Shirley Gibson is the First Mayor of the City of Miami Gardens; the third largest city in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Mayor Gibson established the city of Miami gardens when now one else believed she could.

The Mandela Washington Fellows in FIU were privileged to hear her speak on professionalism and Ethics. Here a few highlights on her talk that I will be of benefit to the Young African leaders network…


Ethics and integrity starts from the beginning. Be held to a higher standard and strive for excellence. Be true to who you are and to your values no matter. Do not leave room to waiver. That is the first rule to earning respect. Be faithful to keep high moral standards.

Leadership is not a martyrs concept. It is not easy to be right. So choose your battles wisely. Servant leaders are not martyrs. They are careful practitioners and need to choose their battles carefully.

Allow resources to trickle down (decentralize)

Be Independent in thought and action.

Be courageous and worthy of trust. Policy is your friend. Move on talks to generate solutions Be willing to accept the truth of others

Be faithful to keep high moral standards. Challenge yourself to be independent and true to yourself. Be empathetic and compassionate.

Have emotional intelligence. Personal leadership is the ability to manage my own life. if your are not in control of your own affairs how can you inspire others.

Citizen participation should be a desirable concept. Trust your team, engage them be productive.  Build a team on reliability. Citizen engagement identifies as a grass root democratic process which builds trust in public policy decision-making. When the public understands their situation, they can help you forward your cause. There is sustainability.

When thinking about your challenges,  do not let them overwhelm you into feeling they cannot be resolved.

What is in it for me – It’s okay to be a little selfish. Strive for success (being recognized for something you did). After all, you need to be an inspiration to others. This is not all easy, but a leader has to strive to be all these things even when it is not easy.

Leaders cannot want to stay in power. They should be able to give someone else to opportunity to do what we are limited by. It’s about our communities and what they really need.

I pose to you a question the same question that was posed to the Mandela Fellows in FIU…

“Can we solve a problem in the same consciousness that created it?

In 1996, Shirley Gibson had a vision of political self-determination and civic empowerment for her community. Mayor Gibson is an extraordinary individual and leader. Her leadership, determination and selflessness, as evidenced by the recognition she has received, provide a template for all men and women aspiring to better their community.


MWF Eldine Chilembo Interview with Mayor Gibson: