Mr. Speaker, in honor of Black History Month, I rise today to honor the accomplishments of a true champion of progress, Deborah Olivia Gano. Her invaluable contributions to the Tampa Bay community are an inspiration to us all. Today, I am grateful to recognize her selfless dedication and honor her valuable service to our community.
Ms. Gano was born in Tampa, Florida. During her early childhood, she lived in Georgetown, Guyana for 5 years before returning to Tampa, where she graduated from Middleton Senior High School. She later joined the United States Army, serving in the military from 1968 to 1971 in various places as a Pay Disbursing Specialist. During her years of service, she was recognized with numerous military medals, including the Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. Her military story is preserved in “Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Story”, an anthology of stories that record the contributions of American military women during the Vietnam War.
Deborah Gano was honorably discharged from the Army in 1971 and returned to Tampa. After graduating from Hillsborough Community College, she was employed by the State of Florida in the Department of Labor and Employment Security as a Local Veteran Employment Representative for 10 years. Ms. Gano later continued working with the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital for 35 years as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist. Ms. Gano worked arduously to help veterans navigate through the process of applying for benefits and services at the VA Hospital and around the community. In December 2013, she retired from the Veterans’ Hospital.
Throughout all her career, Ms. Gano received numerous awards for her meritorious service including a Commendation Award for participation in community service to enhance employment opportunities for handicapped, disabled, and female veterans. She has also received Hospital EEO Awards, Mayor’s Alliance Awards, an Appreciation Award for her commitment to Women Veterans Advisory Committee, and Local Veteran Employee Distinguished Service to Veterans Award.
Although Ms. Gano has retired, she continues to serve our community. Ms. Gano is a member of the Hood Temple A.M.E. Zion Church as a trustee Chairperson, Superintendent of Sunday school, and Director of Ushers. She is also a Senior Partner of Tampa Uptown Ladies Investment Partnership (TULIP).
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the citizens of the Tampa Bay community, I am proud to honor Ms. Deborah Olivia Gano for her lifelong service and inspirational life.