Alejandra Gutierrez, 2019 Trailblazer
Alejandra Gutierrez immigrated from Venezuela to study Spanish literature, earning her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. While teaching Hispanic language and culture at FSU, she started the first Hispanic theater group in Tallahassee to educate and help others connect with Hispanic culture through the stories and art of theater. Her nonprofit theater group, Tallahassee Hispanic Theater, performs literary plays by Hispanic authors and playwrights at Goodwood Museum, Monticello Opera House, and partners with other theater groups in Tallahassee creating a rich and varied experience.
Abena Ojetayo, 2019 Trailblazer
As the City of Tallahassee’s first Chief Resiliency Officer, Abena Ojetayo is currently crafting a master plan to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure, economy, and human systems in the event of an emergency or disaster. Prior to that, she served as FAMU’s first Chief Sustainability Officer under then-president Elmira Mangum. As a black woman in STEM in highly visible positions during her tenure in Tallahassee, Ojetayo is blazing trails for other young women of color to follow while she brings innovation to critical roles on behalf of all of the city’s residents.
Dr. Monica Hurdal, 2019 Trailblazer
Dr. Monica Hurdal is a pioneer in a new field that merges biomedical science and mathematics. As the only full professor in the FSU Math Department who is also a woman, Hurdal has created a way to map the folds of the brain, which are unique to every person. She is using these maps, as are researchers across the world, to determine how the information might help to diagnose, treat, and potentially even intervene in the onset of disease.
Una Bilic, 2019 Unsung Shero
The story of Una’s family coming to the U.S. starts with tragedy, but it does not end there. Professionals in banking and media before leaving Bosnia, Bilic’s parents got their first U.S. jobs at McDonald’s and were again working in their fields after only four years of living in a new country with a new language, new customs, new everything. They pushed their two daughters to get an education, something Bilic feels is critical for women especially. With a master’s degree in public administration, a love of people and community, and a passion for supporting the refugee experience, Bilic pursued and was hired to open the Tallahassee office of the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps refugees to resettle in the U.S.
Asia Alexander, 2019 Girl Who Can Do Anything
Asia Alexander is already a force to be reckoned with at 16 years old. As leader of a diversity club called B.I.G., Building Incredible Generations, and creator of a podcast supported by Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker, Alexander does not wait for an opportunity, she makes her own.