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(Photo by Justin Silberman)

Shelley Zimmerman made an unexpected career move in November when she decided to join Baltimore City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer as his chief of staff.

Zimmerman, 36, does not consider herself “a political person at all,” having spent the previous 10 years working in sales and marketing after earning a communications degree from Towson University in 2006. She even worked as a personal shopper before making the switch to the public sector.


She met Schleifer, 27, in a business networking group five years ago and volunteered with his campaign in the race for Baltimore’s 5th District last year, distributing flyers and interacting with concerned residents.

The transition for Zimmerman into her new role has been seamless, introducing herself to constituents as a customer service-oriented neighbor with a vested interest in the community.

A Reisterstown native, Zimmerman became a bat mitzvah at Winands Road Synagogue, attended Krieger Schechter Day School through eighth grade and went on to graduate from Owings Mills High School.

Zimmerman, who spent part of her upbringing in the 5th District, now resides in Pikesville with her husband, Garrett, 35, and two children, Brody, 6, and Ayla, 3.

Could you ever have imagined getting a job in politics?

At first, I was kind of thrown off when Yitzy asked me, because this had nothing to do with what I was doing before. But he liked the way I was representing my previous employer, Equity Mortgage Lending, with its marketing and wanted me to represent him the same way. He really cares about Baltimore and is committed to doing whatever it takes to make the city better for all.

I am not a political person, which I think is a really good thing for the position. I don’t personally get wrapped up in the politics, so I can do my job, help the constituents and keep Yitzy on track with everything he has going on. We see eye to eye on most issues, and even if we don’t at first, he will explain everything to me and give me [his] reasons.

What have you enjoyed most about the position?

I’d say customer service, which was especially huge with Equity Mortgage Lending. It was such a good company and always made everyone happy, which is how Yitzy wants me to run his office. One of the most rewarding parts of this job is that I can have an impact at this level of the government. In other levels, you vote but don’t necessarily help people on a day-to-day basis. I’m fortunate enough to get feedback all the time on how we get things done, which is really great. Something that seems really little, such as helping someone with a high water bill or fixing a pothole, makes it easier for a lot of our constituents to sleep at night.

Are you involved in any community outreach efforts outside your job?

Soon I’m going to be on a leadership develop committee to help [Krieger Schechter] with branding. My husband and I are one of 10 couples who were asked to join in a series, which I will be doing a couple of times a month. We just love Schechter. My son literally comes home from school every day singing in Hebrew. I know nothing [about what] he learns in English class, although he is very proud to know the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I mean, he starts singing the Brachot out of nowhere and teaches it to my daughter, which is great because now she’s singing Hebrew all day long.

On the weekends, when I’m not doing all of these other things, I help educate people on how to get car seats in their cars properly. I do checks at fire stations at least once a month through Maryland Kids In Safety Seats [KISS] as a certified child passenger safety technician. It’s really cool because people call me all the time for car seat advice. I’m also on the Towson University Hillel Governing Board, so I try to attend as many meetings and Shabbat dinners as I can.

jsilberman@midatlanticmedia.com

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