The Sheff Movement is largely staffed with volunteers. Here are some of the people who keep things running smoothly:
Jim has been a member of the Sheff Movement for 10 years. He served two terms on Hartford’s City Council, from 2004-2012. During that time, he was the majority leader and chaired the Council’s Education Committee. He was selected to serve on the Hartford School Board, State Trustees Overseeing Hartford Board of Education from 2000-2002. He is currently the Director of Strategic Development at Capital Workforce Partners and has been a consultant for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s After-School Initiative and Youth Development Programs. Jim is the former executive director of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART, Inc.). Prior to that, he directed the Michigan Avenue Community Organization (MACO) in Detroit, Michigan. He earned an MSW in Social Work from UCONN’s School of Social Work and a BA from College of the Holy Cross. Jim is a resident of Hartford. He is married and has two daughters.
Elizabeth Horton Sheff is a justice seeker. Throughout her many years of community activism, she has advocated on many civil rights fronts, including championing the rights of persons who reside in public housing; those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; families marginalized by economic challenges and grandparents raising grandchildren. Horton Sheff is also known for her role as named plaintiff of Sheff vs. O’Neill, the successful landmark civil rights lawsuit, with mandate to provide equal access to quality, integrated public education in Connecticut. She served on the City of Hartford, Court of Common Council from 1991-1995 and 1999-2001. During her tenure there, Ms. Horton Sheff initiated the “Campaign for Civic Pride,” which increased citizen access to and participation on City Boards and Commissions; promoted jobs and wealth building opportunities for Hartford residents and businesses in city assisted projects; created and led the city-wide literary effort “Keep Them Reading” campaign; encouraged community policing through strengthening the city’s Civilian Police Review Board; and hosted “Community Council,” a monthly public access television show through which she kept Hartford residents informed of resources available and happenings in Hartford city hall. Ms. Horton Sheff is a trained licensed nurse and a graduate of the Hartford Seminary Black Ministries Certificate Program. She holds an Associate and a Bachelor’s degree from Charter Oak State College, and a Masters of Education, Educational Technology degree, from the University of Hartford. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including a Doctorate of Humane Letters granted by the University of Hartford in 2013.
Phil is the Executive Director of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (based in Washington, DC). He is a civil rights lawyer with more than 25 years experience in fair housing, educational equity, land use law, and institutional reform litigation. He served as Legal Director of the Connecticut ACLU from 1997-2003. During that time, he was a member of the original Sheff legal team. He has also worked as Legal Projects Director at the Metropolitan Action Institute in New York City and taught in the clinical program at UCONN School of Law. He co-founded (and was the first board president of) the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, served as a member of the Connecticut Housing Coalition Board for nine years, and was an appointed member of the Connecticut Blue Ribbon Commission on Affordable Housing in 1999-2000. Phil is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. Phil and his wife, Ann, continue to reside in West Hartford.
Gina’s work focuses on school integration policy and organizing at national, state, and local levels. She is a proud graduate of Hampshire College and Howard University School of Law. She left Washington, DC in 2007 to develop and organize Education Action–a tiny nonprofit spearheaded by author and activist Jonathan Kozol. She has held positions at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. As a staff member of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, Gina wears three hats: she is Outreach Coordinator for the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD), co-directs the One Nation Indivisible project, and is an organizer for the Sheff Movement. She is a founding member of TAG Boston and traveled to India in 2013 with the Teaching for Peace program. She was an Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) fellow for Massachusetts in 2013-14.
Rachel Gary, Director of Communications and Special Projects
A Hartford native, alum of Hartford Public Schools, and the parent of a former magnet school student, Rachel’s involvement in the magnet school movement spans 18 years. She has worked in communications and public relations on behalf of Connecticut non-profit organizations and educational institutions for over 10 years, including Hartford Public Library, University of Hartford, and Wesleyan University. Rachel was a 2010 Fellow with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. She is a longtime activist for social justice, a founding member of the Connecticut Youth Activist Network and a facilitator for Allies for Social Justice and the Connecticut Youth Forum Student Exchange. Rachel is a candidate for Master’s degree in Geography at Central Connecticut State University.
Patricia J. Wrice, Director of Outreach and Community Partnerships
Ms. Wrice’s background includes previous positions as the Executive Director of the CHILD Council, where she created the Building Parent Power Organizing Project which provided parents a vehicle for addressing health issues affecting the lives of their children; the Program Director for Center City Churches in Hartford, where she administered Operation Fuel funds to local clients; an organizer for the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199; Executive Director of the Human Resources Agency of New Britain; and Program Director for the Connecticut Housing Coalition. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of Operation Fuel, a position she held for 19 years.
Ms. Wrice has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics from Central Connecticut State University. She has also attained a certificate in Non Profit Management from the Non Profit Support Program of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Ms. Wrice serves on a number of nonprofit boards, for national organizations as well as Connecticut-based organizations.