BRADENTON -- Her ability to build partnerships has already won Manatee County's new school superintendent the United Way's prestigious 2014-2015 Brilliance Award.
"That was stunning," Diana Greene said moments after receiving the honor Tuesday during the United Way's 2014-2015 Awards Celebration luncheon at Pier 22.
The award annually goes to an individual or business that is a shining light with a special skill set to move United Way's work forward, said United Way campaign Chairwoman Anne Lee.
"Over this last year, Dr. Greene was instrumental in cultivating the partnership of the school district in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading," Lee said. "She has also volunteered her time in the Grade-Level Reading effort and advocated for the efforts of Women United."
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The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a national collaborative effort promoted by foundations, nonprofits, business leaders and other stakeholders to ensure students are reading on grade level by third grade.
Launched in 2010, the campaign focuses on five different areas: chronic absence, school readiness, healthy readers, parent and family engagement and summer learning loss.
Manatee County schools joined the campaign in October 2014.
The goal is to increase the proficiency of children from low-income families reading on grade level by 2020.
Greene said Tuesday's award is part of a string of special moments she has experienced since being named leader of the district.
"I attended all six high school graduations and shook hands with more than 2,500 people," Greene said with a smile. "Meeting people and sharing stories of their children's education is why I love what I do."
Using donations and grants, the United Way was able to inject almost $2.15 million into the Manatee community this year, Lee told the crowd of 150.
United Way volunteer efforts this year amounted to almost 6,000 hours, which represents a value of nearly $128,000, Lee said.
United Way partnered with Suncoast Community Capital and Women United to offer more locations and increased publicity for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The program helped complete 403 tax returns for a total of $452,000 in tax refunds returned to the community, Lee said.
Hannah Glochick, 27, an assistant customer service manager at the Publix Supermarket in Bayshore Gardens, won the Volunteer Spirit Individual Award.
"Hannah goes out of her way to rally her troops and do volunteer projects," said Doreen Bush of the United Way. "She will call me and say, 'I want to get some people to volunteer. Can you find us a project?'"
Bruce Body, United Way's board chairman, was presented the Live United Award.
"Under Bruce's leadership, our United Way has endured the change in economic climate as well as seen many successes," Lee said.
Publix Supermarket, which donated $730,353, won the Pinnacle Award for giving.
Manatee County government employees won the Volunteer Spirit Company Award.
Gene and Anne Beckstein won the Give Spirit Individual Award.
First Bank was presented the Give Spirit Company Award.
Lisa Emory won the Advocate Spirit Individual Award.
Manatee County Government and Tropicana Products each donated between $100,000 to $199,999 to win Board of Directors Awards.
Bealls Inc., Florida Power and Light, ITW GSE Americas, Mosaic and School District of Manatee each donated $50,000 to $99,999 to win Board Chairman's Award.
Bradenton Herald, Ceridian, Fifth Third Bank, First Bank, Pierce Manufacturing, Manatee Memorial Hospital, SunTrust Bank and Wells Fargo each donated between $15,000 and $49,999 to win Campaign Chair's Awards.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.