Women of the Year 2023 Honorees Part 6

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.
Jana “Jana Banana” Shelfer, Gizela Maldonado Hernandez and Adrienne Evans

Jana “Jana Banana” Shelfer, Gizela Maldonado Hernandez and Adrienne Evans

Photo By: Roberto Gonzalez


Jana “Jana Banana” Shelfer

International Speaker, Ambassador and Mindset Leader | Living Lucky

n accident left Jana Shelfer paralyzed at the end of her freshman year of high school. But for Shelfer, it was just a change of direction, one that led her to become a three-time Paralympic basketball champion, a radio personality, an advocate for the disabled, and a conveyor of hope and purpose.

“Jana has the spirit of encouraging others to live their best lives,” her nomination raves. “Jana helped me live again.”

Through her Lucky Living platform, Shelfer works with her husband, Jason, to “coach a community on how to turn negative doom loops into upward success cycles,” she says. The former 104.1 radio personality, known to many locals as “Jana Banana”, released a TedX talk in April and is writing her first book.

Shelfer also serves as an ambassador and chairperson for the nonprofit Chair the Love, which provides wheelchairs to people in need. Her own experiences, ones that would discourage others, serve to inspire her.

“We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control the way we perceive them,” she says. 

Gizela Maldonado Hernandez

Veterinarian Pathologist, Pathology Department Head, Supervisor of the Clinical Pathology and Parasitology Sections of the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services | Founder and Director, Mexico Lindo Folkloric Ballet

In her professional and civic roles, Gizela Maldonado Hernandez works to promote understanding, whether of animal care and health issues animals face or her own Mexican culture.

To Maldonado, it’s all an extension of her lifetime of public service. By offering veterinary insight to one owner, she may be helping hundreds of animals. Her dance troupe also serves as a bridge. “By showcasing Mexican dance by participating in community events, the group helps enrich the culture in Central Florida,” she says. 

Mexico Lindo Folkloric Ballet, founded in 2014, has performed for Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and the Mexican consulate in Orlando. She says she considers it her “duty to share the Mexican folkloric dance skill with others and pass it on to the next generation.”

Maldonado says she hopes to inspire others “to feel empowered to reach their goals no matter how crazy or impossible they seem to be.” She encourages people not to “pull back because of fear of failure, but [to] give themselves the chance.”


Adrienne Evans

Vice President of Shared Services | Lift Orlando

Justice and dignity are key values for Adrienne Evans, whose organization serves to strengthen the neighborhoods around downtown Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

Evans, who received her bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from the University of Central Florida, says her role “allows me to use my skills and experience toward revitalizing a neighborhood that has been negatively impacted by generations of systemic racism.”

When donations dried up in her nonprofit’s fund-raising effort to build the Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center, Evans “helped close a real estate deal that resulted in a $12.5 million tax credit allocation that enabled Lift Orlando to receive the $2 million to start the construction on the center,” according to her nomination. The center opened in February.

Evans calls the opening “the greatest moment of my career thus far.” On a personal level, she hopes her life will be evidence that “justice isn’t always easy and will often come with a price—time, money and reputation—and that I tried to stay committed to it anyway.”


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