Women's Exhibit

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Women Worth Knowing

The 2010 Women Worth Knowing Honorees


Margarita Cepeda-Leonardo

Dona Zemo

Laura Jamieson

Elizabeth Schwartz

The Miami Beach Commission for Women receives nominations from the community to honor local women for their contributions to the community.  The annual award is called “Women Worth Knowing”. Nominees must be a resident of Miami Beach for at least five years or work in a business in the community for at least five years and should be involved in civic or professional activities that have changed the community.The Miami Beach Commission for Women serves as an advisory capacity to the City of Miami Beach Commission.  The purpose of the Commission is to support efforts for economic, political and social equality and opportunities for all women, with special emphasis on the needs of women on Miami Beach.  An awards ceremony will be held in March during National Women’s History Month’s Miami Beach Women’s Conference on Friday, March 26, 2010 at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.


Margarita Cepeda-Leonardo

Margarita has been with UNIDAD of Miami Beach, Inc. since its inception in 1995.  Her tenacity has grown the organization from an initial information/referral and immigrant services program to one that operates Miami Beach’s South Florida Workforce Career Center; provides a senior employment and training program; developed an innovative youth development and leadership program – the “New Generation Leadership and Workforce Institute”; organizes an annual holiday toy drive; and provides a variety of cultural arts programs. Her vision resulted in universal dental screening and treatment and nutrition and obesity prevention programs which UNIDAD and partners now provide at Miami Beach elementary schools. Margarita has also oversees a unique customer service training program to businesses and their employees in Miami Beach – “The Customer and You”.  Always cognizant of the critical important of collaboration, she has also expanded partnership opportunities with other community organizations including but not limited to: AYUDA, City of Miami Beach Housing Authority, Miami Beach Community Development Corporation, Miami Design Preservation League, North Beach Health Coalition, North Beach Development Corporation, Miami Beach Community Health Center, Teen Job Corps and many Miami-Dade County agencies.  Margarita has received awards from the Miami Design Preservation League and the Dade Heritage Trust. She has held appointments with City of Miami Beach Advisory Board of the North Beach Youth Center and the Florida City Administration’s Miami Beach Sister City Committee.

Dona Zemo

Dona is a pioneer of South Beach who has played a significant role developing Miami Beach’s Art Deco District into one of the United States’ most popular tourist and cultural destinations. Ms. Zemo was given the Key to the City Miami Beach in recognition for coining the name SoBe. She began her career in Miami Beach in 1981 with the Cardozo Hotel; opening and managing the first café on Ocean Drive. She went on to hold various positions at the Art Deco Hotels under the Capitman management and the Royal Group, Ltd. Zemo was responsible for overseeing all marketing, sales and public relations for seven South Beach properties.  In 1990, she formed Tropical Marketing and Deco Tours. Tropical Marketing; tourism sales representation/marketing company & Deco Tours a destination management & tour company for corporate/leisure travel.  Ms. Zemo has published many travel and tourism related articles for such magazines as Amica, Italy’s Vogue, Japan’s Florida World Travel, The Art Deco Directory, Travel Agent, a travel agent’s publication and a “Dinning Guide of 21 Beach Restaurants” for a private corporation.  In her capacity as the Director of the Miami Beach Visitor Center, (the first official Miami Beach Visitors Center) Zemo oversees operations of the Center and the development and dissemination of tourist-related programs. Dona was the Chairperson for the City of Miami Beach Commission for Women from 2008-2009, and is the Producer and Chairwoman for the Miami Beach Mayor’s Women’s Conference & EXPO.

Laura Jamieson

A veteran journalist, public relations practitioner, and a non-profit manager who has build a multi-dimensional career with an international focus, Laura has served as Executive Director of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden since 2003.  In 1998, she joined Wragg & Cases Public Relations and was promoted to vice President with responsibility for creating campaigns for environmental services and agribusiness clients.  In 2001, she founded South Beach Public Relations to provide professional service to community based not for profit arts and environmental organizations.  For three years, she provided public relations services to Art Deco Weekend, the Miami Beach Festival of the Arts, La Liga Contra Cancer, and the Sand in Our boots reunions of World War II veterans.  After serving the Miami Beach Botanical Garden with pro-bono public relations projects and as interim Director for three months, she was hired as Executive Director and has grown the budget, staff and cultural programming of the venue. The Garden has been recognized as a Miami Beach Junior Cultural Anchor. A resident of Miami Beach, Laura is a registered tour guide in the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District and active in the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.  She has served on the Board of the Dade Cultural Alliance, Miami Beach Arts Trust and the Miami Beach Kiwanis club.  Laura was appointed by both Mayor Dermer and Mayor Bower to the Board of the Cultural Arts Neighborhood District Overlay (CANDO) Committees.  She chairs the Luncheon Committee of the Miami Beach Women’s Conference and EXPO.

Elizabeth Schwartz

A native of Miami Beach with her law practice based on Lincoln Road, she received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her Juris Doctor, cum laude from the University of Miami. Her practice focuses on representing the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community in family formation and dissolution matters.   Elizabeth is co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association of South Florida and a member of the National Family Law Advisory Council of the National Center for Lesbian rights.  She is a founding member of the Aqua Foundation for Women, raising money by and for South Florida’s lesbian community.  She serves as Vice president of the Miami Beach Bar Association and is a member of the city of Miami Beach’s Community Relations Board.  For her years of service, Elizabeth was honored with the 2005 Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce community Award, the 2007 Dade County Bar Association Sookie Williams Award, the 2007 Aqua Foundation foe Women Leadership Award and the 2008 “Valuing Our Families” Community Award presented by Sunserve in recognition of outstanding service to the GLBT Families.

For more information: contact wandaortiz@miamibeachfl.gov, or to the City of Miami Beach, Attn: Wanda Ortiz, Office of the Mayor & Commission, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL, 33139  305.673.7030.

Miami Beach Commission for Women

Mission Statement:

The Miami Beach Commission for Women strives to assure that the women of the City of Miami Beach have full participation in the issues that have an impact on their lives.  The Commission advises city officials of social, economic, and legal barriers that prevent women from obtaining meaningful roles in the family, the labor force, government and society as a whole working toward the elimination of those barriers.

Commission Members:

Elsa Orlandini, Chair                                         Monica Harvey

Gertrude Arfa                                                       Ana Kasdin

Laura Bruney                                                       Claudia Moncarz

Leslie Coller                                                          Zahara Mossman

Karen Edelstein                                                    Maribel Quiala

Rosa Figarola                                                       Robyn Ragone

Roberta Gould                                                     Regina Suarez

Francinelee Hand                                               Nikki Weisburd

Marjorie York

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Women Worth Knowing Past Honorees


Judge Jeri Cohen

Loretta Dranoff

Commissioner Susan Gottlieb

Ruth Greenfield

Rabbi Rachel Hertzman

Mona Lighte


Joy Alschuler

Betsy Kaplan

Judge Amy Steele Donner

Judge Eleanor Shockett

Matti Herrera Bower

Josefina Carbonell


Linda Polansky

Mayra Diaz-Buttacavoli

Phyllis Miller

Belle Jurkowitz

Edith Gelber


Hazel Cypen

Judith Gilbert-Gould

Jean Jacobson

Bernice Martinez

Hazel Ruffin


Jane Goodman

Evelyn Manset

Laura Varela

Jacqueline S. Hertz

Myra Farr

Jeanne O’Laughlin


Honorable Beth Bloom

Sharon Kersten

Liliam M. Lopez

Maria Ruiz

Diana Susi


Jennifer Valoppi

Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz

Rosa Borgen


Judge Amy Karan

Judith Nelson Drucker

Maria B. Gutierrez

Glenna Milberg


Elaine Bloom

Joan Glickstein

Dena Stewart

Linda Villella


Marcy Lefton

Maritza Ejenbaum

Carmen Granda

Karen Tago Rivo


Judith Berson-Levinson

Sheila Duffy-Lehrman

Ana Kasdin

Phoebe Morse


Ronnie Singer

Ada Llerandi

Patricia Silverman

Marjorie York


Dr. Georgina Garcia,

Elsie Sterling Howard,

Honorable Shelley J. Kravitz


Joe Asmundsson

Dale Gratz

Jane Gross

Merle Weiss


Marice Cohn Band

Karen Fryd

Deborah Markham-Ruggiero


Wendy Unger

Liebe Gadinsky

Gail Harris

2010 Miami Beach Commission for Women Committee

Elsa Orlandini, Chair
Gertrude Arfa
Leslie Coller
Karen Edelstein
Roberta Gould
Francinelee Hand
Monica Harvey
Ana Kasdin
Maribel Quiala
Robin Ragone
Nikki Weisburd
Marjorie York
Rosa Figarola
Zahara Mossman


One Comments to “Women Worth Knowing”

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