Just 16 miles north of Miami, the region where the city of Miami Gardens rests was once viewed as a crime-ridden and run-down. The city’s fortunes changed when the unincorporated area in Miami-Dade County was incorporated in 2003 and elected its first mayor, Shirley Gibson.
Ms. Gibson worked as a Miami-Dade police officer for 16 years, ending her career as a detective in 1990. In 1996, she joined the North Dade Community Council and worked alongside several of her neighbors to gain incorporation for Miami Gardens. The efforts failed that year, but won out in 2003. As its first mayor, Gibson had a daunting task as Miami Gardens was a wasteland of underdeveloped areas lacking in resources.