Sharon Streater reflects on a lifetime of community organizing


Sharon Streater has led a fascinating life. She met Mother Teresa, marched with Cesar Chavez and even dressed as a soup can to call attention to farmworker issues.

But perhaps her greatest, sustained impact has been in Tampa as chief organizer for the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, or HOPE. For more than 30 years, Streater worked to identify problems plaguing marginalized communities, researching solutions and advocating for change.

Streater discussed her journey from the child of missionaries to community organizer during an appearance on WMNF WaveMakers with Janet & Tom. Last month she received the 2024 lifetime achievement award from the Hillsborough Pasco League of Women Voters.  

HOPE has a long list of accomplishments that Streater had a hand in since joining the grassroots, faith-based group in 1992.

On April 16, over 1,300 people will come together to press for commitments from local elected officials to address serious problems related to affordable housing, mental health, criminal justice, and the environment.

To be a community organizer, Streater said, takes hard work and persistence. Persuading the Hillsborough County Commission to budget $10 million a year for affordable housing took five years of work. And that work continues because a majority of commissioners recently reduced the amount budgeted to just $2 million.

“You’ve got to have a sense of real passion for people,” she says about being an organizer.

Hear the entire conversation by clicking the link below, going to the WaveMakers archives or by searching for WMNF WaveMakers wherever you listen to podcasts.

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