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

The University of West Florida and Epps Christian Center partnered to award eight community members who have made a lasting impact on the community. The fifth annual Trailblazer Awards was hosted virtually on Feb. 18.

“I look forward to the Trailblazer Awards 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 hope these awards not only celebrate the contributions of this year’s honorees, but also inspire the next generation of trailblazers.”

Over the last five years, the committee has recognized 43 difference makers in the community.

“Every year I look forward to this collaboration 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:

  • Pastor Reginald Benjamin, Helping Hand Award
  • Bishop Charles E. Young, Faith and Service Award
  • Brigette Brooks, Community Service Award
  • Dr. Laura Dortch Edler, Education Leadership Award
  • Fannie Finkley, Servant Leader Award
  • Vernon Watson, Community Voice Award
  • Dr. Vanessa Phillips, Alumni Trailblazer Award
  • Dianne Krumel, Trailblazer Award

Krumel was honored with the signature Trailblazer Award. The award committee selected the longtime activist for her impact on the community, not only in preserving public ownership of land on Pensacola Beach through her “Save Pensacola Beach” campaign, but also her charity work which benefits multiple non-profit organizations throughout the region.

“I am absolutely humbled and honored to have been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Trailblazer Award, as there are others who would have certainly qualified for this special recognition,” Krumel said. “I am especially grateful that my dedication to protecting and preserving our precious public beaches, as well as my commitment to other economic, social, environmental and social justice issues in our community, has led to this special recognition. When it comes to our future together, I have never felt more confident about what we can accomplish.”

For more information about UWF’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, visit uwf.edu/inclusion.

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