Florida

Former Publix board member to receive the state’s top honor for helping children

Carol Jenkins Barnett, head of Publix Super Markets Charities, will be honored with the Chiles Advocacy Award Monday.
Carol Jenkins Barnett, head of Publix Super Markets Charities, will be honored with the Chiles Advocacy Award Monday.

When Carol Jenkins Barnett announced younger-onset Alzheimer’s Disease would cause her to step down from Publix’s Board of Directors, she also announced she’d keep working as chairwoman and president of Publix Super Markets Charities.

It’s that unceasing dedication to charity with a focus on children that’s earned Barnett the Chiles Advocacy Award, the state’s highest honor for serving its children. Barnett will receive the honor at Monday’s Children’s Week Awards Dinner and Reception in Tallahassee at Florida State University.

Barnett is also on the board of The Children’s Movement of Florida. While she’s steered millions of dollars toward children’s programs as the head of Publix’s charitable arm, the daughter of Publix founder George W. Jenkins gives from her own pocket as well. The private donations funding 15 Florida United Ways participation in the ReadingPals program to boost children’s reading skills in lower economic neighborhoods come from Barnett, 60, and husband Barney Barnett. Forbes places her wealth at $1.67 billion as of Saturday.

“Carol’s commitment to improving the quality of life for Florida’s children and their families embodies the spirit of all that Children’s Week stands for,” United Way of Florida President and Children’s Week Chair Ted Granger said in a statement. “Her work has provided an untold number of children the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. She has set the standard to which all children’s advocates aspire.”

The award is named in honor of former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles’ and his wife Rhea Chiles’ public service for the state’s children and families.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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