Jacksonville is the home of many wonderful individuals. From philanthropists, artists, community leaders, coaches, politicians and everything in-between — here are just some of the many awesome people who help shape our bold city.
Gilbert is a seasoned Chef who was featured on season seven of “Top Chef.” Owner of numerous restaurants around the area with more on the way, Gilbert grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and after high school, he attended The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute where he received a degree in culinary arts. Gilbert went on to working at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where he went on to become the Chef de Cuisine at the age of 23. Gilbert has worked in many states around the country, while he was in Colorado he saw an open casting call on “Top Chef.” Gilbert didn’t win the title, he still made past the initial audition. After “Top Chef,” Gilbert landed back in Jacksonville where he designed and opened Caribbean-inspired Nippers Beach Grill. He now operates two Northeast Florida restaurants (Underground Kitchen and Gilbert’s Social) and has plans for two more in 2018.
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi
Derek and Susan are one of the 904’s biggest power couples. Together they formed the Grammy-winning blues band the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010, after merging their own respective groups into one. Their debut album, Revelator won the 2012 Grammy Award for “Best Blues Album.” Their latest live album, Live From the Fox Oakland is nominated for the 2018 Grammy Awards for “Best Contemporary Blues Album.” The Tedeschi Trucks Band has also won four “Blues Music Awards.”
Wayne and Delores Weaver
Wayne and Delores Weaver are no strangers to making the area even better. As former owners of the Jaguars, the Weavers also made waves in our city with their philanthropy. Delores is Chairman and CEO of the Jaguars Foundation, which grants over $1 million annually to organizations that assist economically and socially disadvantaged youth and families. Delores Weaver was honored in 2002 with the “Community Leadership Award” and was also named, “Children’s Champion” in 2007 by Episcopal Children’s Services to recognize her years of leadership at the Jaguars Foundation.
Chelsea Dudevoire is the founder of Babes Who Hustle, an online community that highlights and encourages women to thrive. Dudevoire founded Babes Who Hustle in 2016, a year after graduating from Florida State University with a B.A. in editing, writing and media. Using her background as a writer, Dudevoire uses the platform of Babes Who Hustle to highlight women’s stories from all across the world. Babes Who Hustle currently has over 10,000 followers on Instagram and continues to grow.
Hope McMath is an activist and artistic pioneer. Through her work with The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens for 22 years, McMath implemented art programs, education outreach and facility expansions that increased the Cummer’s relevance and reputation. Her commitment to the arts and education has helped elevate conversation about race, equity and universal human rights. McMath has been recognized with the OneJax Humanitarian Award (2016), the EVE Award (2012), a Cultural Icon Award from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville (2016), the Frances Kinne Alumni of Distinction Community Service Award (2017) and the Educational Service Award from the Atlantic Institute (2017).
Rory is a national advocate for American veterans and has taken the lead in pro-service dog legislation. Along with Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, Diamond introduced the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration to provide a service dog to qualifying military veterans with severe PTSD. Diamond is also a member of the Neptune Beach City Council, where he impacts the Beaches by focusing on crime prevention, property rights, hurricane preparedness and lawful recognition of service animals.
Norris is a graphic designer, writer and recently, a politician. She made history in August 2017, when she became the first young woman of color to take the seat of Commissioner Seat 5 in Atlantic Beach. Norris is highly active in our community, having previously worked with groups like YoungLife to create a positive environment for students. Norris also co-founded Dig Local Network (DLN). DLN is a nonprofit with a mission to create a sustainable future, where all people have access to good, nutritious food. Norris has served as president, vice president and secretary for the organization over the past several years. Through her leadership and involvement, DLN has evolved to include two community gardens, three weekly farmers markets, and a variety of educational programming about nutrition for children and adults.
Tom Coughlin has a rich history with football in Jacksonville, working with various teams across the country. Coughlin started the Jay Fund Foundation in 1994, in honor Jay McGillis, one of the football players Coughlin coached during his first year at Boston College. McGillis was diagnosed with leukemia, and during his seven-month fight with the disease, Coughlin visited the young man often and observed the financial and emotional toll inflicted on the McGillis family. Jay died on July 3, 1992, but his courage and compassion inspired Tom to create an organization to assist families with children suffering from leukemia.
Pittman is a Jacksonville-native and CEO/President of the Claire White Mission, an organization that has existed for more than 100 years. The Claire White Mission is dedicated to serving the needs of the less fortunate in our community. The Clara White Mission offers more than just meals for the hungry. They also offer transitional housing for the homeless and vocational programs that assist people trying to work. Pittman has also served on the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, Leadership Florida, Leadership Jacksonville and on three Jacksonville Mayoral Transition Team, for Mayor’s Delaney, Peyton and Brown.
American scientist, former U.S. Marine Corps officer, naval aviator and NASA astronaut, Norman is the first American to go to space aboard a Russian vehicle (the Soyuz TM-21, back in 1995) and can be considered the “first American cosmonaut.” Though he was born in Marianna, Florida, he considers Jacksonville his hometown.
As the Director of Downtown Engagement for the JAX Chamber, Tony acts as the liaison between downtown Jacksonville stakeholders to create opportunities for community engagement in the area while promoting their achievements. Outside his work with the Chamber, Tony has been a long-time advocate for Art Walk and the Riverside Arts Market, helping to found both of these now-iconic events.
Will and Samantha Morgan
Will and Sam started Vagabond Coffee Company back in 2014 with a simple goal in mind — “To create environments in all of our locations that allow everybody to come together as a community and enjoy a great cup of coffee.” Originally starting out of a Scotty camper parked in the middle of downtown Jax, Vagabond’s mission resonated with locals and the business has grown into a full-blown, brick-and-mortar shop in Murray Hill.
Curtis was the first person to portray the Jaguars beloved mascot when they started back in 1995, holding the title, Vice President of Mascot Relations. Though Curtis retired from his role as Jaxson de Ville in 2015, he has remained in the community spotlight and is currently a co-host on the show, “First Coast Living” and also contributes to “Good Morning Jacksonville.” About his retirement, Curtis said, “I’m going to do something I’ve done for 19 years … entertain Jacksonville. I just won’t be covered in fur.”
Currently the President of the Jacksonville School of the Arts, Christy works to spread support for the arts in our area through her community outreach. Her current project includes the The Phoenix Arts District in Springfield — a non-profit and future home of an adult art school that will include 100,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space complete with workshops, studios, apartments, a café, event space, galleries and more. She is also an entrepreneur and owns Birdie’s in 5 Points.
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