Each year, the St. Johns Cultural Council recognizes women who have profoundly influenced the artistic environment of St. Johns County with the Dr. Gail Pflaster ROWITA (“Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts”) Awards.

Nominations were received from the community about numerous women who have made significant contributions to the arts in St. Johns County through their work, leadership, and philanthropic support.

This year, five local women have been selected as ROWITA recipients. Honorees are:

  • Joy D’Elia: a musician, storyteller, and arts advocate who co-founded the ROWITA Awards with Dr. Gail Pflaster while serving as program coordinator for the St. Johns Cultural Council.
  • Jennifer Dournaux: a leader in the St. Johns County dance community for two decades as a performer and as director of the St. Augustine Adult Ballet.
  • Margaret Kaler: an actor and director who has played a significant role in community theater since her childhood, first appearing on stage in St. Augustine in the 1950s.
  • Sallie O’Hara: a member of the Tale Tellers of St. Augustine who has leveraged arts, culture, and heritage to create economic opportunity and enhance community development efforts through her work with the Florida Main Street program and Friends of A1A.
  • Laura O’Neal: a visual artist and founder of Art Box gallery who, as a member of the Board for the Art Galleries of St. Augustine, was instrumental in creating and promoting the city’s arts districts.

According to Christina Parrish Stone, the Cultural Council’s executive director, this year’s nominees have positively impacted the cultural community in a variety of ways.

“We are so pleased to honor this outstanding group of women who have contributed to the arts in St. Johns County,” she said. “This year’s honorees have worked in dance, music, visual arts, theater, the literary arts, and community development. Their efforts have enhanced the quality of life in the county, making it an even more beautiful and vibrant place to live, work, and visit.”

Honorees were selected by a panel of community members in January.

The annual ROWITA celebration will take place from 2-4 PM on March 25th at The Waterworks, 184 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine.

Additionally, the recognitions will feature Junior ROWITA scholarship recipients. The event is open to the public and reservations are required. For more information, email [email protected].