2011 Central Floridian of the Year: Runners-up
2011 Central Floridian of the Year runners-up
Tim McKinney: Bithlo has long been Orange County's inside joke. But McKinney, an Orange County resident, but a Bithlo outsider, didn't see the humor in high rates of poverty, illiteracy and well-water coursing with arsenic and old lead. So, the former foreign-aid worker turned the focus of his grassroots organization, United Global Outreach, to bringing a private school, a permanent medical clinic and corporate first aid to the West Orange community. He also helped persuade Lynx to add bus lines closer to the community. And in so doing, he showed that concern — not laughter — is the best medicine.
Sandy Shugart: The president of Valencia College since 2000, Shugart might have had his best year yet in 2011. In December, Valencia was named the nation's top community college in a ceremony attended by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. In September, Shugart went to the White House to share his ideas about education with other community college leaders and Obama administration officials. Valencia, with more than 70,000 students between its campuses in Orange and Osceola counties, boasts high graduation and job-placement rates despite ranking near the bottom among Florida colleges for state funding.
Rick Walsh: A former Darden Restaurants executive, Walsh was drafted in September to help straighten out Workforce Central Florida. The region's job-development agency was discredited for its dubious spending of taxpayer dollars, like buying red super-hero capes for the unemployed. Walsh was chosen for a similar Mr. Fix-it role in 2010 with Florida's Blood Centers, the region's largest blood bank, after scandals forced a house-cleaning in its top ranks. A UCF graduate and former chairman of its board of trustees, Walsh has earned the community's regard for years of service to business, civic and cultural groups.
Carol Wick: For someone who spends so much time around tragedy, Wick is amazingly upbeat. And innovative. Just ask Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney, among those who nominated Wick for Central Floridian of the Year for her service as CEO of Harbor House, Orange County's domestic-abuse haven for women and children and, soon, their pets. Harbor House broke ground on a facility that'll not only store in-kind donations but will also be a home for pets that victims of domestic violence are loathe to leave behind. Wick is "a visionary who serves as a champion for all victims of domestic abuse," Rooney wrote. Well said.