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Judicial champion of children honored

A Unified Family Court judge is recognized for creative solutions to problems that help children in need.

Published May 11, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Irene Sullivan was honored Tuesday with the Salvation Army's "Children's Justice Award," recognizing her work with the needy children who come before her in court.

Sullivan serves on the Unified Family Court, working with many children who have been abused or neglected or who have been charged with crimes in the juvenile system.

Speakers at a luncheon of more than 200 people said she has a strong dedication to helping children and an innovative spirit about finding ways to meet their needs. "She's one of the people who wants to solve problems and she wants to solve problems because she wants to make a difference," Chief Judge David A. Demers said.

Fellow Circuit Judge Frank Quesada said that during his service on the Unified Family Court, Sullivan was forever coming forward with creative ideas for helping young people, such as promoting an educational program for girls called PACE.

Quesada said he always told her, "If you will take it on, we'll do it."

"And sure enough," Quesada said, "she did."

"I'm so honored and I thank you so much for this award," Sullivan said.

She thanked the audience, many of whom work in social services agencies in the county, for all the work they do to help children who come before her in court. Their work is inspiring, she said.

"There's more love in that court than there is abuse," she said.

The Salvation Army also gave a surprise award to James Mills, executive director of the Juvenile Welfare Board, whom the agency called "a true champion for children."

The luncheon's keynote speaker was Paul C. Tash, chairman, chief executive officer and editor of the St. Petersburg Times.

Sullivan's award was bestowed by the Salvation Army of South Pinellas County, which administers programs for foster children, among other programs. It was the first such award given.

[Last modified May 11, 2005, 00:46:18]

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