Prebble Ramswell's life has taken her from the CIA to the beaches of Destin

Matt Algarin
Prebble Ramswell is no stranger to hitting the books, as she has two Bachelor's Degrees, a Master's Degree and is currently working on her Ph.D.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of The Log's election coverage leading up to the March 11 city council elections, we will be profiling each candidate. Stories have appeared each Wednesday and Saturday through February in alphabetical order. Read past profiles at

Prebble Ramswell has done many things throughout her life, but she's probably done something nobody else can stake a claim to — taking a future NBA Hall of Famer to school.

"Because of my father's position (a sports editor at the Houston Chronicle), I was able to take Hakeem Olajuwon to show and tell," the 42-year-old told The Log.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Ramswell was always in awe of the city she called home, given its international flair yet truly Southern feel.

Despite its size as the fourth largest city in the United States, Ramswell said that when it comes to the city affectionately known as "Space City," one "never runs into a stranger."

"You had a sense of community and everybody knew each other," she said.

But before she would find a similar sense of community in Destin she joined the Central Intelligence Agency, where she would ultimately spend six years as a direct and contract employee working in counterterrorism operations.

"I spent two years in interviews and background checks," she remembered. "One of the highlights of my life was getting that letter to report to duty; it was tremendously fulfilling."

It was during her time at the CIA that Ramswell met her future husband Tony, who worked for the British Special Forces. The couple moved to Destin when Tony was assigned to Northwest Florida.

Although they became full-time residents only a handful of years ago, Ramswell was no stranger to the Panhandle, as frequent visits during her high school years were the norm.

"To me, it was almost like pie in the sky, like 'wow, this is paradise,' " she said of her early trips to Destin. "Lo and behold, we said 'let's make this a reality.' "

When they moved to Destin, Ramswell told The Log she knew that this city by the Gulf would be their lifelong home.

As a former competitive swimmer, and swimming coach at Rice University, Ramswell has an affinity for all things water, so it was only natural that when she was looking for employment she started along the sandy beaches. Ramswell works for the Destin Fire Control District's Beach Safety team.

Outside of the pool, or Gulf of Mexico, the mother of an 8-year-old daughter says she has a passion for helping people and serving the community.

Since throwing her name into the hat, Ramswell has dubbed herself a "typical Destinite."

"I'm a parent, I'm involved in the community, we have children here, I work out on the beach and I'm in the public," she said. "When you look at the typical family here, it's a working family that's invested in the community. You are just as likely to find me out painting our house or working at the beach as you are having lunch at Harry T's; I'm not a career politician."

When she's not digging through the city's code books and records, Ramswell finds time to be involved with various local groups, such as the Junior League of the Emerald Coast, Coastal Cleanup and Habitat for Humanity. She also has an affinity for writing poetry.

While she works on the beach, it's still the place she escapes to when she needs to clear her mind or relax after a long week.

"It's my source of recharging myself," she told The Log. "It's my area of content."

As for her candidacy, Ramswell's goal is to give Destin's residents a voice. When she speaks to people throughout the community they are mostly concerned with being "treated equitably." She said some residents feel as though the city council "picks and chooses" who they want to help, or not help.

"A council should mirror the will of the people," she said. "If they are feeling this way, something is wrong and I want to fix that."

Being a first-time political candidate, Ramswell says she has done her homework and is ready for the challenge ahead.

But is she nervous or intimidated? Not at all.

She follows simple advice that her mother told her, "don't be afraid to try; you can do anything you set your mind to."

"That's a recurring theme that runs through my mind," she said.