Shontel M. Brown
Shontel M. Brown grew up the oldest of three children in the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive/Union Avenue area and went on to graduate from John Adams High School. As a young adult, she had no thoughts or interest in entering politics.
“I thought I would be a CEO of a major corporation,” she said.
Brown did earn an Associate degree in Business Management from Cuyahoga Community College and eventually established her firm Diversified Digital Solutions, a printing and promotions company that supports small to mid-sized businesses with their marketing needs.
It wasn’t until she found herself living in Warrensville, the youngest homeowner on her block, seeing unmet needs of her elderly neighbors, that she decided to be the change she wanted to see within in her community. That propelled her to run for Warrensville City Council.
After serving that government for three years, the opportunity arose for her to fill the District 9 Cuyahoga County Representative seat being vacated by C. Ellen Connelly.
As a member of County Council, Brown continues advocating for the needs of seniors and youth and works to establish health and human service policies that integrate economic development and promotes job opportunities.
But, becoming the first female and African American chairperson of the Democratic Party last year has been her biggest accomplishment thus far.
“It’s still surreal when I think about it,” she said. “I think it’s one I can’t take sole credit for, but I am proud of because it was a collective effort by whites and blacks, a small yet influential group. Making history and serving in this capacity is both a tremendous honor and responsibility.”
She said the positions she serves right now fulfill those visions she had for herself as a businessperson. “God positioned me to be a leader in my community instead of a corporation. The satisfaction is in feeling like I’m walking in my purpose.”
Her goals as chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Cuyahoga County include increasing voter participation, increasing the number of registered Democrats, increasing voter education initiatives and empowering people to cast their ballots, contrary to the belief their vote doesn’t count.
“Voting is the most level playing field we have, and we can’t take it for granted,” she said. Brown also wants to educate voters on the political structure. “We have to be as intentional and deliberate with our political participation as we are about doing other things such as entertaining ourselves. It takes some concerted effort to plan to attend a movie.”
She believes it is a matter of reframing the conversation and changing our thinking. “We can do the same thing when it comes to voting.”
With young people, she tries to get them to understand it may seem boring, but politics touches their lives every day in some shape form or fashion. “I want them to know, everyone has one vote, election is every year, and they need to vote in every election. I tell them to be vocal. They influence adults.”
Brown spends her spare time with family and friends in addition to serving as a youth ministry at her church Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist.
“Faith keeps me humble. Politics and people can be intoxicating, but that’s where my faith serves as a constant reminder to Him be the glory.”