Winners 2012

Colombia native Lucy Correa Ryback’s mission is to provide hope to a population in critical need: boys and girls living in the hardest streets of Latin America and all over the world. And she is achieving her objective through art.

Ryback created the Foundation for Art in Action in 2006 because she was convinced that art would provide a marvelous way to improve self esteem, creativity and dignity as well as to establish values, especially in children and teenagers, so they could grow up as committed citizens.


Gail Williams is chief diversity officer at Hodges University, a position that she began preparing for—albeit unwittingly—as a child growing up in Baltimore. She recalls how her mother and father graciously invited friends, relatives and neighbors of all cultures into their home, whether it was to socialize or to help those in need. “My parents were excellent role models,” says Williams, 62, who is also Hodges’ director of student accounts. “They appreciated differences and followed the Golden Rule. One thing we had was love, and that carried over.”


The path to immigration is filled with hope and promise, but it also can be intimidating and lonely. It’s a dynamic that Pastor Robert Selle encounters constantly as he and his staff work with the many individuals and families who arrive in Southwest Florida from faraway countries.

Fortunately for those newcomers, they have at their disposal the Amigos Center, which Selle started 15 years ago. “We’re here to provide the tools for successful assimilation and an abundant life for immigrants in Southwest Florida as well as into the kingdom of God,” says Selle.


Andrew Delgado knows life is full of challenges but he’s not about to complain about them. “When I remember what my parents did for me, it doesn’t seem so hard what I do.” 

The son of immigrants (his mother is from Cuba and his father is of Italian ancestry), Delgado owns a highly successful small business. He’s a retired policeman who’s heavily involved with youth sports, so much so he created Marco Island’s baseball league because he strongly believes “youth is our future.”


Dr. Stephen J. Laquis followed his father’s footsteps by becoming a doctor. After coming to the U.S. from the Trinidad to study medicine, the board-certified ophthalmologist constructed his own path by performing surgery on Southwest Florida minorities and patients from around the world.

Children and adults, from Tampa to Miami as well as from other countries, seek Laquis’ reconstructive oculoplastic surgery skills in traumas and cases involving tumors or cancer.


Until recently, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida expected minority residents seeking its job training and placement services and other assistance to trek to its main office in North Fort Myers. Goodwill discovered, though, that many folks would not make the 75-mile one-way journey from a community like Clewiston, where Hispanics are in the majority, for help.

The nonprofit organization—and one of Lee County’s largest employers—was missing out on connecting with greater numbers of minority residents.


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