Humans of JCU: Shontel Brown

Shontel Brown serves as the U.S. representative for Ohios 11th district where John Carroll resides.

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Shontel Brown serves as the U.S. representative for Ohio’s 11th district where John Carroll resides.

Aiden Keenan, Photo Editor

Sworn in as the Representative for the Ohio 11th Congressional District on Nov. 4, 2021, Rep. Shontel Brown has been representing University Heights — and, therefore, John Carroll — in Congress for just over 100 days. In that time, she has enjoyed meeting colleagues and constituents, working with members of the executive branch and participating in events such as the Black History Month program hosted by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, which worked toward initiatives in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Born and raised in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio, she attended school just a few minutes away from JCU in the Cleveland Public School System and Cuyahoga Community College. Outside of school, she was a devoted member of her church. Brown maintains that this faith-based upbringing inspired her to get involved in helping those around her, and the strong community-oriented mindset of her area encouraged her to help her neighbors. 

Her strong family ties fuel her love of her community. Brown has two younger siblings, three nieces, three nephews and a grand niece. She told The Carroll News that her nieces and nephews “are truly [her] delight.”

When she first got involved in local government, it was to help her neighbors. It was, “divine intervention” that she got involved in City Council meetings and local government. Initially, she began attending the meetings because she wanted to know where to go if she needed help with something in the community. Something told her to keep going and to keep learning. She began to identify room for improvement. This maintained her efforts in improving her community. 

She explained, “rather than complain, I am a person that believes in being the change you want to see.” This mentality was instilled in her by her parents and her parish. She tries, “[to live] a life that people can look to you as an example because we might be the only Bible people ever read.”

Running for Cleveland City Council gave her the chance to represent her community, assist with issues that needed to be addressed and build relationships to help her neighbors. However, after months of aiding her community with these issues, she ended election night down by six votes in 2011. 

She did not give up though. She explained that, “As a child of faith, [she] was down but not out, disappointed but not devastated.” After a few more days, though, 23 provisional ballots were counted and, in the end, she won by seven votes. 

She feels the calling to stay in public service, especially crediting her journey to her belief in her faith. She told The Carroll News that her past jobs in sales helped her connect with people and build relationships; skills that “transitioned seamlessly into politics.” The problems that people face, she says, are always evolving and no two days in Congress are alike: there are always new people to help and new issues to be solved.

She also finds fulfillment in meeting new people and connecting with them. She explained, “it’s not only fulfilling my personal innate desire to serve others, but that ability to serve successfully is so rewarding and so fulfilling and so gratifying.”

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb recently endorsed Brown for a second term. The primary date has not yet been decided due to redistricting conflicts in Ohio and the general election will be in November. 

Brown seeks to continue highlighting the economic impact of recent infrastructure bills, extending the Child Tax Credit and pursuing solutions to issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Brown encourages young people to get involved in politics as well, especially through in-person meetings such as town hall meetings in their community, and promoting advocacy areas of passion. 

“You could become an instant voice for your community, just by showing up… Give others the grace you want to receive. The all or nothing attitude usually ends in nothing.”

Looking to the future, Brown awaits news of what her newly-drawn district will be once the State of Ohio resolves redistricting conflicts, working hard on the campaign trail and, eventually, getting a bit of rest or a weekend off.