Phyllis H. Busansky was born in Connecticut and has lived in Tampa for 27 years. After graduating from Wheaton College, she earned a master's degree from Brandeis University's School for Social Policy. Busansky was a Hillsborough County commissioner from 1988-96. She is on the faculty of the School of Public Health at Columbia University, where she teaches a seminar in leadership and coalition building. She has served on civic boards, including the Hillsborough County Hospital Authority. She was named Outstanding Public Official by Governing magazine for her indigent health care program in 1996. She and her husband have three adult children and nine grandchildren.