From the time she was 10 years old, collecting signatures in protest of the perceived injustice surrounding the ending of her favorite television show, to achieving her doctoral degree in Clinical Forensic Psychology, persistence and advocacy have defined Dr. Shannon Edwards’ life.
Shannon has consistently believed passions fuel passions. She was in Vaughn Bicehouse’s psychology class when planes struck the towers during 9/11, prompting her intrigue into human motivation and behavior. During the integration of psychology and criminal justice coursework at California University of Pennsylvania, she solidified her desire to specialize in forensic psychology, feeling discouraged by the amount of individuals providing professional services to disenfranchised populations. Moving away from southwestern Pennsylvania for the first time, to downtown Chicago IL, forever changed Shannon’s perspectives, insight, and foundation of understanding. She grew out of ignorance and into insight, developing necessary skills to become a competent licensed psychologist, as well as passionate activist.
Shannon understands the compassion and dedication someone needs to empathize with individuals experiencing adversity. Even more important: she understands human skills aren’t something you learn through higher education or in books. You learn them on the South side of Chicago at an Evening Reporting Center for Juveniles. Or at the Allegheny County Jail interacting with individuals who are mentally ill. Or treating individuals who are incompetent to stand trial at Torrance State Hospital. Or at the Light of Life Missions on the Northside donating your time or a Thanksgiving dinner. Becoming a psychologist challenged and changed Shannon in a way, unbeknownst at the time, eventually preparing her for a Congressional run. What was most important is she became a better advocate for individuals who experience adversity. Chicago led her to a more comprehensive understanding of compassion, dedication, persistence, and ultimately back to the city she loved.
Upon completion of her doctoral studies, she returned home to work at UPMC Mercy Hospital on their outpatient neuropsychology unit, assisting patients and families experiencing varying organic brain disorders and traumatic brain injury. Additionally, she worked in private practice, serving Washington and Allegheny County Criminal and Family Courts with psychological services. As the Interim Director of Mental Health at the Allegheny County Jail, Shannon was able to interact with Officers, inmates, and providers, assessing the needs of the seriously mentally ill, as well as gaps in available treatment. After assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the criminal justice and mental health systems, Shannon decided she could affect the most change infiltrating the system from outside. She opened a private practice in downtown Pittsburgh, focused on serving Family and Criminal courts throughout Pennsylvania.
Shannon’s time as a forensic psychologist and social advocate taught her the importance of fighting for what is right even when not popular, building relationships with multiple organizations and individuals to achieve similar goals within the intersection of law and psychology, and asserting herself proactively in a field dominated by men. Shannon will implement these same ideals in Congress. In our current sociopolitical climate, too often, politicians serve special interests and wealthy donors, not the people they were elected to represent. Shannon has chosen, “Edwards for Pgh” because she will serve the constituents of Pittsburgh, not Washington. Similarly, you will not find details about more than three (3) issues on Shannon’s page; Shannon is looking forward to learning what her constituents need, what they are satisfied with, and where their passions lie. Shannon’s personal positions on issues matter little when adversity and larger crises are affecting Pittsburghers and the nation at large.
Shannon can be found around Pittsburgh with her pint-sized partner in crime eating the amazing food Pittsburgh has to offer, throwing weight around (and complaining about it) at the Rivers Club, taking in a sporting event, working far too often at her private practice, or walking their dog, Max.