Shelia Bryant is an attorney and activist in the area of Criminal Justice Reform. Growing up in rural Mississippi and in the ghettos of Los Angeles, she overcame poverty and racism to become one of a handful of African American women to achieve the rank of Colonel( O-6) in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
As an attorney, Ms. Bryant practiced in civil, criminal and family law in Oceanside, CA before accepting a civil service position for the U.S. Navy and relocating to Upper Marlboro Maryland. Her most recent civil service assignment was Inspector General for Naval Forces Europe and Africa while stationed in Naples, Italy.
Ms. Bryant is a proud graduate of Jackson State University with a BS in Mass Communications and was commissioned through Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in 1982. She held assignments as the Director of the Information Systems Center at the Communications/Electronics School at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, CA; as Officer in Charge of the Tactical Assistance Team for 4th Fleet Service Support Center in Okinawa, Japan and as Test Director at the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity in Oceanside, CA. She accepted a reserve commission in order to raise a family in 1990 and remained active in the Reserves until her retirement in 2012.
Shelia attended law school while serving in the USMC Reserves and practiced law as a solo practitioner in Oceanside, CA after briefly working as a Deputy DA. She was very active in social justice and community issues. She was one of the first women to ever hold membership in the local JAYCEES; was an active member of NAACP and helped organize the largest Juneteenth Celebration in the city, with over 50,000 participants in the two-day event. Shelia has always focused on improving the lives of citizens; she was a participant, mediator and board-member of Lifeline Community Services; longstanding member of the North County African American Women’s Association; and Pilgrim United Christian Church, an oasis of liberal theology in the mostly conservative San Diego County. Shelia was selected as North County NAACP’s “Woman of the Year” in 1995 and “Military Person of the Year” in 1997 and was elected to sit on the Tri-City Hospital Board of Directors, one of the largest employers in the area, focused on issues such as access to quality healthcare, improving maternal health and ensuring the county’s pediatric unit remained viable and available to all citizens.
Mobilized during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Shelia served as the Inspector General for 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, under the leadership of General James Mattis. She deployed to Iraq in 2007 and worked as the Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Minster of Interior to help implement anti-corruption measures and incorporate the rule of law in the Iraqi government. Stationed in the so called “Green Zone”, Shelia was under constant mortar and rocket attack and witnessed the death and injury of many of her colleagues. Her experiences during the war fortified her objection to US participation in foreign wars with dubious purpose and ill-defined goals.
Following her return from Iraq, Shelia accepted a position with the United States Navy as the Inspector General at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command at the Navy Yard in DC. She and her family relocated to Upper Marlboro, Maryland where she became an integral part of her community. Her son attended Largo High School and her daughter attended Prince George’s Community College for a time before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Through her children and husband James, a former DC and Maryland public school teacher she understands first-hand the challenges of the Maryland school system.
She has been a dedicated volunteer and activist in Prince George’s County and a member of a number of national and community organizations such as Women Offering Wealth, Sisters 4 Sisters, Inc; League of Women Voters; Maryland Bar Association National Council of Negro Women; #Cut50 and FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums).
Shelia recently graduated from Harvard Kennedy School with a Master’s in Public Administration. Her intention is to use the skills as a lawyer, a leader and public servant to advance social justice and help improve the quality of life for the citizens of Maryland and of the United States. She has experienced and overcome many of life’s challenges; poverty and oppression; poor education systems; the horrors of war; the struggle to survive as a business owner and the pressures of being a “citizen soldier”. She is authentic and approachable, represents the values and integrity necessary to represent Maryland and be a vocal supporter of issues that affect our lives.