St. Johns Cultural Council Announces Recipients of the 2024 ROWITA Awards
St. Johns Cultural Council which promotes arts, culture, and heritage in St. Johns County, Florida, will honor a select group of women for lifetime achievements and influencing arts and culture in St. Johns County with the Dr. Gail Pflaster “Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts” (ROWITA) award. According to Christina Parrish Stone, the Cultural Council’s Executive Director, the organization is pleased to announce this year’s recipients who have followed in the respected footsteps of local women since 2008.
Dr. Darien Andreu is an author, historian, preservationist, and professor of English at Flagler College. She earned a Ph.D. from Florida State University and specializes in American literature, Southern literature, and fiction writing. Her work has appeared in Princeton Arts Review, Apalachee Quarterly, Kaleidoscope, and Cultures. Her research interests include the literature of place and the literature of sport.
A resident of St. Augustine for more than 30 years, she has worked to preserve and promote Minorcan heritage and civil rights history.
Andreu is a trustee and former president of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society, most recently orchestrating the organization’s annual conference in St. Augustine. She has been recognized as the Flagler College Student Government Association Teacher of the Year; two times as the Phi Alpha Omega Woman of the Year and received the J. Russell Reaver Award from Florida State University for Outstanding Dissertation in American Literature or Folklore.
Gwendolyn Duncan is a native St. Augustinian who has received numerous community awards and has been a force in preserving St. Augustine’s civil rights history at the ACCORD Museum (Florida’s first civil rights museum) where she serves as president. ACCORD has brought international attention to the city’s role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and hosted speakers including Rep. John Lewis at annual luncheons. The museum archives rare documents, photography from local leaders, and its exhibits include artifacts from major civil rights figures who have been selected for displays at museums in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.
Duncan’s work preserves St. Augustine’s history and cultural heritage. She has enriched people’s lives with narratives that may have been lost without her efforts.
Michelle Robideaux Pent grew up in a creative family and studied art education at Florida Atlantic University, and art coursework at the University of North Florida. She taught art at Nease High School and R.B. Hunt Elementary School before opening Robideaux Studios in 1998, where she continues to teach hundreds of children the joy of making art.
Robideaux Pent spearheaded the Broken Pot Society, a collaborative project by a diverse group of women who used broken bottles to raise funds for an HVAC system at Betty Griffin House. She supports the local arts community by volunteering her expertise, promoting individual artists, and raising funds for cultural initiatives. Her work instructing children and facilitating projects brings local people together to build connections and prompts the community to create art for the joy of it.
“St. Johns Cultural Council congratulates each of this year’s award winners. We are grateful for their important, lasting contributions to arts and culture on Florida’s Historic Coast,” said Parrish Stone. The ROWITA commemoration will be held on Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m. at The Waterworks, 184 San Marco Ave. in St. Augustine. The event is free and open to the public.