The University of West Florida Office of Equity and Diversity, in partnership with Epps Christian Center, awarded nine community members who inspire and empower the Pensacola area. The sixth annual Trailblazer Awards was hosted virtually on Feb. 23, 2022 via the UWF Equity and Diversity Facebook page.
“This year’s awards are particularly special because they recognize individuals for providing leadership and service during a very difficult time,” said Dr. Greg Tomso, interim vice president of academic engagement and student affairs and UWF’s chief diversity officer. “It’s inspiring that so many good things are happening in our community despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. UWF is very grateful for these outstanding leaders and our ongoing partnership with the Epps Christian Center.”
Over the last six years, 53 difference makers in the community have been awarded. The following people received a Trailblazer Award this year:
• Sandra Donaldson, Community Service Award
• My-Hanh Smiley, Helping Hand Award
• Nicole Dixon, Community Voice Award
• Marilyn Robinson, Servant Leader Award
• Dr. Michelle Grier-Hall, Servant Leader Award
• Freddie Tellis, Faith and Service Award
• Dr. Keya Wiggins-Jackson, Educational Leadership Award
• Mikia Carter, UWF Alumni Award
• Sherri Myers, Trailblazer Award
Myers was honored with the signature Trailblazer Award for her work as a civil rights attorney and advocate for disability rights. During her legal career, she has been an advocate for the poor, people with disabilities, women and minorities. Among her greatest accomplishments was the creation of one of the first rape crisis centers in the country in Nashville, Tennessee. She worked at the Center for Independent Living Disability Resource Center as an advocacy outreach coordinator for 14 years and currently serves on Pensacola City Council. She spent many years advocating for and improving access to local public beaches for people with disabilities. Myers drafted the Project Universal Access which was selected by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners as one of the county’s 10 RESTORE projects. Project Universal Access will ensure that all people have the opportunity to live, work and play in an area that has beautiful beaches and natural resources.
“My passion in life has been to advocate for and empower those who have been marginalized and disenfranchised,” Myers said. “I am honored to be among those who have advanced the cause of humanity and have been recognized for their work by UWF.”
For more information about the Office of Equity and Diversity, visit uwf.edu/inclusion.