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DBT40 Honoree: Brenda Wise

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Title: Director of Policy and Communications

Workplace: Delaware Office of Management and Budget

Age: 37

When she was 9 years old, Brenda Wise decided she would serve the public as an attorney after she was a member of the Paul Robeson Players at the Christina Cultural Arts Center. Growing up in Wilmington’s west side, she imagined correcting injustices she saw every day.

Fast forward to today, where Wise has a law degree in hand and serves as the chief of policy to Delaware’s lawmakers, connecting budget analysts to look at the fiscal impacts on pending legislation. 

Wise previously served as an employment litigator in Philadelphia, where she worked with both plaintiffs and companies, and developed anti-discrimination policies that remain in place today. When she returned to Delaware, she worked to develop Delaware’s first DUI court which focused more on treatment rather than punishment. She also created the first Community Court in the city of Wilmington, which focuses on quality-of-life offenses, removing the punishment nature of the criminal justice system and instead providing resources to address causes.

As an advocate for criminal justice reform, Wise worked with key stakeholders in the state to develop Delaware’s first problem-solving court bench book and best practice standards. She also offered training to judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and treatment providers to focus on restorative and procedural justice. 

Working as the chief of policy in the state’s Office of Management and Budget since March, Wise hopes to change the system for Delawareans on a larger scale.

In her charitable work, Wise serves as the board president of I Am BEAUTY Charities, a nonprofit focused on the empowerment of young women by fostering emotional healing, and is a board member of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she started her own business: offering grant writing and project management services to nonprofit organizations.

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