Graham Center Honors Two Great Floridians

Allen Lastinger & Nicole Washington

Friends and supporters of the University of Florida's Bob Graham Center for Public Service gathered in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel on May 10 to honor two extraordinary citizens who have worked to make Florida a better place to live and work. The Citizen of the Year and Young Floridian awards highlight individuals who have contributed to the state in a civic capacity beyond one’s professional obligations.

Allen Lastinger, this year's Citizen of the Year, has been a leader in civic-minded endeavors throughout his life. After 27 years of service to Barnett Bank, where he advanced to the role of president and CEO, Lastinger retired with the hope of directing his time and talents to making a tangible difference in the lives of others. He applied his visionary leadership to service and volunteerism in the realm of education and historic preservation.

Lastinger and wife, Delores, both University of Florida alumni, donated $2 million to the College of Education – the largest gift in the college's history – to launch the Lastinger Center for Learning. Since its inception, The Lastinger Center has built a network of under-resourced schools that are working to improve student achievement, teacher practice, principal leadership and parental engagement.

"The Lastinger Center’s innovations, such as Algebra Nation and Early Learning Florida,  are providing high quality training to educators in virtually every  community in the state."

Lastinger has also immersed himself in the preservation of historic properties in St. Augustine. As chair of the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine, Inc. (UFHSA), Lastinger has worked to ensure the long-term preservation of the nation's "oldest city." Under his leadership, the organization has overseen more than $25 million in repairs and restorations to the historic properties in St. Augustine, refreshed its living history museum and assisted in improving the city’s visitor experiences through authentic interpretations of history. He has also produced a highly publicized PBS television documentary on the history of St. Augustine.

The Young Floridian award recipient, T. Nicole Washington, is an emerging leader in higher education policy. With more than 10 years of experience teaching, conducting educational research and advocating for evidence-based educational policies, Washington exemplifies the best of Florida's next generation of leadership.

As the state policy consultant for the Lumina Foundation, she plays a key role in developing the foundation’s Florida strategy and determining its investments. By collaborating with organizations such as the Institute on Higher Education Policy, Education Commission on the States and Jobs for the Future, Washington works to expand student access and improve student success in higher education.

She has served as the associate director of governmental relations for the State University System Board of Governors and as the budget director for education in the Governor's Office of Policy and Budget.

Washington currently serves as the vice chair of the education committee on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and is a board member for Florida A&M University, Leadership Florida Connect, the LeRoy Collins Institute and the Veterans Trust. She is also a Miami Fellow. Washington has volunteered her time to a number of community organizations including Chapman Partnership, Miami Children’s Museum, the Lotus House and the Women of Tomorrow.

Washington earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and her master’s degree in comparative education from Teachers College, Columbia University.