Edie Windsor visits Equality Florida St. Petersburg gala

Published May 15, 2014


"Hello, Edie!" the singers from Penguin Entertainment belted out at the Equality Florida St. Petersburg gala, held in the Mahaffey Theater.

Their musical tribute celebrated special guest Edith Windsor, the octogenarian whose lawsuit led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Additional honorees were Anastasia Hiotis, who received the Voice of Equality Award, and Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, the law firm where Hiotis is chief operating officer. It received the Equality Means Business Award. The event included a presentation from Equality Florida's chief executive officer, Nadine Smith.

Hiotis and Larry Biddle were co-chairs of the steering committee, which included Joel Briskman, Ashley Brundage, Rod Dietz, Barry Dingman, Dexter Fabian, Karen Goforth, Sheree Graves, Alissa Hopkins, Jeffrey Jew, Kevin Lane, Joanna Parkin, Gary Patterson, Christopher Rudisill, Sylvia Rusche, Barry Rothstein, Toni Russell, Marge Sherwin and Rose Walton. Ty Maxey was volunteer coordinator.

Pinellas development chairman Todd Richardson reports that the event drew a record crowd of nearly 600 guests and raised a record $236,000. PNC Bank was the event's presenting sponsor, and catering was by Ceviche and Rococo Steak.


With more than 450 guests attending, the Beth Dillinger Foundation's annual fundraising luncheon packed the Picasso Ballroom at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park. Figures are still out, but the foundation, in partnership with the Take Stock in Children program of the Pinellas Education Foundation, raised more than $200,000 in scholarship money alone.

Kay and Bob Dillinger (he is the public defender in Pinellas and Pasco counties) began the effort as a way to celebrate the life of their daughter, Beth. The foundation's goal is to educate, clothe and feed needy youngsters in the area, fulfilling its mission through Beth's Closet at PACE Center for Girls in Pinellas Park; the Hope Chest clothes closets in the public defender's offices in Clearwater, Dade City and New Port Richey; Nourish to Flourish, a partnership with the 6th Circuit public defender's office; and the Beth Dillinger Scholarship fund.

Supporters Thelma Rothman and her daughter Margie Green received the Spirit of Hope Award.

Cat Coats was moderator for the fashion show, which featured clothing from Ambria's Gallery of Wearable Art and models from the community and PACE Center for Girls.

Also participating in the program were broadcaster Gayle Sierens, who was master of ceremonies; Bob McIntyre, past chairman of the Pinellas Education Foundation; Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Linda Allan; Bright House Networks' Susan Juhl; and Ameriprise Financial Services' Lance Becatti.


Daystar Life Center's second annual "With these Hands" breakfast raised more than $14,000, bringing about 180 patrons to the Maria Center at Holy Name Catholic Church in Gulfport.

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Executive director Jane Walker recognized keynote speaker Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger with the "With These Hands Award."

Planning committee members included Linda Bennett, Maureen Camphire, Judy Cline, Joe Cortese, Sister Marita Flynn, Mariagnes Gallerie, Jan Hamilton Mary Johnson, D. Susan Pivec, Patti Razor and Corrine St Jean.