Gladys Roann-Watson has been a lifelong advocate for children. After growing up in rural Jefferson County as the oldest of six children, Gladys’ natural affinity to be a caretaker and community builder led her to study Nursing-Health Care Education and pursue a Bachelor of Nursing from Florida State University. Gladys continued her academic career at Florida State and received a Master’s of Social Work degree. She then dedicated her gifts and education to a career in public health that spanned over 39 years.
For three decades, Gladys served as Lead Nurse for the Jefferson County School District. There, her passion for meeting the needs of those who were underserved was evident as she focused on helping children reach their fullest potential. To Gladys, her greatest accomplishment was the positive impact she had on the kids she worked with.
Since retirement, Gladys has remained a prominent voice for children in the Jefferson County community. She has served on several Boards including the Jefferson County School Board and the Jefferson County Youth Council to further promote youth development and leadership opportunities. In addition, she was one of the original members of the Healthy Start Coalition for Jefferson, Madison, and Taylor Counties.
Gladys is married to Chief Kent Watson, a veteran who served in the US Armed Forces for over 34 years. Kent shares Gladys’ passion for empowering children as he helped inspire young people as the past Department Head of the JROTC at Jefferson County High School. Gladys and Kent have additionally encouraged and provided resources for young people to engage in the Tallahassee Southern Model United Nations program.
As a proud supporter of her community, Gladys has brought her special touch to many projects, including writing grants for the preservation and restoration of several historical properties. She and her husband still live in the historic home built by Gladys’ grandfather over 100 years ago. In their downtime, they enjoy having quiet time at home and traveling east of the Mississippi area to visit National Historic sites, landmarks, and monuments. Gladys has three children who she sees as her proudest achievement.
Gladys attributes her active lifestyle to her ability to advocate for issues she is passionate about and being surrounded by those who inspired her and kept her resilient. Gladys encourages others to participate in activities that fulfill them and always take time to “Smell the Roses.”
By Sarah Vernon