Gil Ziffer's service to Tallahassee spans more than three decades. Since moving to Tallahassee in 1983, he has been engaged in helping community organizations as a volunteer, board member, and through various leadership positions. His first elected position was as Seat 4 Supervisor for the Capital Region Community Development District (Southwood) in the November 2008 General Election. In August 2009, he was selected to serve the balance of the term of the Tallahassee City Commission Seat 5, and in August 2010, he was elected to a full four-year term and subsequently re-elected in 2014.
In addition to his City Commission position, Commissioner Ziffer is also the President of the Florida League of Cities, a board member of the National League of Cities (NLC), and is Chair of the NLC Human Development Federal Advocacy Committee.
His impact on the city has been vast, with a major focus on those in need – from children and the homeless to human services and cultural arts. The Boys and Girls Club is an excellent example. Several years ago, this regional agency serving more than 1,200 low-income children throughout Leon and Gadsden counties was on the brink of closing its doors due to a lack of funding. According to its President and CEO Theresa Flury, "When it appeared the Boys & Girls Club was set for closure, Commissioner Ziffer single-handedly brought business leaders together to develop a financial plan to ensure the club's sustainable future. In essence, he saved the club and the hundreds of children and teenagers who had nowhere else to go after school. Today, the club is poised for the future and providing quality services."
Commissioner Ziffer has long been an advocate for the needs of the homeless. In early 2013, he was asked to be the city's representative working with a leadership group comprised of members of the private sector, the homeless population, and the Leon County government. The Shelter, a privately run facility for the homeless in Downtown Tallahassee, found itself in a crisis situation. Long-standing tensions existed between The Shelter, other local agencies, government, and the United Way, who all provided funding assistance. Through many long hours of meetings, negotiations, consensus building, and significant leadership from Commissioner Ziffer, the group identified new partnerships and in February 2014, broke ground for a new 36,000 square foot Comprehensive Emergency Services Center. The center serves as the new home for The Shelter, which can now better serve the needs of the homeless.
In the same vein, in 2012 and 2013, Commissioner Ziffer was a driving force behind a campaign called Change for Change, designed to increase citizen giving to address homelessness, by adding a monthly contribution to their city utility bills.
As the lead commissioner on the City's Quality of Life Target Issue Committee, Commissioner Ziffer spoke to dozens of community groups sharing his personal experiences as a volunteer with the Big Bend Homeless Coalition and describing the needs of homeless children and families in the community. He personally secured more than 100 new contributors and, after a year of outreach, the number of participants increased by 85% and contributions increased 98% with $60,000 annually in new funding for service providers for the homeless.
He has also served for many years as an advocate for the arts. In 2012, he combined his passion for promoting the arts with a life-saving effort when he proposed playing music as a way to bring awareness to the fight against cancer. According to Collette Washington, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Advisor for the NW Region, "Gil presented the idea to our community of having donated pianos painted pink and displayed at local businesses to promote both music and breast cancer awareness." In 2013, he implemented the Pink Pianos for Breast Cancer project with 16 pianos displayed at various locations which raised over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.” He spearheaded the entire project from finding pianos, storing them, having them professionally painted, and finding the business and media partners. It was an outstanding success," said Washington.
Commissioner Ziffer has, on many occasions, seen the need for a greater presence in helping solve neighborhood, business, and land development issues. As in his private sector business, he has been successful at bringing citizens with differing views together to solve their problems. A long-standing effort to resolve and develop an effective noise ordinance was finally approved after Commissioner Ziffer convened a small group of individuals to work through their respective concerns. A major community concern over the use of public land for development was alleviated when Commissioner Ziffer intervened and presented the City Commission with an option for land in Myers Park and adjacent to the award-winning Cascades Park.
Other accomplishments include leading an extensive effort to update the City's Cultural Plan, serving as the lead fundraiser in finding business sponsors for a variety of amenities at the City's new Cascades Park, and co-hosting “Town Hall Tuesday” monthly meetings with citizens, students, and organizations to better understand concerns and allow for greater input from citizens on the work of their city government.
Service to the Northwest Florida League of Cities, the Florida League of Cities & the National League of Cities
- President, Florida League of Cities
- Board Member, National League of Cities
- Chair, NLC Human Development Advocacy Committee
- Board Member, Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, 2016-2017
- Board Member, Florida Municipal Investment Trust, 2015-2016
- City of Tallahassee representative, NWFLC, 2011-2012, 2016
- Board of Directors, Florida League of Cities, 2012
- Chairman, Florida League of Cities Legislative Committees, 2016
- The University of Central Florida's Center for Community Schools and Child Welfare Innovation Advisory Board
- Friends of Florida State Parks Board of Directors
- Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Coalition
- Big Bend Continuum of Care Board of Directors
- Vice Chair, Tallahassee and Leon County Dementia Care and Cure Initiative Advisory Council
- Florida Economics Club Board of Directors
- Capital City Tiger Bay Club Board of Directors, 2nd Vice President
- National Civic League Council of Advisors
Recent Honors and Awards
- Big Bend Unit of the National Association of Social Workers’ 2017 Public Elected Official of the Year Award
- Tallahassee’s American Advertising Federation Silver Medal Award, 2016
- Northwest Florida League of Cities Municipal Official of the Year, 2014
- Florida League of Cities "Home Rule HERO Award,” 2014, 2015, 2016, & 2017
- American Lung Association of the Southeast (ALASE) Charles F. Tate Volunteer of the Year Award, 2015
- Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Servant Leader of the Year - Distinguished Leadership Award