Six Broward ‘champions of change’ to be honored in Fort Lauderdale

Six Broward ‘champions of change’ to be honored in Fort Lauderdale

Six prominent local women will be honored for their contributions to the community, along with the historical female predecessors who helped pave their way, at a photo exhibition and reception to be held at Galleria Fort Lauderdale during Women’s History Month, celebrated in March.

The event, History Fort Lauderdale and Galleria Fort Lauderdale’s “Women Trailblazers: Champions of Change – Broward County” presented by UKG and sponsored by City & Shore PRIME, will take place March 9-31 at Galleria Fort Lauderdale. This year’s honorees are Heather Geronemus, senior director, social equity, opportunity and impact at UKG; Ramola Motwani, chairwoman, Merrimac Ventures; Joy Satterlee, executive director of Art and Culture Center/Hollywood; Barbara Sharief, former Broward County commissioner and founder and CEO of South Florida Pediatric Homecare Inc.; Stephanie Toothaker, chairwoman and chief strategist of Toothaker.org; and Lori Wheeler, vice president of Marine Industries Association of South Florida.

“History Fort Lauderdale is thrilled to celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing this year’s new wave of leaders who embody strength, courage, enthusiasm and a passion for giving back to the community,” says Patricia Zeiler, executive director of History Fort Lauderdale. “From growing our marine industry to creating opportunities for economic prosperity to developing land and even inspiring a new generation of artists, these fearless women are committed to making Broward County a premiere location to live, work and play.”

The exhibit, free and open to the public during mall hours, will be located on the main level of the mall in the center, near the Swarovski store.

Past pioneering women counterparts to be highlighted this year include Angeline Weir, Broward’s first woman distaff solicitor and the first woman to be appointed Municipal Court Judge in Hallandale Beach; Sylvia Alridge, creator of the first woman-owned employment agency in Fort Lauderdale; Elsie Bellamy Blackwell, business partner/owner of Blackwell Pharmacy and restaurants Rockery Tea Room and Stranahan House’s Pioneer House; Jane Wray, a preservationist who established Floyd L. Wray Foundation in 1969 to preserve 60 acres that would later become Flamingo Gardens; Sadye Katz, co-owner of the first women’s dress shop, who raised funds for the first area synagogue; and Mary Brickell, a regional pioneer and land owner who helped shape Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Colee Hammock and was instrumental in developing Las Olas Boulevard.

“We’re honoring women who are making history now in Broward County, but also partnering them with a woman from Broward’s past that nobody knows about,” Zeiler says. “It gives us an opportunity to introduce some really important women from the past.”

This year’s Trailblazers will be honored during a ticketed preview and recognition ceremony benefitting History Fort Lauderdale on March 9 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Galleria. Tickets are $50 and are available at bit.ly/HFLWomenTrailblazers2023.

“This is a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month and the remarkable women we’re honoring this year,” says Melissa Milroy, senior marketing manager of Galleria Fort Lauderdale. “It’s a tribute to everything they’ve achieved in their careers and a great way for adults and kids to learn about the history of Broward County and Fort Lauderdale.”

Sponsors of the event include Memorial Healthcare System, Total Marine Solutions, Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL), PNC Bank, Broward Health, Pier 66 Hotel & Marina, GPR | Goodman Public Relations, City & Shore PRIME magazine, Dillard’s, The Capital Grille and Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants. As part of the special event, Dillard’s will host a pop-up shop with 10% of its sales benefiting History Fort Lauderdale.

“This is an opportunity for the general public to experience a photographic exhibit free of charge in a lovely air-conditioned area at Galleria Mall,” Zeiler says. “It gives us an opportunity to not only introduce these amazing women but also the museum experience to people who would not normally travel to a museum.”

For more information, call 954-463-4431 or visit historyfortlauderdale.org.

Women Trailblazers

City & Shore PRIME asked each of the six trailblazing women of today the following question: According to History Fort Lauderdale, the women being recognized as Trailblazers embody strength, courage, enthusiasm and a passion for giving back to the community. Of these four qualities, which do you feel is the most important in 2023 and why?

Here are their responses:

Heather Geronemus

“I believe passion for giving to the community is the most important quality. Service has defined most of my life and has given me strength, courage and enthusiasm. It’s imperative to support the community that supports you because everyone is facing challenges, both seen and unseen. It’s incumbent on each of us to find our passion and a place to make a difference in the world. Whether you’re a company, a family or an individual, everybody has the power to use their passion for good.”

Ramola Motwani

“For me, having the passion for giving back to the community is most important. Passion is the foundation on which strength, courage and enthusiasm are all built. It is the bedrock of community service.”

Joy Satterlee

“Passion is key. Passion provides the fire to accomplish personal and professional goals . . . Passion to help make a difference in the community in which we live, work and play . . . Passion to persist in fulfilling the [Art and Culture] Center’s mission, especially during these last challenging years.”

Barbara Sharief

“I believe courage is the most important quality for a trailblazer. In my 13 years serving in elected office as Broward County Commissioner and Mayor, I faced many issues head on and stood alone in the beginning until others could see the purpose or benefit. To be a trailblazer, you must have the courage to walk the path alone and lead others to a place where we can collectively make the best choices to positively affect as many people as possible.”

Stephanie Toothaker

“Passion is the key to life. Find what you love, do it well and bask in the glow of it. My passion for my work and family is my joy.”

Lori Wheeler

“Trailblazers embody many positive traits but it takes strength and courage to rise above. To find courage, it takes strength. And strength allows one to persevere and meet challenges head on.”