Sandra Murman is a former Florida legislator and current commissioner who has put in hours of work in area non-profits, but many grateful Tampa Bay families know her as the person behind hours of family fun—the creator of Glazer Children’s Museum.
The Indiana native grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University, but came to Florida after college and has now lived in the Tampa Bay area almost 40 years. She has worked in a Fortune 500 company, raised a family, and spent years devoted to non-profits in the community that deal with children’s issues and child abuse. She was elected to the Florida Legislature from 1996-2004, during which time she was elected speaker pro-tempore by her peers—the first Republican woman to serve in this position. After serving in the Florida Legislature for eight years, she ran for the Hillsborough County Commission in 2010.
“My number one goal is to make Hillsborough County a better place to live, work, play and stay for our families and children, and with the economic challenges that we have seen in the past several years, I knew I had to work on giving small businesses and families the chance to get back on their feet again,” Murman says. “I am trying to make our county more small- business friendly, and I am working hard on trying to find ways to solve our daunting youth homelessness problem. After four and a half years of hard work, I believe we are well on our way to making it easier for small businesses to hire more employees, and in turn benefit the local economy. As the economy improves, families will have a little bit more to save and spend and we all benefit.”
One focus of Murman’s work is to create future job opportunities so children will want to stay in the community and create legacies for their children and future generations. Some ways she has identified to achieve this goal are by making county parks family-friendly, having high quality child care and after school programs, summer intern youth programs and collaborating with the school district for apprenticeship programs and technical education. She’s also focusing on transportation and improving our transit system, so hard-working families can have more transportation options throughout the county.
Murman formed the Women’s Exchange with three other women to help change the dynamics for women in the community by giving them advice, advocacy for future jobs or appointments and access to opportunities to help them succeed. She also is chairing the Women’s Conference of Florida which will be held in Tampa in May 2016.
What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
The secret to my dad’s family’s success is hard work. Three generations worked in our family business and it still exists in Indianapolis as a large private family owned business, and it is where I learned many of life’s principles about how to be successful. My family worked hard, kept focused on being successful and my dad was always dedicated to serving others, especially his employees. These are values I hold dear to my heart and I try to live them every day.
What is your biggest fear?
That I won’t have enough time to do all of the things I want to do to help the people in my community. I have a profound fear of overcommitting and trying to do everything, but I have learned how to multi-task. Also, I have a paralyzing fear of snakes.
What advice would you give to other women?
Work hard, know the issues, be honest, get involved in your community, don’t be afraid to take on tough issues, and always be in it to help others. Be known for doing something that makes a difference and use that issue as your platform to run for office and show how much you care for the community you live in.
What is your proudest moment?
Watching my daughter walk down the aisle at her wedding. It was an unbelievable and emotional experience to see your baby now create her own family and a new generation with her husband.
What is your biggest achievement?
Building the Glazer Children’s Museum – a huge dream since I moved to Tampa. Tampa is the greatest city and is deserving of a world class children’s museum.
What makes you happy?
While it may sound corny, it makes me happy being around people. And that means doing what I do every day as a County Commissioner. I get to meet so many people and work with some of the smartest and creative people around.
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
I’m a sports fanatic: love the Bucs, Bolts and Rays, and I run every day. I relax by working in my garden and yard. I do Barre Fitness and run 2-3 miles per day. I walk my golden retriever. All of these activities I do to increase my spiritual awareness, so I can be a better person for my community.
What kind of message would you like to send?
Get involved in your community. We need more women in public office and to serve on councils, boards and committees. Sometimes, we are our own roadblocks because we’re hesitant or worried about failure. I, like many other women, and anyone for that matter, have learned from my mistakes, from my failures, and have become a stronger person and a stronger leader for it.
What else would you like to share?
I remember someone saying that if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. I believe this holds true most of the time, for being a mom, and for work, but it takes good time management. I keep my calendar organized and review it constantly to make sure I have a balance. Sometimes it seems there are not enough hours in the day, but it seems to always work out.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in Tampa Bay?
My daughter is 32 and is expecting our first grandchild in September so I don’t know what my favorite thing to do will be yet, but I am sure we will spend a lot of time at the Glazer Children’s Museum.
Who is your role model?
I have so many women I look up to and feel inspired by, from Condoleezza Rice to Toni Jennings, a former lieutenant governor in Florida under Jeb Bush, but recently I met Carly Fiorina, who is running for president. She is not afraid; she is bold and confident in her message, and she has incredible wisdom from being an accomplished CEO of Hewlett Packard.