In the early 1970s, Orlando had just welcomed Walt Disney World to the business landscape. The Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) plant had just opened. The Orlando International Airport was still the McCoy Air Force Base.
The landscape was different then, and women (who had only recently begun to play a major role in the workplace) were largely unrecognized for their contributions to business and the community.
In 1972, Dot Estes Ellis founded the Women’s Executive Council (WEC) in hopes of bringing the executive and professional women who worked in downtown Orlando into the conversation with the Orlando Central Business District (OCBD — now known as the Downtown Orlando Partnership).
Along with their male colleagues from OCBD, WEC members worked with the city and an architectural firm in order to construct mini-parks, plant trees along Orange Avenue, and beautify the downtown. They lead citywide events such as Orlando’s birthday celebrations and the annual Health Day.
The same year they were founded, the WEC held their inaugural Women’s Achievement Awards — an event which continues to the present day, honoring outstanding Central Florida women in Arts, Business, Community Service, Education, Government, Technology, Communications/Media, Emerging Achievers, and the Central Florida Woman of the Year.
Past recipients include Barbara Jenkins of Orange County Public Schools, Diana Bolivar of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Teresa Jacobs of Orange County, former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, Pamela Landwirth of Give Kids the World, and many more. (View all honorees since 2010 here.)
On September 28th, the 43rd annual Women’s Achievement Awards will be held to acknowledge women who are making a difference in Central Florida. In addition to the awards, WEC’s annual scholarship recipients will be announced. These scholarships are issued to deserving women who are entering or attending one of the colleges in our region.
Do you know a woman who deserves to be nominated for a Women’s Executive Council achievement award? Nominations will be accepted until July 31st. Submit your nomination today on the WEC website!