UWF in the Community

UWF honors local trailblazers who inspire and empower community at annual awards

In honor of Black History Month, the University of West Florida Office of Equity and Diversity and Epps Christian Center partnered to award eight community members who have blazed trails and made a lasting impact on the community. The fourth annual Trailblazer Awards luncheon was hosted on Feb. 20 at the Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola.

(Pictured left to right) J.O. Gatson, Sonya Culliver, Jewel Cannada-Wynn, Sue Straughn, Norm Ross, Laverne Baker, Jerry McIntosh

“The Trailblazer Awards is my favorite event every year because I get to see the great work so many individuals are doing to make their community thrive,” said Dr. Kim LeDuff, UWF chief diversity officer and vice president for the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Affairs. “I only wish we had more awards to give because there are so many people who are deserving of the recognition and it is difficult to narrow it down to one for each award.”

After four successful years, the committee has recognized numerous members of the community and awarded 35 recipients to date.

“Every year I look forward to this event between Epps Christian Center and the University of West Florida,” said Rev. Sylvia Tisdale, founder of the Epps Christian Center. “Being able to recognize these amazing community leaders for their daily service is an honor and a privilege that I enjoy being part of.”

The following people were named recipients of the Trailblazer Awards:

  • Laverne Baker, Helping Hand Award
  • J.O. Gatson, Faith and Service Award
  • Sonya Culliver, Community Service Award
  • Norm Ross, Educational Leadership Award
  • Jewel Cannada-Wynn, Servant Leader Award
  • Jerry McIntosh, Community Voice Award
  • Bobby Livingston, UWF Alumni Trailblazer Award
  • Sue Straughn, Trailblazer Award

“To God be all the glory,” said Sue Straughn, WEAR-TV news anchor and senior editor. “I am humbled beyond words at this incredible honor. It is my blessing to be able to share the stories of those of you who are in the trenches every day truly making a difference in our community. You are the ones deserving of our gratitude. Thank you!”

For more information about UWF’s Office of Equity and Diversity, visit uwf.edu/respect.