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Once One of the Nation's Youngest County Commissioners, Alisha Bell Now Leads Them

Vice Chair, County Commission, Wayne County, Mich.

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When Alisha Bell joined the Wayne County Commission in 2002, she became the youngest African-American woman on a county commission in the country. Today she has established herself as a leader both locally -- she’s in her fourth term as commission vice chair -- and nationally. She’s on the board of the National Association of Counties, and has been the president of NACo’s women’s leadership network and the president of the National Association of Black County Officials.

Much of her focus locally has been on public safety and human services. She pushed for the creation of a 50-bed diversion program to help mentally ill offenders get treatment rather than go to jail. 

Nearly half of the Wayne County Board is women, and women hold major leadership positions in the area. In fact, Bell’s own mother, Edna Bell, has previously held the same commission seat. That’s something she’d like to see more of. “You hear a lot about men succeeding fathers, but you don’t hear much about daughters taking the place of their mothers,” she says. “We need more of that, because young ladies need to see more young ladies in these positions.” 

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Natalie previously covered immigrant communities and environmental justice as a bilingual reporter at CityLab and CityLab Latino. She hails from the Los Angeles area and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English literature.
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