In 1989, when her son, Milo, was a fourth grade student at Annie Fisher Elementary School in Hartford, Elizabeth Horton Sheff joined with others and began a long and arduous journey to redress the inequity between the level of education provided to students in Hartford public schools, to that available in surrounding suburban districts. This effort – known around the State of Connecticut, and throughout the United States, as Sheff vs. O’Neill – is a successful, landmark lawsuit that challenged disparities in educational opportunity for all children and the longterm effects borne from poverty concentration and racial isolation.
Ms. Horton Sheff is a long-time activist. She has defended the rights of persons who live in public housing, those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, families marginalized by economic challenges, and advocates against the proliferation of waste facilities in Hartford. In her role as an activist, a community organizer and as a member of the Hartford City Council, Ms. Sheff has helped to raise awareness and seek solutions to the high incidence of asthma, lead poisoning, and obesity among Hartford’s children. Ms. Horton Sheff is the founder of the City of Hartford Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program – an initiative that resulted in the construction of housing units to support such families.
Ms. Horton Sheff recently retired from public service on the Hartford City Council. During her tenure there, Ms. Horton Sheff initiated the “Campaign for Civic Pride,” which resulted in an increase in 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 lead 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 pubic 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. In 2002, Ms. Horton Sheff received an Associates Degree in Science with Honors; in 2008 she received her Bachelors Degree of Science with Honors, both from Charter Oak State College. Ms. Horton Sheff is currently enrolled at the University of Hartford in the Masters of Educational Technology program. Ms. Horton Sheff is Director of Community Services at the Community Renewal Team (CRT). Through her work at CRT, Ms. Horton Sheff assists persons and families with meeting basic needs and preparing for an empowered future.