Mayor Pat Gerard, Sandra Lyth, Dr. Barbara Bourland, Jane Hussar
Women Who Make A Difference
By Anne McKay Garris
Soroptomist International is an organization that promotes the interest and well being of women throughout the world. In our area Soroptomist International of Pinellas County has a 23 year tradition of honoring local women who have made a difference. Over the years the honorees have included such well known names as State Representatives Betty Easley and Mary Grizzle; Judges Susan F. Schaeffer, Claire Luten and Nellie Khouzam; Clearwater Mayor Rita Garvey, Pinellas County Commissioner Sallie Parks; longtime Clearwater business woman and civic activist, Lillian Trickel, and Barbara Green, who pioneered care for the homeless in Clearwater. Over the years, close to 200 outstanding women have been honored for their work in the medical field, in serving the needy in our community, volunteering where they are needed, in promoting women in the business world and supporting the arts.
Last week, four women were presented as the 2009 "Women Honoring Women" honorees, each honored for outstanding contributions to the community. Dr. Barbara Bourland was chosen for "working single handedly, day in and day out for over a decade to bring the latest in technology and clinical expertise in breast imaging to the women of our community," according to Terry Turner, master of ceremonies at the annual Soroptomist's Women Honoring Women luncheon, held at the Clearwater Country Club.
First trained as a pediatrician at Duke University, Dr. Bourland earned a second degree in Radiology. Her concern for women with breast cancer led her to found the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure Florida Suncoast. In 2000, she went on to establish the Mammography Voucher Program which provides mammograms and treatment for women who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
Now the Medical Director of the Breast Imaging and Intervention Services and Chair of the Department of Medical Imaging at Morton Plant Mease Health Services, she works constantly to bring deep caring and true compassion to the entire diagnostic process. According to Turner, "Dr. Bourland's dream come true at the Susan Cheek Needler Breast Center on the Morton Plant Campus where the needs of women in our community are aligned with the goals of the health system."
Mayor Pat Gerard of Largo, one of only two women mayors presently serving in Pinellas County, was another honoree. She was introduced by Turner as the mayor who, in her first term, championed library and recreation facilities and worked for affordable housing, fiscal responsibility and accountability.
Previously a victim advocate for the Largo Police Department, Mayor Gerard now serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Family Resources where she oversees an $8 million budget dedicated to helping families in crisis. Her interest in families led her to work to get State legislation passed that makes arrest the preferred response in abuse situations in Florida.
A volunteer career in working for families and education put Jane Hussar, currently the Family and Community Relations Liaison at Countryside High School, on the Soroptomist honors list. Among the creative programs which Hussar started is one called Learning at the Laundromat. Hussar led a drive to put children's books at Laundromats for children to read while their mothers tended to the laundry. Sponsored by the Junior Women's Club of Clearwater, the program has put over 3,000 books in the hands of children.
One of her favorite projects, called Macy's Lights The Way, makes unused, but "off stock" clothes available to the school children of Pinellas County who need them. Seeing another need Hussar also helped create the Parent University, a program to help build strong families. It was clear to tell, as she spoke to the Soroptomist luncheon that she was already thinking about more ways to support families and education.
Years ago, Sandra Lyth, saw a need as she worked in the criminal justice system in Canada. She developed a model program for building a successful plan for mentally ill and developmentally challenged women offenders. When she moved to the United States, in 1999, she used the same skills to build a Hispanic Outreach Center where she works with the Clearwater Police Department to help the Hispanic and Latino population to successfully integrate into the mainstream of society. "She speaks two languages," reported Turner, with a touch of humor, "English and French."
Lyth also works on behalf of the homeless population and is an advocate for the victims of human trafficking in our area, speaking regularly to organizations in order to educate people about this terrible crime against humanity.
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