ORLANDO—U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., today announced her office has honored six women making outstanding contributions in Central Florida as the 2021 Women of the Year. Women were nominated by members of the community and six winners were selected by an independent panel of female community leaders. As the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress and the first woman to represent Florida’s Seventh Congressional District, Murphy hopes this recognition raises awareness about the growing number of exceptional women leaders in her district.
“As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I am thrilled to recognize six strong women who are making a difference in Central Florida and using their platforms to bring positive change to our community,” said Murphy. “These women are doing fantastic work to help others and I’m proud to elevate their voices and ensure their hard work does not go unnoticed.”
The following six women have been recognized by Murphy as the 2021 Women of the Year:
- Janet Balanoff lives in Oviedo and has spent her career fighting for equity and inclusion in public higher education, first at Florida State University, then as Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at the University of Central Florida. She now serves as Associate Vice President of Equity and Diversity at Seminole State College and is dedicated to fighting for equality for Central Florida students.
- Pat Bebe lives in Altamonte Springs and is an elementary school teacher at Lake Silver Elementary School in Orange County, as well as the owner of Learning in Hues, an organization that provides educational resources to students of all backgrounds and cultures. Pat is deeply invested in making education accessible and exciting to all children in Central Florida and hosts free events, provides books, and has a YouTube channel aimed at fostering this love of learning.
- Stacie Becker lives in Altamonte Springs and is a medical tattoo artist who specializes in tattoos and scar concealment for breast cancer survivors. Stacie works with local surgeons and insurance companies to make medical tattoos more widely accessible in the Central Florida community. She is passionate about helping survivors and ensuring they get high-quality, artistic tattoos to help them recover both physically and emotionally.
- Dawn Belue lives in Winter Springs and is the founder and local group leader of the Seminole County Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, as well as the State Twitter Lead for Florida Moms Demand Action. Dawn is a passionate and determined leader who has been fighting for commonsense gun legislation to make Central Florida and our country safer.
- Kelly Lafferman lives in Orlando and is a Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of Winter Park-based marketing firm Findsome & Winmore, as well as a counselor at Apage Therapy Institute, a community-based nonprofit organization providing mental health services to individuals regardless of income. During the pandemic, Lafferman has helped her patients navigate the difficulties posed by COVID-19. She is also a founding board member of the onePULSE Foundation Executive Board of Trustees, which honors the victims of the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting.
- Andry Sweet lives in Orlando and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Home Society of Florida, an organization that offers various support services for children and families, while working to improve foster care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Andry established a free Family Support hotline to expand access to mental health services for anyone who needs help.
For high-quality photos of each winner, click here.