Women of Distinction

During its annual Women of Distinction luncheon, Palm Beach Atlantic University honors women who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others. The event is a PBA tradition for more than 30 years, and proceeds from the luncheon benefit a scholarship fund for deserving female students.

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2024 Recap

2024 Honorees

Denise Hanley

Sheila Rinker

Denise Hanley

Born in Washington, D.C., to Therese and H. Loy Anderson, Denise Anderson Hanley moved with her parents and three siblings, Andrea, Therese and H.Loy, Jr., to Palm Beach in 1958. She attended Palm Beach Private School, Mt. Vernon Seminary, Briarcliff College, and Florida Atlantic University, where she received her master’s in Guidance and Counseling.

In 1970, Denise married her high school sweetheart, Dan Hanley. They raised two sons, Drew and Blake, both Florida attorneys, like their maternal grandfather, Loy and father, Dan, who has been a partner at Gunster for almost 50 years. They are the proud grandparents of Joshua, a sophomore at the University of Florida, Lydia, a junior at Dreyfus High School, and Muoni, three, who attends New Generation Montessori School.

Denise has been a member of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors since the early ’80s and opened her own brokerage firm, Denise A Hanley Inc., Real Estate, in 1983. She has served two terms on its board and has served on and chaired the Professional Standards Committee for many years.

Wanda Jenkins and Denise were both members of PBA’s Women of Distinction Luncheon from its inception. They were honored to co-chair Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Women of Distinction Luncheon for several years after the first chair Bebe Warren, wife of co-founder Don Warren, who conceived the WOD luncheon, decided to step down.

Initially volunteering at the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults, Denise was asked to be chair and co-chair twice at their annual luncheon. A dear friend of Joyce and Dusty Sang, she has also served as co-chair and honorary chair at The Ryan Licht Sang Foundation annual events in Palm Beach over the years and will be co-chairing with her husband, Dan, in January 2024.

Dan and Denise have long supported several other philanthropic organizations, such as The Hanley Foundation, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and the Salvation Army. Dan sits on both boards and recently retired from serving on the board of Palm Beach Atlantic University for the last 30 years.

Denise and Dan are long-time members of Family Church, where their children and they were baptized. Denise’s Christian faith in The Word of God and passing it on to her family, friends and others have been her most joyful mission.

She has facilitated Bible studies in Palm Beach and Northeast Harbor over many years. She is currently serving the Palm Beach Ladies Fellowship, held weekly during the season at Holy Trinity Church, where all ladies are welcome to attend.

Sheila Rinker

Sheila Rinker’s community involvement and philanthropy reflect her interests in music, literature, arts, and athletics, as well as her compassion for others.

Palm Beach Atlantic University, which has enjoyed the longtime support of the Rinker family, is among the top causes on her list. The Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation, where she serves as vice president, took the lead in building the Vera Lea Rinker Hall, the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus, and the John and Sheila Rinker Athletic Complex. John and Sheila’s newest contribution of $20 million, along with the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation, Inc.’s $6 million to fund the six-story Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall, will include a stock trading room, a lecture hall, and the LeMieux Center for Public Policy. Each building project Sheila participates in has an associated maintenance endowment, which is a topic she prioritizes.

In 2016, the University awarded Sheila and her husband of 42 years, John J. Rinker, honorary doctorate degrees, calling them “investors in generational change” for their focus on the well-being of Palm Beach Atlantic University students.

Sheila Rinker personally has lent her creative talents and energy, serving as a member of Palm Beach Atlantic’s Women of Distinction committee for 20 years, reflecting her passion for supporting student scholarships. In particular, her heartfelt desire to help female students struggling financially and in need of encouragement has made a measurable difference in their lives.

Sheila is active with several local charitable organizations and causes. For two decades, her volunteer work with the Palm Beach Habilitation Center has included serving on its board of directors as well as the organization’s annual Hab-a-Hearts event committee, which selected her as the “Queen of Hearts” in 2015. That award recognized her longtime commitment, outstanding support and contributions to the event that helped the Center reach its fundraising goal.

She served for four years on the Urban Youth Impact board of directors and briefly on the board of the YWCA of Palm Beach County. A supporter of law enforcement, she is the benefactor of a police department in a small Florida town, providing officers with zip-up bullet-proof vests, night-vision goggles, a fingerprinting identification computer, four fully loaded squad cars, and helping to build a practice firing range which she had them name, “The Philip Fields Training Center,” in honor of a fallen officer.  Sheila is also a patron for the H.O.W. (Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper) Time is of the Essence annual luncheon. She has also been a supporter of Opportunity, Inc. for several years, supplying them with backpacks for the graduating class going into kindergarten.

Sheila attended Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, where she majored in commercial art (graphic arts). Her artistic talent was first noticed during high school when her artwork won third place in a national poster contest. She briefly worked in advertising.

These days, the couple travel extensively, with John sharing some of his photos as inspiration for Sheila’s art — painting in pastels. In addition, she was an avid golfer, winning the club championship at the Lake Toxaway (North Carolina) Country Club twice and scoring nine eagles, four of which were holes-in-one.

The couple, who have four children and six grandchildren, are members of Royal Poinciana Chapel.

2024 Sponsors

Frances & Jeffrey Fisher
Mrs. William R. Wister, Jr.
Deborah Adeimy
Nancy Brinker
Cathy Flagg
Dan & Denise Hanley
Vicki Halmos
Ronnie Heyman
Hillie Mahoney
Kerry & Tom McCaffrey
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter & Gil Kemp
Penny Murphy
Alice “Kit” Pannill
Monika Preston
John & Sheila Rinker
SFC Water Warriors

Sally Ross Soter
Tim & Marybeth Sotos
Susan Keenan Wright & Bob Wright
Sally Ross Soter
Mary Fairbanks Freitas
Pioneer Linens
Michele Kessler
David & Laura Bishop
Cathy Flagg
Jose “Pepe” & Emilia Fanjul
Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Foundation Inc.
Richard S. Johnson Family Foundation, Inc.

Corporate Sponsors


Gifts of $10,000 or more will automatically welcome you into the President’s Giving Society. This special group of leadership-level supporters is regularly engaged in unique opportunities by PBA’s President, Dr. Debra A. Schwinn and other university leaders.

For more information on event sponsorships, underwriting opportunities and student scholarship opportunities, please contact Amy Evans, Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations at Amy_Evans@hongpainet.com or 561.803.2024.


2024 Scholarship Recipients

Donate to the Scholarship

Past Women of Distinction Recipients