A native Detroiter, Sheila Cockrel was born on November 3, 1947. Her parents, Louis and Justine Murphy were founders of the socially progressive Catholic Worker Movement in Detroit. Guided by the principles of voluntary poverty and the daily practice of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, the Murphy's Corktown home, St. Martha House of Hospitality, was a shelter for homeless women and children. The family also oversaw operations at St. Francis House of Hospitality, a home for men and a year-round soup kitchen for the hungry.
Cockrel developed a passion for political organizing very early on, founding the Young Lay Apostles as a high school sophomore in 1962. As a student at Wayne State University's Monteith College, Sheila went on to establish the Ad-Hoc Action Group, a multiracial activist group that monitored police brutality in Detroit. Shortly thereafter, she met her future husband, the legendary Kenneth Cockrel, Sr. and together they organized mass actions against racist police misconduct and unjust practices in the criminal justice system. A brilliant organizer and strategic thinker, Sheila fought tirelessly for the reformation of the Detroit Police Deaprtment in the 1970s.
In 1972, recognizing electoral politics as a means to affect social change, she organized and managed the successful city-wide election of ally and progressive judicial candidate Justin (Chuck) Ravitz to Detroit Recorder's Court (now 3rd Judicial Circuit). Five years later, she managed her husband's successful City Council campaign, managed his Council office and staff, and evolved his campaign organization into a base of activist supporters for his City Council agenda, the Detroit Alliance for a Rational Economy (DARE).
Cockrel and Ken, Sr. married in 1978. Their shared vision of social justice and equity for all people laid the foundation for both their longstanding political collaboration and personal relationship. Their daughter, Katherine (Katy), was born in 1985, three years before Ken's sudden, unexpected and most untimely death.
1n 1993, she successfully campaigned for a seat on the Detroit City Council, ultimately serving four consecutive terms (1994-2009) in elected office. In her 16 years of service on city council, she provided a consistent voice of reason and earned a reputation as someone who acted with integrity and stood accountable for her decisions. Among her many notable accomplishments, Cockrel was responsible for authoring and facilitating the successful passage of a resolution that called upon the Department of Justice to investigate police misconduct in the Detroit Police Department and for the successful passage of the strongest ordinance in the state requiring landlords to remove lead paint from their properties before renting to families.
In 2009, Cockrel joined the adjunct faculty of Wayne State University's Irvin D. Reid Honors College where she teaches two seminars and holds a seat on the Board of Visitors. She recently established Crossroads Consulting Group, a firm specializing in providing assistance to companies looking to bring strategic business solutions to local governments. Additionally, she is Assistant Director of the Institute for Local Government (IFLG) at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Cockrel is a frequent guest on local broadcast news media outlets, drawing on her expertise and experience in local government.
Cockrel holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Master of Arts in urban planning from Wayne State University.
In January 2010, Sheila established Crossroads Consulting Group, a government relations and advocacy firm specializing in helping clients develop savvy strategies and winning solutions. Sheila�s 25 years of government experience and her reputation as a public policy expert make Crossroads Consulting a uniquely positioned resource for clients who seek opportunities in the public sector and need assistance navigating local, county and state governments.