When Terri Lipsey Scott moved to St. Petersburg in 1981, she found a city deeply divided by race. The Gas Plant District had just been razed to make way for the baseball stadium that would soon be known as Tropicana Field. Tensions were high and coming from Savannah, Scott was shocked to see a city so visibly segregated. From her first day, Scott has made it her mission to break down the barriers that divide St. Petersburg, and she's been at it ever since. She served as a city administrator for 37 years, and now serves as the Executive Director of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. But she does so much more. Scott is everywhere. She is deeply involved in advocating for dozens of issues surrounding housing, poverty, and opportunity. She has proven a tireless advocate for equity and fairness, committed to making our city a great place to live for all residents.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Currently, the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. Former engagements include NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Boards: Alpha House, Women on the Way of SPC. Several others.
What gets you out of bed every day?
I wake up daily with a mission, a desire, and a drive to make sure I’m effectuating change. As a retired city administrator of 37 years, it’s important to me to use those skill sets and talents that I’ve acquired along the way to ensure that others are being treated fairly and that things can be done in an equitable manner.
Why St. Pete?
Having relocated to St. Petersburg in 1981, I struggled with regards to wanting to remain in this community. However, having been a part of city administration and being a part of the evolution that occurred here in the community grounded me to the degree of wanting to stay and be a part of the changes that were occurring. In 1981, needless to say, St. Petersburg did not mirror our current community. But it has certainly left an indelible impression with regards to desire to be a part of the transformation. I’ve just poured my heart into it, it’s where I raised my children. I wanted to create an atmosphere where they not only can enjoy and want to come back to after school but also see my grandchildren be raised and be a part of it.
What is one habit that you keep?
Daily prayer and meditation. Each and every day it’s critical to me that I meditate, pray, and seek the guidance that is so required that my steps might be ordered.
Who are some people that influence you?
My parents in large part. My husband who has certainly been my partner and best friend. He has been with me longer than anyone else in my life. He’s been that strong influence and balance for me.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I am fondly embracing Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s The Miseducation of the Negro. It lays out such a strong directive with regards to those critical elements of not only being an African American but the responsibilities that African Americans have to each other.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish that I knew three years ago with relate to my work environment – that people would not necessarily embrace the passion that I have for the job that I do. We have to all recognize and realize that our calling is not everyone else’s calling and not everyone will necessarily feel the way you feel about a particular issue. And I find myself sometimes flying solo because my passion is not necessarily everyone else’s. So I wish that I had known in advance that I may not have had the wind beneath my wings that others could possibly provide to make a difference in those issues in which I advocate for.
I am hopeful that I can create opportunities for young women with respect to leadership. I have a wealth of information that I believe that I can provide to young women who are looking to enter into the field of either administration or politics that I think is critical. There are missing components in today’s environment in the areas of leadership and administration that we need to get back to.