2013 Mary Harriman Award Winner
2013 Mary Harriman Leadership Award Winner Florence Shapiro
The Junior League of Collin County
Causes/Issue Area(s): Children, Education, Economic Growth, Security, Transportation
Honors/Achievements: State senator; Mayor of Plano; Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas Woman of Courage Award; Law & Order Award from the Texas District & County Attorneys Association; Collin Council on Family Violence Lifetime Achievement Award
Powerhouse, trailblazer, and dynamic reformer Florence Shapiro won the 2013 Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award.
The founder of the Plano Service League, which in 1984 became The Junior League of Plano that is, now known as The Junior League of Collin County, she is admired for the depth and breadth of her expertise, her insight, and the super-human energy she invests in the causes she commits herself to.
Back in the mid-1970s, she recognized the big-city problems that had begun to complicate the quality of life in what was then her small town of Plano—and made a plan to tackle them. At a time when no women’s service organization existed in the area, she recruited 12 civic-minded women with aspirations like her own: to find solutions for needs that were going unaddressed in the community, and to provide a band of volunteers who could help.
With her leadership, this group of women formed the Plano Service League in 1976 and focused on dental care for underprivileged children and supported the Swine Flu Clinic.
Soon she was recognized for her contributions and encouraged to run for an open seat on the Plano City Council. There she ultimately served six terms before being elected Mayor. Simultaneously she served as president of the Texas Municipal League and the North Texas Council of Governments.
In 1993, Florence was elected to the State Senate, where she has served in an array of posts including Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Education and member of the Finance, Transportation, and Homeland Security Committees.
Known as a champion for education, children, security, economic growth, and transportation, Florence counts among her most significant legislative achievements the passage of a bill to provide more money for classroom excellence; raise teachers’ pay; improve college readiness and curb dropouts; and establish the first-ever incentive pay program.
In addition, she spearheaded “Ashley’s Laws,” a legislative package named in honor of a seven-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in 1993. The laws adjudicate, punish, and track sex offenders and have been used as a national benchmark credited with saving more than 500 children nationally.
Among the countless awards she has received are the Collin County Council on Family Violence Lifetime Achievement Award; the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas Woman of Courage Award; the Texas Legislative Leadership Award from the Nature Conservancy; and the Law & Order Award from the Texas District & County Attorneys Association, among many, many others.