional information about each honoree can be found in the "Honorees" section noted to the left.)
It is no exaggeration to say that Barbara “Bobbie” Hall changed the way insurance agencies do business in Alachua County. That innovation, along with her extensive work for local charities, led Santa Fe College to name Hall a 2017 Woman of Distinction. “To help children who can’t help themselves has always been a soft spot,” she explained.
Reverend Dr. Marie Herring is a dynamo of faith, good works and social justice as well as a role model for young people who might doubt the value of a good education. A graduate of Gainesville’s Lincoln High School, Florida A&M University, the University of Florida and Nova University, Herring is the first woman to be ordained/pastor in her denomination in Gainesville, where she served as pastor of Dayspring Missionary Baptist Church.
It’s a long way from Starke to Africa and China, but her love of creativity and technology and her desire to make life better for students enabled Kathy Hobbs to make those journeys far from home. Her interest in education came naturally. Her father was a teacher, principal, and eventually superintendent of schools in Bradford County who was part of the leadership team that created Santa Fe College. After teaching for 36 years, Hobbs is now the director of Community in Schools of Bradford County, a nonprofit organization that works with high-risk students to provide tutoring, mentoring, transportation, scholarships and sometimes even food, clothing and shelter.
Esther Kelly’s leadership in education, civic and religious life has inspired people in Bradford County for many years. A former county finance director and computer programmer, she has been involved in tutoring children, in civic groups, and has served as pastor of two local churches. At the end of her workdays, Kelly spent time tutoring elementary school students. She retired in 1998 but as her nomination letter states, “she has never retired from tutoring.” Since 2005, she has continued to serve as director of the RJE Learning Center in Starke, a cooperative after-school venture supported by the City of Starke, Bradford County Board of County Commissioners, Bradford County School Board, local businesses and parents.
Enthusiasm sparkles when Nicole Klacko talks about her love for animals, her commitment to leadership and her joy in volunteering. All of Klacko’s nomination letters for the Woman of Promise award mention her leadership skills. She attributes those skills to her high school involvement with the National FFA Organization. Currently enrolled at Santa Fe College, she has her sights set on a career as a veterinarian. Klacko blends her love of animals with her volunteer work by taking miniature therapy horses into hospice facilities.
A Little History!
Santa Fe College celebrates Women’s History Month in March with an annual ceremony recognizing “Women of Distinction” who have demonstrated unique achievements in the arts, business, industry, science, environment, medicine, education, government, social services, human rights, history, sports, agriculture, humanities, community service or philanthropy in either Alachua or Bradford County. These women are representative of what every woman does on an average day – juggling schedules between career and family, community service and philanthropic work. It is SF’s honor to celebrate these special women in our community.
“One of the bedrocks of this institution is the acknowledgement of outstanding women leaders in our community,” stated Santa Fe President Jackson Sasser.
In 1987, Dr. Ann Bromley, coordinator of women’s programs and special projects at Santa Fe College, sought to develop a program that would provide recognition and visibility to women for their contributions of time and talent. A committee was formed and the “Women of Distinction” honor began. Since its inception, Santa Fe College has bestowed the Woman of Distinction honor to over 160 remarkable women. In 2000, the committee created a special “Millennium Woman of Distinction” award and chose two previous recipients for the honor. Rosa B. Williams (Alachua County) and Joyce D. Riherd (Bradford County) were chosen for their tireless efforts on improving life for indigent people in their communities.
In 2006, the “Woman of Promise” category was added to honor outstanding up-and-coming young women for leadership in their community and civic involvement. So far, 13 young ladies have received this honor.
In 2014, the Women of Distinction honorees raised over $50,000 to establish the first Woman of Distinction Scholarship fund. The first award was given for the 2015-16 academic year. The next award will be given at the March 2017 event to a non-traditional student continuing her educational journey. The group is currently raising additional funds to increase the endowment so that an award can be presented each year in perpetuity.
Do you have someone you would like to honor with a permanent legacy? Ask us how! Contact Teri McClellan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-395-5201.