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Women of Distinction 2019

Women of Distinction is Girl Scouts of Gateway Council's signature fundraising event to honor outstanding women in Northeast Florida for their professional accomplishments, service to others and community impact. 

 

Thank you to all who attended the 2019 Women of Distinction Celebration, marking 30 years of recognizing the female leaders in our community!

A special thank you to our sponsors!

If you know someone who should be recognized as a 2020 Woman of Distinction, nominate her today.

Women of Distinction 2019 Honorees

Kathleen Brandt
Kathleen Brandt

Kathleen Brandt is the chief information officer for CSX. In this role she supports CSX’s strategic objectives through technology and delivers tools and data to maximize safety, customer service and operational efficiency.

Brandt joined the corporation’s IT subsidiary CSX Technology in 1985 as a software developer, and progressed through positions of increasing responsibility during her 30-year tenure. Brandt has held many leadership positions including assistant vice president roles in application development, rail applications and operations integration before later being appointed as president of CSX Technology in 2015. Brandt has championed both creation of innovative systems and supported significant and sustained performance improvements in Technology. She was named Chief Information Officer Senior Vice President in 2016.

Brandt holds a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and a master's degree in business administration, both from Jacksonville University. In 2015, Brandt was recognized as one of 100 CIO leaders in STEM by STEMconnector, acknowledging her significant work to advance skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in both educational systems and the workplace. She also was named to DiversityMBA magazine’s Top 100 Emerging Leaders in 2011. She is on the Board of Directors of Railinc, Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub, and Dreams Come True. She also serves on the executive advisory board of the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business

Lis'e Everly
Lise Everly

Lis'e Everly spent 26 years as a human resources professional before retiring in 2003 as the vice president of HR and a member of the board of directors for Life Care Services, LLC, the largest employee-owned developer/manager or continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities. In her role, she was responsible for corporate HR strategy and services, as well as HR consultation and supportive services to 100 communities in 30 states. She continues to perform HR consulting with Life Care Services and consults with LCB Senior Services; she has also worked with a variety of nonprofits in Jacksonville.

Lis'e currently serves as the vice president of the board of directors for the Jacksonville Humane Society, and is a past president of the board of directors for the Women's Center of Jacksonville. She is also active on the board of the Villa Riva Condominium Association, a member of the governing body of LSF Health Systems and a member of the leadership advisory council of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. She has been active with the Women's Giving Alliance, the Jacksonville Committee on Equality and the Riverside Avondale Preservation Office, as well as with many organizations in cities where she has previously lived.

Paige Hakimian
Paige Hakimian

Paige Hakimian has spent most of her life in Jacksonville. She is a proud graduate of Wolfson High School, class of 1984, and graduated from the University South Florida with a degree in criminology. At the age of 20, Paige became a real estate broker when she was 20 years old while still in undergraduate school. She and her then fiancé, Ben Hakimian, began buying real estate together several years before they married in 1988. Today, Hakimian Holdings, a real estate acquisition and holding company, commands a regional presence in North Florida with over a million square feet of retail and office space.

Paige has spent 27 years serving on all the campuses of her children’s pre-school, primary, middle and high schools. She helped bring Solace for the Children to Jacksonville —  a health care mission for children in war torn countries. She has spent years serving at her church, St. John’s Cathedral, through many roles, but especially immigrant services. She has led a goal development class for many years for athletically and academically gifted young women from underserved communities in Duval County. She also hosts responsible financial planning classes for young women, to include the Jacksonville University Women’s Basketball team. Paige is a new member of the board of trustees for Episcopal High School of Jacksonville. She is currently earning her master's degree in psychology from Harvard University.

She says, “My greatest sense of accomplishment, without question, comes from our six amazing children, who have blessed our thirty year marriage with more joy and love than we could have ever wished.”

Paola Parra Harris
Paola Parra Harris

Paola Parra Harris is proud to be Cuban-born and Florida-raised. After arriving in the United States from Havana, Cuba, at the tender age of 45 days old with her mother, grandmother, and two aunts, she grew up in a matriarchy in Miami. Her father, a physician, was not permitted to leave Cuba and later died there. She attended public schools in Dade County, was a Girl Scout Cadette in Miami, and received her Associate of Arts degree in English literature from Miami Dade Community College, then in 1992 earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in English literature with a minor in secondary education. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law in Macon, Ga., in 1996. She is licensed to practice law in Florida and Georgia.

Paola is fully bilingual and a large percentage of her clientele are Spanish-speaking only. She has been practicing family trial law since 1998 after practicing insurance defense litigation in Atlanta, Ga., and later in Jacksonville.

Once in Jacksonville, Paola helped form the Hispanic Bar Association of Northeast Florida and served as founding president. Her demonstrated leadership, energy and enthusiasm to motivate others has gained her election as president of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers’ Association, president of the Rotary Club of San Jose, treasurer of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Charities of Jacksonville. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Sulzbacher Center, whose mission is to empower homeless and at-risk men, women and children through health, housing and income services.

She has been recognized as an Up & Comer by The Jacksonville Business Journal and was invited to join the Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2003. In June 2012, she was names Woman Lawyer of the Year by her peers at the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association. She was recognized among 2011 Influential Hispanics on the First Coast by Eco Latino magazine. As chair of the Mayor's Hispanic American Advisory Board, she successfully established and published the city's first Bilingual Hispanic Directory of Resources ("La Guia"). 

She is active in many professional and civic organizations in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Mayors Delaney, Peyton, and Brown each have appointed her to various city advisory boards, transition team and the Port Task Force. She has a family of her own and takes seriously the concerns of her clients and is a zealous advocate for each and every client. She takes tremendous pride in the law firm she founded in 2016, Parra Harris Law, and that her law practice concentrates in all areas affecting family disputes and of her success in achieving positive results for her family law clients.

Ann Marie Knight
Ann Marie Knight

Ann-Marie serves as administrator for community engagement and

administrator for diversity and inclusion at Mayo Clinic. In both roles, Ann-Marie partners with physician leaders to develop activities where Mayo Clinic can contribute to both the internal and external Mayo Clinic community through collaborative outreach efforts. Prior to this role, she served as an operations administrator for the Department of Surgery, Critical Care Medicine Unit and Hospital Internal Medicine Unit, to name a few.

With more than 19 years of experience in the areas of strategic planning, financial management, and operations management, in both the inpatient and outpatient practice settings, she attributes her professional acumen to her 24 years of Naval service, from which she retired as a seasoned lieutenant Medical Service Corps officer. Her service tours included roles as deputy comptroller and department head, access and benefits and administrative officer for several outpatient practices after numerous stretch assignments during 14 years of enlisted service. Immediately following her military service, Ann-Marie had the pleasure of serving as administrative officer for the VA Clinic in Jacksonville, where she was instrumental in operationalizing the new Jefferson Street clinic, thereby increasing access to health care resources for the local veteran community.

Ann-Marie has membership in multiple local professional organizations and nonprofit agencies and is a graduate of Baylor University with a master's in health care administration and a graduate of the University of North Florida with a degree in business administration (finance). Since 2005, she has served in multiple roles for the American College of Healthcare Executives, to include chapter president and on various task force workgroups. Her nonprofit leadership includes board member for the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, the Sulzbacher Center, Women United for United Way, and alumni of Leadership Jacksonville 2016. 

In addition to the Meritorious Service Medal, Ann-Marie received numerous military medals and awards during her military service. Her civilian recognition include both Regent’s and Service Awards from the American College of Healthcare Executives and received recognition as a Veteran of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2016. 

Ann-Marie is married to Garfield Knight and they have two children: Javon and Karl.

Ellen Wiss
Ellen Wiss

Ellen is a real estate management/marketing professional and community volunteer. She currently works as the president of Homkor Florida, and she has led several nonprofit efforts in the areas of education and social justice. 

She serves as president emeritus of the Women’s Giving Alliance, is founder and president of Read USA, Inc., and serves on the boards of City Year, Teach For America and Hubbard House Foundation, as well as the steering committees for Beaches Community Fund and Mayor’s Youth at Work Partnership. Ellen also serves the Kids Hope Alliance Literacy Task Force, is a trustee member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and serves as a development committee member for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

Ellen collaborates with other nonprofits working to improve literacy, education and health opportunities for low-income youth and families, women and girls. 

She is married to husband Jim and has three children.

Presented by

 

  
Gold Sponsors

 

  • CSX
  • UF Health

    
Silver Sponsors

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Juliette Table Sponsors
  • Coker Law