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i4 Business Names Recipients of 2022 Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards

(ORLANDO, FL) — Nine Central Florida community leaders have been named recipients of the 2022 Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards presented by i4 Business magazine. They will be honored during a luncheon May 10, 2022, and their stories will appear in the March-April issue of the magazine.

“These honorees deserve to be celebrated for the outstanding work they’re doing in our community, especially during these volatile times,” said Diane Sears, editor and publisher of i4 Business. “Our committee had a tough time choosing from among so many worthy nominees. We couldn’t be more thrilled to honor these nine leaders, and we’re especially excited about holding this event in person again after presenting the award virtually in 2021.”

The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Caribe Royale Resort, which is unveiling a $125 million expansion and renovation this year. The all-suite convention hotel is located at 8101 World Center Drive near Walt Disney World.

The honorees and their categories are:

Spirit of Advocacy

Dr. Maria Vazquez, Deputy Superintendent for Orange County Public Schools

In addition to helping steer the ninth-largest school district in the United States with more than 206,000 students, 25,000 employees and 202 schools, Maria Vazquez, Ph.D., serves as a passionate advocate for cardiovascular health. As a board member of the American Heart Association’s Metro Orlando chapter, she raises her voice on behalf of children and works with school district employees to champion health equity and improve the cardiovascular health of the community.

Spirit of Collaboration

Jennifer Evins, the new Executive Director of United Arts

Since stepping into the chief executive role at United Arts of Central Florida in June of 2020 from a similar position in South Carolina, Evins has focused on not only learning more about the local cultural community and its supporters, but also bringing them together. Her organization spearheaded the Collaborative Campaign for the Arts, the largest and most inclusive collaboration between art, science and history organizations in Central Florida, with a goal of raising $4.38 million by the end of April.

Spirit of Community

Pam Gould, President and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope and an Orange County School Board member

For more than 30 years, Pam Gould has facilitated community partnerships to improve daily life for Central Florida residents. As the CEO of Shepherd’s Hope, she oversees the nonprofit’s mission to provide free medical services to people who are uninsured and underinsured. She also serves as a member and vice chair of the Orange County School Board. Her dedication to the community extends beyond those roles to her service on numerous boards where she donates countless hours.

Spirit of Empowerment

Shelly Wilkes, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Social Responsibility for the Orlando Magic

As part of the Orlando Magic operation since 2004, Shelly Wilkes has blazed a trail for women in sports. She previously served as the only female president in the NBA’s G League, where she was responsible for building the Lakeland Magic franchise from the ground up. Her focus has been to empower, mentor and advocate for people who are underrepresented in sports, using her influence to spearhead initiatives including a two-day empowerment and leadership summit for women.

Spirit of Engagement

Andrea Eliscu, Founder of Dueling Dragons of Orlando

A nurse by trade, as well as an author and a healthcare consultant, Andrea Eliscu founded Medical Marketing Inc. in 1984 and serves on numerous community boards. Ten years ago, she turned her attention to founding a program that has become nationally recognized for strengthening the relationship between law enforcement officers and inner-city children. Dueling Dragons develops camaraderie, respect and mentorship through the teamwork of competitive dragon boat racing.

Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Cherlette McCullough, owner of Center Peace Couples and Family Therapy

As a mental health therapist and the owner of a private practice in Winter Park, Cherlette McCullough helps women, couples and families make their mental wellness a priority. She has received several awards for her work in mental health community advocacy. To reach more people hurting during the pandemic, she put social media to work, writing about depression and anxiety. She has also spoken at workshops and in the media, and she broadcasts a biweekly podcast for women.

Spirit of Innovation

Dr. Haifa Maamar – Full Sail University Emerging Technologies Education Director

Since joining Full Sail in 2014, Haifa Maamar, Ph.D., has promoted innovation within the university and the community. Under her direction, Full Sail’s degree programs in emerging technologies have garnered numerous awards, and she has been a champion for scholarships in this field. She is leading an initiative to enhance learning through extended reality, and she formed the nonprofit Cacti Council to get children in elementary and middle schools excited about future careers in computer science.

Spirit of Mentorship

Lisa Bowman, Chief Nursing Officer at AdventHealth children’s and women’s hospitals

As devoted to her team as she is to her patients, Lisa Bowman serves as the chief nursing officer and vice president of AdventHealth for Children and AdventHealth for Women. She enables leaders under her care to innovate and thrive in the workplace — which shows in the national recognitions received for the programs under her responsibility. She has taken extra care to recognize and reward the heroic work of her team members during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spirit of Progress

Carol Craig, Founder and CEO of Craig Technologies and Sidus Space

Known as the founder and CEO of Craig Technologies, a nationally recognized aerospace and defense contracting firm, Carol Craig is now the founder CEO of Sidus Space. Her companies have created a combined 500 jobs to support advancements in space from their base in Cape Canaveral. In December 2021, she made history as the first female founder of a space company to go public with a listing on NASDAQ. As a former naval flight officer, Craig was one of the first women eligible to fly combat aircraft in the Navy.

The 2021 honorees were: Pamela Nabors, president and CEO of CareerSource Central Florida; Deborah Beidel, executive director of UCF RESTORES; Marcie Golgoski, executive producer of special projects at WESH2 News; Leticia Diaz, dean and professor of law at Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law; Verbelee Nielsen-Swanson, owner of Oxford Eyes; Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation; and Lena Graham Morris, vice president of HORUS Construction Services and founder and president of Entreprenista Enterprises LLC.

The 2020 honorees were: Dr. Deborah Crown, dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College; Dana Bledsoe, consultant and former president of Nemours Children’s Hospital; Lauren Nelson, former philanthropy associate for Nemours Children’s Hospital; Dr. Laine Powell, founder of Tech Sassy Girlz; Brianna Sheehan, founder and principal designer of Brianna Michelle Interior Design; A. Noni Holmes-Kidd, vice president and general counsel for Parkway Property Investments; and Sharon Hagle, founder of SpaceKids Global.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for levels ranging from $6,000 to $2,000. For information, contact Tracey Serebin, business development director for i4 Business, at tracey@i4biz.com or 407-730-2961.

Corporate tables for 10 are available for $1,250, and individual tickets to the event are $85. For information, visit www.i4biz.com.


About i4 Business Magazine

Founded in 2013, i4 Business serves as Orlando’s Leadership Connection by covering the people, projects and priorities shaping Central Florida. The magazine shares timely, relevant stories that are uplifting, inspiring and educational. The magazine celebrates the diversity of its audience’s backgrounds, industries and leadership styles

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About the author

Diane Sears

A career journalist, author and advocate for business growth, Diane Sears is the CEO, editor and publisher of i4 Business. She is also the founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC, which has handled content marketing projects including nonfiction books, white papers, executive speeches and scripts since 2000. She is co-founder of the nonprofit Go for the Greens Foundation, which helps connect women-owned and minority-owned business owners with growth opportunities internationally.

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