Sheila M. Finlayson
In 2002, Sheila M. Finlayson became the first African American female elected as President of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. This organization represents the more than 6,000 teachers who work within the Anne Arundel County Maryland Public School System. She served in this leadership role for four years, from 2002 – 2006.
Born and raised in Annapolis, she attended Morgan State University, earning a BS in English, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, earning an MS in Cultural Foundations. She taught English and public speaking in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools for 35 years, before retiring in 2007. In addition to leading the Teacher’s Association for the County, she served for six years as the East Regional Director for the National Council of Urban Education Associations, representing nine states, advocating for national education issues. Sheila’s professional training also includes membership of the Leadership Anne Arundel Flagship Class of 1998, where she was introduced to policy issues on the local, county, and state levels. Her educational and civic experiences prepared her for policymaking at the local level.
Ms. Finlayson is also an alderwoman on the Annapolis, Maryland City Council. As a senior member of the City Council, she serves as chairperson of the Rules and City Government Committee and as a member of the Economic Matters and the Finance Committees. She is also the liaison to the Education Commission. In her various roles on the Council, she works very closely with the Annapolis Police Department, the Annapolis Fire Department, and the Office of Emergency Management.
Further, as a Council member, Sheila is known for her active role in serving the community. She developed many initiatives to better serve the community, including Light Up the City for Safety, asking residents to turn on their outdoor lights from dusk until dawn; obtaining contributions of gift cards for residents impacted by the government shut down; and creating the Annapolis Youth Summer Jobs Program, employing hundreds of City youth each year. Most recently, Sheila founded the Annapolis Career Academy, a nonprofit geared toward matching youth with skills-based training and securing permanent jobs in the trade industry.
Currently, Sheila is an education consultant and a recognized public speaker addressing a variety of community, business, and education groups. She is also a trainer and provider of professional development, presenting at numerous conferences and conventions at the local, state, and national levels. Sheila is a trained political organizer, managing numerous campaigns, most notably the campaign for Aris T. Allen.
Ms. Finlayson is active in various community organizations. She led the group responsible for naming Aris T. Allen Blvd and building the Aris T. Allen Monument. She served for more than twelve years on the Bates Development Committee which was responsible for the development of Bates Heritage Park. The Bates Legacy Center, the senior center, the Boys and Girls Club, and the housing component have become valued assets in the community. She has served for twenty-eight years as a member of the Annapolis Chapter of The Links, Inc., a community service organization. During which time she has served in many leadership roles within the Chapter, including President, VP, and Secretary, among others. She also served in leadership positions within the Links Eastern Area.
Ms. Finlayson is a member of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Eastport.