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Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.


March 22, 2010

Six Delaware Women Recognized As Trailblazers By Governor, Commission

Event Held in Their Honor as Inductees into Hall of Fame of Delaware Women

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Governor Markell With Dr. Judith Tobin

Dover, Del. – Governor Jack Markell recognized the significant contributions made by six trailblazing Delaware women at an event held Monday evening at the Duncan Center in Dover. The theme for the 29th Annual Hall of Fame of Delaware Women Awards Ceremony was: “In the Company of Great Women.” The 2010 Hall of Fame inductees are Sister Ascension Banegas, Jeanette Eckman, Kathryn Young Hazeur, Jacquelin Pitts, Beverly Louise Stewart and Judith Gedney Tobin.

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is one of the state’s most prestigious awards recognizing the contributions and achievements of Delaware women.  Each year, individuals and organizations throughout Delaware are invited to nominate women for this honor. Recipients of the award are selected based on their reputation as a trailblazer; respect among colleagues; work significance and its lasting impact; leadership role; and community service that has impacted the lives of others locally or globally.

“Delaware is fortunate to have such outstanding women with such inspiring achievements serving not only as role models, but as anchors in our businesses and communities,” said Markell.  “As we reflect on their stories, I believe we can all learn lessons about how we can build on their efforts to keep our state moving forward.” Among those joining Governor Markell in congratulating this year’s awardees were Nancy P. Rochford, Chair of the Delaware Commission for Women, and Jeffrey Bullock, Delaware Secretary of State.

The Hall of Fame of Delaware Women was established in 1981 by the Delaware Commission for Women. Its purpose is to recognize the lasting contributions and achievements of Delaware women in a variety of fields, including agriculture, the arts, business, education, government, health, homemaking, human rights, industry, media, science, sports and volunteer work. Those inducted into the Hall of Fame are women of vision, courage and tenacity. Their purposeful, compassionate and determined lives have positively affected the culture, economy and climate of the state of Delaware. By celebrating the lives and legacies of the members of the Hall of Fame, the Delaware Commission for Women points to the power of one determined individual.

Many Hall of Fame members were pioneers and firsts in their fields, including:

    • ·Annie Jump Cannon, America’s foremost woman astronomer;

    • Vera Gilbride Davis, the first woman elected to the Delaware State Senate;

    • Roxana Cannon Arsht, the first woman appointed a judge in a major court;

    • Dr. Hilda Davis, the first black woman to hold a full-time position on the faculty of the University of Delaware;

    • Margaret I. Handy, the first native-born female Delawarean to become a doctor and the state’s first pediatrician;

    • Jane E. Mitchell (Littleton), the first black registered nurse to be hired in a Delaware hospital; and

    • Ruth Ann Minner, Delaware’s first female governor.

The list of past awardees also includes athletes, scientists, military personnel, artists and activists.

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Governor Markell with Girl Scouts

2010 Hall of Fame Inductees

Sister Ascension Banegas is a Spanish Carmelite Sister of Charity who has lived in Delaware since 1994.  Fiercely devoted to the increasingly challenging fight for justice for hardworking immigrants and foreign nationals living in poverty in Delaware, her many decades of work in immigration has helped many families find freedom in a new land, reunite families, and bring cultural understanding to diverse communities. To help sustain the needs of the growing influx of Hispanic immigrants in Delaware, Sister Ascension co-founded "La Esperanza" (Hope) Community Center in Georgetown, which not only helps with immigration issues, but offers an array of other services – such as prenatal services, family social services, education programs, and victim advocacy – all vital in supporting the integration and empowerment of immigrants in rural Sussex County. Thanks to advocacy efforts of Sister Ascension, Delaware has a significantly more diverse base of citizens and legal permanent residents. Sister Ascension has dedicated 55 years to serving people in need all over the world, impacting people of various cultures and backgrounds. She has also taken her voice to the steps of our nation’s capital supporting positive change to help all immigrants.

Jeanette Eckman (recognized posthumously) was a pioneer in the women’s movement in Delaware. To use a modern term, Ms. Eckman broke the “glass ceiling” as a leader in several aspects of her life, including politics, government service and historical research. In 1915, she became the first women in the State of Delaware to be appointed to an executive position with the Republican State Committee.  Her primary role in that capacity was to organize the women voters in the state soon after the women’s suffrage amendment was ratified. She was subsequently invited to apply her writing and historical research skills as part of the Works Progress Administration Writer’s Project during the days of the New Deal in the 1930s.  For this initiative, Ms. Eckman served as editor of the well-regarded publication Delaware: A Guide to the First State.  As well-known Wilmington News Journal reporter Bill Frank wrote in a 1982 article, Jeanette Eckman was a “pioneer leader among women in politics, historian, and an editor who was responsible for salvaging much of Delaware’s forgotten and ignored history.”  She will long be remembered for her contributions to our state and the valuable legacies she left for historians.

Kathryn Young Hazeur spent her entire career in the field of education. She was the first African American to earn a graduate degree from the University of Delaware (Master’s in Education, 1951). Her stalwart determination enabled her to succeed, despite both the subtle and overt acts of racial hostility she experienced while pursuing her chosen field. Throughout a long and stellar career in education that spanned over four and a half decades, first as a teacher and subsequently as a principal, Kathryn impacted the lives of thousands of young children fortunate enough to be under her tutelage.  Not only did she impart critical academic knowledge, but she was a compelling storyteller of historical facts, instilling in her students pride in their culture and history. As an active member of the Delaware community Kathryn has served in many capacities.  She was named the first director of Head Start when that initiative was launched in Delaware. Over the years, Kathryn has spearheaded and led a multitude of projects including: sponsorship of youth cultural activities; educating students about the philosophy of Martin Luther King and other advocates of non-violence; providing food for the hungry and clothes for the needy; and providing college scholarships for deserving and needy students.

Jacquelin Pitts is an athlete of national and international stature, who first played lacrosse at Sanford School in Hockessin under renowned Delaware sportswoman, coach and educator Nancy Sawin, who is also a Hall of Fame of Delaware Women member. Jackie made the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Squad (the equivalent of Olympic-level play) and was selected to the squad for 14 years. She also played for Philadelphia Women's Lacrosse Association for 16 years. Rated one of the best lacrosse players in the world in the 1970s, Jackie went on to coach the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Team for eight years, leading the U.S. team to the first-ever World Championship. She is credited with coaching and developing lacrosse in Japan and Czechoslovakia, as well as introducing the sport to Cuba. Jackie co-founded the Delaware Women's Lacrosse Association, the Delaware High School Girls All-Star Game, and lacrosse and field hockey camps for high school students. In recognition of her contributions to the sport, the Delaware Lacrosse Foundation named its state high school tournament trophy in her honor. Jackie’s achievements and esteem clearly extend beyond the field and board rooms into the classrooms and hearts of those she has coached, taught and worked with over the years. Jackie is now in her 51st year of teaching math at Sanford School in Hockessin.

Beverly Louise Stewart has always been passionate about helping students learn and enjoy learning. To that end, she launched her own tutoring business. As a woman in her 20s in the early 1980s, Beverly was not always taken seriously in the business community, but her continuing passion for education and the vast business experience she has obtained over the years make her a leading industry expert for business and educational publications, radio and television. Her careful matching of student and tutor, combined with one-on-one instruction, was a completely unique concept when she created Back to Basics in 1985. Growth and the ability to adapt to changing requirements in education have been the hallmark of Beverly's business. What began at the kitchen table of her one-bedroom apartment has developed into a firm which offers one-on-one tutoring in over 60 subjects, provides corporate education, adult education, English as a Second Language, educational testing, translating, interpreting, district-wide and school-wide contract services, and operates a unique state-approved private school. Over 11,500 students and 25 years later, Beverly’s original vision of creating a place where she could reach every student has finally come true.

Dr. Judith Gedney Tobin became a female pioneer in the specialty of forensic pathology and continued to excel in the field while raising six children on her own after her husband’s death. During her career, Dr. Judy (as she is affectionately called by her friends and colleagues) performed more than 5,000 autopsies over a span of 50 years. She is a scientist and a detective: objective, precise and methodical as she solves the mysteries surrounding death, remaining unhardened by the work. While described as sensitive, caring and compassionate, Dr. Judy is also known for her sense of humor, a trait that helped her cope with the stressful nature of her work. She demonstrated her leadership abilities as the Assistant State Medical Examiner from 1964 to 2009 and became the only woman to serve as president of the Nanticoke Hospital Medical Staff. In 2006, Dr. Tobin was recognized for her leadership and contributions to the discipline of pathology when the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services named the Southern Office of the Chief Medical Examiner building in her honor. In 2007, Dr. Judy was the recipient of the Athena Award for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in realizing their full potential.


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Last Updated: Monday, 05-Aug-2013 15:25:44 EDT
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