Birmingham, Alabama , United States
|| January 01, 1965
Apr 05, 2018 11:43am
African - Black - Liberal - Pro-Choice -
|Info||Terri Sewell was raised in Selma, Alabama, where she inherited her family’s legacy of public service. Her maternal family offered its homestead to weary travelers on the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery. Influenced greatly by her parents and grandparents, she spent her childhood summers in Lowndes County with her grandparents. Terri’s grandfather, a Primitive Baptist Minister and a farmer, instilled in her a love for the land, an appreciation of hard work and the importance of her faith. It was her grandfather and the members of his beloved Beulah Primitive Baptist Church that gave Terri a deep appreciation and respect for the Black Belt region of Alabama and its people. |
Terri is the daughter of retired Coach Andrew A. Sewell and former City Councilwoman and retired librarian Nancy Gardner Sewell of Selma, Alabama. Both her parents held distinguished careers in the Selma public school system and taught Terri to believe in the power of education. Terri became the first black valedictorian of Selma High School. Her parents always told her that it was not enough for an individual to succeed: she must give back to her community as well. Nancy Gardner Sewell was the first black woman elected to the Selma City Council; Terri hopes to follow in her footsteps as the first black woman elected to Congress from the State of Alabama.
DEDICATED AND PREPARED TO LEAD
Terri graduated with honors from Princeton University receiving various scholarships including a U.S News and World Report scholarship. A lifetime democrat, during the summers while in college, Terri worked on Capitol Hill for the congressman in the 7th Congressional District, then Richard Shelby, as well as for then Alabama Senator Howell Heflin. She was a leader on the college campus, serving in various roles including class vice-president, class representative to the Student Union, and spearheading the admission office’s effort to set up a Minority Student Recruitment office to recruit and encourage more minority students to attend the University.
Upon graduation from college, Terri was featured on NBC’s Today Show as one of the “Top Collegian Women” and was chosen as one of the “Top Ten College Women in America,” by Glamour Magazine. She received the Afro-American Studies Thesis Prize for her senior thesis entitled, “Black Women in Politics: Our Time Has Come” which featured a personal interview with Shirley Chisholm, the first black U.S. Congresswoman. Terri was awarded a Marshall/Commonwealth Scholarship and continued her education, receiving a Masters degree with first class Honours from Oxford University. At the age of 25, she published her Masters’ thesis into a book on the election of the first black members of British parliament entitled “Black Tribunes: Race and Representation in British Politics”.
Terri attended Harvard Law School with the help of an NAACP Legal Defense Fund scholarship, graduating in 1992. In law school, she served as an editor of the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review and published an article about the legal struggles in her hometown in the Harvard Black Letter Journal entitled, “Selma, Lord, Selma” (vol. 8, Spring 1991).
After graduation, Terri served as a judicial law clerk in Birmingham, Alabama to the Honorable Chief Judge U.W. Clemon, United States District Court (AL-ND), Alabama’s first black federal judge.
Terri began her legal career in 1994 at the prestigious Wall Street law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. A successful securities lawyer for more than a decade, she gained a strong understanding of finance and capital markets. Terri was an active part of her community, providing free legal services to the homeless, mentoring girls of color in NYC high schools through the program Dreams into Action and serving on the Alumni Advisory Board of Sponsors of Educational Opportunity (SEO), a not-for-profit organization providing education, leadership training and Wall Street internships to students of color. Through her involvement with SEO, Terri served as the co-chair of the Community Assistance Fund, which provided $100,000 of aid and assistance to organizations serving communities of color affected by the events of September 11, 2001.
A LEADER AND COMMUNITY ACTIVIST
Terri moved home to Alabama in 2004 for family and community. She returned to assist her mother in the care of her father stricken by numerous strokes. She was also motivated to go home by the desire to give a voice to the community that gave her a voice when she did not have one. Since returning, Terri has made a significant impact both professionally and through her community activities.
As the first black female partner in the Birmingham law firm of Maynard, Cooper, & Gale, P.C., Terri has distinguished herself as one of the only black public finance lawyers in the State of Alabama. She currently serves as a lawyer helping to raise money for public projects for some of the state’s most underserved public entities, many in the 7th Congressional district, including the City of Selma, Dallas County Water Authority and Lowndes County Board of Education. A firm believer in the importance of education, Terri made educational finance a particular focus of her practice representing the historically black colleges in the State of Alabama including Alabama State University, Tuskegee University, and Stillman College as well as other state higher education institutions like Wallace State-Hanceville, Jefferson State Community College, Chattahoochee Valley Community College and the State of Alabama’s Public Schools and University Authority.
Terri has continued to make a difference in her community. She served as the first co-chair of the Women’s Fund “Voices Against Violence” inaugural campaign, which promoted women helping women to overcome domestic violence. The campaign raised more than $70,000 in four months to fight domestic violence in Birmingham, providing funds to establish the first Domestic Violence Court in Birmingham Municipal Court. Motivated by her belief in the importance of education, Terri is currently spearheading the effort to get “Teach for America” to select Alabama’s Black Belt region as a new site in 2010.
She has served on numerous boards including: St. Vincent’s Foundation (elected Treasurer of the Board and Chair of its Finance Committee), Girl Scouts of Cahaba Council, the Alabama Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Community Advisory Board for the UAB Minority Health and Research Center, the Governing Board of the Alabama Council on Economic Education, and she is a member of the Corporate Partners Council for Birmingham Art Museum. Terri’s professional affiliations include American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Alabama Bar Association, the Birmingham Bar Association and the Magic City Bar Association. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Links, Incorporated.
Among her accomplishments, Terri was listed in Alabama Super Lawyer for 2008 & 2009 and was honored with the 2007 Minority Business “Rising Star” award by the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ). She was also selected by the BBJ as one of the “Top Birmingham Women” in 2005. She was a member of the class of 2006-2007 Leadership Birmingham, a member of the YWCA’s Women Leadership MOMENTUM class of 2007-2008. Terri is currently a member of the class of 2008-2009 Leadership Alabama.
Terri is a lifetime member of Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma and currently worships at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham.