side menu icon

Meet the 2017 Women of Distinction


Girl Scouts of West Central Florida is gearing up for its twenty-sixth annual Women of Distinction luncheon on March 21, 2017 at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC in Tampa. This event honors and celebrates local women who 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.

The 2017 Women of Distinction are:

Rosemary Armstrong

Rosemary has made vast contributions to the community using her time and legal talent to advocate for those who are most in need. A graduate of Columbia University Law School, she was a member of the board of Bay Area Legal Services for over 20 years, serving as its president three times.  Rosemary also served for many years as a Bay Area Legal Services volunteer attorney, mainly representing women with children who were victims of domestic violence. She took that passion a step further in 2012 by founding Crossroads for Florida Kids, Inc. (Crossroads) a nonprofit organization which trains and mentors pro bono attorneys who represent children in their dependency and delinquency proceedings. As a result, thousands of hours of pro bono legal services are provided each year to vulnerable children in our community.  Rosemary is the Executive Director of Crossroads, and also one of its volunteer attorneys. Learn more

Catherine Lynch Buckhorn M.D.

Cathy has broken many glass ceilings in medical academia with grace and confidence to become University of South Florida Associate Vice President of Women’s Heath, Associate Dean of Faculty Development, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. For the past 20 years, she has become known nationally and internationally through visual media, research publications, and lectures on women’s health. Most notably, Cathy has given lectures on the topics of menopause, HPV infection (particularly protecting girls and young women from cervical cancer), PAP smear guidelines, Cesarean section, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. Learn more


Doretha Edgecomb

Doretha recently retired after 52 years of dedicated service to the Hillsborough County School District. A Tampa native, Doretha is a product of the school district and dedicated her career to improving the local education system. During her long career she has held numerous positions which included reading teacher, middle school learning specialists, tutorial teacher, parent involvement coordinator, reading supervisor, and elementary school principal just to name a few. In addition, she taught at the USF College of Education. Most recently, Doretha served on the Hillsborough County School Board from 2004-2016. She was one of seven members responsible for making policy decisions and overseeing a total budget of $2.9 billion for the 8th largest school district in the nation. Learn more

Debbie White

Debbie has been an outstanding role model to women and girls by being an active volunteer to numerous non-profit organizations over the past 30 years.  After a 20 year sales career in Boston and the Tampa Bay area, she completed her working career as a Vice President at the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Starting in 1999, she was able to devote her energies as a full time volunteer in the community.  Debbie’s remarkable contributions include her work to help develop and launch Women in Philanthropy at the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation.  Under her leadership, 50 women were inspired to join the giving society in the first year and it has grown to over 130 members who have contributed $1.5 million since its inception. Learn more

The 2017 Woman of Promise, a deserving young woman under the age of 40, is:

Melanie Griffin

Melanie has obtained professional recognition at a level remarkable for a young attorney. She is an Equity Shareholder and the Managing Shareholder of the Dean Mead Law Firm Tampa Office, positions achieved by only about 18% women. She is known throughout Florida for her impressive courtroom and settlement victories, including involving commercial litigation, employment law, trust and probate litigation, and intellectual property, leading to seven consecutive listings in Florida Trend Legal Elite and Super Lawyers and a 2017 Best Lawyers in America publication. Learn more

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductee, a deserving past Woman of Distinction that honoree that continues to serve her community, is:

Marion Rich

Marion has been a dedicated volunteer for numerous nonprofit organizations throughout the Tampa Bay region for over 25 years. Starting her community volunteer work with the Junior League of Clearwater Dunedin, she has gone on to serve in leaderships roles on several nonprofit boards including: 211 Tampa Bay Cares, past board chairman; Junior League of Clearwater Dunedin, past president; Girl Scouts of West Central Florida; Film Foundation of Tampa Bay; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay; Ruth Eckerd Hall; and the Caladesi Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In addition to the board work, Marion has chaired major fundraising events for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation, American Heart Association, Film Foundation of Tampa Bay, 211 Tampa Bay Cares, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. Under Marion’s leadership, more than $1,000,000 total has been raised through these fundraisers in support of local charities. In 2002, Marion was recognized for her community involvement by the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce by being named that year’s Ms. Clearwater. The same year she was recognized as a Woman of Distinction. Learn more

These extraordinary women will be honored at the twenty-sixth annual Women of Distinction luncheon on March 21, 2017 at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC. Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased by visiting General seating tickets are $75 per person; patron preferred seating tickets (which includes program recognition) are $150 per person. Sponsorships are also available; please contact Terri Costello at (813) 262-1688 or for more information.