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The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

We are celebrating Women’s History Month by shining a spotlight on our local wonder women leaving their mark in The Palm Beaches.

To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, this March we are shining a spotlight on female trailblazers making a difference in our communities, industries, and the lives of those around them. Discover the women leaving their mark in The Palm Beaches and what they love about our beautiful area!

Travel and Hospitality

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Laura Beebe – Director of Airports for the Palm Beach County Department of Airports

Laura Beebe has served as the Director of Airports for the Palm Beach County Department of Airports since January 2019.  The Palm Beach County Department of Airports owns and operates four airports, including the Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). Located in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) serves more than 6.4 million passengers annually. Beebe served as the Deputy Director of Airports Business Affairs for the Palm Beach County Department of Airports prior to promotion to Director of Airports and as an Assistant County Attorney for Palm Beach County prior to joining the Department of Airports. 
Favorite beach? Juno Beach hands down! You can’t beat the beautiful coastline.
Favorite restaurant? Okeechobee Steakhouse. A local favorite and who doesn’t love a great steak!
Favorite shopping area? The Square on Rosemary Avenue. Great food, shopping, and entertainment options are all in walking distance.
Favorite outdoor activity? Attending minor league baseball at the Roger Chevrolet Dean Stadium.
Favorite weekend activity? Going to the beach or enjoying one of the local parks.

Food And Beverage

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Virginia Philip – Master Sommelier & Wine Director at The Breakers

Virginia Philip is the owner of the Virginia Philip Wine Spirits & Academy and wine director at the iconic Breakers Palm Beach resort. A strong female force in a predominantly male industry, Virginia became the eleventh woman in the world to earn the extraordinary accreditation of Master Sommelier in 2002.
In 2011, Philip achieved a lifelong dream with the debut of the Virginia Philip Wine Spirits & Academy in Palm Beach, where she offers 1000+ personally selected wine offerings and an extensive spirits collection along with weekly wine education programs. In 2020, she was named by WINWSA (Women in Wine & Spirits Association) as 1 of 50 of the most influential women in wine & spirits.

Favorite beach? The north end of Palm Beach. It is quiet and without crowds. I can bring my dog. Morning sunshine is the best!
Favorite restaurant? Yikes! Too many to name just one!
Favorite shopping area? The Royal Poinciana Plaza, because my store is located here! The Royal has created a unique environment where families feel welcomed, nurtured and can bring their dogs. Where else can you shop, gallery watch and dine in some of the best restaurants in the area?
Favorite outdoor activity? Running or walking along Flagler Drive and the bike trail on Palm Beach.
Favorite weekend activity? Spending time with family and friends and enjoy a glass of wine for the sheer heck of it. No dissecting, judging or comments necessary. Just simply drink and enjoy!

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Lindsay Autry – Chef & Owner, Honeybelle

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Chef Autry held various chef positions at prominent restaurants on the East Coast and in Mexico and made headlines as a finalist on Bravo’s ninth season of “Top Chef.” Chef Autry describes her cuisine as soulful, embracing Mediterranean flavors while blending in her southern roots. In 2018 – 2020, Autry received James Beard Foundation nominations for “Best Chef: South.”
Currently, Autry is the chef and owner of Honeybelle, a restaurant conveniently located inside the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens.
Favorite beach? We really enjoy the beach at Palm Beach Shores. It is quiet with plenty of beach to enjoy a leisurely day as a family and we can watch the large ships leaving and arriving at the port of Palm Beach. 
Favorite restaurant? This is a tough one, as our dining scene has really grown and there are so many great options. We really enjoy Coolinary in Palm Beach Gardens. The ambience is very inviting, and the ever-changing menu keeps me excited to go. I can have any of my favorites like the burger and also always try something new. Tim and Jenny Lipman have created a gem that really excels in warm hospitality. 
Favorite shopping area? I really enjoy shopping at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens because my favorite boutique Vagabond Apparel is there. I can always find great gifts or something nice for myself. 
Favorite outdoor activity? During season, we love to enjoy the great Palm Beach winter weather and head out to visit the local green markets. The downtown West Palm Beach green market on Saturdays and the Palm Beach Garden’s market on Sundays are our go-tos. 
Favorite weekend activity? We often enjoy one of the amazing local parks or even visiting the Palm Beach Zoo or Lion Country Safari

Nature Conservation

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Anne Messer – Executive Director, Friends of Manatee Lagoon

Anne Messer heads up Friends of Manatee Lagoon and oversees the day-to-day management, development, and community outreach of this non-profit organization.
She loves working with local and statewide environmental partners, community leaders, and donors to fund and develop long-term initiatives that contribute to the health and preservation of environment, coastal waters, and all marine life.

Favorite beach? John D. McArthur Park Beach. It is a 3- mile bike ride from my home so I can enjoy a quick swim and my bathing suit is dry before I get home.
Favorite restaurant? Riverhouse, Palm Beach Gardens. I love the outside bar and the terrific sushi.
Favorite shopping area? I’m not much of a shopper but if I need something trendy and chic my ‘go to’ is Nordstrom or the Lilly Pulitzer store.
Favorite outdoor activity? I love to paddleboard the estuary at Munyon Island and bike/hike at Riverbend Park & the Hog Hammock Trail.
Favorite weekend activity? Besides visiting Manatee Lagoon? Being outdoors- hiking, biking or paddleboarding.


The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Amanda Perna – Designer, Author, Illustrator, Stylist

Amanda Perna is a fashion designer, design expert, best-selling author, stylist, and entrepreneur who resides in the colorful town of Delray Beach. After designing for Calvin Klein and appearing on Project Runway, Amanda decided to launch her own business. Her clothing and accessories brand, The House of Perna, is focused on bright colors, bold prints and maximalist style with minimal waste.
Amanda’s mission is to create joy and spread sunshine, which is why she is dedicated to philanthropy and helping her community. She serves on the board of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Achievement Centers for Children and Families. She has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profits in South Florida.

Favorite beach? Delray Beach! I love how we have so many different people on our beach—locals, tourists, and people from so many different walks of life. 
Favorite restaurant? My favorite restaurant—this is such a hard one with such a dynamic food scene across the county. In Delray Beach I love The GroveBrule Bistro, and Rose’s Daughter.
Favorite shopping area? I have to say my store—A Little Wyld in Pineapple Grove in Delray Beach, but otherwise I would have to say Worth Ave. I love being inspired by all the beautiful architecture, plants, and impeccably dressed shoppers.
Favorite outdoor activity? I love going to the Delray Beach Farmers market with my family! There are so many incredible local vendors and such variety. There are incredible prepared food vendors, beautiful produce, and even cool clothing vendors. 
Favorite weekend activity? My husband and I love taking our daughter to get ice cream and pizza and seeing all the animals and birds at The Girls Strawberry Patch.


The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Charlene Farrington – Executive Director, Spady Cultural Heritage Museum

A Delray Beach resident, Charlene Farrington is the executive director of the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, a non-profit organization established to preserve and share black history located in Delray Beach.
Charlene also holds leadership roles in the South Florida Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Palm Beach County African Diaspora Historical and Cultural Society and the Delray Beach Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is also a member of the Palm Beach County Remembrance Project Coalition and on the Palm Beach County Public Art Committee.
Charlene is the daughter of Vera Farrington, former Palm Beach County educator and founder of the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum.
Favorite beach? My favorite beach in The Palm Beaches is Delray Beach! It is the beach I am most familiar with.
Favorite restaurant? The one I haven’t tried yet!
Favorite outdoor activity? My favorite outdoor activity is the occasion for family and friends to gather, either at an event or in celebration of a holiday.
Favorite weekend activity: My favorite weekend activity (weekday too) is a musical concert.

Community Service

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women

Candi Spitz – Director of Development and Community Relations for 211 Palm Beach and Treasure Coast

Candi Spitz is the Director of Development and Community Relations for the non-profit 211 Palm Beach and Treasure Coast.  211 is the only free and confidential Crisis Hotline and Community Helpline serving the residents of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast that provides suicide prevention, crisis intervention, information, assessment, and referral to community service for people of all ages.

She has also served as an Ambassador for Project Lifesaver International Ambassador since 2012 and was currently serves as the Director of Ambassador and Public Relations.  Candi is also a radio and tv personality and has been the Host of WPTV NewsChannel 5’s segment “Take 5: Now You Know” since 2018.   She is the former National Spokesperson for Autism Speaks, she spent years as a Special Needs Advocate for the Palm Beach County Court System, and she has served as an autism trainer for Palm Beach County law enforcement and rescue workers.

Most importantly, she is the mother of identical twin sons, Brendan and Jaden, who both were diagnosed with Autism in 2009. She knows firsthand the struggles and concerns that families face each day as they navigate the maze of life with special needs and is passionate about helping families find the help they so desperately need.

Favorite beach? Delray Beach because of its breathtaking views and there is so much to do within walking distance!

Favorite restaurant? Anywhere with live music and the ocean. Two favorites: U-Tiki Beach or Guanabanas

Favorite shopping area? Delray Marketplace. I’m not much of a shopper – but there are cute stores, tons of restaurants and my favorite escape for selfcare – Restore Hyperwellness Delray.

Favorite outdoor activity? The kids and I love Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.  You can spend an entire day just walking the nature trails. And the sunsets are spectacular!

Favorite weekend activity? Art After Dark at the Norton.  They have live music, open studio art classes and the gallery and sculpture gardens. And most importantly- its family friendly!


Coco Gauff – Professional Tennis Player

Coco Gauff is a talented tennis champion, and a source of immense pride for her hometown, Delray Beach.  At just 15, she stunned the world by defeating tennis legend Venus Williams at Wimbledon. Since then, she’s climbed the rankings, reaching a career-high No. 3 in singles and even achieving No. 1 in doubles. Her biggest triumph came in 2023, conquering the US Open title on home soil. Beyond the Grand Slam win, she’s collected seven WTA Tour singles titles and eight doubles titles.

The Palm Beaches Wonder Women


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