2014 Gift of Wisdom Award Winner

Congratulations to Tena Pate, recipient of the Women for Florida State University’s 2014 Gift of Wisdom Award. Pate, who holds a Bachelor of Science in criminology from Florida State, has made a significant impact in the Sunshine State not only as an advocate for victims’ rights but also as a mentor and leader.

Pate has had a long and distinguished career as a voice for crime victims. She was the first person appointed to serve as the victim’s advocate for Okaloosa and Walton counties. In 1993, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Pate as the Florida victims’ rights coordinator. She played a key role in the passage and implementation of the law requiring courts to inform crime victims of their rights. During Governor Jeb Bush’s administration, Pate oversaw the implementation of the governor’s Violence Free Florida initiative for victims of domestic violence and the statewide Triad, a crime prevention program established to assist Florida’s elder citizens.

In ten years with the Executive Office of the Governor, Pate served four state leaders: Bob Martinez, Lawton Chiles, Buddy MacKay and Jeb Bush. Pate was initially appointed to the Florida Parole Commission by Governor Bush and the Florida Cabinet; she was reappointed to this position in 2010 and has held it since.

Pate’s nominator, Gina Giacomo, asserts Pate is an integral part of the Commission.

“As agency head, she makes a daily effort to encourage others, to acknowledge their value, to tell them they’re appreciated and to thank them verbally, electronically and even with hand-written notes. Her actions show that she values everyone’s contributions. She regularly seeks opinions at all levels of the agency and provides opportunities for staff members to grow both professionally and personally. By setting an example, she teaches others to lead. Because of her, the Commission has a culture of teamwork, collaboration, trust, knowledge and motivation,” Giacomo said.

Giacomo went on to describe Pate as humble, caring, competent and as someone who continually strives to discover her full potential. “She sees serving as a leader as a lifelong journey. She literally takes on the role of a servant. You will not find her at the head of the buffet table, where you might expect to see the agency head, but you will find her handing out plates or serving drinks to staff,” said Giacomo.

Pate’s professional commitment to Florida is equaled only by her personal commitment. She is a member of the management team of the Leon County Special Olympics and volunteers with Chelsea House, a program that serves women and children who are at risk of becoming homeless. She mentors young professionals as a member of Leadership Florida’s Class XXX and serves on the organization’s Northwest Florida Regional Council. She is a member of the University Center Club, where she often takes girls and young women she is mentoring to lunch.

In addition to these distinctions, Pate’s service has been recognized with prestigious awards. She is a member of the Florida Criminal Justice Chief Executive Institute, Class 47, and is the recipient of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency’s statewide 2011 Criminal Justice Award for Distinguished Service. She was selected by the Tallahassee Democrat as one of the Top 25 Women to Know in Tallahassee in 2013. Most recently, she was nominated for the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. The Maxwell organization received 3,000 nominations from the United States and Canada; Pate finished in the top 100.

Tena Pate has made a lasting commitment to serving others. This path isn’t easy; it is often a balancing act; and results can be slow in coming. But these hardships don’t deter Pate.

Giacomo said, “I have worked under individuals with many different leadership styles, and I must say that it is a privilege to work with a leader who gets out of bed each day to serve others. She truly exemplifies the values of the Women for Florida State.”

A photo of Tena Pate wearing a white blouse, smiling, standing next to a taller woman in a red blouse
Tena Pate