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From left to right: Sheriff Grady Judd, Dr. George E. Lees, Kathleen Parker, and Michael Yon
Pulitzer Prize Winning Syndicated Columnist Kathleen Parker, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Combat Journalist Michael Yon and Veterinarian Dr. George E. Lees are the 2012 inductees to the Polk County Public Schools Hall of Fame. They will be honored at the June 8th event scheduled to take place at the Lake Ashton Country Club in Lake Wales. The invitation only event starts at 6:30 p.m.
The Hall of Fame was started in 1985 to honor Polk County Public Schools attendees who have made significant professional and career contributions in the arts, business, clergy, education, entertainment, government, law, military, medicine, sports or other fields. Inductees are chosen each year from nominees submitted by the public. Hall of Fame members review nominations and new inductees are chosen through a selection process.
The Hall of Fame event will be broadcast live from the Lake Ashton Country Club on cable and fiber optic television. The broadcast will begin at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 8th on Polk County School Board Television airing on Bright House Networks channel 614, Comcast channel 7 and Verizon FiOS channel 45. The event will also be shown live simultaneously on PGTV, the county government’s channel on Bright House channel 622, Comcast channel 5 and Verizon FiOS channel 20. It will also be Web streamed on the school district’s www.polk-fl.net Web site and the county government’s Web site, http://www.polk-county.net/
Kathleen Parker started writing a “lifestyle” column in the 1980s while working as a staff writer for The Orlando Sentinel. More than two decades later, she writes a column that is nationally syndicated and appears in about 450 papers including The Washington Post and The Ledger. She is the recipient of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary with a selection of political opinion columns. The Winter Haven High School graduate is also the author of Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care. She is a regular guest on television shows like The O’Reilly Factor, The Chris Matthews Show and Larry King Live. She also serves on the Board of Contributors for USA Today’s Forum Page, part of the newspaper’s Opinion section. Ms. Parker attended Florida State University where she received a bachelors and masters degree in Spanish Literature.
Grady Judd is a native of Polk County and currently serves as Polk County Sheriff. He began his Sheriff’s Office career in 1972 after graduating from Lakeland High School. He started as a dispatcher eventually progressing through the ranks-holding every title from Sergeant to Colonel. In 2004, he became Sheriff. Sheriff Judd is committed to making sure the Polk County Sheriff’s Office maintains the highest standards of public service and best practices in the nation. He is also a strong proponent of education. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in criminal justice from Rollins College and has served as an adjunct professor at both the University of South Florida and Florida Southern College. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for Police, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar, and the FBI National Executive Institute. He also participated in the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP). He is a past recipient of Polk State College’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2008 Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, the Great American Hero Award from the Freedom Federation, and the 2011 Protect Our Children Junny Award.
Michael Yon reports from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2004, he’s been featured on Good Morning America, CNN, ABC and Fox. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and hundreds of other major media outlets around the world. The Winter Haven native and Winter Haven High School graduate is also the author of Danger Close, a critically acclaimed memoir, and Moment of Truth in Iraq, a book packed with his exciting and often heart-rending tales from the battlefields. Mr.Yon has worked hard to earn his reputation as “the premier independent combat journalist of his generation.” He’s chosen to work independently in order to learn the truth for himself and to report without fear or favor.
Dr. George E. Lees is a Diplomat in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and a professor in the Department of Veterinary Small Animal Clinic Sciences at Texas A&M University. The Lakeland High School graduate is a researcher in small animal medicine, specializing in veterinary nephrology and urology. Dr. Lees is known for his groundbreaking work on hereditary nephritis, an inherited kidney disorder seen in canines. When this condition occurs in humans it’s known as Alport Syndrome. In the 1990s, Dr. Lees and his coworkers discovered and characterized a completely different genetic form of the disease in a family of mixed breed dogs. For this significant contribution to his field, the European Society of Veterinary Internal Medicine invited him to deliver the keynote address in 2003. One year later, he presented his research as a State-of-the-Art Address at the Scientific Forum of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. In 2007, Dr. Lees and his colleagues published Genetic Cause of Autosomal Recessive Hereditary Nephropathy in the English Cocker Spaniel in which the cause of the disease was identified and explanation was given for how testing for the mutation would allow eradication of the malady from the breed. He is also the recipient of The Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF)/American Kennel Club (AKC) Career Achievement Award in Canine Research. Dr. Lees received his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Colorado State University, a master of science from University of Minnesota and a bachelor of science from Colorado State University.