Thelma Gibson founded Miami-Dade County’s first women’s chamber in 1984. Gibson, a registered nurse, began her career as a staff nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1947. For more than 50 years, she has also been a trailblazer in education, mental and physical health, community and professional leadership, volunteerism and service to her church, community and family.
Thelma Gibson has received numerous awards over the years, her most recent being the Lifetime Achievement Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce-Minority Business Enterprise. This was presented at the 24th Annual Medweek Awards October 21, 2006. Her autobiography, Forbearance, Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson, Life Story of a Coconut Grove Native, was released in the Fall of 2000. Mrs. Gibson also sponsors the Gibson Health Initiative housed at the Theodore R. Gibson Building that provides free testing and assistance for HIV and AIDS infected persons. Her latest project is the Theodore and Thelma School of the Performing Arts located on Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove where the students receive academics with a focus on the Arts.
She serves on numerous boards and committees, including:
- Jewish Home for the Aged
- Coconut Grove Cares Mental Health Association
- United Home Care Services
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- University of Miami Board of Trustees
- President of the Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund
- Visiting Nurses Association of Miami Dade County
- Grovites United to Survive (GUTS)
- Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School – Miami-Dade Public School
In 1999 the Women’s Chamber established the Thelma Gibson Awards of Excellence to honor its founder. Each year, the award honors an individual and a corporation that has excelled in promoting leadership, excellence and business development among corporate and professional women.