Tommy Wells has distilled 30 years of community activism and public service into a single fundamental goal: making DC a great place to live, work, and raise a family. He believes the District can be--and should be--not only America's greatest city, but also a national model for urban vitality.
Tommy is a passionate student of cutting-edge solutions who brings the skill to forge the kind of collaboration that translates great ideas into real improvements in our quality of life. The road has not been an easy one, but he is accustomed to taking on the status quo to help make our city the best it can be.
As a DC social worker in the 1980s, Tommy was instrumental in winning a class action suit against the city to improve child protection services. As a community advocate in the 1990s, he helped drive the transformation of a shuttered housing project into the Ellen Wilson Dwellings, a landmark mixed-income community under the Hope VI program. And as a school board member in the 2000s, Tommy championed early education programs for three-year-olds that brought neighbors back to their local schools--and ultimately made our elementary schools a prime incentive to stay in the city rather than a reason to leave it.
Since joining the DC City Council in January 2007, Tommy has used every avenue to advance exciting changes in the District. He has been a chief proponent of the next generation of public transit--including streetcar lines, expansion of the DC Circulator, and improvements in citywide bus service--to connect neighborhoods and give DC residents access to jobs, instead of just moving commuters in and out of the city.
One of Tommy's signature achievements is a landmark bill to charge a nominal fee on disposable bags--prompting thousands of DC residents to curb the use of bags that choke the Anacostia River. The law has dramatically reduced the number of plastic bags in our parks and waterways, established a fund to clean up the river, and created a model for other jurisdictions nationwide.
When he chaired the Council's Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation and Planning, Tommy expanded the staffing and programming of recreational space and parks throughout the city and promoted DC Public Libraries as centers for community education and employment opportunities for all residents.
As the human services committee chair, Tommy led housing policy reform through the innovative Housing First program, a proven way to get homeless people back on track by providing a stable place to live. He worked to improve services for DC youth in foster care, lending focused oversight that earned the District its highest-ever performance ranking from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Today Tommy chairs the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, holding the city's fire and emergency medical services to high standards of preparedness and working with police leaders to strategically deploy neighborhood patrols and develop smarter public safety initiatives.
Before his election to the city council, Tommy directed the DC Consortium for Child Welfare, where he was a force for creating neighborhood-based collaboratives that coordinate the delivery of city and nonprofit family services. He was the architect of a groundbreaking program to match foster families with children affected by HIV/AIDS and also led the drive to create the DC Family Court--which produced a 300 percent increase the number of foster children adopted into permanent homes every year.
During his 15 years with the Consortium, Tommy also served as an ANC Commissioner from 1994 to 2000 and a member of the DC Board of Education, representing Wards 5 and 6, from 2000 to 2006. He is the former chair of the board for Jan's Tutoring House and the previous chair of the Local Government Advisory Committee for the Chesapeake Bay.
Tommy was raised near Birmingham, Ala., where he spent much of his life until moving to the District in 1983. He graduated from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University in 1991 and has a master's degree in social work from the University of Minnesota. Since 1988 he has been married to Barbara Wells, an editor, writer, and arts enthusiast.
Photo courtesy of www.johnnelsonphoto.com