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Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Press Release

Media Contact: Jamie Giller
Director of Marketing & Programs
(786) 972-3170

JMOF-FIU to Honor Five Inspiring Women at
 Annual “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” Awards
Ceremony to Take Place on Sunday, April 21 at 3 p.m.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. –(February 26, 2013) –The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, the only museum dedicated to the story of 250 years of Florida Jewish heritage, arts and culture, is proud to announce the winners of the 17th Annual “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” Awards for five women who have been successful in fields generally dominated by men.

This year’s winners are:

  • Judge Jeri Beth Cohen (Miami)
  • Sherryl Susan Evans (Tampa)
  • Sonia Pressman Fuentes (Sarasota)
  • Marilyn Hoder-Salmon (Miami)
  • Betsy Kaplan (Miami)

Each of the winners will be honored during the museum’s award reception and ceremony which will include presentations made by the honorees describing the obstacles and inspirations they encountered on their individual journeys to success. The program is scheduled for 3 p.m., Sunday, April 21 at the museum, which is located at 301 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach.

The award ceremony will include light refreshments. Cost for museum members is $15, non-members is $20 and students is $5. For reservations, contact 786-972-3175 or info@jewishmuseum.com


Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, a dependency court judge in the State of Florida 11th Judicial Circuit, began her service on the bench in the criminal division at a time when few women held judiciary positions in Miami-Dade County. Early on, she was able to break the glass ceiling in many areas, including the first to develop a pilot program for rehabilitating DUI offenders, which won her national awards, and establish a Dependency Drug Court in Miami, one of the first in the nation. She has worked with the Department of Justice to develop curricula and train dependency drug courts across the country, with her drug court serving as a mentor court for The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Judge Cohen is past chair of the Statewide Court Improvement Project responsible for bringing state dependency courts into compliance with federal child welfare requirements. She uses her considerable leadership skills to foster collaboration across systems, enhancing both the understanding of community needs and service effectiveness. She has consistently served as an exceptional role model and mentor for women in her field and devotes countless hours to local, national and international organizations in the Jewish community.

Sherryl Susan Evans served as deputy sheriff for Hillsborough County for more than 32 years. During a year’s stay on a kibbutz in northern Israel, she admired the Israeli women who were prominent members of the local police force. When she returned to her hometown of Tampa, she enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at Florida State University. After graduating, she became the first woman police officer in the St. Petersburg Beach Police Department. Evans went on to become deputy sheriff for Hillsborough County as one of the first women in the department. She walked the beat and patrolled the city of Tampa for several years until she was promoted to the Civil Division. Her approach to her work reflects her humanitarian and Jewish communal values. She has donated time, energy and her own resources to those in need at the worst times of their lives. When hundreds of people were evicted from their homes, she treated them with quiet respect. She is a role model for all in her field, with her generous, sensitive and discreet way of treating those who cross her path.

In 1965, Sonia Pressman Fuentes of Sarasota joined the General Counsel's office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as its first woman attorney. She drafted one of the EEOC's earliest Digests of Legal Interpretations, its first Guidelines on Pregnancy and Childbirth, and the decision protecting employment rights of stewardesses. In 1966, she became one of 49 founders of the National Organization of Women. She was co-founder of both Federally Employed Women and the Women's Equity Action League, a charter member of the Veteran Feminists of America, and a longtime board member of the National Woman's Party. In addition to more than 20 years as an attorney with the federal government, she was the highest paid woman at the headquarters of multinational corporations GTE and TRW. A woman of great energy and zest, she began a second career after retirement, lecturing on women’s rights worldwide, and writing a lively autobiography, Eat First – You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter. Inspired by her own Polish family’s immigration story of fleeing Berlin in 1933, Fuentes says that her identity as an immigrant is central to her lifelong commitment to equity and inclusion.

Marilyn Hoder-Salmon is the founding director of the Women’s Studies Center at Florida International University (FIU). After earning a bachelor’s degree as a widow with two young children, she worked with the Urban League of Greater Miami. She was a founding member of the Dade County chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Florida Women’s Political Caucus. In 1982, Hoder-Salmon was completing her doctorate in American Studies when she was recruited to direct FIU’s new Women’s Studies Center, which at first granted only undergraduate certificates. She created a welcoming and secure space with an extensive library of materials in the emerging discipline. Hoder-Salmon initiated a Women’s History Month Conference that became a South Florida institution, involving Miamians in the national and international feminist community and hosted lectures throughout the year. By the time she stepped down in 1999, the center offered a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and plans for a graduate certificate were under way. She continued at FIU as lecturer and faculty fellow in the Honors College until 2012. Hoder-Salmon brought transformative skills honed by feminist and civil rights activism to promoting women’s studies, and fostered understanding and advancement for women faculty and students.

Betsy Kaplan is the mother of public arts education in Miami-Dade County. As early as college, when she chose to add a B.F.A. to her B.A., she made a commitment to arts education for all public school students. As a teacher, volunteer and politician in Miami-Dade County, Kaplan worked to make that goal a reality, forging her way with tenacity and resourcefulness. As a PTA activist for 25 years, she lobbied local and state government to support arts programs. Committed to under-served students, she was active with the first arts magnet school in Liberty City in 1973. When school districts began cutting electives in the 1980s, Kaplan was elected to the School Board with strong grassroots support, and went on to win three more four-year terms. As a powerful board presence, Kaplan never lost sight of her mission. She insisted that the arts were academic subjects, not extras. She supported arts magnet schools and guarded resources for the arts programs of every school and grade. It is a tribute to Kaplan that the Miami-Dade County school district is nationally recognized as an outstanding model of public arts education.

The Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award was established by the Jewish Museum of Florida in 1995. More than 75 outstanding winners have been honored with this distinction to date, from a wide variety of fields including banking, politics, law, aviation, journalism, sports and entertainment.

Event Sponsors include Commissioner Sally Heyman, a 2008 Glass Ceiling honoree, Isabel Bernfeld Anderson and Mr. Kenneth and Barbara Bloom, Ph.D.

About the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU: The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU is the only Museum dedicated to telling the story of 250 years of Florida Jewish heritage, arts and culture. The museum is housed in two adjacent lovingly restored historic buildings, at 301 Washington Avenue on South Beach, that were once synagogues for Miami Beach's first Jewish congregation. The museum's focal point is its core exhibit, MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida, 1763 to Present and its temporary history and art exhibits that change periodically. Now on display: PROJECT MAH JONGG through March 17, 2013 and MIAMI MOSAIC: Portraits by Inez Hollander. A Collections and Research Center, several films, Timeline Wall of Jewish history, museum Store filled with unique items and Bessie's Bistro complete the experience for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

For more information: 305-672-5044 or www.jewishmuseum.com or visit us on Facebook @JewishMuseumofFlorida.


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