Three Jacksonville-area women who are changing the world around them were honored Tuesday as 2022 Florida Times-Union EVE Award winners.
The winners were Giselle Carson, a corporate and compliance immigration attorney and shareholder at the Marks Gray law firm; Virginia Hall, president and chief development officer at Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation; and Maira Martelo Puerta, the newly hired senior director of partnerships for The Wadhwani Global Foundation and former Jacksonville Public Education Foundation executive.
Carson is a “two-time” immigrant whose family came from Cuba to Canada and then to the United States. She leads an immigration team that “provides peace of mind for employers and foreign workers,” she said. “We’re proud to partner with employers to hire and retain immigrants who contribute to our communities in ways that go far beyond their impact on the economy.”
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Hall said the Ascension foundation links health care to patients who might otherwise receive none. “The most important work we do … and the work I am most proud of, is for our uninsured low-income patients. So many of our uninsured patients go without health care,” she said. “I am on the right path and the work we do saves lives.”
She also leads a family nonprofit that oversees an annual Christmas toy giveaway for Clay County children and provides scholarships.
In her new job, Martelo Puerta brought a free virtual electric vehicle technician program to Florida State College at Jacksonville, among other things. The program offers individual tutoring and wraparound services “for adult learners who are trying to better their lives” and works with employers to get them jobs, she said. Earlier, at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, she “led a community mobilization effort in support of public education,” including a half penny schools surtax.
The EVE Awards speaker was Kimberly Allen, CEO of 904Ward, a nonprofit she helped found that studies racial disparities in Jacksonville and recommends ways to advance racial equity. She was a 2021 winner.
Founded in 1969, EVE Awards are given to women in North Florida and South Georgia who contributed the most to the community during the past year and whose efforts made lasting improvements.
“EVE is the woman at the pinnacle of her achievement. She wears many faces and is first in extraordinary ways. Whether educator, chairwoman or entrepreneur, EVE’s legacy is first and always citizen, catalyst, leader, mentor and role model,” according to a program description. “EVE sees needs and fills them. She is a visionary; a problem-solver, a force for change; and a barometer of the times. EVE is legendary. She will always be a positive force…continuing the tradition.”
Nominees can include educators, top officials for nonprofits or other businesses, political or civic leaders or entrepreneurs.
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The members of the Times-Union’s judging panel — two EVE Award recipients and three finalists from 2021 — each read the nominations and submitted their top five selections. Their choices led to the three winners.
Here are the other finalists:
- Rachel Clifton, musician, board member, educator, First Coast Wind Symphony
- Mattie Freeman, president/founder, Sword and Shield Kingdom Outreach Ministry/Refreshing Women PUSH Ministry
- Ginny Greenland, Latin teacher, The Bolles School
- Verna Griffin, volunteer, instructor, Pickleball
- Arezou “Ari” Jolly, assistant general counsel, Florida Blue
- Amy Ruth, senior vice president, human services group, chief human resource officer, Guidewell/Florida Blue
- Linda Sylvester, founder/co-chairwoman, Pink Ribbon Symposium
- Shyla Talluri – founder, CEO, PURE
- Jennifer Wolfe, executive director, Woman Writing for (a) Change Jacksonville
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