The Lee County Board of County Commissioners selected Dr. Judith Hartner as the recipient of the Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year Award for 2013. The award, announced Tuesday at the regularly scheduled commission meeting, is granted to a citizen who has provided outstanding civic contributions to Lee County government.
Hartner is director of the Florida Department of Health in Lee County.
"I am surprised," Hartner said. "And I am very grateful!"
County commissioners chose her from a field of eight nominees. The finalists included Rose Garcia and Ismael Hernandez.
Hartner, a 22-year veteran leader of the local health department, is credited with spurring the development of numerous programs outside of public health through partnerships, a positive attitude and collaboration between the community and government.
Most recently, she was active in the Transit Task Force, 21st Century Collaboration, Complete Streets resolutions and as a contributor to the revised Lee County Comprehensive and Sustainability plans. She introduced Lee County to the strong link between the built environment and the growing burden of chronic diseases.
Hartner has served the Lee County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida, Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida, Salvation Army, Salus Care, Child Mental Health Committee, School Health Advisory Committee, Healthy Lee Steering Committee and the Executive Committee of Community Health Visioning 2017.
In addition, through her staff she supported creation of the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, Safe Kids Coalition of Lee County (now of Lee and Collier counties), a statewide drowning prevention program, Florida's first National Drowning Prevention Symposium, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, Streets Alive of Lee County, Tobacco Free Lee Coalition and creation of the national model for the Sharps Disposal Program.
The Burton Citizen of the Year award was created in 1991 in honor of Burton, who died tragically in an automobile accident. She was a long time Sanibel resident and government watchdog, and spent many years serving as the voice for the people as well as playing an active role in Sanibel politics.