On January 17, 2007, Sheila Dixon became the first woman mayor of Baltimore, after former Mayor Martin O’Malley was inaugurated as Maryland’s governor. Born on December 17, 1953, Dixon is a lifelong resident of Baltimore having grown up in the Ashburton neighborhood of West Baltimore. Her father was a car dealer and her mother a homemaker. Dixon was educated in the city’s public school system and later earned a bachelor’s degree from Towson University. She received a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Dixon first worked as an elementary school teacher and Head Start program educator for adult instruction. She then spent 17 years with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, as an international trade specialist.
Shelia Dixon’s political career began in 1986 when at 33 she was elected to the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee to represent the 40th Legislative District. At age 34 she was elected to the Baltimore City Council, representing the 4th Council District, a position she would hold for 12 years. During her years on the Council Dixon advocated programs that improved the health of children. She particularly emphasized the need for a nutritious diet and regular exercise to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity.
In 1988, she married Thomas E. Hampton. The couple had two children, Jasmine and Joshua, before they divorced in 2006.
In 1999 Dixon became the first African American woman president of the City Council and eight years later was elevated to the mayor’s office. Although Shelia Dixon is not the first female mayor in the United States, she was the first African American woman mayor to lead a city with more than 600,000 people.
In January 2010 Dixon resigned as Mayor of Baltimore after she was convicted in December 2009 of embezzling gift cards from needy families.