A native of Virginia, Barbara Ford-Coates has lived in Sarasota County since 1972. She holds a bachelor's degree in American History from the College of William and Mary and has earned the national designation of Certified Public Manager through Florida State University.
Mrs. Ford-Coates joined the Tax Collector's office in 1975. She was first elected to the top position in 1984 and has been subsequently re-elected nine times. She has been unopposed four times and received the highest vote count of any candidate (local, state or federal) on the Sarasota County ballot in three elections. She has the longest service in the history of Sarasota County elected officials and is the longest serving Florida Tax Collector currently in office. In May 2009 she was featured in “Biz 941” as one of the "Best Bosses" in the Sarasota area. In 2022, for the twelfth consecutive year, Mrs. Ford-Coates was awarded the Excellence in Financial Operations Legacy Award by a panel of finance professionals and the Florida Tax Collectors Association.
Her community activities have included serving as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters, on the board of the Community Foundation and as leader of Girl Scout Troop 254. As a part the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, Mrs. Ford-Coates was named one of 100 “Girl Scout Greats” in the United States.
The late Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Mrs. Ford-Coates to the 1998 Florida Constitution Revision Commission where she received the Chairman's Award for her successful efforts to provide information to the public. In 2000, she served as President of the Florida Tax Collectors Association and was selected by the American Jewish Committee as one of 12 national women leaders who were sent to Israel to participate in an educational seminar. Following her service as the 2006 President of the National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers & Finance Officers, she served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties. In 2008, she was recognized as the Outstanding Tax Collector in the United States, and in 2016, she was named by Thomson Reuters as a Public Sector Champion for Excellence in Office Leadership.
Married to Brian Ford-Coates since 1972, their extended family includes seven daughters, three sons-in-law, eleven beautiful grandchildren and one great-grandchild.