Mayor's Biography

Mayor Brenda L. Lawrence is a long-time resident of the City of Southfield. A product of Michigan’s public school system, Mayor Lawrence is an alumna of Pershing High School and received her BA in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

Ms. Lawrence was elected Mayor of the City of Southfield in November of 2001. She is the first African American and first woman mayor of Southfield, a city with a population of over 78,000 residents, a city budget of $143 million, and 833 city employees. Mayor Lawrence is committed to diversity, fiscal responsibility, education, and keeping a clean and safe city.

Mayor Lawrence has been a community advocate for many years, both as an elected official and a private citizen. She has served on the Southfield City Council, where she was elected President in 1999. As a Councilwoman, Ms. Lawrence gained experience in managing a multi-million dollar budget and demonstrated fiscal responsibility. Ms. Lawrence has also served on the Southfield Public School Board of Education as President, Vice-President, and Secretary. Her love for community involvement has been evident through her previous service as a volunteer in various capacities on the Parent Youth Guidance Commission, Oakland County United Way Advisory Committee, and Oakland County Aids Council.

Since becoming Mayor, Ms. Lawrence has initiated the following community programs: The Mayor’s Walk community health program; Mayor’s Roundtable - a citizen driven forum where residents can discuss one-on-one topics of concern; Southfield Reads! - a program designed to promote reading literacy in the City of Southfield; Annual Flower Day; City-wide Blood Drive; and Today’s Woman - a cable show featuring respected women in and around Southfield. As a result of her active concerns to create a more environmentally friendly community Mayor Lawrence joined over 600 other Mayors in signing the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and with Council support has created the Southfield Green Committee. Mayor Lawrence plans to continue her active involvement in pushing for smarter energy use.

Mayor Lawrence has received many honors for her leadership skills and commitment to diversity. She was recognized in October 2007 as one of Crain’s “2007 Most Influential Women.” She has also received the “2004 Wand Award” for breaking new frontiers for women and minorities, the Jewish War Veterans-State of Michigan “Brotherhood Award,” the Leadership Detroit “Challenging the Process” award, the ABWA Millennium Chapter “Woman of the Year Award,” the Detroit Historical Society’s “Enterprising Women” award, Leadership Oakland’s 2004 Distinguished Leadership & Future Leaders Award for Exemplary Leadership, and the “Black Women Achiever Award.” Mayor Lawrence has also been named to the Women’s Informal Network “List of the Most Influential African American Women in Metropolitan Detroit” and CORP Magazine’s “95 Most Influential Women in Michigan.” Through a survey of area leadership organizations, Ms. Lawrence was identified by Crain’s Detroit Business as a regional leader with the “skills and determination to bridge the historic parochialism of the metropolitan area.”

Mayor Lawrence is a member of the Oakland County Chapter of the NAACP, a member of the Michigan Association of Mayor’s Advisory Board, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Board and member of the nominating committee, the American Heart Association’s “Go Red For Women,” a member of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance Executive Board, Women Officials Network Board of Directors, Birmingham YMCA Advisory Board, the Pepsi Community Advisory Board, MBN TV and Radio Advisory Board and the Board of Governors of the Renaissance/Skyline Club.