Barbara Sharief learned early in life that the best way to live her life was by always striving to help others.
Growing up in Miami, Barbara watched her parents seize the lives they wanted and model what it means to be self-supported and altruistic.
Her father, James Sharief, was a self-supported clothing salesman who had an eye for quality. He learned quickly how to determine what his potential buyers liked and sought out those styles at various thrift stores and boutiques, and would subsequently sell them out of his traveling shop (a van and collapsible stall) to various parts of Miami-Dade and Broward county.
“Unless he had to go out of town, one of us, usually me, was always with him,” said Sharief in a recent interview. “The truck had only one passenger seat and my oldest sister and I would tussle to ride with my father.”
Not only did her father instill in her a savvy business acumen, he also modeled the importance of giving back to the community. When he wasn’t selling clothes, he was running a food pantry to ensure that no one in his community would be forced to go to bed hungry.
“He believed that feeding the hungry and helping the homeless allowed blessings to be bestowed upon him.”
When she wasn’t learning how to conduct business or run charities, she was witnessing her mother’s ability to handle the financial end of her father’s business.
However, Sharief would soon lose her number one role model. One weekend morning while she and her father were out in the county, selling clothes, a 15-year-old mugger attempted to rob James at gunpoint.
“He told my father to put his hands up, which he did,” Sharief recalled. “My father said, ‘Take whatever you want. I’ve got eight kids.’ That’s when the boy shot my father one time, in the heart.”
Suddenly, Ms. Sharief and her seven siblings not only lost their father, they were now without their home’s primary source of income.
Sharief’s mother found work as a secretary, and at age fifteen, Barbara Sharief herself began working at a local retirement home until 10p.m. after attending school from 7a.m. to 2p.m.
In spite of her loss, she worked hard and graduated high school in 1989, but her education was nowhere near its finish line.
In a recent profile with The Sophia News, Ms. Sharief’s innumerable academic successes are recalled.
She not only earned her Associate of Science in Nursing degree from Miami Dade Junior College within two years of graduating high school, she became one of the youngest people to pass the registered nursing board.
She recalled that it wasn’t about being the best or the youngest, but simply, “I just did it because I had to.”
Her father’s love and model of hard work continued to shine in her life well beyond this massive achievement.
While working as a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital, she would go on to attend Florida International University, receiving not only a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but also a Master of Science in Nursing and an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Certification.
While it would seem that her resume and work ethic would have to slow down at some point, Sharief is clearly not someone who is ever looking to pause in her pursuit of success.
In keeping with her father’s entrepreneurial spirit, she founded the South Florida Pediatric Homecare, Inc., where she and her mother would team up and provide home healthcare to infants, children, and adults.
The company also strove to provide many necessary services to Broward County, including private duty skilled and unskilled nursing care, visits, wound care, IV therapy, chemotherapy visits, lab drawing from home and medication compliance monitoring. SFPH is a Medicare and Medicaid certified practice that seeks to provide care and comfort for patients both old and young that need consistent, daily medical support.
Ms. Sharief connected with the Broward community, which is a vast and diverse grouping of people that covers a large portion of South Florida.
A Community Effort
While owning a business, she saw how important it was to be involved in local government, which is how she found herself sitting on the County Commission for Miramar.
“I never imagined myself in elected office. I was always a community activist assisting friends or neighbors with information and issues. Owning a business really opened my eyes to the effect that local government can have on its residents. I became more involved and entered the political field based on my desire to help people and advocate for those less fortunate.”
In 2010, Sharief served as the City Commission’s Vice Mayor until November when she was elected to the Broward County Commission District 8 seat where she currently serves the population of the cities of Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Pembroke Park, Pembroke Pines, and West Park.
While these communities are vastly diverse populations, many with competing interests, Sharief’s business acumen and compassion for people worked together to make her an attentive and judicial public servant.
As Commissioner, she was responsible for setting policy according to the Broward County Charter, promoting economic development, making infrastructure improvements and creating jobs by supporting small business development in the Broward County community. In addition, she was also responsible for supporting the county’s legislative agenda during the annual legislative session in the state capitol of Tallahassee.
Due to her personal experiences, Commissioner Sharief has used her position to advocate for solutions to homelessness and the prevention of foreclosures in Broward County. Her programs, including Commissioner on a Mission and Broward Means Business, utilize Sharief’s experience in the business world and offer free foreclosure prevention seminars, job fairs, and a variety of business workshops geared towards keeping Broward County’s small business owners up-to-date and ahead of key trends that can help their businesses to flourish.
Ms. Sharief was so well-loved by her constituents that she was elected Vice-Mayor of Broward County, and went on to serve two terms as Mayor of Broward County.
Sharief has completed her time as Mayor, and with her record, it seems she is destined to continue to serve in increasing capacities as she works to help others and create a better place for as many as she can. The political arena is awaiting Ms. Sharief’s next move.