Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Jheanelle Wilkins is a 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 everyone, including raising the minimum wage, protecting renters, and improving our schools. She believes we are strongest when all voices are heard and diverse communities are represented in the democratic process.
Community Leadership: Jheanelle is proud to be publically elected as a District 20 representative to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. In this role, she has engaged thousands of District 20 residents to make their voices heard and participate in the political process. She advocates for the rights of renters as a board member of the Renters Alliance of Montgomery County, helping to pass the County’s first renter protection legislation in a decade. Jheanelle recently co-founded the New Leaders Council- Maryland, the state chapter of the nation’s premier progressive leadership training program for young leaders. She has been an active member of her service sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., for the past 10 years.
Legislative Advocate: With her background in organizing and advocacy, Jheanelle has mobilized and developed strategies to pass impactful legislation in the Maryland General Assembly. In the 2017 legislative session, she championed earned sick leave, the Trust Act, the ban on fracking and protections for Maryland’s schools. She has pushed for a raise in the minimum wage, criminal 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.
Career: 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 promote equality; and facilitated the participation of thousands of people in the political process.
Education: 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.