When Sandra Washington, director of Keep Sarasota County Beautiful, was in high school, her mother gave her a copy of a teen beauty magazine to encourage her to "always be proud of myself, always take care of myself." Washington, now 59, has applied what she calls "being particular about my appearance" to her community as well. Under her watch, Keep Sarasota County Beautiful has created four community gardens, conducted annual cleanups and last year received the President's Circle Award at Keep America Beautiful's National Conference.
Washington says that positive thinking, as well as her faith in God, has inspired her multitalented pursuits: In addition to 36 years of service in local government, she's a mom and grandmother, has been a professional model and starred in commercials and hosts her own cable talk show on Blab TV.
"It wasn't always the sweetest day," she says, noting that as an African-American she's aware of unmet needs in Sarasota. "But the world is beautiful-you make it that way. I don't care anything about negativity, because it's toxic."