2017 Graham Gathering

Nearly 200 friends and supporters of the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Bob Graham Center for Public Service gathered in Hollywood, Florida, on May 11 to honor two extraordinary citizens who make Florida a better place to live and work.  The Citizen of the Year and Young Floridian awards highlight individuals who have a record of professional and public distinction and have contributed to the state in a civic capacity above the requirements of professional duty. The aim is to emphasize that true success is measured not only by educational and professional achievement, but also by the ways we contribute to the well-being of others and society. 

Citizen of the Year: Dr. Pedro Jose Greer 

Dr. Pedro José Greer, the associate dean for community engagement at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, has spent decades delivering medical care to Florida’s homeless and developing the next generation of culturally competent physicians. He is also a professor and the founding chair of FIU’s Department of Humanities, Health and Society.

At FIU, Dr. Greer oversees a unique educational program that develops highly-skilled doctors who are also socially accountable to their communities. Greer, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist, is the founder of Camillus Health, a private, not-for-profit organization that provides comprehensive health care, behavioral health and social services to the homeless and poor in Miami-Dade County. He is also the founder of the St. John Bosco Clinic, which has helped to meet the health care needs of undocumented immigrants in the Miami area for more than 20 years.

Dr. Greer has advised Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton on health care and poverty and has been honored by several U.S. presidents with some of the nation’s highest honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Additionally, he has received three Papal Medals and was a 1993 recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius grant."

His autobiography, Waking Up in America: How One Doctor Brings Hope to Those Who Need it Most, co-written with FIU alumna and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Liz Balmaseda, details his early years as a physician delivering care to patients living under highway overpasses in Miami. His story has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC and HBO, among others.

Young Floridian: Ryan Smart

Ryan Smart is the president of 1000 Friends of Florida Inc., the state's leading smart-growth advocacy organization, founded in 1986 to save special places and build better communities throughout Florida. 1000 Friends promotes land conservation, sustainable communities, affordable housing and transportation alternatives.

As president, Smart works with local residents, legislators and Friends' board of directors to protect and preserve Florida’s natural lands, fresh water supply and high quality of life. He is a regular contributor to Florida newspapers on environmental and growth management issues and a frequent presenter at seminars and events.

Smart has an impressive track record of coalition building and grassroots organizing, bringing much-needed attention to Florida’s critical environmental issues. For two-and-a-half years, he managed the Florida Conservation Coalition, where he brought together more than 50 organizations to reinvigorate efforts to conserve Florida’s precious environmental resources.

Smart serves on the Board of the Wakulla Springs Alliance—a coordinated effort to protect and restore spring flow, water quality and the ecological health of the world's largest, deepest freshwater spring.

An avid hiker, Smart and his daughter are on a mission to visit each of Florida’s phenomenal state parks. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Florida.

Bob Graham: A Lifetime of Service

The Bob Graham Center was established in 2006 with the goal of creating a community of students, scholars, and citizens who share a commitment to revitalizing the civic culture of Florida and the nation. Former Governor and U. S. Senator Bob Graham founded the Center as a place where students acquire the skills and knowledge to become informed citizens, with the expressed purpose of strengthening the nation's democratic institutions. Located in the middle of campus in Pugh Hall, the Center stands at the cornerstone of the University’s academic, intellectual and civic life.