In November of 2013, Mary Sheffield became the youngest person ever elected to the Detroit City Council at the age of 26. Elected to serve in District 5, Council Member Sheffield was appointed as Chair of the Neighborhood and Community Services Standing Committee and also serves as a member of the Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee. She also has been appointed to serve as a board member for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Continuum of Care. She now serves as City Council President Pro Tempore, where she has made a commitment to fight for the continued growth of the city and has remained steadfast in keeping our neighborhoods at the center of the conversation.
In her short time on the Detroit City Council, she has launched a number of initiatives designed to engage residents and offer a truly representative form of government to the residents of District 5. Some of her most groundbreaking initiatives include, but are not limited to, her monthly “Conversations with the Councilwoman” series, Occupy the Corner - Detroit, Neighborhood Angels Program, Homelessness Taskforce and monthly e-newsletter.
In her own words:
1. What’s your most important career accomplishment to-date?
My most important career accomplishment is being the youngest person ever elected to the Detroit City Council at the age of 26, giving me the opportunity to serve in the City I love so much.
2. How have you redefined leadership through your professional success?
I have redefined leadership by the way in which I engage and serve my constituents. I believe the way I lead is very non traditional and this is what people like to see in their elected officials. I am accessible and take government to the doors of those that I represent. I have redefined leadership through innovative initiatives like Occupy the Corner, State of the Youth, and my monthly conversations with the councilwoman.
3. Why is civic engagement (volunteerism) important to you?
We live in a more globalized and interconnected world through the use of technology yet, we are often disconnected from the policy decisions that impact our lives. Since governments do not have the resources or capacity to address all of the economic, political and social gaps that exist, it is crucial that private citizens engage in the betterment of our societies. Civic engagement is one way citizens can help shape the collective future of their community albeit on a local or global scale.
4. How have you disrupted the idea of traditional leadership? How do you express leadership?
By challenging the status quo and serving people’s interest over special interest.
5. What is a blue sky goal that you would like to accomplish in your career?
My hope is that my work will improve the quality of life not only for residents in Detroit but across the Nation and around the Globe.
6. Why did you choose to pursue your passion/profession in Metro-Detroit? How do you intend to impact the region through your work?
Detroit made me the person that I am! There is no other place I would rather serve. There are similar challenges that urban cities all over this country are facing as it relates to poverty, housing, and other quality of life issues that I hope to impact through sound policy.
Meet Mary at the Vanguard Awards! Click HERE to join the celebration!