Governor Ron DeSantis Selects Three Inductees to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame
The Floridant/10273161

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ~ TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a ceremony held today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the selection of three remarkable women to be inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame. Graci McGillicuddy, May Mann Jennings, and Penny Thompson were chosen from a pool of nominees recommended by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

Graci McGillicuddy, co-founder of the All Star Children's Foundation, has dedicated her life to advocating for the rights and welfare of abused children. Her tireless efforts have inspired countless individuals to join in the fight against child abuse and human trafficking. McGillicuddy's commitment to this noble cause extends beyond her work with the foundation; she also serves on various state councils and nonprofit boards, contributing to initiatives focused on arts, mentoring, and child abuse prevention.

In recognition of her impactful advocacy work, McGillicuddy was named one of "100 Women to Know in America" by The KNOW Women in 2022. She has also been honored with the prestigious "Spirit of Service" Award by the Florida Senate in 2009 - the highest honor bestowed upon civilians. Through her powerful advocacy, McGillicuddy has helped change public perception and legal treatment of human trafficking victims from criminals to deserving individuals in need of support and care.

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May Mann Jennings, wife of former Governor William Sherman Jennings who served as Florida's 18th Governor, is known as the "Mother of Florida's Forestry." Her efforts led to the establishment of the State Board of Forestry (now known as the Florida Forestry Service) through her lobbying efforts with the Florida Legislature. She also played a crucial role in establishing Royal Palm State Park - now part of Everglades National Park - in 1915.

Jennings' legacy extends beyond her conservation efforts; she was also a founding member and President of both the Florida State League of Women Voters and the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs. Her dedication to causes such as women's suffrage, education funding, and historic preservation have left a lasting impact on the state of Florida.

Penny Thompson was a trailblazer in women's aviation during the post-war years of the 1940s and 1950s. She volunteered as a Civil Air Patrol Pilot during World War II, searching for German submarines in the Gulf of Mexico. After the war, she published and edited Southern Aviation News and was elected as President of the Florida Chapter of the Ninety-Nines - an organization founded by Amelia Earhart to support women pilots.

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Thompson's passion for aviation also led her to be elected as Chairwoman of the world's first All-Woman Air Show in Tampa in 1947. In 1949, she made history alongside fellow pilot Ellen Gilmore by piloting an experimental "flying car" called the Roadable Ercoupe in the Montreal-Miami All-Woman's Air Race. This flight gained national attention and helped elevate female pilots in a male-dominated industry.

Aside from her contributions to aviation, Thompson was also a strong advocate for motherhood and families. She founded the Miami-Dade County Mothers of Twins Club as a support group for mothers in Florida. In recognition of her achievements, Miami-Dade County named its largest park and campground after Penny and her husband Larry - making it one of the few parks in the United States named after a husband and wife.

These three remarkable women have made significant contributions to their communities and have left a lasting impact on the state of Florida. Their induction into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame is a well-deserved honor that recognizes their dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to making a difference.

Filed Under: Government, State

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