A seasoned organizer, campaigner and advocate, Sheena Meade’s calling is to transform pain into power. As a mother and an activist, Sheena knows firsthand that the communities most impacted by injustice are closest to the solutions. This truth has been a driving force behind her career in organizing, philanthropy and nonprofits.
Sheena is the first Managing Director of the Clean Slate Initiative, a national bipartisan coalition advancing policies to automatically clear all eligible criminal records across the United States.
Prior to joining the Clean Slate Initiative, Sheena helped restore voting rights to 1.4 million people experiencing felony disenfranchisement as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the bipartisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) and Senior Advisor to the Second Chances Florida Campaign. Sheena helped build FRRC alongside her husband, Desmond Meade, growing the organization from its earliest stage as an email listserv to an active membership organization with more than 20 chapters and thousands of members across the state of Florida.
Sheena spearheaded FRRC’s advocacy, events, fundraising and grassroots organizing. During her time at FRRC, Sheena raised more than 15 million dollars and led large-scale voter outreach programs mobilizing thousands of voters and training hundreds of activists. In this role, Sheena oversaw the largest statewide engagement and mobilization of religious institutions in the country, galvanizing more than 800 congregations of faith to support Amendment 4 efforts. Sheena also created and hosted FRRC’s annual convening and gala, which brought together hundreds of activists, practitioners, criminal justice reform advocates, legal experts and national partners.
Sheena previously served as Criminal Justice Program Officer at Galaxy Gives, a philanthropic investment organization, where she worked alongside communities to allocate funding and resources directly to those most impacted by the justice system. In this role, Sheena created and led a Criminal Justice Fellowship program for organizations led by individuals directly impacted by the justice system, and successfully convened 2019 Democratic presidential candidates for a roundtable discussion with directly impacted individuals.
Sheena has deep expertise in grassroots organizing and leveraging community power into major legislative wins. Before contributing to FRRC’s historic campaign, Sheena served as the Southern Deputy Director for Bread for the World, overseeing organizing in 15 states across the American South, and ran a campaign to represent Florida House District 46 in 2016.
She has also led organizing, canvassing and coordinated advocacy and legislative work for a variety of local and national labor organizations. During her time with Florida AFL-CIO’s Labor Council, a federation of more than 500 local unions, Sheena secured important victories including preserving state employees’ pensions and increasing funding for public education. She also founded the Florida Young Workers AFL-CIO, serving as its first chair and organizing the first statewide phone bank using predictive dialer technology that enabled rank-and-file union leaders to better mobilize their members during the 2012 presidential election. As the South Carolina State Director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)’s Americans for Health Care campaign, Sheena built a powerful state campaign to elevate demand for health care reform, which later helped President Obama pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
A lifelong advocate, Sheena’s activism dates back to her teenage years when she fought for voting rights as a member of Black Youth Vote!; when she advocated for early childhood education through the Head Start Program as a young parent; when she championed workers’ rights through the A. Philip Randolph Institute; and when she empowered young people through Black Youth Vote! and through the Girls Initiative of the Black Women’s Roundtable.
Currently, Sheena serves on the board for the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation. She has also served on the boards for Head Start, the Florida Young Workers AFL-CIO, and APRI Space Coast, as well as serving on the advisory committee for Second Chance Amendment 4 and the finance committee for the Early Learning Coalition of Seminole County.
Sheena’s work has been featured in Ebony, CNN, PBS NewsHour, the Orlando Sentinel and more. Sheena is a seasoned public speaker and has delivered keynote remarks at BET’s first-ever National Black Voter Day, the 2018 Central Florida Women’s March, 2019 Netroots Nation and more.
Sheena and her husband Desmond Meade are proud parents to five children and active members of their church and community.