The St. Johns Cultural Council has recognized Donna Guzzo, executive director and CEO of First Coast Cultural Center, as a leading woman in the arts who has profoundly influenced the artistic environment in St. Johns County.
Guzzo was recognized with the Dr. Gail Pflaster ROWITA (“Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts”) Award on March 26.
Guzzo was among three local women named as ROWITA recipients with awards, custom ceramics and floral bouquets, plus speaking opportunities. Additional women receiving recognition include Teresa Radzinski, trustee for the Lightner Museum, philanthropist and supporter of the arts and renowned museums, and managing director with Bank of America; and Jane Sims, Tale Tellers of St. Augustine founding member and professional storyteller, educator and fine arts promoter.
According to Joe Bryant, chairman of the board for First Coast Cultural Center and president and partner with Triserv Appraisal Management Solutions, he is especially proud of Guzzo for receiving the award, and her tenacious and entrepreneurial spirit in business as the leader of the Jacksonville Beach-based nonprofit.
“The organization has experienced great growth in services and programs, plus donors and philanthropy for children and adults to experience the arts. Donna’s honor as a ROWITA recipient personifies her as a true servant leader,” said Bryant. “One of our largest programs is the Sound Connections Music Therapy Outreach Program, which is music therapy for children with special needs. I attended two classes with Donna and saw the phenomenal impact this program does for these wonderful kids.”
He added that Guzzo and the First Coast Cultural Center staff work hard to provide the program in six different St. Johns County schools, working with hundreds of children with special needs.
“We fund the programs for St. Johns County District Schools,” said Bryant. “This effort, among many more is what puts Donna on the map as an empowered woman and role model who helps so many.”
ROWITA honorees on March 26 were also recognized, including St. Johns County arts professionals Roxanne Horvath, a preservation architect and artist, arts advocate and member of the City of St. Augustine City Commission; Dr. Leslee Keys, assistant professor of humanities, director of historic preservation at Flagler College and a leader in the conservation of historical and architectural resources; Carole Prior, an award-winning drama instructor, Teacher of the Year, artist, writer and director; Leslie Robison, a Kenan Distinguished Associated Professor of Liberal Education in Art at Flagler College, arts advocate and artist; and Karla Wagner, film aficionado.
“I am honored to be a part of our local history at this year’s ROWITA awards and proud to be at the first function at The Waterworks historic building and venue since the St. Johns Cultural Council and the City of St. Augustine restored the circa 1898 structure,” said Guzzo. “The honored women and those who attended to support them celebrated many legendary professionals who have worked tirelessly to promote the arts in St. Johns County. First Coast Cultural Council works closely with partnering organizations and nonprofits along with people who give of themselves and their donations to provide the arts for innumerous children and adults.”
First Coast Cultural Center hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with after-hour appointments available. Classes and programs are held at 3972 3rd St. South, Jacksonville Beach and at CareConnect+, 351 Town Plaza Ave. in Nocatee.
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