Messer Caparello P.A.’s own Gigi Rollini was honored in the eighth annual celebration recognizing women’s service, community accomplishments in the Tallahassee area.
Whether their vocation is business, education, nonprofit management or medicine, the 25 Women You Need to Know have community foremost in mind and dedication to make positive things happen.
March is Women’s History Month and the eighth annual 25 Women You Need to Know celebration takes place during this time to honor a group of women for their leadership and civic accomplishments. It is a program of the Tallahassee Democrat and is sponsored online at Tallahassee.com by local jeweler The Gem Collection.
“We are excited to present this year’s honorees. This diverse group represents the very best of our area. They are business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals, as well as advocates for our community who have given their time and talent to a wide range of causes,” said Julie Moreno, president and publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat.
“Their leadership and giving back is something we are proud to share and celebrate with the community,” she said.
Honoree Jane Johnson is chief of staff at the Florida Department of Children & Families and volunteers with the Second Judicial Circuit’s Guardian ad Litem program. She co-chaired the state’s first Autism Task Force with former Miami Dolphins star Dan Marino.
Johnson said she was proud be among the 25 Women You Need to Know. “I have followed it pretty closely and several of the women I know have been honored,” she said. “It’s neat. It’s very affirming for women.”
Educator and business owner Gabrielle Gabrielli was surprised to learn she had been selected for the honor. “Shocked and excited” was her reaction, she said.
“I kind of fly under the radar and I have for a long time,” Gabrielli said of her civic work. She is a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 23 and was the 2013 Sole Proprietor of the Year winner in the Chamber Awards given by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.
“I have known most of the women who have made it and I feel honored to be among that group of amazing women,” she said.
The nominees reflected a wide range of backgrounds, ages and experiences. In their selections, panelists looked for professional or business success, but also the individual’s support for local causes and their volunteer work, as well as their impact on the community.
“I am greatly honored,” said chef and cafe owner Rebecca Kelly, who is founder and president of the Tallahassee Food Truck Association. Through her efforts at organizing events and involving other food truck operators, the organization has raised money for local charities. In 2011, she organized the Tallahassee Street Food and Music Fest at Railroad Square to raise money for ECHO, the Emergency Care and Help Organization.
Honoree Martha Olive-Hall, a Tallahassee attorney, is known for her long-time board service locally with such groups as the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Tallahassee Association of Women Lawyers, the Junior League and Refuge House. She is a founding member of the Oasis Center for Women & Girls.
“I am glad to be included among them, but I am sure there are many more than just the 25,” she said when notified she had been selected for 2014.
Beginning Monday, profile stories of the women will be published in the Democrat and featured online at Tallahassee.com, where there will be videos of each honoree and a photo gallery.
This year’s panel of judges included Laura Reeves, past president of Business & Professional Women/Tallahassee and a 2013 honoree; Corrie Melton of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce; 2008 honoree Pam Ridley; 2012 honoree Samantha Strickland; 2013 honorees Melanie Mowry Etters, Berneice Cox and Katrina Rolle; and Leslie Smith, the Democrat’s marketing and communications manager.
Since the recognition program began in 2007, a total of 200 women have been honored locally. A group of them formed Club 25 in 2010 as a way for the women to combine their talents and energy to work on community projects.
Among Club 25’s projects are scholarships for women students at Tallahassee Community College, as well as support for Dress for Success Tallahassee, Oasis Center for Women & Girls, Brehon, Chelsea House, the Girls Choir of Tallahassee, the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, HOPE Community, the KEYS scholarship program, The Shelter and the TMH Neonatal Clinic.
The annual invitation-only reception for the 25 Women You Need to Know is April 7 at the FSU Alumni Center Ballroom.