Women of the Year 2023 Honorees Part 1

They are educators, mentors, nurses, physicians, fundraisers, entrepreneurs, and individuals who stand up for others. But most of all they are leaders who help keep our community strong. Orlando magazine is proud to honor the 23 individuals featured on the following pages as Women of the Year.
Kelly Nierstedt, Dr. Jennifer Tickal Keehbauch and Paula Waters Rutledge

Kelly Nierstedt, Dr. Jennifer Tickal Keehbauch and Paula Waters Rutledge

Photo By: Roberto Gonzalez


Jennifer Tickal Keehbauch, MD 

Chief Medical Officer | AdventHealth Winter Park 

Jennifer Tickal Keehbauch remembers when her medical school mentor at the University of Florida would take her to a rural clinic where grateful people received desperately needed healthcare. Today, as she lives out AdventHealth’s mission to “extend the healing ministry of Christ,” she recalls that experience in providing whole-person care.

“Dr. Keehbauch’s impact on Central Florida is difficult to describe in words,” according to her nomination, which commends her availability, attentiveness, and her leadership through the pandemic.

Under her leadership, the Leapfrog Group has named AdventHealth Winter Park as an A-rated safety hospital five years in a row. The hospital has also earned national certification for its stroke and orthopedic joint programs. 

Keehbauch’s concern for the uninsured led her to open AdventHealth Community Medicine Clinic. “To see it thriving and continuing to serve Central Florida as we approach the 20-year anniversary this year has been very fulfilling,” says Keehbauch.

“I hope that I have passed on a love of serving those most in need to the residents I’ve mentored throughout the years,” she adds.


Kelly Nierstedt 

Senior Vice President, Orlando Health | President, Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center

Serving others is second nature to Kelly Nierstedt, who began her career as a nurse. She is especially passionate about addressing the health and wellness of women as they juggle multiple demands.

“Kelly Nierstedt’s transformative leadership is guiding one of the largest hospitals in the nation,” her nomination boasts.

“I hope that I am known as a champion for expanding care and access to services for those who need it the most,” Nierstedt says.

She helped launch Orlando Health Women’s Pavilion — Winter Park, an all-in-one medical center for women. Nierstedt also helped secure a $2.54 million grant to reduce health disparities among pregnant or postpartum minority women while working to provide nutritious food for at-risk pregnant women. In addition, she oversaw the distribution of nearly 3,000 backpacks to local students.

Nierstedt takes patient care personally. During her tenure at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, she posted her cell number in the room of every patient. “I challenge the teams I support to provide the highest level of clinical care, and the result is that we deliver nation-leading outcomes that change people’s lives.”


Paula Waters Rutledge

Founder and President, Legacy MedSearch | Board Member, Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Chapter

Described in her nomination as a “passionate philanthropist for Alzheimer’s research” as a result of losing her mother to the disease, Paula Waters Rutledge makes it her life’s mission to find a cure while providing a workplace where her colleagues can thrive.

Rutledge lost her mom—a former South Florida detective she describes as “‘Miami Vice’ before Don Johnson ever put on a leisure suit”—to Alzheimer’s in 2019. Her life’s mission in all her endeavors is to make her parents proud.

“Every small measure of success I may accomplish has roots in my idyllic childhood and my parents shepherding their children in a life centered around family, friends, and serving God and community,” she says.

Rutledge channels her father’s business acumen at Legacy MedSearch, which she founded in 2005 to “provide my teammates a joyful place to make an outstanding living to provide for their families.”

Personally, she says she wants to be “half the woman my mom was” and “half the businessperson my dad was” while living to see an end to Alzheimer’s.


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