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Gov. Ron DeSantis Names Graci McGillicuddy to Florida Women’s Hall of Fame

July 3, 2024 | In the News, Press Release
Graci McGillicuddy

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced the selection of Sarasota resident Graci McGillicuddy to the 2024 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Each year, the Governor selects three nominees from recommendations presented by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. This prestigious honor recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the state of Florida and its residents through their professional and philanthropic endeavors. 

Graci McGillicuddy is the co-founder of the All Star Children’s Foundation, a Sarasota-based child advocacy center that combats child abuse and provides a safe place for foster children. She has dedicated her life to advocating for the rights and welfare of abused children. Her commitment extends to public service roles on various state councils and nonprofit boards where she contributes to arts, mentoring, and child abuse prevention initiatives. In 2022, she was recognized by The KNOW Women as a member of their “100 Women to Know in America” and was honored with the “Spirit of Service” Award by the Florida Senate in 2009. 

In 2008, McGillicuddy spearheaded a $6 million capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art Child Protection Center in Sarasota. She is currently a Lifetime Director of the Child Protection Center after serving many years as board chair and a board member. 

“Graci McGillicuddy’s tireless work and unwavering commitment have transformed the lives of countless children and families across the region,” says Douglas Staley, executive director of the Child Protection Center in Sarasota. “Her dedication to protecting our most vulnerable citizens is truly inspiring, and we’re thrilled her achievements have been recognized with this honor.”

Denise Marzullo, CEO of All Star Children’s Foundation, says that McGillicuddy’s “passion and relentless advocacy have created a profound impact on the lives of those we serve. Her visionary leadership and compassionate spirit have been instrumental in designing a foster care system where children are honored and revered. She built a pediatric mental health treatment and research center that will serve as a catalyst for transforming the foster care system.  This recognition is a testament to her extraordinary contributions and steadfast dedication.”

The induction ceremony will take place later this year, celebrating the accomplishments of McGillicuddy and two other outstanding women—May Mann Jennings, and Penny Thompson—each of whom has significantly contributed to the betterment of Florida.