Chairman Bill Kent welcomes David Lawrence, Jr. to ISHOF for a visit


This week, ISHOF’s Chairman of the Board, Bill Kent played host to Mr. David Lawrence, Jr. of Coral Gables, Florida, and gave him a brief tour of ISHOF and the aquatic facility, explaining the history of ISHOF and Every Child A Swimmer, ISHOF’s spiritual mission.

Mr. Lawrence retired in 1999 as publisher of The Miami Herald (during his tenure the paper won 5 Pulitzer Prizes) to work in the area of early childhood development and readiness. He chairs The Children’s Movement of Florida, aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment and decision-making.

In 2002 and 2008 he led successful campaigns for The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of early intervention and prevention funding for children in Miami-Dade. In 2002-3 he chaired the Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Child Protection, and in 2011 chaired a similar panel for the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. In 2002, he was a key figure in passing a statewide constitutional amendment to provide pre-K for all 4-year-olds.  The David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Public School opened in 2006. An endowed chair in early childhood studies is established in his name at the University of Florida College of Education. He is a trustee of Barry University and for six years served in a similar role at Florida A & M University. His memoir, “A Dedicated Life: Journalism, Justice and a Chance for Every Child,” was published in 2018.

He is a graduate of the University of Florida and the Advanced Management program at the Harvard Business School. His 13 honorary doctorates include one from his alma mater, the University of Florida. His national honors include the National Association of Minority Media Executives award for & lifetime achievement in diversity.

His honors include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for “outstanding commitment to serving our nation,” the LeRoy Collins Lifetime Leadership Award from Leadership Florida, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service “Citizen of the Year,” the Fred Rogers Leadership Award from the Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families, the Sand in My Shoes Award from the Greater Miami Chamber, the Claude Pepper Lifetime Achievement Award from United Homecare, the Equal Justice Humanitarian Leadership Award as “a trailblazer in the pursuit of equity and justice” from Legal Services of Greater Miami, the Champion of Philanthropy Award on National Philanthropy Day, and the 40th Miami Book Fair anniversary award for “relentless dedication, visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to making lasting impacts.”

Chairman Kent and Mr. Lawrence met through a mutual friend and immediately hit it off with many of the same interests and values.  ISHOF’s Every Child A Swimmer (ECAS) program is right in the same line of thinking as Mr. Lawrence’s life’s work: helping children and readiness. ECAS teaches child to swim, giving them life-saving skills. Kent and Lawrence are on the same page when it comes to helping children. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Lawrence to ISHOF and Every Child A Swimmer events very soon. 

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