Brenda Lawrence, Mayor of Southfield, Michigan

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Brenda Lawrence
Mayor of Southfield, Michigan
By Andrew Stevens, Deputy Editor

10 March 2008: Brenda Lawrence is a long-time resident of the city of Southfield, Michigan. A product of Michigan's public school system, Mayor Lawrence is an alumna of Pershing High School and received her BA in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

Lawrence was elected mayor of the city of Southfield in November of 2001, beating opponent Donald Fracassi with 52.6 per cent of the vote. She is the first African American and first woman mayor of Southfield, a city with a resident population of 78,300, a city budget of $118 million, and 833 city employees. Southfield is situated in Oakland County and is part of the Detroit Metro Area. Mayor Lawrence says she is committed to diversity, fiscal responsibility, education, and keeping a clean and safe city. She was re-elected unopposed in 2005 and is said to be considering a run for county executive this year. In 2008 she was elected Vice President (Policy) of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, having served as a Michigan delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Mayor Lawrence has been a community advocate for many years, both as an elected official and local citizen. She has served on the Southfield City Council, where she was elected president in 1999. As a councilwoman, Ms. Lawrence gained experience in managing a multi-million dollar budget and demonstrated fiscal responsibility. Ms. Lawrence has also served on the Southfield Public School Board of Education as president, vice-president, and secretary. Her love for community involvement has been evident through her previous service as a volunteer in various capacities on the Parent Youth Guidance Commission, Oakland County United Way Advisory Committee, and Oakland County Aids Council.

Since becoming mayor, Ms. Lawrence has initiated the following community programs: The Mayor's Walk community health program; Mayor's Roundtable-a citizen driven forum where residents can discuss one-on-one topics of concern; Southfield Reads! – a programme designed to promote reading literacy in the city of Southfield; Annual Flower Day; City-wide Blood Drive; and Today's Woman-a cable show featuring respected women in and around Southfield.

Mayor Lawrence claims to be committed to diversity in the city of Southfield. She is a recipient of the "2004 Wand Award" for breaking new frontiers for women and minorities, the Jewish War Veterans-State of Michigan "Brotherhood Award", the Leadership Detroit "Challenging the Process" award, the ABWA Millennium Chapter "Woman of the Year Award", the Detroit Historical Society's "Enterprising Women", Leadership Oakland's 2004 Distinguished Leadership & Future Leaders Award for Exemplary Leadership, and the "Black Women Achiever Award". Ms. Lawrence has been named to the Women's Informal Network "List of the Most Influential Black Women in Metropolitan Detroit" and CORP Magazine's "95 Most Influential Women in Michigan". Through a survey of area leadership organizations, Ms. Lawrence was identified by Crain's Detroit Business as a regional leader with the "skills and determination to bridge the historic parochialism of the metropolitan area".

Mayor Lawrence is a member of the Oakland County Chapter of the NAACP, a member of the Michigan Association of Mayor's Board of Directors, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Board, Southfield-Lathrup Optimist Club, Women's Economic Club, Women Officials Network Board of Directors, Birmingham YMCA Advisory Board, the Pepsi Community Advisory Board and the Board of Governors of the Renaissance/Skyline Club.

Mayor Brenda L. Lawrence and her husband, McArthur Lawrence, have been married for over 30 years. They are the parents of Michael and Michelle, both graduates of Southfield public schools, and have a granddaughter, Asya.

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