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Proven Leadership Delivering Results for Our Community


As the first black female mayor of Toledo, Paula Hicks-Hudson has always exhibited a commitment to empowering and helping people improve their quality of life.


Born one of eight children of a combined family and raised in the city of Hamilton located in Butler County, Ohio, Paula often cites education as a pathway to success. This comes from the encouragement of her father, a Hamilton city department worker, who stressed the importance of education during her adolescent years.  


With that mindset, Paula attended Spelman College, a historically black high education institution for women in Atlanta, Georgia where in 1973 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism. She then continued her educational studies at Colorado State University where she graduated with a masters degree in communications development in 1975.


Following graduation, Paula and her family returned to Wilberforce, Ohio where she taught readiness skills to underprepared students in the Upward Bound Program at Central State University. It was through this experience that Paula saw the challenges that young people faced with the legal system. As a result, Paula returned to law school with a focus on juvenile justice issues.


After graduating with her Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa, Paula moved with her family to Toledo in 1982. As a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow, she began her career at Toledo Legal Aid Society representing senior citizens and working with several community groups.


Paula's purpose has centered on improving the quality of her community through her hard work in the public and private sector. During her 35-year professional career, she has worked as assistant Lucas County prosecutor, assistant public defender and assistant state attorney general. From 1998-2002, she served as the legislative director of the Toledo City Council. Following that, she served as the director and deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections and chief legal counsel to the Ohio Office of Budget and Management under Governor Ted Strickland.


From negotiating labor contracts for Ohio Shared Services Center and teaching domestic relations law to conducting voter education activities for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Paula has advocated for a diverse range of issues in a holistic and sensible way.


Of particular note are her numerous programs and efforts geared toward youth well-being and educational issues. As a Court Appointed Child Advocate-Guardian ad Litem, she is trained in mediation and advocates for neglected and underrepresented youth. As a result of her efforts, she has been honored by the Urban Minority Alcohol and Drug Outreach Program. She also continues her partnership with the Coalition and Quality Education and Covenant Youth Development Corporation to increase opportunities for young people. As a professor of juvenile justice, Paula has informed upcoming professionals of the importance of intervention and prevention programs and actions for development of productive citizenship for our future society.


In 2011, while working for her own private law practice and teaching criminal justice at the University of Toledo's College of Law, Paula was selected by the  Lucas County Democratic Party to fill the vacancy on the Toledo City Council District 4 seat.


On January 11, 2011, Paula was appointed to Toledo City Council to represent District 4 which includes downtown and central Toledo, the Old West End, and the Lagrange and Vistula neighborhoods of North Toledo.  She then won a special election in May of 2011 to retain the seat. In November of 2011, Toledo voters overwhelmingly voted to keep Paula on council for a four year term beginning January 2012. She became President of Council on February 26, 2013 during a special council meeting.


On February 17, 2015, Paula was sworn in as Mayor of the City of Toledo, following the passing of D. Michael Collins on February 6, 2015.


Paula's commitment to community empowerment and revitalization has also led her to serve on the following boards and organizations: the NAACP, the YWCA, the Frederick Douglass Community Center, Toledo Youth Hostel, the African American Law Enforcement Agents, Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation, and the state and national Federations of Business and Professional Women, Inc. She is also the past president of the Thurgood Marshall law Association and the Toledo Women’s Bar Association.   


Outside of her dedicated, successful professional career she enjoys many rich connections and activities with family and friends. She has been married to Freeman W. Hudson since 1973 and is the proud mother of two adult daughters,Patricia Hope and Leah Free Star, and grandmother of seven grandchildren. An accomplished musician, Paula serves as the minister of music at Redeemer Lutheran Church.


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