Friends and supporters of the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service gathered in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel on May 10 to honor two extraordinary citizens who have worked to make Florida a better place to live and work. The Citizen of the Year and Young Floridian awards highlight individuals who contributed to the state in a civic capacity above the requirements of professional duty.
Allen Lastinger, this year’s Citizen of the Year award recipient, has been active in civic-minded endeavors throughout his life. After 27 years of service to Barnett Bank, where he advanced to the role of president and CEO, Lastinger retired with the hope of directing his time and talents to making a tangible difference in the world. He applied his visionary leadership to service and volunteerism in the realm of education and historic preservation.
As UF alumni, Lastinger and wife, Delores, donated $2 million to the College of Education – the largest gift in the college’s history – to create the Lastinger Center for Learning. Since its inception, The Lastinger Center has created a burgeoning network of under-resourced schools that are working to improve student achievement, teacher practice, principal leadership and parental engagement. The center’s innovations, such as Algebra Nation and Early Learning Florida, are providing high-quality training to educators in virtually every community in the state.
“All of these things were made possible because of the vision of Allen and Dolores Lastinger,” said Don Pemberton, director of the Lastinger Center, “in truly believing that a university could play a pivotal role to help to improve the quality of life in our state and country.”
Lastinger has also immersed himself in the preservation of historic properties in St. Augustine. As chair of the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine, Inc. (UFHSA), Lastinger has worked to ensure the long-term preservation of the “old city.” Under his leadership, the organization has completed more than $25 million in repairs and restorations to the historic properties in St. Augustine, refreshed its living history museum and assisted in improving the city’s visitor experiences through authentic interpretations of history.
“We’ve tried to teach our kids and our grandkids that it’s not all about them,” Allen Lastinger noted, “It’s about the world we live in, the community we live in, and they need to understand that they have the responsibility to help others as much as they try to help themselves.”
The Young Floridian award recipient, T. Nicole Washington, is an emerging leader in higher education policy. With more than 10 years of experience teaching, performing educational research and advocating for evidence-based educational policies, Washington exemplifies the best of Florida’s next generation of leadership.
As the state policy consultant for the Lumina Foundation, she plays a key role in developing the foundation’s Florida strategy and determining its investments. By collaborating with organizations such as the Institute on Higher Education Policy, Education Commission on the States and Jobs for the Future, Washington works to expand student access and improve student success in higher education.
The UF College of Education extends sincere congratulations to both Allen Lastinger and T. Nicole Washington for their well-deserved recognition.
News release from the UF Bob Graham Center
Allen Lastinger receiving the Graham Center’s Citizen of the Year award