Celebration Luncheon Honorees


Girls Inc. is proud to announce that Susan Buck, Dr. LaShawn Houston-Frost, and Beth Knopik were honored at its 30th Annual Celebration Luncheon, Friday, April 20, at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. Luncheon chairs were Penny Hill, Sheba Matheu, and Jackie Rogers.

Susan Buck, philanthropist and community volunteer, received the Girls Inc. Visionary Award. The Visionary Award is a board nominated award given to an individual who not only believes in the mission of the organization, which is to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold,” but also sees the larger vision for the organization in the community, region, and globally. Buck has been a staunch advocate and supporter of Girls Inc. for many years, and she has volunteered her time with a plethora of other organizations, including Junior League of Sarasota, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Selby Public Library, Planned Parenthood, Florida Studio Theatre, and seven years as a Guardian Ad Litem.

The She Knows Where She’s Going Award was presented to Dr. LaShawn Houston-Frost and Beth Knopik. The She Knows Where She’s Going Award recognizes individuals who are “role models” for women and girls in our community, have been supportive of Girls Inc. and its programs, and have demonstrated commitment to community activities, professional organizations or non-profit work that demonstrates a belief in contributing to others.

Dr. Frost is principal of Booker Middle School. She was previously an assistant principal at Booker Middle and Venice High School, in charge of curriculum, master scheduling, Small Learning Communities, professional development and other critical aspects of the learning environment. Named by Biz941 as one of Sarasota’s 2012 “Women to Follow,” Dr. Frost spends much of her time working with teachers to assist them in developing professional growth and development plans that enhance their ability to work with all students. She has served on various district and community committees and boards and is certified by the Florida Department of Education in School Principal, Educational Leadership, and Counseling.

Knopik, a former commercial banking executive, devotes much time to local, regional and international nonprofit organizations, including Girls Inc. Following the death of her 16-year-old daughter, she has written a memoir, entitled “Leanna’s Way, Crossing Over from Grief to Grace,” which describes the journey of her loss and how the tragedy has transformed her life.

In addition to these awards, two Girls Inc. girls were recognized this year. Tylee Giorgio received the She Knows Where She’s Growing award. She is a fifth grader at Gocio Elementary School. Jennifer Arraga was honored with the Leadership Award. A junior at Sarasota High School, Jennifer has been at Girls Inc. since her freshman year of high school, and she was recently selected to participate in the Girls Inc. National Advocacy program.