Sheila Saidman, a Luzerne County native, has been involved in her community for many years.
When she returned to Northeast Pennsylvania following her graduation from the University of Pittsburgh Law School, she served on a variety of non-profit boards of directors including the Victims Resource Board, the Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley, Temple Israel of Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County Community College.
She is a graduate of Leadership Wilkes-Barre, and was a founding member of the Luzerne County Commission for Women, established by the late Rose Tucker.
Currently, she is a member of the board of directors of Maternal and Family Health Services and a member of Circle 200. In 2017, she was elected to serve on Luzerne County Council. As part of her normal council responsibilities, she is also a member of the Authorities Boards, Commissions Committee, and the Legislative Committee.
She also acted in community theater for a time.
Her career has been diverse. When she graduated from college, Saidman taught high school and college for more than 12 years. She was involved in the Pennsylvania State Education Association, where she represented teachers and other public school personnel at several school districts adjacent to Luzerne County as well as Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
Prior to being employed by PSEA, she was appointed assistant District Attorney in the administration of the Honorable Correale F. Stevens. When Saidman left the office of the District Attorney, she acted as associate General Counsel to Jewelcor Inc. and Gruen Marketing. Upon her departure, she was named Chief Counsel for the Northeast Region of PNC Bank.
Throughout her legal career, Saidman remained active in the Luzerne County Bar Association. In 2008, she was honored to be elected the first woman president in the bar association’s 138-year history.
In 2016, after her disappointment in the results of the presidential election, and being bored after her official retirement from PSEA due to a leg injury, she decided to listen to the urgings of many politicians to become involved in local politics. Without any political experience, Saidman decided to enter the election for Luzerne County Council.
“I surprised myself when I was elected and finished first among all the candidates,” she said.
She is a 1967 graduate of the first class of Wyoming Valley West. In 1970, she was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in English and two years later a Master’s of Science degree in reading and educational psychology from Temple University. She graduated and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh in 1984. She was admitted to practice law in all courts in Pennsylvania, and to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Saidman had many mentors in teaching, practicing law and running for office.
She attributes her success to her family: her mother, Bertha Bishop, and father, Lester Saidman, who were passionate about education and philanthropy; her sister and brother-in-law, Carol and David Greenwald; her brother and sister-in-law, Bruce and Melissa Saidman. They have all been inspirational role models for her in their respect for the sick and elderly members of the community. Her brother, Alan Saidman, and his wife, Alana Smart, always have been role models in choosing causes and political organizations.
Her partner of nearly 30 years, Steven Kafrissen, a prominent local psychiatrist, has been a moral compass for her in all areas, but particularly helping her understand the issue of mental illness in the community. And finally, her daughter, Rebekah Saidman-Krauss, dean of admissions for Penn State’s Dickinson Law, fills her with unconditional love and pride for all she is and has become.