Florida Firsts

By: VISIT FLORIDA staff

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Learn about the first women to become elected officials and officer holders from across the state of Florida.

Elected and Appointed State Office-Holders

First woman elected to the Florida Supreme Court, 1986; and first woman elected Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rosemary Barkett, 1992

First woman to serve as a Member of the Florida Cabinet, Secretary of State Dorothy W. Glisson, Tallahassee, appointed 1974

First woman elected to the Florida Cabinet, Commissioner of Education Betty Castor, Tallahassee, 1987

First woman to serve on Florida's Little Cabinet, Motor Vehicle Commissioner Ina S. Thompson, DeFuniak Springs, 1955-1961

First African-American woman to serve on Florida's Little Cabinet, Community Affairs Secretary M. Athalie Range, Miami, 1971

First woman elected to statewide office, Railroad Commission, Mamie Eaton Green, Monticello, 1928

First woman to serve in the Florida Legislature, elected to the Florida House of Representatives, Edna Giles Fuller, Orlando, 1929

First woman elected to the Florida Senate, 1962 and first woman to preside over the Florida Senate or House by election of the membership, Elizabeth (Beth) McCollough Johnson, Orlando, 1966

First Republican woman elected to the Legislature (House), Mary Grizzle, Indian Rocks, 1963

First African-American woman elected to the Florida House of Representatives, Gwendolyn Sawyer
Cherry, J.D., Miami, 1970

First African-American woman elected to the Florida Senate, Carrie P. Meek, Miami, 1982

First Hispanic woman to serve in the Legislature, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Miami, 1982

First woman to preside over the Florida House of Representatives, Mary Lou Baker, Pinellas, 1945

First woman to be nominated for Speaker of the Florida House, Sandra Barringer Mortham, Largo, 1992

First woman elected speaker pro¬ tempore in the Florida House of Representatives, Elaine Gordon, Miami, 1985-1986

First woman president pro tempore of the Florida Senate, Betty Castor, Tallahassee, 1984-1986

First woman president of the Florida Senate, Gwen Margolis, Miami, 1990

First Republican woman in the Florida Legislature elected president of the Senate, 1996; and first senator in Florida history to serve two successive terms as president, first woman to serve as lieutenant governor, Toni Jennings, Orlando, 1996-2000

Elected and Appointed Federal Office Holders

First woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives from Florida, Ruth Bryan Owen, Miami, 1928

First woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida, Paula Hawkins, Maitland, 1980

First woman appointed U.S. Attor¬ney General, Janet Reno, Miami, 1992

First Cuban-American and first Hispanic woman to head a Congressional subcommittee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Miami, 1994


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