THE HONORED: Sandra Harris, Director of Transportation-left, Erica Paschal-Darling, Director of Finance and Angela Roberts, Director of Human Resources for the City of Miami.
By MARGARITA SWEETING
Special to South Florida Times
MIAMI – “If you want a speech made you should ask a man, but if you want something done you should ask a woman.” This quote by Margaret Thatcher was the cornerstone of the event
“Women Honoring Women.” It was a night to honor perseverance, strength, and dedication. City officials, employees, entrepreneurs, and organizations such as the Overtown Youth Center all came together to pay tribute to, empower, and provide networking opportunities for women from all walks of life while honoring three in Miami government who broke through the proverbial glass ceiling: Erica Paschal-Darling, director of finance, Sandra Harris, director of transportation, and Angela Roberts, director of human resources.
Together, these women have more than 70 years of expertise in their respective fields.
“They are the best,” said City Manager Daniel Alfonso. “Their character, the way they carry themselves, their expertise, when you talk to them you know they’re the experts.”
Event organizers, Ruby Adams, Gazette Burke, Kelli Gay, Devon Vickers, and Joy Vickers chose the honorees not only for their expertise, but to acknowledge how they advanced into non-traditional roles.
“I really wanted to recognize them for what they had accomplished. They are also women that our young ladies can look up to,” said Vickers, who is now retired after 34 years with the county.
She actually graduated from high school with Darling’s mother and aunt and has watched Darling grow into her position.
Appointed as director in April, 2017, Darling, 41, started her career in December, 1999 as a fiscal assistant. From there she served in several positions, including project accountant and administrator for the Solid Waste division. “That position taught me a lot about operations and managing a staff,” said Darling.
Although she says managing is her biggest challenge, Darling now oversees a staff of 71. “I’m so fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I thank God, my family, and friends,” said Darling.
She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Florida A&M and lives in Brownsville with her husband, Renard Darling, and two children. This is important to note, said Vickers because “these are not just professional women.
They’re also mothers and wives.” Harris, 52, served MiamiDade County for 25 years before Alfonso hired her in March, 2016. This is also where she met Adams who ultimately mentored her for more than 25 years.
“To watcher her grow from bus operations to director is phenomenal. shows what we can do when we help each other,” said Adams who retired from Miami-Dade transit after 30 years.
Harris’ goal is “to improve the quality of life of the residents” by focusing on residential traffic.
“Residential traffic is our biggest problem, just because of the sheer numbers,” said Harris. We’re growing so much there’s a strain on the transportation network.”
However, Harris says working on these issues is her strength. “It’s exciting to me.”
She earned her Master’s in Public Administration from Florida International University and lives in Miami Shores with her husband, Glenn Harris, and their son.
Alfonso appointed Roberts in June, 2017 after she worked for the city for 17 years.
“He’s an awesome manager, and he doesn’t know it, but I consider him a mentor. I’ve learned a lot from him,” said Roberts.
As the director of human resources, she is responsible “for every aspect related to an employee, be it recruiting, interviewing, or testing.” Roberts also engages in contract negotiations with four employee unions.
Her strength she says, comes from the knowledge she has acquired working within the different areas she must oversee.
“I’ve been through the ranks. Every aspect I cover I’ve worked in,” said Roberts, who also focuses greatly on rules and procedures.
“Whatever I do, I make sure I’m fair and consistent. People know that when I give unpopular responses, it’s not personal. It’s based on policy,” she said.
Roberts, who earned her Master’s in Human Resource Management from Lindenwood University, lives in Pembroke Pines with her husband, Darren Roberts, and their son.
“I am so proud of all of them, that they have achieved this level. And, these are young women who still have a lot more to give,” said Adams.
The brainchild of Milton Vickers, senior advisor, Office of Community Investment, this event was the first of its kind and was designed to recognize and empower women, as well as to celebrate the diversity within the city of Miami staff.
“I’ve never seen as diverse a staff as there is in the city. It cuts across all lines,” said Vickers, who added that these women have excelled in areas that excluded not only African Americans, but women.
Major Esther Farmer of the City of Miami Police Department said, “They are all so friendly, but they’re also trailblazers.”