Jheanelle Wilkins was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the United States with her mother and brother when she was five years old. Growing up in humble circumstances, Jheanelle learned the importance of being an advocate and serving others.
Jheanelle is a progressive, community-driven legislative advocate dedicated to policy change that makes a difference in people’s lives. She has organized and fought for greater opportunity for all residents in our community, including raising the minimum wage, earned sick leave for workers, protecting our environment, and improving our schools. She believes we are strongest when all voices are heard and all communities are represented in the democratic process.
She resides in Silver Spring and has been engaging and organizing in District 20 and the state for nearly a decade.
Jheanelle has leveraged her organizing and advocacy background to help pass impactful legislation in the Maryland General Assembly. In the 2017 Legislative Session, she worked in coalition to push for earned sick leave, the Maryland Trust Act, the ban on fracking, and to protect Maryland schools from a misguided federal agenda. As an advocate, she has pushed for a raise in the minimum wage, justice reform, expansion of voting rights and voter registration, investment in early childhood education, and a number of other issues that strengthen our community and increase opportunity for everyone. Jheanelle was the lead sponsor of legislation that curbs racial profiling and removes unnecessary criminal penalties for minor, nonviolent offenses. Her legislation to expand tax credit eligibility for retired veterans will help our service men and women to continue to live in Maryland. Jheanelle is also an advocate for efforts to move forward with District 20’s many vital transportation projects including Bus Rapid Transit and building the Purple Line.
Throughout her career, Jheanelle has fought for progressive values. Professionally, she is the senior field manager at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition. She has played lead roles in advocating for federal immigration reform, promoting educational equity, advancing criminal justice reform and protecting voting rights. With her organizing background, she has shaped federal and state policy; trained and engaged activists from Portland to Biloxi on progressive issues; created and implemented issue campaigns at the federal and state levels to pass legislation that promotes equality; and facilitated the participation of thousands of people in the political process.
Jheanelle earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Delaware and a Master of Public Administration in Social Policy from the American University.