Thomasena Stokes-Marshall has made a difference in lives and families as a New York City law enforcement officer before returning to her hometown of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where she is helping lead the Town in preserving its culture and heritage.
Stokes-Marshall moved from Mount Pleasant to New York with her parents as a child. Educated in the New York City Public School System, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in public administration and community organization from New York University. After 24 years with the New York Police Department, she retired as detective first grade and returned to Mount Pleasant in 1993.
In 1998, Stokes-Marshall ran for a seat on Mount Pleasant Town Council and became the first African American to serve on the council, where she’s currently serving her fourth term. As Mayor Pro Tem, she has worked to address Mount Pleasant’s growing senior population’s needs by serving as chair of the Town’s Action Committee for the Aging Population and spearheading efforts that resulted in the construction of the Town’s Senior Services Center.
In 2004, Stokes-Marshall, concerned about growing threats to the ancient sweetgrass basket-making technique, founded the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association. Today, the annual festival helps preserve the Gullah Geechee culture and supports the local and state tourism economy. As the organization’s executive director, Stokes-Marshall is responsible for program development, grant writing, operations management and implementation of the organization’s programs and activities.
Stokes-Marshall also led efforts to create a partnership between the Town and Trident Technical College, resulting in the college’s Mount Pleasant campus in 2010.
Stokes-Marshall has served numerous community organizations and non-profit boards in the Lowcountry, including East Cooper Habitat for Humanity, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the International African American Museum and the East Cooper Medical Center.