Hundreds join JWB to celebrate Pinellas Social Service professionals who put children first

JWB Celebrate Professionals, community
Pinellas Social Service professionals who put children first Cooperman-Bogue Award Winners: [L-R] Latoya Jordan, Martha Kamagwera, JWB CEO Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Heather O’Keefe & Trudy Burch


ST. PETERSBURG — A sold-out crowd of more than 500 gathered for the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County’s 23rd annual Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Awards Luncheon earlier this month at the Hilton Carillon Park in St. Petersburg.

Each year, JWB honors four outstanding social service professionals for their life-changing work with families and for dedicating their lives to putting kids first. The award was named in honor of attorney Leonard Cooperman and Judge Lincoln Bogue who joined others in 1945 to create the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, believing that all children mattered and investing in their futures.

H. Browning Spence Education Winners

Browning Spence Education Recipients: [L-R] Mary Catherine Spence, Shai’Robia Davis, Princess Mitchell, JWB CEO Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Cassandra Altidor, and Matt Spence

Four quarterly award winners were honored this year: Trudy Burch, R’Club Child Care; Heather O’Keefe, 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares; Latoya Jordan, Florida Dept. of Heath – Pinellas and Martha Kamagwera, Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services.

The event ended with a surprise announcement, as Martha Kamagwera was named the Annual Winner and given a monetary award of $2,000. A program specialist with the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture with Gulf Coast, she provides intensive case management for torture survivors, helping them and their families become self-sufficient.

The luncheon also included presentation of the H. Browning Spence Education Awards, which provide scholarships to promising young adults once part of the local foster care system. The awards help them further their education and successfully transition to adulthood.

H. Browning Spence Education Award was established in honor of JWB’s late deputy director who cared deeply for children and believed they deserved the opportunity to succeed, particularly those who turn 18 while living in foster care.

Each year, deserving youth are selected to receive the H. Browning Spence Education Award in his memory.

This year’s educational scholarship recipients were Cassandra Altidor, 18, Shai’Robia Davis, 23, and Princess Mitchell, 18.

The Juvenile Welfare Board would like to acknowledge sponsors who made the awards program and luncheon possible: Transamerica, Alltrust Insurance, BB&T, Duke Energy, Florida Blue, Spectrum, Suncoast Credit Union, Tampa Bay Rowdies/The Edwards Group and WUSF Public Media.

About the Juvenile Welfare Board

JWB is a publicly funded, mission-driven organization with a 70-year history of improving the lives of children and families in Pinellas County through programs, partnerships and advocacy. For more information about JWB or to learn how to nominate someone for the Cooperman-Bogue KidsFirst Award, visit

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