Mayor, Philanthropist Join Ranks of Women of Distinction

Gail Coniglio, mayor of the affluent town of Palm Beach and a prominent businesswoman, finds her personal joy in her roles as a nurse, wife, mother of six and grandmother of six “and still counting,” she said.

Palm Beach Mayor and 2013 PBA Women of Distinction honoree Gail Coniglio speaks at The Breakers.
Women of Distinction honoree Danielle Hickox Moore speaks during the luncheon.

“It’s what inspires me in my daily life to extend that family foundation to all that I encounter,” Mayor Coniglio told an audience of more than 400 people on Wednesday at the Palm Beach Atlantic University Women of Distinction luncheon at The Breakers in Palm Beach.

Mayor Coniglio and Palm Beach resident Danielle Hickox Moore were this year’s honorees, chosen for their significant contributions to the community. The annual luncheon raises money for scholarships.

In her acceptance remarks, Coniglio spoke about her family’s nearly 30-year involvement with the Hope Rural School in Indiantown, which serves the families of migrant farm workers. The school provides a safety net for the entire family and connectivity for children whose friendships and sense of belonging are often interrupted, she said.

Every Christmas and Easter, the Coniglios and other Palm Beach residents host Christmas and Easter parties for some 80 preschool through first-grade students. Children receive new shoes, books, toys, sweatshirts and basic toiletries at Christmas, and at Easter they receive baskets filled with candy and goodies “offset by a new toothbrush and toothpaste,” she said.

In addition, each family enjoys a turkey dinner for their own holiday festivities, she said.

“It is my pleasure to celebrate the growth and development of these children, now graduated from college and embarking on journeys of their own,” she said. “The heartfelt feeling of joy that I have experienced verifies that it is better to give than receive.”

Mayor Coniglio also promotes a strong sense of family within the Coniglios’ restaurant business. She said she enjoys working with young people, many of whom are embarking upon their first job.

“I hope that I have shared with them the fundamentals of a sound work ethic and skills to prepare for careers and the realities of life,” she said.

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She also recognized the former Women of Distinction award recipients, many of whom were in attendance. “You all are my women of distinction,” she said.

Moore, the event’s other honoree, comes from a long line of distinguished women. Following in the footsteps of her grandmothers, Mary Alice Fortin and Catherine Barker Hickox, and her mother, Lesly Smith, Moore is a philanthropist and charitable-cause activist.

She said that all of the current and former Women of Distinction honorees have one thing in common.

“We understand we’re all in this together, and there’s a role for each and every one of us to play,” she said.

Moore spoke about her involvement with the Fortin Family Development Center in South Bay, which serves families in need. “On graduation there for our preschoolers, there’s not a dry eye in the house,” she said.

Moore said that she is equally passionate about the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. She is a member of the organization’s executive committee and the former chair of the capital campaigns of the Boys and Girls Clubs to build two new Fisher clubhouses.

Growing up in Palm Beach, Moore said she has always been surrounded by women of distinction.

“To me, the word ‘distinction’ doesn’t mean set apart as much as it simply means that I’m one of many valuable members of the community of women,” she said.

Moore is the mother of two daughters, ages 3 and 4. “When all is said and done, I am confident they will grow up to be caring and powerful women who make meaningful contributions in their community,” she said. “In whatever way they choose to use their skills and talents, we will be the first ones to welcome them to our team of distinguished women.”

Introducing Moore was 2012 Women of Distinction honoree Sally Ross Soter. Joyce Licht Sang, the 2012 co-honoree, introduced Mayor Coniglio.

During the luncheon, 2013 Women of Distinction scholarship recipient Lauren Parker offered remarks and fellow recipient Faith Warren delivered the invocation. The PBA Concert Choir, directed by Associate Professor of Music Dr. Geoffrey Holland, performed patriotic selections.