Broadcast journalist and entrepreneur Sheila Dean Brooks, Ph.D. was born on June 24, 1956 in Kansas City, Missouri to Gussie Mae Dean Smith and Stanley Benjamin Smith. She received her B.A. degree in communications from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1978. Brooks paid for her final two years of college while serving in the Advanced Placement Program of the United States Navy Reserves from 1976 to 1978. She went on to receive both her M.A. degree in political science in 2003, and her Ph.D. degree in communication, culture and media studies in 2015, from Howard University.
In 1978, Brooks joined KCTS-TV in Seattle, Washington as a reporter and producer, where she worked until 1981. From 1981 to 1983, she worked for KREM-TV in Spokane, Washington, as a reporter and anchor. Brooks was then hired as a news director and anchor for KAMU-TV/FM in College Station, Texas, working until 1985, when she accepted a management trainee position at the Dallas Morning News in Dallas, Texas. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1988, and worked as a senior producer at Vanita Productions in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1989 to 1990, Brooks served as executive producer for special projects and the documentary unit at WTTG-TV Channel 5 in Washington, D.C. She founded SRB Communications in 1990, a full-service advertising and marketing agency specializing in multicultural markets, serving as founder, president and CEO.
Brooks has served as a board trustee on the Federal City Council in Washington, D.C., on the boards of ColorComm and Morgan State University’s Global School of Journalism and Communication. She also served as chair of The Presidents’ RoundTable, a board member of the Greater Baltimore Committee and on the boards the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council and the Center for Women’s Business Research.
Brooks has won more than 150 entrepreneurial, marketing and journalism awards. She was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Science Silver Circle, an Emmy Award Hall of Fame by the National Capital/Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She was the first National Association of Black Journalists’ member to receive the President’s Award three times.
Her other honors include the 2016 Top MBE Award, 2015 Advocate of the Year Award, and 2012 and 1995 Supplier of the Year Awards from the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council; the 2014 Women in Business Champion from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce; the 2011 Pat Tobin Entrepreneurial Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the 2011 Shining Star Award from the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women; the 2011 Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award from Howard University’s School of Communications; the 2009 Black Rose Entrepreneur Award from New York State Black Women Enterprises; the 2005 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women Magazine; and the 2002 and 1998 Women in Business Advocate of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, among others.
Dr. Sheila Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 30, 2014.