Women Who Made History This Year, in South Florida and Beyond


The term has often been used to define 2020, a year characterized by COVID-19, a raucous election year, raging wildfires, and a social justice movement spurred by the killing of an unarmed Black man. 

But while “unprecedented” has many connotations (several of them negative), the word isn’t all bad. 2020 has been a year rife with misfortune, but there are some glimmers of inspiration, particularly with women making strides in leadership in South Florida -- and across the nation.

In this way, 2020 has been an “unprecedented” year.

Here’s a look at some women who made history in 2020, and others who are paving the way to leadership.

Daniella Levine Cava

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava

Daniella Levine Cava made history this year when she was elected the first female mayor of Miami-Dade County, winning over opponent Esteban Steve Bovo. 

“I think people saw my heart, they knew that I’m here to really serve and listen," Levine Cava said. "What I’ve done for a lifetime, I’ve built coalitions. It will be no different, it will just be at a level that will make sure that we can get the results that we need countywide.”

Levine Cava defeated Bovo after they were the top two finishers in the August primary. Although it was a non-partisan race on paper, Levine Cava had mostly aligned herself with Democrats while Bovo appeared to align himself with Republicans. Levine Cava is the first member of the Democratic party to hold the office since Alex Penelas from 1996 to 2004.

Kim Ng

Kim Ng made history in the world of Major League Baseball when she was appointed the new general manager of the Miami Marlins.

With more than 30 years of experience, she is the first woman to hold such a title in the MLB world. 

When Ng was 29, she became the youngest person in history (and second woman) to hold the title of assistant general manager when she was working with the New York Yankees.

In 2001, she became the assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and according to reports, she's interviewed for multiple GM positions over the past few years.

Ng, 51, is now the highest-ranking woman in MLB, and is the fifth person to lead baseball operations for the Marlins.

Dr. Aileen Marty

As South Florida and the rest of the nation try to comprehend the complexity of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Aileen Marty has been a familiar and authoritative presence. The infectious disease specialist has become the go-to local expert on everything involving COVID-19, being interviewed by local and national media outlets for her outlook and guidance. 

Dr. Marty is just one female infectious disease expert who has provided South Florida with crucial leadership during the pandemic. Read more here.

All-Female Firefighter Crew

Courtesy: Today

A South Florida-based, all-female firefighter crew went viral in September for breaking barriers in a typically male-dominated industry. The crew at Palm Beach Gardens Fire & Rescue consisted of firefighters ages 29 to 53, according to Today. They had never been scheduled to work a shift together until mid-September, when their story went viral. 

"Those of us who are moms — our kids are very supportive,"one firefighter told TODAY. "Our daughters are our biggest fans."

Kamala Harris

Leah Millis | Reuters
U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks as she and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announce nominees and appointees to serve on their economic policy team at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 1, 2020.

Branching out of South Florida and into the nation’s capital, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made history in 2020 as the first Black, South Asian and Jamaican woman to be elected Vice President. 

Born in Oakland, Harris, 56, attended Howard University, one of the nation's most prestigious historically Black institutions. She later served as California's attorney general and was elected to the Senate in 2017.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said during her victory speech. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”

Madeline Swegle


Madeline Swegle became the U.S. Navy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot in July. She received her Wings of Gold later in the month.

Officials said she is assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron 21 in Kingsville, Texas.

Swegle's milestone comes more than 45 years after Rosemary Mariner in 1974 became the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet, according to news outlets.

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