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2019 WOD Honorees

2019 Honorees

(top row; l to r) Woman of Distinction Dore Beach, Woman of Distinction Arlene DiBenigno, Woman of Distinction Rita Lowman; (bottom row; l to r) Woman of Distinction Terri Lipsey Scott, Woman of Promise Rachel May Zysk, and Hall of Fame Inductee Senator Arthenia Joyner

We are pleased to announce the 2019 Women of Distinction and Woman of Promise. All honorees have achieved success in their chosen fields and serve as inspiring role models for girls in our local communities, each exemplifying ethical leadership and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens through community service.

Dore Beach 2

Dore Beach – Dore has dedicated her life being an advocate for women’s rights helping to lay the path of women’s equality for decades. She is one of the “Founding Mothers” of the women’s movement in Florida bringing these issues to the forefront in the Tampa Bay area. As a divorced mother of two at the age of 35, Dore shattered the social norms of her generation when she re-enrolled in college in the 1960s to pursue a college degree and enter the workforce. When she was rejected from graduate school, Dore vowed to commit her life to helping universities and working women in the Tampa Bay area. After successfully earning a doctorate degree from NOVA University in 1975, Dore spent more than forty years teaching, counseling, speaking, and writing books to motivate and support women.

Dore is a founding member of Athena Society of Tampa, first president and founding member of Board of Trustees for the Women’s Survival Center, and founding member of USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy. In addition, she has written and published numerous articles on the topics of sexual harassment, pay equity, assertiveness training and women psychology. Dore has mentored and inspired countless women in our community and beyond.

Arlene DiBenigno 2

Arlene DiBenigno – Arlene has been a vital, trusted adviser on political campaigns, policy development, grassroots outreach and ballot initiatives for more than thirty five years. She has managed public outreach for three separate Florida governors and their administrations, and has influenced presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional campaigns within several states. She has worked for Governor’s Bush, Crist and Scott serving in a variety of positions and as a special consultant to the White House under George W. Bush on Cuba policy and Western Hemisphere affairs.

Arlene has developed broad, encompassing multi-cultural communication strategies for major non-profit organizations and advocacy initiatives, including: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca-Cola, the Latino Leaders Network, Pfizer, and more.Her background and experience within the field of politics is comprehensive and diverse. In addition to her success in the political arena, she is committed to providing resources that enable women to achieve greatness both personally and professionally. This led her to found the Women’s Conference of Florida to empower professional women to positively influence the world around them.  As Managing Partner of Conversa, a full service communications and event planning firm based in Tampa, Florida, Arlene’s knowledge and extensive experience in the political and non-profit arena has helped the firm’s diverse offering of clients advance their objectives and experience success on a variety of issues. 

Rita Loman 2

Rita Lowman – Rita began leaving her footprint in the Banking Industry in the mid 1970’s and has served as a role model for others since. She is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Pilot Bank.  With a philosophy to treat associates fairly, give them tools to succeed, and be a positive mentor, she empowers her team to function seamlessly and offer a superior client experience. Managing teams of 30 – 1,000 associates, she believes the success of the bank lies within the team. While serving at the State Administration Executive to Market President and she successfully managed 20 merger acquisitions including the completion of the Barnett acquisition into Nations Bank.

Active in the community, Rita serves on the Boards of Florida Bankers Association, American Banker Association’s Community Council, Florida School of Banking at UF, Outback Bowl, Florida Division of American Cancer Society, The Centre Club and a Founding Member of Women in a Bucs Life. Recognized as one of the top female bankers in Florida, Rita has been honored with numerous awards including the Florida Bankers Chairman’s Award; 2015, 2016, 2017 Power 100 in Tampa Bay by the TBBJ; 2018 Tampa Bay’s Business Woman of the Year and 2018 named to the 100 Most Influential Finance Executives in the US. In her free time, Rita, her husband and two sons enjoy spending time on their cattle farm in Georgia.

Terri Lipsey Scott

Terri Lipsey Scott – Terri has dedicated her career to public service and giving back to the community. She is a retired city administrative officer for the City of St. Petersburg having served the Office of the Mayor and City Council for nearly thirty years. Terri is currently the Executive Director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum and was recently appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman as a commissioner to the board of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority.

Terri’s civic engagement includes memberships in the Junior League, Women of the Word, St. Petersburg Chapter of the Links, Inc., St. Petersburg Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., ALPHA HOUSE, St. Pete College Women on the Way, and Colours of Culture. She has served on the board of directors for numerous organizations including Aids Services Association of Pinellas, St. Petersburg Branch of the NAACP, Co-Chair of Community Alliance, Convener of St. Petersburg Together, Alpha House, the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum and the One City Chorus. She is a graduate of Leadership St. Pete Class. Terri’s writing was published as the Foreword in the Salt Creek Journal and she has been profiled and recorded by HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive. Among all of her career accomplishments, Terri is most proud of her role in her family as a wife, mother and nana. 

2019 Woman of Promise, a deserving young woman under 40

Rachel May Zysk2

Rachel May Zysk – Rachel is an accomplished attorney and nationally published author with a wealth of experience in complex criminal and civil litigation. Rachel is an attorney with the Suarez Law Firm where she represents individuals and businesses facing government investigations or charged with crimes; defends qui tam relator suits and False Claims Act violations; advises on compliance with federal and state regulations; conducts corporate internal investigations; and presents matters to prosecuting authorities on behalf of individual and corporate clients for the purpose of possible criminal prosecution. Rachel also defends the interests of corporations and individuals, including innocent third parties such as spouses, against government restitution and forfeiture actions.

Her professional achievements, professionalism, and pro bono service have been recognized through numerous awards, including an AV Rating for White Collar Crime and Litigation, the Marcelino “Bubba” Huerta III Award for Professionalism and Pro Bono Service, the Florida Bar Outstanding Young Lawyer Pro Bono Award, the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, and the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 30 Under 30 List. Rachel is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and Stetson College of Law. A proud mother of two daughters, Rachel is a Girl Scout Troop Leader and a member of her local PTA Board of Directors.