The USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP) program honors visionary leaders and philanthropists throughout the community doing extraordinary things to make Tampa Bay a better place for women to live and work. With the Community Leadership Award, we showcase individual excellence in leadership as demonstrated by outstanding initiative, impact of work, and inspiration to others. We publicly affirm present achievements, seek to encourage further work on the part of the recipients, and hope to motivate others to follow their lead in service to the Tampa Bay communities.

The nominees and recipient are recognized at WLP's Annual Symposium.

Eligibility Requirements and Selection Criteria:

  • The recipient exemplifies the spirit of USF WLP as demonstrated by her commitment to community-based leadership in both professional and volunteer capacities.
  • WLP members and non-members are eligible to receive the award.
  • Individuals who live and work in the counties surrounding each campus of the University of South Florida System are eligible for nomination. Nominations for emerging and innovative leadership, as well as long-standing accomplishments, are encouraged.
  • Only individuals are eligible for nomination.
  • USF Foundation employees are not eligible.
  • Previous WLP Community Leadership Award recipients are not eligible. Nomination and Selection Process:
  • Nomination form and two letters of recommendation must be submitted to WLP at WLP(at)usf.edu. (Additional support materials may be included, but not required).
  • Only completed nomination forms will be considered.
  • Self- nominations are not accepted.
  • Nominations are reviewed and vetted by the WLP Awards Committee.

Click here for nomination form.

Recipient must be present at the WLP Fall Symposium, on October 4, 2019, to accept the award.

If you have questions, please contact WLP at WLP(at)usf.edu or (813) 974-1810.

2018 Community Leadership Award Recipient

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Elizabeth Kennedy '80

Elizabeth (Liz) Kennedy has made a substantial mark on our region by helping to improve the lives of women, children and families through her professional, volunteer and philanthropic endeavors. The graduate of Plant High School, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Duke University and master’s degree at USF, has been involved in a wide array of social service initiatives. She was a founding board member and past president of the non-profit Child Abuse Council (now known as Champions for Children or CFC) from 1976-2001. Since 2011, she has been on staff with CFC, which provides support and education for some 40,000 people throughout the region.

Through the years, Kennedy has made an impact on many other social service programs as well. She was a founding board member and chair of Hillsborough Kids, Inc.; a past board member of Healthy Start Coalition; and co-founder of the Baby Bungalow, a resource center for parents. She founded Ophelia Project-Tampa Bay through the Tampa Metro YMCA, serving as director from 2002-2009, and she helped create Layla’s House, a Sulphur Springs early childhood development center that provides free programs and services focused on helping newborns and children through age 5. Kennedy also made her presence felt at USF, where she served on the College of Education Development board. Her passion for community service also led her to establish Bridge Builders, an interfaith women’s group focused on creating stronger relationships through conversation and open dialogue. A tireless servant, Liz still volunteers roughly 100 hours each month, just as she has done  or the past two decades.

The issue of child abuse remains a driving force for Kennedy – some 40 years after she launched the Child Abuse Council with a seminar stage with the Junior League of Tampa. Last year, she set out to shine the spotlight on the problem once again by staging another seminar called “Community Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.” Kennedy has been named a Lightning Community Hero (2013), a Civitan Citizen of the Year (2006) and a Bank of America Local Hero (2005), among many honors  or her invaluable, impactful work.

Please download the  application to nominate someone for the WLP 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award!