Orlando magazine’s April edition honors its selection of the region’s 22 Women of the Year, including one UCF dean and three graduates who “make a huge difference in the lives of countless people daily.”
The unranked 2020 list includes educators, physicians, entrepreneurs and women in other fields who keep our community strong.
Those with UCF connections are: Pamela “Sissi” Carroll, dean of the UCF College of Community Innovation and Education; Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan ’87; Karen Gill ’94, college and career counselor at the Osceola County School of the Arts; and Kirsten Shay Evans ’80, owner and lead instructor at MOMLETA.
Pamela “Sissi” Carroll
Carroll is founding dean and the Mildred W. Coyle Endowed Professor and Eminent Scholar of her college, which has eight departments, 300 faculty and staff, and about 9,000 students.
The college was the evolution of the previous College of Education and was created in 2015 to consolidate academic departments such as law, criminal justice, education, counseling, health administration and public administration.
In addition, she says she is focused on developing the Parramore Education and Innovation District project near the new UCF Downtown campus. She also serves on the board of A Gift for Teaching, City Year, and the Central Florida Housing Trust.
“I would like to be remembered as a person who held doors open for others as they walked through them and into the places where their lives would be better,” she says in her Orlando magazine recognition.
Patty Sheehan ’87
Sheehan, who was elected in 2000, is Orlando’s longest-serving city commissioner. She previously served as president of the Colonialtown North Neighborhood Association and was a former administrator with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
She is known as a supporter of grassroots issues, championing causes such as an urban chicken program, opening of dog parks, recycling, bike trails, cleaning up city lakes, and saving centuries-old trees at Constitution Green Park.
Her UCF degree was in art, and she also is known for her “Bad Kitty” art that she piants and donates to local charities.
As Central Florida’s first openly gay elected official, she also advocates many LGBTQ+ issues in the community. She says one of her greatest moments was seeing 50 LGBTQ+ couples marry at Orlando City Hall in 2015.
“I never thought I would see all the activism and work pay off for equality in my lifetime,” she says in her magazine recognition.
Karen Gill ’94
Gill, whose degree was in psychology, is in her 22nd year as a counselor for Osceola County schools.
She currently is at the Osceola County School for the Arts, a specialized public school for middle and high school multi-ethnic, multi-cultural student body through diverse programs and activities that emphasize the arts. She was the 2019 Teacher of the Year for her school and a currently is a finalist for top teacher in the county. She says her goal is the success of her students as they go to college and beyond.
Gill, a first-generation college student, helped develop a plan for students to have a half hour of SAT practice each week, which she says has helped maintain college acceptance rates of at least 90 percent.
She hopes to help students “remove as many barriers as possible in order to pursue their goals” beyond high school in hopes of developing future leaders,” she says in her magazine recognition.
Kirsten Shay Evans ’80
Evans, an advertising/public relations graduate, owns four MOMLETA franchises in Central Florida, which offer fitness classes and programs for mothers in all stages. She opened her first franchise in 2014, and today has sites in Orlando, Winter Park, Lake Mary and Casselberry.
The franchises also supports Central Florida organizations such as the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families and the Cascade Heights Eagle Senior Living center.
In her magazine article, Evans says she hopes to “empower women to know that we are more than what society tells us at times, and that we can accomplish whatever we set our mind to.”