Florida state Rep. and House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell has been named the recipient of the 10th annual Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award by EMILYs List—the nation’s largest resource for women in politics.
“During a time when Florida Republicans have done everything in their power to roll back our fundamental freedoms, Leader Fentrice Driskell has been a staunch defender of civil and reproductive rights – and her thoughtful and dedicated leadership is why we are proud to award her the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award,” EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler said in a statement to ESSENCE.
Rep. Driskell became the first Black woman minority leader in the history of the Florida House of Representatives in 2022. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard, where she was the first Black student elected as student government president, and holds a J.D. from Georgetown University. Leader Driskell is a practicing attorney presently serving her third term in the Florida House of Representatives, advocating for reproductive freedom, public education, and voting rights.
“From fighting for common sense gun reform to addressing climate change and working to increase access to affordable housing, Leader Driskell has been on the forefront of the battle for meaningful change. EMILYs List is honored to award her this year’s Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award because we know that as her future in public service unfolds, she will continue to lead with grace and determination, shining a light for future generations of inspiring women legislators to come,” said Butler.
The Rising Star Award, named in honor of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, celebrates an exemplary woman serving in state or municipal office who shows a “commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility” that have been hallmarks of Giffords’ career, both in and out of office.
“It’s an incredible honor to receive EMILYs List’s Rising Star Award. It means so much to me to be included among past winners, like Stacey Abrams, whose work in Georgia led the way in reshaping politics there and beyond,” Driskell tells ESSENCE about the award.
She also took the opportunity to address Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, calling out what she says is a lack of attention to economic, reproductive and other issues facing Floridians.
“In Florida, we have a governor who is so obsessed with ‘woke’ that he’s asleep at the wheel and would rather side with extremist MAGA bullies in his own party than address the very real economic issues facing families every day. Every American deserves the freedom to be healthy, prosperous, and safe, and that includes the right to make decisions about our own bodies. I’m proud to have EMILYs List by my side as we fight to move our country towards the vision of a more perfect union promised to each and every one of us,” Driskell says.
Beyond Stacey Abrams, previous Rising Star Award recipients include former Boston City Councilwoman, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran.