They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History
by Doris Weatherford
with the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation, Inc.


From prehistoric times to the space age, the female half of the population has made giant, but too often unacknowledged, contributions to Florida history. Countless women have overcome great obstacles and yet are often left out of historical accounts. We’re proud to announce the publication of They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History, which aims to fill in some of these gaps by celebrating the many successes women have made. Because without women, there is no history–nor any future.


Women’s history is not only our state’s but also our nation’s story. It is the story of women’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs for all generations to learn from and be inspired by because they “dared to dream.”—Carrie E. Lee and Dr. Mona Jain, from the Preface to They Dared to Dream

In this extensive portrayal of Florida’s guiding matriarchs, Doris Weatherford highlights the myriad contributions women have made throughout Florida’s history. From the select few who traveled with Ponce de Leon to the state’s first female mayor Marion H. O’Brien, Weatherford sheds light on the roles these pioneering women played in the shaping of the Sunshine State. Featuring often-celebrated personalities—including Mary Martha Reid, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—alongside the lesser-known lives of Princess Murat, lighthouse keeper Barbara Mabrity, Florida Memorial College founder Sarah Ann Blocker, and others, this pivotal examination of Florida’s female agents of change draws attention to women’s instrumental roles in the historical events that defined the Sunshine State.

Doris Weatherford is the author of A History of the American Suffragist Movement and other reference guides on American women’s history.

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to empowering women and girls in our state by supporting educational, entrepreneurial and self sufficiency programs and initiatives through grants, mentoring, and other opportunities. The FCSW Foundation supports the work and programs of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, including the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.


The Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation, Inc. dedicates this book to: the women of the past who struggled to achieve gender equality and showed the path, the women of the present who continue with the same goal, and the women of the future who will carry the baton and make us proud.—Dr. Mona Jain

by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation, Inc

The Florida women’s history book project could not have been completed without the cooperation and support of many people. To thank all of them who made it possible would be nearly impossible. We would, however, like to express our sincere appreciation to those who have helped take this endeavor “from dream to reality.”

First and foremost, we are indebted forever to our nine charter members as well as to the generous donors to the History Book Project. Next, our thanks go to the founding members: Nancy Acevedo, Claudia Kirk Barto, Susanne Hebert, Laura McLeod, Dr. Jeanne O’Kon, Laurie Pizzo, Blanca Bichara, Dr. Mona Jain, Carrie Lee, and Kathleen Passidomo, Esq., who freely gave their time and talents. Our heartfelt thanks to Kelly Sciba and Michele Manning, who spent many, many hours of their own time to see that the project was moving forward smoothly. Special mention is also made here for the assistance given by Kimberly Mehr and Veronica Vasquez.

We gratefully acknowledge Doris Weatherford for writing this comprehensive Florida women’s history book. We are also grateful to the University Press of Florida for publishing the book as well as for valuable editorial help and comments.

Our special thanks to each and every one who played a part in discovering the stories behind the women that makes them unique and trailblazers. These notable women have created history. We are also thankful to many women and men for their well wishes and encouragement in order to fill a void in the history of the Sunshine State. Together we empower each other.

Last but not least the foundation members offer our deepest sense of appreciation to our families for believing in us as well as for their unwavering moral support.

To all others we have omitted inadvertently, please accept our sincere apologies and thanks. According to the old saying, “To err is human and to forgive is divine.”

Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation, Inc.
Founding Members, “Visionaries”

Blanca C. Bichara, Miami

Cheryl Holley, Tampa

Dr. Anila Jain, Bradenton-Sarasota

Dr. Mona Jain, Bradenton-Sarasota

Carrie E. Lee, Gainesville

Marie Flore Lindor-Latortue, Miami

Janet Mabry, Gulf Breeze

Representative Kathleen Passidomo, Esq., Naples

Debbie Sembler, Pinellas Park

Donors, from “Vision” to “Reality”
This Florida Women’s History Book Project has been made possible due to the generosity of the following:

Hawa Allarakhia, Bradenton

Blanca C. and Ricardo Bichara, Miami

Eugenia Price Joyce Blackburn Foundation

Brighthouse Networks of Manatee County for Rose Carlson, Bradenton

Leah Brown, Bradenton

Betty Chambliss, Bradenton

LaDonna Cloud, Sarasota

Community Foundation of Tampa Bay for Alex Sink, CFO

Representative Faye Culp, Tampa

Lynn and Dr. Arthur Guilford, Sarasota

Gini Hyman, Sarasota

Dr. Mona and Kailash Jain, Bradenton-Sarasota

Kappa Delta Foundation, Inc. for Dr. Anila Jain, Chair, Bradenton-Sarasota

Carrie E. and Dennis Lee, Gainesville

Manatee and Sarasota Commissions on the Status of Women

Miami-Dade Commission for Women

Dorothy Middleton, Bradenton

JoAnn Morgan, Melbourne

Representative Kathleen Passidomo, Esq., Naples

Mary Runnells, Bradenton

Linda Simmons, Tampa

St. Petersburg Times Fund (Lynda Keever)

Mariamma and Dr. George Thomas, Bradenton

University of South Florida for Dr. Judy Genshaft, President

Amy VanDell, Bradenton

Anne Voss, Tampa

Renee Warmak, Tampa

Senator Marlene Woodson-Howard, Bradenton

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