March is Women’s History Month and in celebration, the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Kissimmee Area Council (DKAC) held Business Over Breakfast, “Success in the City” featuring Downtown Kissimmee Women in Business. To start the breakfast off, a presentation recognizing the history of some of the most successful women in Osceola County was shown featuring Minnie Moore-Wilson, Katherine Autrey, Mayme Holmes, Jessie Lee Wilder Thacker, and Bette Sprinkle.
Bri Stefek, Chair Downtown Kissimmee Area Council and Marketing and Development Director at Osceola Arts lead the breakfast meeting by introducing the panel of speakers, Kissimmee Police Department Detective Rachel Higgins, CPL. Jeinyl Ortiz, Linda Godwin-Nichols, Desiree Matthews, and Jackie Espinose.
“We have such a great business community in Downtown Kissimmee. Over the years this community has truly evolved and there are so many more female business owners and community leaders that have helped spark that growth.” – Bri Stefek, Chair Downtown Kissimmee Area Council/Marketing and Development Director at Osceola Arts
Detective Rachel Higgins, with Kissimmee Police Department, works closely with the four-legged therapy dog named Bear Cub – or Bear for short, who came to work at the Kissimmee Police Department in January 2019. Higgins first thought about bringing a therapy dog to KPD and starting the after Sgt. Sam Howard and Officer Matt Baxter were killed in the line of duty in August of 2017. Bear is used for victims of crime, community events, and even KPD staff when they need cheering up.
Corporal Jeinly Oritz has been with the Kissimmee Police Department since 2005, where she started her career as a telecommunicator and later became a certified training officer. She became a sown officer starting her police training in January 2009. In June 2009, Corporal Ortiz was assigned to the Patrol Division. In April 2015 she transferred to Property Crimes Unit and then transferring back to the Patrol Division in 2016. Currently, Corporal Ortiz is assigned to the Problem Oriented Policing Unit where she focuses on crime prevention, managing the Explorer Program, and community outreach.
Linda Goodwin-Nichols’ personal motto is “Trust my reputation; count on my character” holds true to her focus on involvement throughout the community. Linda is the president of Goodwin Reality which will be celebrating 46 years of business this year. She holds two National REALTOR designations and is a State Certified Mediator through Florida Association of Realtors. Linda’s beliefs on community give back is one of the reasons she is so well known around Osceola County. She has donated much of her time helping to ensure a better quality of life for the residents in the area. Her involvement over the years includes Mayor of the City of Kissimmee, Chairman of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber Board of Directors, President of the Osceola County Association of Realtors, and City of Kissimmee Commissioner.
“You can only get out of your community what you put into it.”
– Linda Goodwin-Nichols, Goodwin Realty
Desiree Matthews, Deputy City Manager for the City of Kissimmee, serves as second in command for an organization with a budget of $187 million and more than 755 employees. Desiree is involved in the community and has dedicated her life to helping people navigate processes and systems to improve the community and achieve their goals, with over 20 years of local government experience. As a public servant, Desiree serves on a number of boards, professional associations, and committees
“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”
– Desiree Matthews, City of Kissimmee Deputy City Manager
Jackie Espinosa relocated from North-New Jersey in 1991, where she dedicated her first year to education, obtaining her Title Insurance Agent license, Real Estate Broker license, Mortgage Broker license and her State Educator’s license for Chapter 494 Florida Lending Course Provider. In 1995 she started her first of several businesses throughout Kissimmee. Her most recent project was restoring the well-known local restaurant (Kissimmee Diner) and expanding the concept to include evening entertainment venue space with a fine dining concept (Matador Tacos & Tapas).
The community is a better place because of these successful women. Congratulations to all them and their accomplishments. Thank you for inspiring other women to get involved in the community and go after their dreams.