Elizabeth Horton Sheff M'12 is a justice seeker. Throughout her many years of community activism, she has advocated on many civil rights fronts, including championing the rights of persons who reside in public housing; those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; families marginalized by economic challenges and grandparents raising grandchildren.
Sheff also is known for her role as the named plaintiff in Sheff v. O’Neill, the landmark civil rights lawsuit that resulted in a mandate to provide equal access to quality, integrated public education in Connecticut.
Sheff served on the Hartford City Council from 1991-1995 and 1999-2001. During her tenure there, 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; founded city efforts to house and support grandparents raising grandchildren; and hosted “Community Council,” a monthly public access television show through which she kept Hartford residents informed of resources available and legislative action at Hartford City Hall.
Sheff is a trained licensed nurse and a graduate of the Hartford Seminary Black Ministries Certificate Program. She holds an associate's and a bachelor’s degree from Charter Oak State College, and a master of education, educational technology degree from the University of Hartford. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the “Living the Dream Award” from Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, the “President’s Award of Excellence” from the Cricket Hall of Fame, the “Pioneer Woman of the Year” award from Hartford College for Women, and the “Distinguished Sojourner Truth Award” from Tunxis Community College, Office of Minority Affairs. In December 2013, Sheff was the featured speaker at the University of Hartford's annual Fall Commencement, and she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.