Scherley Busch and the Florida Women of Achievement

Some kids want a pony, others a bicycle, but Scherley Busch wanted a camera. So her sister saved her lunch money and bought Busch her first camera when she was seven-years-old. The only catch, she couldn’t afford the film.

Of course today Busch shoots everything digitally and has become one of the most respected photographers in the State of Florida. She has not only earned a national reputation for insightful portraiture – from families and children to executives, but her reach encompasses advertising clients in major corporations.

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Busch’s elevated status has been achieved despite being a woman. “When I began my career,” she explains, “professional photography was male dominated. Art directors would comment ‘we’ve never worked with a woman before’. Women weren’t taken very seriously. Since that time, much has changed. This has been a pivotal time for women.”

Her ongoing 17-year powerful photographic documentary Florida Women of Achievement (see our photo gallery) captures the spirit of this pivotal period. The highly regarded historic and artistic record to date honors 64 outstanding Florida women who have helped shape the destiny of the state and nation.

“The unique and inspiring exhibit reflects the essence of women who have transcended boundaries,” explains Busch. “These extraordinary women come from diverse cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds and careers. The late Marjory Stoneman Douglas set the tone of the exhibit. She was the first honoree. A pioneer, crusader, author, environmental advocate, and champion of the Everglades, Ms Douglas was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. It was thrilling to photograph her in her home surrounded by her life’s work.”

“Each portrait holds a fascinating story,” Busch continues. “Betty Mae Jumper is the first native woman elected head of a Tribal Council – Chief of the Seminoles. As I was photographing her in front of a sacred ceremonial tree, Chief Jumper recalled that as a child she lived in a ‘chickee.’ She had no schooling until the age of 16. As our session unfolded, she revealed how, after seeing some kids reading comic books, she told her mother she wanted to go to school to learn to read picture books. At that time in history she couldn’t go to a black school or white school, so she had to travel to a tribal school in the Carolinas. Becoming Chief of the Seminoles, Betty Mae not only helped write the constitution for the Seminole tribe, she lushly feathered the tribal nest. When she entered office, the tribe had $35.00 in the bank. When she left office, tribal coffers had filled to more than a half-million dollar surplus. And this was before casinos.”

Other honorees have come from the fields of science, philanthropy, the arts, education, athletics, journalism, politics, law, business, environmentalism and aerospace. Each of the 64 honorees has similar stories. Busch’s portraits offer a glimpse into the determination and triumph of these special women. “I research, interview, and look for each woman’s comfort zone and photograph each woman in an environment that tells something special about her. At the same time, I look to capture that indefinable something they all share – a strength, an inner beauty, and an unquenchable determination to realize their dreams.”

The 2007 Florida Women of Achievement honorees:

“Janet Reno. Like Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Ms. Reno is a Miami pioneer. She is the first woman ever to hold the nation’s top law enforcement position – the 78th Attorney General of the United States – and the first woman to serve as State Attorney in Florida. She tells of her mother building the family home with her own two hands. Janet still resides there. Catching up with Janet and her non-stop schedule wasn’t easy. I finally had the opportunity to photograph her in a blissful moment, kayaking in Biscayne Bay among the Mangroves she so loves.”

“Alex Sink. A cold January day found me photographing Alex Sink on the steps of the State Capitol in Tallahassee. Elected Chief Financial Officer of Florida in 2006, she has been a trailblazer in the financial world for nearly 30 years. Her banking career culminated in her rise to president of Bank of America, Florida’s largest bank.”

“Peggy Quince has been caught in a pensive moment in the state’s Supreme Court. She has the distinction of being the first black female appointed to both the Florida Supreme Court and one of the Florida District Courts of Appeal. She is actively involved in many legal and civic organizations.”

“Sue Miller is pictured outside her gracious Miami Beach home where she hosts community meetings and events. Sue is a dedicated volunteer and philanthropic leader who has received numerous awards for her community involvement including Philanthropist of the Year from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.”

Florida Women of Achievement has been exhibited in the United States Senate Russell Rotunda in Washington, DC and the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee.

Click to view the Florida Women of Achievement Photo Gallery.

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