The Palm Beach County Commission declared Tuesday, Nov. 20 as Michelle McGovern Day at its meeting held on the same date.
McGovern, the wife of Wellington Councilman John McGovern, has worked as the state director in the office of outgoing U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. She was honored by County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who finished up her one-year appointment as Palm Beach County mayor last week.
“This will be the last act I get to do as mayor, and I wanted to make sure my signature was on this proclamation as mayor,” McKinlay said, asking people attending the commission’s reorganization meeting to raise their hands if they had been helped by McGovern in some capacity.
She invited McGovern’s colleagues Wendi Lipsich, district director for Congressman Ted Deutsch, and Felicia Goldstein, district director for Congresswoman Lois Frankel, to read a comment that had been entered into the Congressional Record, co-signed by Deutch, Frankel and Congressman Alcee Hastings praising McGovern’s accomplishments.
“Since her time as a student at Florida Atlantic University, Michelle has demonstrated a passion for government and the capacity to lead,” the statement noted. “Her tireless work ethic, combined with her many successes, earned her election as student body vice president and appointment to the board of regents as the first and only FAU student appointee.”
The statement went on to note that McGovern worked for people of the State of Florida on behalf of Nelson for 18 years, rising quickly in the ranks from a legislative correspondent to her current position as state director. She has also served her local community as past president of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, Sun Fest and the West Palm Beach 100. She served on the charter review committees for West Palm Beach and Wellington, and on Wellington’s Education Advisory Board.
McGovern is currently chair of the School Advisory Committee at Binks Forest Elementary School. She and her husband are raising two daughters, Emilia and Victoria, in Wellington.
McKinlay said her story with McGovern began in 2009 when she needed a job.
“I had to figure out how to take care of three kids,” she said. “Somebody told me, ‘You need to meet Michelle McGovern.’”
McKinlay said McGovern’s guidance led her to the office of then Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs Director Todd Bonlarron, now an assistant county administrator, before she was elected to the county commission.
“Throughout her career, she has tirelessly devoted herself to helping Floridians attain assistance from the federal government and has served as an essential partner to Palm Beach County’s local officials in connecting and collaborating with that federal government,” McKinlay said, noting that McGovern was also essential in establishing the Butterfly House sexual assault care center at Wellington Regional Medical Center.
“Whereas Sen. Nelson leaves the United States Senate after serving three terms, Palm Beach County recognizes and honors the many and valuable contributions that Michelle McGovern has made to the office and our community,” McKinlay said, reading from the proclamation.
McGovern said she had attended the meeting to see the swearing-in of the new commissioners but had been tipped off by a phone call from Nelson about the proclamation just prior to the meeting.
“This is so meaningful to me,” she said. “It has been my privilege and honor to work for a man who is truly a public servant. As a result, I have learned so much from him in my service to him and to Florida.”
McGovern said she found from interacting with local officials that local government puts politics aside more than anywhere else.
“That is really important in this time of severe partisanship,” McGovern said. “We need to remember the people we serve, all of the people, and I believe that local government does that in such a way that most people don’t realize.”
McGovern gave credit to her husband, as well as her parents and his parents, for ministering to the needs of their daughters when they were at meetings.
“So much of the long hours of the work that we do could not be done without some amazing grandparents who take care of our girls when we have to be at late events and late nights,” she said. “They help get the homework done and do the Saturday night sleepovers for us to go to the events that we go to. I could not do half of what I do without my mom and my mother-in-law, and father-in-law and my dad, for all of the support that they give us.”
McGovern said that 16 years ago, she married her number-one fan. “He always reminds me that we’re a team, even when I try to do things by myself and don’t do them so well without him,” she said. “I’m just so blessed to have married my best friend.”
McGovern also thanked her counterpart, Greg Langowski from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office, for his cooperation.
“Greg and I are the traveling road show, and have been for… the last six or seven years,” she said. “Greg works for Sen. Rubio, but Greg and I figured out a long time ago that what we do has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat. We worked hand-in-hand to help all the people that we did, and even shared the miles and saved the federal government a dollar or two. So thank you, Greg, for being my partner on so many fun road trips to Okeechobee, Glades, Hendry and St. Lucie counties.”