Metro to honor Equality Florida CEO at second Gala

By : Dylan Drobet
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Tampa Bay – Metro Wellness and Community Center will honor Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith at its second annual Tampa Bay Gala on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Smith will receive the Robert Pop Distinguished Leadership Award for the work she’s done for equality in Florida. The award is given each year to honor someone in the community whose work exemplifies great leadership and accomplishment with regard to the LGBT or HIV communities.

The award’s namesake is Robert Pope, one of the founders of Metropolitan Charities.

More than 20 years ago, Pope and his partner Lawrence Konrad were at the forefront of helping to make Metro Charities a reality. His desire to help those in the community led the way for our organization.

According to Chris Rudisill, Director of LGBT Programs at Metro Wellness and Community Center, it is not a coincidence that Pope also lobbied the Florida Legislature as a board member of the former Florida Gay & Lesbian Task Force and continues to stand up for equality in Tampa Bay. With a love of over 50 years, Pope and Konrad recently made a statement as part of Equality Florida’s Day of Decision celebration.

“Nadine Smith exemplifies the strength and courage in leadership that Robert Pope set as a standard in our LGBT community and we are proud to honor her with this year’s Robert Pope Distinguished Leadership Award, recognizing the work she continues to do, day in and day out to ensure full equality for everyone in our state,” Rudisill said.
The decision is made by a group of staff and community members that make up the host committee for the event.

Smith is the second person to receive this award. The first award was given at last year’s inaugural Metro Tampa Bay Gala to Lorraine Langlois, Metro’s CEO for her exceptional leadership and in celebration of Metro’s 20th Anniversary.

Additionally, Metro Wellness and Community Centers will also honor Rep. Kathy Castor with the Spirit of Service Excellence Award. That award recognizes the former Tampa council woman for her service to Tampa Bay’s HIV/AIDS community and Metro Wellness.

One other award, the Dr. John Barnett Service Award, will be given to the HIV Team at Specialty Care Clinic within the Hillsborough County Health Department. That award honors Dr. Barnett and his exceptional devotion and compassionate service to those living with HIV/AIDS.

This year’s gala, to be held at Lowry Park Zoo, has a “Wild” theme. Tickets are available online at or by calling 727-321-3854.

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