Feb 17, 2022 - News

East Tampa "change agent" Chloe Coney to be honored with legacy wall

Chloe Coney wears a gray sweater over a yellow turtleneck with a yellow hat.

Chloe Coney outside Open Cafe in East Tampa. Photo: Selene San Felice/Axios

Chloe Coney was born a change agent.

Flashback: After she was the first Black baby born at Charlotte County Hospital in 1950, Coney was one of three Black students to leave West Tampa's Just Junior High to start integrating area high schools in 1963.

  • She went on to become the first Black female probation and parole officer in Hillsborough County in 1972, founded the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa (CDC of Tampa) in 1992 and spent a decade, starting in 2007, as district director for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.

"That's been my God-given assignment, to be a change agent," Coney told Axios.

What's new: After more than 30 years of service to East Tampa, Coney is being honored with a legacy wall. The unveiling is Friday at 10am at CDC of Tampa headquarters.

Her legacy: In her work with CDC of Tampa, Coney raised millions of dollars to build up East Tampa.

  • She held "drug marches" to discourage drug dealing around 29th street, and followed up by recruiting neighborhood drug dealers to her job training programs and helping them get business loans.
  • Coney led the effort to build 25 affordable homes and an apartment complex in the neighborhood and literally transformed the community β€” turning a building known for murder into a youth and family center, an old pawn shop into the Hillsborough Avenue Suncoast Credit Union and a strip club into an urban enterprise center.
  • "We had to take back the neighborhood," Coney said.

Her style: Coney is known for her "hattitude," wearing her signature hats to emulate the strength and elegance of women she saw growing up in church.

  • Her house has three rooms full to the brim with hats to match any outfit.

At Friday's event, she'll be selling some of those iconic hats β€” starting at $25 for dressy, $10 for casual β€” to raise money for CDC of Tampa youth programs.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that Coney left Just Junior High in 1963 (not 1971).


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