Lutz, Florida -- The woman who raised millions to build Joshua House, a haven in Lutz for children removed from their families, died Sunday at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.
In the late 1980's, Dottie Berger MacKinnon said having heard several stories involving children who were killed in the Bay area left her with a heavy heart.
It was then she decided to do something to make sure as many children as possible have a safe place to live while in foster care. It how she go the idea for the Joshua House which she opened in 1992.
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After launching Joshua House, MacKinnon then started Friends of Joshua House Foundation to raise more money.
MacKinnon then served on Tampa General Hospital's Board of Directors for more than a decade and was instrumental in its transformation from a county hospital to a not-for-profit.
In 2005, she started the foundation that now manages A Kid's Place, a 60-bed emergency shelter in Brandon for children waiting to be placed with a foster family, which is the only one of it's kind in the state. The shelter, built by private dollars in 2009, helps keep foster siblings together.
She also served as a Hillsborough County Commissioner (District 4) from 1994-1998. The community investment tax led to her defeat to Republican Tim Curtis. MacKinnon had voted in favor of allowing taxpayers to decide by referendum whether to foot the bill for Tampa's new stadium which Conservative Political kingmaker Sam Rashid vehemently opposed.
In return, Rashid raised money for Tim Curtis, Berger's Republican opponent, and she lost the primary. When Berger was then offered an appointment as deputy secretary to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Rashid weighed in against her with Jeb Bush's administration.
MacKinnon was recently selected for induction into the 2013 class of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame. She was awarded the inaugural Woman of Influence Award, presented by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. In addition to this year's WOI award, MacKinnon was also the recipient of the H.L. Culbreath Jr. Profile in Leadership Award in 2010.
"Dottie truly embodies the outstanding professional values that characterize this award. Her servant-leader manner, coupled with tenacity and a heart for children, serves as a powerful testimony to the impact of one person on a community," stated Dr. Ronald & Renee Vaughn.
The Woman of Influence Award recognizes a woman whose leadership has made a positive impact in Hillsborough County. It pays tribute to an individual who exemplifies outstanding professional values; demonstrates the ability to go above and beyond the normal expectations of a leader; and serves as an inspiration to the community.
Dottie Berger MacKinnon leaves behind husband, A.D. "Sandy" MacKinnon and their blended family of five children and 17 grandchildren.