Tallahassee, Fla. (WTXL) - Florida Governor Rick Scott joined Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam at the Florida State Capitol to induct three Floridians in the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.
The inductees were chosen from a list of 10 nominees selected by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. The inductees have made significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and all citizens of Florida.
Governor Scott said, “These women provide an example of service, sacrifice, and dedication for all of us, and it was an honor to recognize the contributions of these three outstanding Floridians. The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame is one more way Florida honors women who have dedicated their lives to serving the families of our state.”
Lieutenant Governor Lopez-Cantera said, “Women are the foundation for strong families and communities. I am proud to help induct these outstanding women into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. We will continue to recognize the achievements of women in our state, as we work to make Florida the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “The three women we honored are truly phenomenal Floridians, and I am proud that their contributions to making Florida a better state will forever be memorialized in the Women’s Hall of Fame.”
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said, “These three remarkable women are heroes whose contributions continue to inspire Floridians and make our state a better place to live. I was honored to be a part of their recognition and to express Florida’s gratitude for their distinguished accomplishments.”
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said, “Yesterday we recognized the extraordinary lives and accomplishments of Sheriff Susan Benton, Louise Jones Gopher and the late Dottie MacKinnon before their friends and families. I thank these three heroic women, and all the members of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, for their dedication and service to a better Florida.”
The inductees are:
Dottie Berger MacKinnon formerly of Tampa, was a tireless advocate for women and has left her footprint throughout the Bay area. She was one of the founders of Joshua House, a safe haven for abused, abandoned, and neglected children, in Tampa and she passionately supported the children served there since 1992. After founding the institution she helped the group establish a $1.2 million endowment through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay in order to ensure that they can continue the work that she started there long into the future. She also served the community as a Hillsborough County Commissioner from 1994-1998. On May 4, 2011 Dottie was honored with the Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award by the Hillsborough County Commissioners in recognition of the significant role that she played in improving government through leadership and vision. From 2005-2009 she worked tirelessly to develop, create and co-found A Kid's Place, a residential care facility for foster siblings. Although challenged with cancer many times throughout her lifetime she never faltered as a champion for foster children and she battled unrelentingly in her quest to improve their quality of life. She lost her battle with cancer in October 2013 but her legacy will live on.
Louise Jones Gopher was the first female member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to earn a college degree, graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in business. As a former director of education for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, she has been a champion of education for all its members. Born in a chickee in a Fort Pierce Seminole camp, Gopher spoke no English when she entered school. Nonetheless, she became the first Seminole woman to graduate with a four-year college degree. Known for her dedication to the preservation of Seminole Tribe of Florida culture, Gopher was a driving force behind the development of the tribe's first charter school, known as "Pemayetv Emahakv" or "Our Way" School, which opened its doors in 2007. As a recognized authority and author on tribal history and cultural preservation, Gopher also was instrumental in the development of FSU's groundbreaking course, "History of the Seminoles and Southeastern Tribes, Pre-Contact to Present," which was offered to students for the first time in 2006.
Sheriff Susan Benton – Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton of Sebring is the first female sheriff elected in a general election in the history of the state of Florida and is currently serving her third term. Sheriff Benton is a fifth-generation Floridian who has served in law enforcement for over 35 years. She has consistently gone above and beyond her duties to serve her community with innovative solutions while pushing for programs such as the Special Victims Unit to protect the elderly and the children from victimization, mentor and educate youth, providing substance abuse and mental health treatment within the jail all while holding offender accountable. Sheriff Benton was the 2013 President of the Florida Sheriff’s Association, which is the first time a woman has served in this capacity in the Association’s 115-year history, and currently serves on the National Sheriffs Association Board of Directors.