From her childhood in the suburbs of Pittsburgh attending school during a court-ordered desegregation, to her becoming the first person of color shareholder at Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba, Maraleen Shields discussed her life, her career, and everything she loves about the Lehigh Valley in a recent interview.
“I don’t have that ‘I don’t want to do anything’ sense about me,” Shields said. “I have this sense that I don’t know how much time I have on this earth, so let me pack it all in. I’m going to try as much food, I’m going to learn as much stuff, I’m going to fill my brain with things I think are interesting and fun, because who knows when this is over?”
Shields was interviewed for an episode of Unscripted with Russo, a podcast hosted by ASR Media Productions President and The PEAK TV host Ashley Russo, in which she speaks to decision-makers and influencers in the Lehigh Valley and discusses the stories behind their rise to success.
Shields, who was recently named a Woman of Influence by Lehigh Valley Business, spoke about a wide range of topics, including her upbringing in a family filled with strong female figures. Her father died when she was in fourth grade, and afterward her mother put herself through college and became a masters-level social worker, setting a strong example that would later influence Shields’ own success.
“She just changed the trajectory, and I got to watch that,” Shield said. “To the extent that I decided, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to go to college first and decide what I want to do instead of immediately moving into the workforce?’ She let me know that was a viable way to go.”
Shields embodies everything that’s made possible in Lehigh Valley. Visit the Unscripted with Russo YouTube channel to watch the podcast episode, or listen to it on Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Apple Podcasts.
Shields said she knew she wanted to become a lawyer from a young age, and it was during law school that she met her husband, who was from the Lehigh Valley. That ultimately led her to the region, which she quickly fell in love with, particularly admiring its many parks and the diversity of its population.
Shields is extremely active in the Lehigh Valley, both in the in the community and in general: at the time of the interview had worked out every day for the past 1,494 days. She also ran for judge in Lehigh County, and although not elected, she hopes her campaign will inspire other people of color who come after her.
“Absolutely I wanted that for me, but I also wanted to show the possibility so people will think of it as not unusual,” she said. “Part of what we can struggle with sometimes is if you see the same types of leadership, you think that’s what leadership looks like. If we can disrupt that (and) break those barriers, if I can make it so the next kid coming along is like, ‘Yeah, I can do that,’ then I think then I’ve done something.”