About Us

WHO WE ARE:

The Okaloosa County Commission on the Status of Women (OCCSW) was established by the Board of County Commissioners in 1995. Its purpose is to eliminate barriers to achievement for women through research, education and communication, recognize and honor women who have made significant contributions toward improving the status of women and other citizens of Okaloosa County. The OCCSW has 15 members, including some appointed by County Commissioners as well as representatives from various women’s organizations. The OCCSW founded the Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame, which annually honors outstanding county women from past to present in displays at the Okaloosa County Commission offices, the Niceville City Council Chambers and the Crestview Courthouse. 

  • Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame nominations accepted May 6 through July15.

  • Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame induction and reception will be August 23, 2021.

Monthly OCCSW meetings are open to the public. The day, time and location are the fourth Monday at 5:15 PM, Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, 34 Miracle Strip Pkwy, SE, in Fort Walton Beach, unless otherwise indicated. 

 

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OUR HISTORY:

The Commission on the Status of Women was established by the United Nations in 1946. The goal was to prepare recommendations and reports to promote women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.
The President’s Commission on the Status of Women was established in the U.S. by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt.
 
Today there are Commissions on the Status of Women across the country. Committees were formed to examine topics such as the Equal Rights Amendment, Employment Policies and Provision of Social Services for Women. In 1963, one of the recommendations was that each state form a similar commission.
In 1963 one of the recommendations was that each state form a similar commission. In 1964, Florida Governor Farris Bryant established the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women to study laws and regulations pertaining to women in Florida. Commissioners throughout the state were appointed to be on the Governor’s Commission.
The Governor’s Commission started the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982 to recognize and honor those women who, through their works and lives, have made significant improvements of life for women and all citizens of Florida.
The Florida Commission was established by the Florida Legislature in 1991 under the leadership of Governor Lawton Chiles. The mission of empowering women in achieving their fullest potential, to eliminating barriers to that achievement, and to recognizing women’s accomplishments. The members of the Commission come together to research, analyze and make recommendations to the Governor, Cabinet and Legislature, on issues facing women and families in Florida. The Commission is composed of 22 members and meets quarterly as a full Commission, and more frequently as committees to address a broad range of issues.

 

Chairs of the OCCSW

2021 - Mitzi Henley

2020 - Peggy Brockman

2019 - Peggy Brockman

2018 - Gail Waller

2017 - Mary Florence

2016 - Dawn Johnson

2015 - Amy McBride

2014 - Valerie McLaughlin

2013 - Shirley Piggott

2012 - Tammy McDaniel

2011 - Wanjiku Jackson

2010 - Lois Hoyt

2009 - Jeanette Debs

2008 - Eddie Mae Owen

2007 - Judy Wiseman

2006 - Kelly Humphrey

2005 - Beatrice Love-Moore

2004 - Laura Creighton

2003 - Jean Dutton

2002 - Jeanne Rief

2001 - Judy Byrne-Riley

2000 - Valerie Wenzel

1999 - Sally Caldwell

1998 - Ellen Holt

1997 - Gayle Melich

1996 - Susan Myers

1995 - Cathy Wehling

OKALOOSA COUNTY COMMISSION:
In 1994 Judy Byrne Riley and Cathy Wehling worked with Gayle Melich to get the Okaloosa County Commissioners to approve a resolution to establish the Okaloosa County Commission on the Status of Women. Cathy was the president of the Emerald Coast Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association and Judy was active with the National Organization of Women and Shelter House. Commissioner Nick Nicholson announced the formation of OCCSW at a meeting of the Emerald Coast ABWA in 1995.
The purpose of the commission is to eliminate barriers to achievement for women through research, education and communication, recognize and honor women who have made significant contributions toward improving the status of women and other citizens of Okaloosa County. The OCCSW has 15 members, including some appointed by county commissioners and from various women’s organizations. There are also several community partner organizations.
 
In 1995 the Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame was established and seven women were inducted. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize and honor women who have made significant contributions to the improvement of women and citizens of Okaloosa County. Each year a number of women are inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Wall of Honor was begun in 1997 and reestablished in 2004. The purpose is to honor special Okaloosa County Women who have been recognized by their family, friends and peers for giving of their time and talents to help others.