Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Rep. Terri Sewell (D)

Alabama District 7

Leadership: Chief Deputy Whip

N/A

sewell.house.gov

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: January 1, 1965,

Education: Princeton U., B.A. 1986; Oxford U., M.A. 1988; Harvard U., J.D. 1992.

Professional Career: Clerk, U.S. District Court judge, 1993-94; practicing atty., 1994-2010.

Ethnicity: Black/African American

Religion: African Methodist Episcopal Church

Family: Single

Democrat Terri Sewell, the congresswoman from the 7th District, became one of the first women sent to Congress from Alabama when elected in 2010. She is also the first African-American woman elected from the state. A personable consensus-builder, Sewell was lauded by The Washington Post during her freshman year as “the breakout star” of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Sewell was born in Huntsville, Ala., and raised in Selma, a hotbed of activity for the civil rights movement. She grew up near the famed Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the “Bloody Sunday” clash between protest marchers and state troopers. Sewell’s family on her maternal side offered shelter for wayward travelers making the famed march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Hailing from such a place, “you appreciate the significance of your elders’ fight for voting rights and civil rights,” Sewell said. Her mother, Nancy Sewell, was the first African-American woman elected to the Selma City Council. Her father was the high school basketball coach at Selma High School, where Sewell was the first black valedictorian. “Well, when you can get no dates because your daddy is a coach, all you can really do is study, right?” she joked.

Sewell earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University. During that time, she took part in a Big Sister program and drew inspiration from the mentor assigned to her, Michelle Robinson, now first lady Michelle Obama. While Sewell was writing her senior thesis at Princeton, she also met former Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y., the first African-American woman elected to Congress, who was retired by then and teaching at Mount Holyoke College. “I don’t know if anybody could ever follow in Shirley Chisholm’s footsteps, but I can tell you that I was inspired by her whole life story,” Sewell said.

Sewell later studied politics at the University of Oxford on a scholarship, earning a master’s degree. A theater buff, she dabbled in drama while at Oxford, directing and starring in the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. Later, while earning her law degree from Harvard, Sewell was a classmate of future President Barack Obama. At Harvard, she took a year off to turn her master’s thesis into a book called Black Tribunes: Race and Representation in British Politics.

After graduating, Sewell clerked for a U.S. District Court judge in Birmingham, and then in 1994 moved to New York City to work as a lawyer on Wall Street. But she returned home to Alabama to help take care of her ailing father after he suffered several strokes. Sewell was a bond lawyer and a partner in the Birmingham law firm Maynard, Cooper, and Gale.

When Democratic Rep. Artur Davis decided to leave the House after four terms to run for governor, Sewell jumped into the primary contest against eight other candidates. They included prominent local figures Earl Hilliard Jr., son of former Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Ala., and Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot. Sewell had lower name recognition than Hilliard or Smoot, but she made up for it by outraising the other candidates with both a local and national fund-raising network, which included big name donors such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. She finished first in the Democratic primary with 37% of the vote. Smoot snagged second place with 29%, setting up a runoff. Smoot got the endorsement of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., but Sewell outspent Smoot by nearly $1 million. In a relatively congenial runoff race, Sewell bested Smoot, 55% to 45%. She went on to easily defeat Republican opponent Don Chamberlain, a Selma businessman, with 72% of the vote.

In the House, Sewell has been more of a centrist than many of her more liberal Black Caucus members. She hit it off with fellow Alabama freshman House member Martha Roby, a Republican. As members of the Agriculture Committee, they worked together on a bill to reduce some of the most fertile acreage eligible for the federal Conservation Reserve Program in response to farmers who say that too much cropland is being lost to the program. On the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Sewell joined other Alabama Republicans in looking out for the state’s NASA installations. But she also showed her loyalty to her party. When Davis switched parties and was chosen as a speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Sewell blasted him for being “out of touch” and “never connected to the best interests of this district.”

Sewell sailed to reelection in 2012 over Chamberlain in a rematch with 76% of the vote. The Montgomery Advertiser, in endorsing her, called her “one of the most impressive newcomers in Congress.”

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2665

(202) 226-9567

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1133
Washington, DC 20515-0107

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2665

(202) 226-9567

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1133
Washington, DC 20515-0107

DISTRICT OFFICE

(205) 254-1960

(205) 254-1974

2 - 20th Street North Suite 1130
Birmingham, AL 35203-4014

DISTRICT OFFICE

(205) 254-1960

(205) 254-1974

2 - 20th Street North Suite 1130
Birmingham, AL 35203-4014

DISTRICT OFFICE

(334) 877-4414

(334) 877-4489

Federal Building Suite 112
Selma, AL 36701-4660

DISTRICT OFFICE

(334) 877-4414

(334) 877-4489

Federal Building Suite 112
Selma, AL 36701-4660

DISTRICT OFFICE

(334) 287-0860

(334) 877-4489

186 Field of Dreams Drive
Demopolis, AL 36732

DISTRICT OFFICE

(334) 287-0860

(334) 877-4489

186 Field of Dreams Drive
Demopolis, AL 36732

DISTRICT OFFICE

(334) 262-1919

(334) 262-1921

101 South Lawrence Street Suite 300
Montgomery, AL 36104

DISTRICT OFFICE

(334) 262-1919

(334) 262-1921

101 South Lawrence Street Suite 300
Montgomery, AL 36104

DISTRICT OFFICE

(205) 752-5380

(205) 752-5899

2501 Seventh Street Suite 300
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

DISTRICT OFFICE

(205) 752-5380

(205) 752-5899

2501 Seventh Street Suite 300
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(205) 739-9233

(205) 279-2583

PO Box 1964
Birmingham, AL 35201

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 1964
Birmingham, AL 35201

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Appropriations

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Arts

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Budget

Shashrina Thomas
Chief of Staff

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Crime

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Disaster

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Education

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Environment

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Finance

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Foreign

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Gun Issues

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Health

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Human Rights

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Intelligence

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Labor

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Military

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Rural Affairs

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Technology

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Deshundra Jefferson
Communications Director

Amber Allen
Financial Manager

Trade

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Transportation

Robert Nuttall
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Cachavious English
Legislative Director

Welfare

Hillary Beard
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Terri Sewell
Votes: 232,520
Percent: 75.9%
Don Chamberlain
Votes: 73,835
Percent: 24.1%
2012 PRIMARY
Terri Sewell
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Terri Sewell
Votes: 136,696
Percent: 72.43%
Don Chamberlain
Votes: 51,890
Percent: 27.5%
2010 RUNOFF
Terri Sewell
Votes: 32,366
Percent: 55.0%
Shelia Smoot
Votes: 26,481
Percent: 45.0%
2010 PRIMARY
Terri Sewell
Votes: 31,531
Percent: 36.8%
Shelia Smoot
Votes: 24,490
Percent: 28.59%
Earl Hilliard
Votes: 22,981
Percent: 26.82%
Martha Bozeman
Votes: 6,672
Percent: 7.79%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (72%)

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