FSU Panama City recognizes 2016 Notable ’Noles

By: Erica Howard


FSU Panama City recognized three outstanding alumni Oct. 20 for their continued commitment to education.

Sarah Giles, a stay-at-home mother who formerly worked as FSU Panama City alumni and development coordinator; Tanya Deal, the marketing and human resources director at Panhandle Educators Federal Credit Union; and Tiffani Hinds, chief operating officer and vice president of United Way of Northwest Florida, will be named the 2016 Notable ’Noles during the campus’ Seminole Celebration.

The award is given to FSU Panama City alumni who demonstrated excellence as students and have made outstanding contributions to the community and within their careers. Since the award’s inception in 1996, FSU Panama City has recognized 67 Notable ’Noles, accounting for less than 1 percent of the campus’s alumni.


Sarah Giles, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences in 2001 and a master’s degree in corporate and public communication in 2003, previously served as alumni affairs coordinator and development coordinator at FSU Panama City.

In these roles, she was committed to developing alumni relationships within the Panama City service area and continually worked to improve the quality and effectiveness of alumni communications. She attended and presented at the Association’s Executive Management Retreat in Tallahassee in December 2006 and assisted in the planning and organization of the National FSU Alumni Board’s executive committee meeting held in Panama City in January 2007.

She also coordinated the campus’ signature Homecoming event, Nole Fest, bringing record attendance.

“Sarah loved homecoming and Nole Fest and enjoyed showcasing the campus in the best possible way,” Becky Kelly wrote in her nomination. “Her commitment to FSU Panama City was made evident through her leadership as both a student and as an employee.”

As a student, Giles received the Dempsey Barron Leadership Award in 2001 and the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honorary. She named in Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities and was inducted into the Garnet Key Honor Society.

She served as FSU Panama City’s Student Government Council president from 2000-2001 and chaired SGC’s Torch Run committee in 2000, Publicity Committee from 1999 to 2000 and the Homecoming Celebration Publicity Committee in 1999. She was part of the College Leadership Florida Class IV and served as the publicity co-chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in 2001.

She continues to promote education as a stay-at-home mother and home school teacher to her children, David and Anna. She also tutors local elementary age students and serves on the home school cooperative board.

Giles is an active member of St. Andrew Baptist Church, where she leads a Bible study and teaches Sunday school, has performed as a vocalist and bass player and volunteered during Vacation Bible School.

She also was involved in United Way’s Loaned Executive program and Emerald Coast Business Women’s Association.

“Anyone who knows Sarah Giles knows that she is truly notable,” Kelly wrote. “Sarah lives what she believes. Her faith and her values are manifest in her character. She is intelligent and disciplined, and a highly capable, confident personal and professional leader.”


Tanya Deal, the marketing and human resources director at Panhandle Educators Federal Credit Union, has spearheaded many events and fundraisers which have enabled the credit union to give back to the community, including scholarships to FSU Panama City.

She has more than 15 years of experience with federal job training and workforce education programs in area school systems, which included preparation of grant proposals and the implementation, oversight, reporting and evaluation of grant-funded projects. She also has managed several workforce education projects for Bay District Schools, and she has directed Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) Summer Youth Employment and Training Programs in Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Jackson counties along with year-round remediation and after-school job training programs for high school students.

“Tanya Wester Deal’s many years of experience in workforce training, marketing, fundraising and now HR have made her a very well-rounded asset to this community,” Nancy Luther wrote in her nomination. “She has contributed her knowledge, skills and love of learning to many programs in addition to continuing to develop her own skills so that she can continue to enable others to grow.”

Deal, who earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences in 1982, was recognized as one of 25 most influential volunteers for Bay Education Foundation development, earning the foundation’s 25th Anniversary Silver Apple Award in May 2014. She also was a Women of Distinction nominee in 2015.

Deal has been a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, the American Advertising Federation-PC board, the Career & Technical Education Council, Leadership Bay Class of 1993, the Leadership Bay Steering Committee and the United Way of Northwest Florida Communications Committee.

She was one of the founding creators of Arts Alive!, which raises money for the Bay Education Foundation while showcasing area student talent. She also has chaired the Death By Chocolate Silent Auction, the Emerald Coast Business Women’s Association Programs Committee and the Bay Arts Alliance Board of Directors Programming Committee. She has served as a volunteer, committee chair and board member for the Bay County Chamber of Commerce and has been a mentor for the Bay Education Foundation TSIC.

“Her contributions to education and training in this community are notable in so many ways,” Luther wrote. “In addition, there is no doubt that she is an avid FSU fan and supporter as most her know her can attest.”


Tiffani Hinds has been a true advocate for children as a foster parent since 2004. She provided a loving home to more than 20 children in a five-year span and adopted seven children from the foster care system, several with special needs.

Since earning her Master of Business Administration in 2009, she has continued to serve the community through the United Way of Northwest Florida, where she was hired as a finance specialist. She was promoted to director of finance and later to chief operating officer and vice president in 2013.

She also holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which she earned in 2007.

As a student, Hinds was named on the dean’s and president’s lists for high GPA, she completed 20 hours of community service for taking notes for disabled students and was a member of the Psychology Club.

“She brought the campus a higher level of maturity and experience over the traditional student,” former associate dean Gary Bliss said, according to the nomination packet. “She brought skills that she was eager to share, but she was just as eager and willing to learn.  I feel very confident that she will be extremely successful in all her future endeavors. She is a focused and determined person and I highly recommend her.”

Hinds currently serves as the treasurer of Bay County Society of Human Resource Managers. She also is an active member and volunteer with the Bay and Gulf County Foster and Adoptive Parent’s Association, Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, Bay County Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way of Northwest Florida and Autism Surfs. She is the former secretary/treasurer of the Dollar $mart Coalition of Northwest Florida, graduated from Leadership Bay in 2012-2013 and serves on the scholarship committee and assists with Inspire With Business Attire and Death by Chocolate for the Emerald Coast Business Women’s Association.

She also serves as the lead parent liaison for the Department of Children and Families System of Care board, volunteers at her children’s schools, previously holding officer positions on the School Advisory Council and PTO, and is an active member of Destiny Worship Center.

“Tiffani has a strong voice in the system of care as a parent, but also as a business professional,” Florida DCF Site Coordinator Missy Lee said, according to the nomination packet. “She is always well spoken, professional and very passionate about her work.”

Hinds has was an honoree in social services for the 2016 Northwest Florida Woman of Distinction, a nominee for the 2007 Jefferson Award and the recipient of the 2010-2011 Adoptive Parent of the Year by Florida Foster/Adoptive Parent Association.

“Tiffani has faced and overcome many obstacles in her life,” her husband, Paul Hinds, wrote in his nomination. “She is a leader and an example of true character.”