Rotary honors supporters of South Miami Arts Festival

By Karen Vassel….

Pictured are Ed Williamson, his wife Carol and son Trae.

In 2009, the Rotary Club of South Miami established its Stellar Support Society Award, an award that recognizes individuals who strongly support the South Miami Rotary Art Festival, which raises funds for scholarships for local youths as well as international and local community service projects. These individuals are leaders in the community who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards, and help build goodwill.

The first two honorees were long-time Rotarians and strong supporters of the South Miami Rotary Art Festival: Karen Dorfman and John Sorgie, owner of Sunset Quick Print. This year’s honorees are community leaders who have made significant contributions not only to the festival but to the community as a whole.

The first honoree is Phillis Oeters, corporate vice president of Government and Community Relations for Baptist Health South Florida. In this role she is responsible for strategic planning of government and community relations, developing a state and federal legislative agenda to include issues of health-care funding, insurance regulation and general health policy development, as well as family and work life issues. In addition, she is responsible for the interface with local government as it relates to permitting, zoning and general expansion plans for Baptist Health.

Oeters serves on many community boards, including the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Beacon Council, United Way, Nat Moore Foundation, Actors’ Playhouse and Orange Bowl. She was 2009-10 chair of the Orange Bowl Committee. She also was chair of the board, from 2003 to 2008, of the Neurologically Injured Compensation Fund for the State of Florida, a billion dollar fund responsible for caring for children injured at birth.

Oeters has been a long-time supporter of the American Red Cross and was chair of the board for Greater Miami and the Keys Chapter, 2002- 05. She has chaired the Spectrum Awards for Women for the past 10 years. She is a founding member and past chair of the President’s Council of 100 for Florida International University. She also has been active in the Coral Gables Community Foundation, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, Miami Bridge and the University of Miami’s Cancer Link and Camillus House.

Some of Oeters’ community recognitions include Distinguished Alumna from Barry University; American Red Cross Volunteer of the Year Award; Big Brothers, Big Sisters Miami’s Miracle Makers Award; Bill Colson Award for Leadership; South Florida Business JournalInfluential Business Women Award; Nancy Hughes Community Commitment Award for ethics in government, presented by Miami- Dade County Days; L. Russell Norton Community Service Award presented by Chamber South; Miami-Dade County Commission on the Status of Women’s In the Company of Women Award; Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Salute to Miami’s Leaders Award; United Way’s Dorothy Shula Community Service Award.

Oeters came to Miami in 1981 to attend Barry University where she received her master’s degree in social work. She has been a Miami-Dade resident for more than 25 years, living most of that time in Coral Gables. She has an 11-year-old daughter, Raquel Peña. Oeters is an adventure traveler, an avid sailor and an accomplished equestrian. In 1988, she was the first woman to win the J/30 North America Sail Championship presented by the American Yacht Club.

The second honoree is Ed Williamson of Williamson Cadillac. Ed, a Rotarian, his wife, Carol and son Trae have been strong supporters of the festival and the Rotary Club of South Miami. Ed’s concern for the community and great leadership qualities have led to his success and many accolades for Williamson Cadillac.

They have won the Prestigious Master Dealer Award 30 times in the last 34 years, one of only four Cadillac Dealers to have achieved the 30thyear milestone. It also has won the General Motors Dealer of the Year Award four times and for 2006, the Williamsons won Dealer of the Year for Cadillac, Saturn and both Hummer Dealerships.

In 2007, Carol and Ed Williamson were awarded the People for the American Way of Miami’s Guardian of Equality Award for their efforts to guard against discrimination. The company is a multiple year recipient of the United Way of Miami-Dade’s “Good Works” award and is a supporter of many local charities including the University of Miami, YMCA of Greater Miami, Saint Thomas University, The Childrens’ Trust, Yes Institute, Nat Moore Foundation, Dade Community Foundation and many others. The Williamsons also are members of the Orange Bowl Committee, Yes Institute Board, University of Miami Board of Trustees, and Baptist Hospital Women’s Board.

The final honoree is Veronica Birch Flores, a key member of the executive team of First National Bank of South Miami since joining the bank in 1999.

As executive vice president, her primary responsibilities include the daily management of the bank with a focus on customer relations and community outreach. Flores enjoys over 30 years of community banking experience and has served on several boards throughout her banking career.

Presently, Flores serves on the boards of the South Miami Hospital Associates and Chamber South. She is the immediate past chair of Chamber South for 2009-10. Additionally, she is past vice president and current board member of the Red Sunset Merchants Association promoting the merchants in the Red Sunset area.

Flores was on the board of directors of Fellowship House Foundation for three years and now sits in the advisory board. She serves as Human Resources State Committee member for Florida Bankers Association.

Flores grew up in the South Miami community enjoying the aroma from the Holsum Bakery. She attended South Miami High School and she is most proud of her two sons that she has with her husband of 30 years.

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