Donna Deegan was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She attended Bishop Kenny High School, graduating in 1979. Deegan went on to earn her undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 1984.
After college, Deegan embarked on a career in journalism. She worked as a reporter and anchor at several local news stations before joining First Coast News in Jacksonville. At First Coast News, Deegan covered major stories and developed a strong following in the community. Her skills as an investigative journalist and her straightforward communication style helped make her a popular figure in Jacksonville.
Donna Deegan’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Activism
In 2003, at age 37, Donna Deegan received the shocking news that she had breast cancer. Despite having no family history of the disease, Deegan had an aggressive form of breast cancer that required a double mastectomy and intensive treatments.
Deegan shared her cancer journey publicly, using her platform to educate women on the importance of early detection. She also became determined to raise awareness and money to fight breast cancer.
In 2003, Deegan established The Donna Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to funding critical breast cancer research and care. The organization has invested millions into breast cancer research at Mayo Clinic.
Deegan also launched The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer in 2003. Now known as 26.2 with Donna, this annual marathon has raised over $40 million for breast cancer research and treatment.
Through her activism, Donna Deegan put a recognizable public face on the life-altering impact of breast cancer. She empowered other women battling the disease while channeling her energy into making an impact.
Donna Deegan’s Entry Into Politics
Inspired to public service, Donna Deegan made her first foray into politics in 2020, running for US Congress in Florida’s 4th District. Despite losing that race, Deegan gained valuable campaign experience and name recognition.
In 2023, Deegan set her sights on becoming Mayor of Jacksonville. Running as a Democrat, her campaign focused on improvingJacksonville’s economy, safety, transportation and sustainability. Deegan promised transparent, compassionate leadership rooted in her local ties.
After finishing first in a crowded general election, Donna Deegan won the runoff decisively. On May 16, 2023, she made history as the first woman elected Mayor of Jacksonville.
Donna Deegan As Mayor of Jacksonville
Donna Deegan officially assumed office as Mayor of Jacksonville on July 1, 2023. She immediately got to work building her administration and forming her policy agenda.
Some of Deegan’s top priorities included diversifying Jacksonville’s economy, addressing longstanding infrastructure needs, improving public safety, and increasing funding for education and youth programs.
However, Jacksonville faces major fiscal challenges and emerging issues like sea level rise and population growth. Navigating these tricky problems will test Deegan’s abilities as a leader and consensus builder.
In her first months as mayor, Donna Deegan conducted a nationwide search to select Jacksonville’s new police chief. She also released an ambitious climate resiliency plan detailing Jacksonville’s strategy for adapting to climate change.
Donna Deegan’s Leadership Style and Personality
Known for her direct, candid communication style, Donna Deegan connects well with people in Jacksonville. She has a knack for grassroots organizing and fundraising that serves her well in politics.
Despite belonging to opposing parties, Deegan is comfortable working across the aisle to accomplish her policy goals. She maintains relationships with Republican leaders in Jacksonville’s business community and on city council.
Deegan also remains actively engaged with Jacksonville residents through frequent community forums and appearances. Despite the demands of the mayoral office, she still finds time to participate in events for The Donna Foundation and other causes close to her heart.
Donna Deegan’s Potential Future in Politics
While fully focused on her mayoral duties, some speculate Donna Deegan could pursue higher office in Florida down the road. However, Deegan has said she has no immediate plans beyond serving the remainder of her term through 2027.
If Deegan seeks re-election and wins a second term as mayor, her profile would grow even more prominent in Florida. After proving herself as Jacksonville’s leader, she could mount a viable campaign for US Senate or governor.
Through her journalism career, breast cancer advocacy, and resounding election as mayor, Donna Deegan has demonstrated bold leadership and perseverance. The skills that have made her successful – transparent communication, grassroots engagement, and bridge-building – can guide Jacksonville towards a more prosperous, resilient future. If her tenure as mayor is effective and popular, doors to higher office could open down the line. Regardless, Donna Deegan’s legacy as Jacksonville’s first woman mayor will be an inspiration for generations to come.
Q: Where is Donna Deegan originally from?
A: Donna Deegan was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a graduate of Bishop Kenny High School.
Q: How much money has Donna Deegan’s marathon raised for breast cancer?
A: Donna Deegan’s 26.2 with Donna marathon has raised over $40 million for breast cancer research and care since it began in 2003.
Q: When was Donna Deegan elected Mayor of Jacksonville?
A: Donna Deegan was elected Mayor of Jacksonville on May 16, 2023, winning the general runoff election.
Q: What were some of Donna Deegan’s campaign promises as a mayoral candidate?
A: Donna Deegan campaigned on diversifying Jacksonville’s economy, fixing infrastructure, improving public safety, and increasing funding for schools and youth programs.
Q: What is Donna Deegan’s leadership style as mayor?
A: Donna Deegan has an open, direct communication style. She is skilled at grassroots engagement and working across party lines. She remains actively involved in the community as mayor.