Shirley Smith, the sixth and middle child of eleven children grew up in Cleveland’s historic Hough neighborhood . Shirley received her formal education through the Cleveland Public School System. While raising her children as a single mother she attended Cuyahoga Community College where she earned a two-year degree and an undergraduate degree from Cleveland State University. She later attended Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. A proud mother of two children and three grandchildren, she loves golfing, gardening, and writing, in her spare time. Shirley has worked since the age of fourteen building upon a solid foundation for all Ohioans and all of America.



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Hard work and perseverance landed Shirley executive positions with American corporations specializing in aerospace and defense technology, military machine instruments, and a Brand Development Manager of a number one Fortune 500 soft-drink corporation, where she initiated partnerships that increased the growth of her division by 15 per cent. As the host of a local radio-talk show, she tackled issues that would uplift the conditions of her poverty-ridden community and then landed a position in Public Relations and Promotion at a local network affiliate TV station.

While working for the soft-drink company, Shirley won her first elected official position as State Representative for Cleveland’s 10th district in 1998. After serving eight years in the Ohio General Assembly, she was elected to the Ohio Senate in 2006 and elected by her peers as the Assistant Minority Leader.

While serving in the Senate, Senator Smith attended Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government. After completion, she was recruited by the United States Department of Justice to attend the FBI Training Academy in Quantico and graduated with the first class of the Citizens Academy.





Senator Smith initiated the HIV state-wide awareness initiative with-in The Ohio Commission on Minority Health.  She was also awarded the Legislator of the year award by the Ohio Hygienist Association and honored for her work with Cleveland’s Adult Care facilities and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. In addition, a collaborative effort with the CEO of University Hospitals, they created and established the first adult Sickle-Cell Anemia Fast Track Program in University Hospital.

Senator Smith worked with the Ohio Cosmetology Board and modified and up-dated laws governing Ohio hairstylists and barbers. Senator Smith was successful in having Governor Strickland appoint a Cleveland cosmetologist to the Ohio Board of Cosmetology.

Shirley, a strong advocate for the poor, elderly, children, and working families served on the Board of Harambee, the only African American adoption agency in Cleveland. She also served as the Secretary of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC), and because of her strong and unwavering dedication, she later served as President of OLBC.

Her ability to maintain and serve as the only Democratic Chairmanship in a Republican controlled General Assembly throughout most of her service in the senate was evident when she was considered a powerful Correctional Institutional Inspection Committee (CIIC) Chair.  She continues to focus on the critical issues of prison reform and criminal justice.

After retiring from the Ohio Senate, the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, appointed her to the Ohio Parole Board. And because of her tremendous work on the Board, she has been nationally recognized for her bold steps towards criminal justice reform.

Since leaving the Ohio Parole Board, Shirley has formed a consulting company that helps grow small and large businesses on a wide range of issues. Currently she is registered as an Ohio Lobbyist.


Senate Bill 337 - Signed into Ohio Law


Much of her legislative career, she worked on issues that she was passionate about and earned the reputation for working on tough and controversial issues, i.e., criminal justice, prison reform, and health care disparities. Shirley’s ability to negotiate and compromise in a republican controlled legislature was demonstrated in the relationships she built and her bills that were enacted into law.

She was dubbed a champion on her signature and most impressive work, Senate Bill 337, a bill enacted after many years of hard work. S.B. 337 removed many collateral sanctions, making it easier for returning citizens to obtain employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Additionally, Senator Smith sponsored Senate Bill 154, Ohio’s statewide no texting and driving bill, and after revisions, it become law as House Bill 99 in 2012.

Her work in the field of Health Care was significant after she partnered with University Hospitals of Cleveland and established into law, (Senate Bill 199) October 13, as Metastatic Breast Cancer Day.

Thank you for the journey

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Shirley Smith for Congress

1028 Cutters Creek Drive

South Euclid, OH  44121

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