Sheletta Brundidge named as one of USA Today’s ‘Women of the Year’

Submitted photo Sheletta Brundidge

Minnesota media personality, author, activist, and former MSR columnist Sheletta Brundidge adds to her growing list of honors as USA Today recently named her its Minnesota Woman of the Year.

The annual award by the national news organization recognizes female honorees in every state who have made significant contributions to their community. Brundidge, 50, of Cottage Grove, was chosen for numerous activities and accomplishments.

In 2020, she founded her own podcasting platform, ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com to expand opportunities to showcase the expertise of Black show hosts who are often left out by traditional media outlets.

The awards committee noted her work on behalf of families with children with special needs. Three of Brundidge’s four children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and her experience with her family inspired her to become an advocate. 

She worked with the Minnesota legislature to pass a bill establishing autism training for police officers to prepare them for encounters with non-verbal citizens. She collaborated with the NFL to establish sensory-friendly rooms in stadiums. 

She also partnered with the Minnesota Health Department to promote early testing for autism among families of color. When her own kindergartner mentioned that she couldn’t find a picture book about Black children on the autism spectrum, Brundidge went to work. She wrote a book based on her daughter’s real-life experiences. 

A second picture book followed and a third is in the works, providing families, teachers, and libraries with stories about children previously neglected by the publishing industry.

Earlier this month, Brundidge was awarded the Anthem Award Leader of the Year on behalf of her Black-owned podcasting platform and hosts. The Anthem Awards honor outstanding mission-driven work by change makers. Other 2022 Anthem Award winners include Trevor Noah, Naomi Osaka, and the New York Times 1619 Project.