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Throughout her career, attorney Ellen C. Freidin has been involved in efforts to eliminate gender bias in the legal system. She was chair of the Florida Bar Special Committee for Gender Equality in the Profession from 1991 to 1995, and has served on the executive committee of the Dade County Bar Association. In May 1996, Ms. Freidin was appointed to serve on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), a body appointed every 20 years to review the Florida Constitution. She successfully spearheaded efforts to persuade the CRC to include recognition of the equality of women in its proposals for constitutional change. She then led the successful campaign for voter approval. As a result of her efforts, a guarantee of equality for women is now embedded in the Florida Constitution.

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Marleine Bastien is a clinical social worker, a crisis counselor, and an advocate for women’s rights and for the empowerment of all women and girls, especially in the Haitian community. Ms. Bastien received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida International University. For more than a decade, she has provided counseling, facilitated support groups and developed educational programs, materials and workshops in Creole for families and victims of Sickle Cell Anemia, AIDS and domestic violence. In addition, Ms. Bastien has become well known in Washington, D.C. for her advocacy on behalf of the Haitian refugees. She is a talented songwriter and dancer who writes often in newspapers and magazines on the conditions of the Haitian refugees and the Haitian culture. Ms. Bastien is founder and President of the Haitian Women of Miami Organization. She is a member of the Boards of Safespace, the Health and Human Services, and the Florida Immi­grant Advocacy Center. Additional affiliations include the National Association of Social Work, the Women’s Interface Network of the American Jewish Committee, Sosyete Koukouy, a well-known cultural and literary group in Miami, and Sanba Lele, also well known musical group. Ms. Bastien has been honored by the American Red Cross, the Haitian Refugee Center the Miami-Dade County Commission, the Dade County Public Schools, the Haitian American Nurses Association and the Green Foundation. More recently, she received the “In the Company of Women Award.”

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Linda Brown is Executive Director of the Bureau of Community Services for Miami-Dade Public Schools. In this position, she evaluates and facilitates involvement of individuals, businesses, and organizations in Miami-Dade County sponsored programs. She is a committed supporter of the Coalition of Community Education, whose mission is to promote the concept of community schools and education. She has expanded the local Turn on the Lights Project nationally. Ms. Brown has served as president of the Junior League of Miami, where she has focused on Inn Transition, a space for battered women. She secured funding for a second house in hurricane-ravaged South Dade. These structures help to reshape the lives and futures of battered women. Linda Brown is President of Youth Crime Watch of Florida and President-elect of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee.

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A psychologist and educator, Dr. Ruben has given courses at the secondary and college levels on the recognition of gender inequalities. She has created courses for teachers and counselors to help them recognize gender inequalities in schools. She promotes women through her two organizations, “Margaret for President” and “Women are Wonderful, Inc.” “Women are Wonderful, Inc.” reaches adults through seminars, magazine and newspaper articles, speeches, and a website. “Margaret for President” clubs promote female leadership in schools. Dr. Ruben has made an impact that has been felt nationally. She fought and won Wal-Mart’s withdrawal from sale of her “Someday a Woman will be President” T-shirt, which features Margaret of the Dennis the Menace comic strip. This T-shirt has since been distributed nationally to students’ and women’s groups.

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Alberta B. Blecke, a University of Florida graduate, has worked for the rights of Florida’s at-risk children for the past two decades. In this work, she follows in the footsteps of her mother, Lucy Batchelor, who first introduced volunteers to Miami-Dade Juvenile Court. Berta Blecke has been an incredibly committed community volunteer whose determined effort to aid neglected, at-risk and abused children, especially girls and young women, has changed our school and judicial fabric for the better. She started as a Junior League of Miami volunteer observing the juvenile courts. This resulted in the 1980 founding of Guardian Ad Liteum, which now has 400 “guardians” who represent a large number of young girls. From this she realized that a lot of children, especially adolescents, had no stable, long-term care. Beginning in 1984 this sparked the development of the CHARLEE program, which has served more than 4,000 children in foster care. Blecke helped extend the Gladstone Center for Girls in 1991, where girls ages two to eighteen receive therapy, schooling and medical care. In 1999 she established a board representing all of the justice, treatment and children’s advocacy groups in the county to create Kristi House, Inc., to coordinate all programs in one place—the first time in the history of our community. A recipient of numerous awards, Alberta B. Blecke has made a great impact as a dedicated volunteer working on behalf of the children of our community.

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Francena J. Koch, President of the Dade Counseling Association, is a volunteer for women's groups, civic organizations, and the United Way of Miami-Dade County. The designer and producer of the 21st Century Wisdom Project for AAUW, honoring the wisdom of women in the community, she is also a Women's Detention Center volunteer with juvenile girls, building self-esteem and teaching conflict resolution skills. She has worked on The Making of Champions Boot Camp, an inner city program for building self-esteem for girls and boys. She is involved with community mental health issues and further contributes through the Girl Scouts and senior citizens.

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Nancy Dawkins is an honored educator and political activist. She works for the betterment of women and needy community members by assisting in the public acquisition and provision of crucial human resources, including housing, public services and health care.

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Marty Grafton is an admired community pioneer, patron of the arts, and historic guardian. She endeavors to preserve and recognize the contributions of women through leadership in the literary recording of early and contemporary female milestones.

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Helen McGuire is a successful entrepreneur, author, educator and role model. She strives to heighten the awareness of women concerning the diversified and multi-cultural needs of the community at large and at-risk youth in particular.

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Susan Randall is a portrait photographer and community advocate who strives to further the cause of women through pictorial images, the arts, volunteer services and distinguished organizational leadership.

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Rosetta Vickers is a beloved educator, community servant, and an acclaimed Point of Light. She exemplifies the nurturing nature of women by overseeing a tutorial Oasis of Hope for at-risk children facing academic, economic and social challenges.

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