Life in Baltimore: Weaving the stories of women’s lives


— “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” is the 2015 Theme of National Women’s History Month which is quite an appropriate theme for this group of women who are being honored. The stories of women’s lives and their choices encourages girls and young women to think bigger and bolder. Knowing women’s achievements challenge stereotypes and upends social assumptions about who women are and what women can accomplish today. Though women are in key positions in politics, CEO’s of companies, and leaders in the communities, there are still many issues to be addressed which affect the daily lives of girls and young women. It is imperative that women continue to strive for excellence and share their stories with others.

These ladies, all of whom graduated from schools in Baltimore, then graduated universities, and chose careers which led them back to their hometown. They are business owners, entrepreneurs, educators, attorneys, mothers and volunteers in the Baltimore community.

Pamela King-Smith and Kara King-Bess, both Certified Public Accountants, are the daughters of the late Benjamin L. King and Gloria W. King. Upon passing the Certified Public Accountant exam in 1957, Benjamin L. King opened his CPA firm in Baltimore. He developed his practice using contacts from his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and by networking with other African American businesses. In 1958 he partnered with Arthur Reynolds, the second African American to pass the exam in Maryland, and the firm became King, Reynolds & Co. Over the years the name has changed with various partners and is now known as King, King & Associates, PA. with siblings Pamela King Smith, Kara King Bess and Anthony G. King as owners.

Pamela King-Smith

Pamela King-Smith

Pamela King Smith graduated from Western High School, Virginia State University, with a BS in accounting and a MS in Taxation, University of Baltimore. Pamela states, “I followed in my father’s footsteps and chose a career in accounting. He was the first African American in the State of Maryland to pass the CPA exam. He was an entrepreneur and I gained valuable experience working alongside him over the years. I liked the idea of working in a family business and being able to help others achieve their business goals.” She is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants and Rho Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Kara King Bess graduated from Western High School, Virginia State University, with a BS in accounting and a MBA from Columbia University. She too, wanted a career in the family business. She is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants and Rho Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In addition, she is on the Board of Directors of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Kara states, “To whom much is given, much is expected. I understand this to mean that I must return the blessings I have been given. I do this by giving back to the community in which I was raised, the community in which I was educated, and the community in which I currently work.”

King, King & Associates is a full service accounting and management consulting firm providing services such as tax preparation & defense, auditing, accounting and business advisory services. Over the past twenty-four years, the Kings can be seen during the tax season with” Tax Questions” on WBALTV-11. The office is located at 124 Slade Avenue.

Another young woman who has followed in her father’s footsteps is Dr. Cassandra D. Burnett, general dentist. Dr. Burnett is the daughter of Dr. Sidney O. Burnett and Mrs. Faye V. Burnett. She graduated from Western High School, Towson State University and Howard University College of Dentistry. Currently Dr. Burnett practices dentistry in the city of Baltimore. She is on the faculty at the University of Maryland, School of Dentistry in the PLUS clinic treating those individuals who are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. Dr. Burnett states, “Dentistry is a second career for me. My career began as a Community Health Educator which was rewarding, however, I believed I could expand my reach of helping the community outside of just educating them about the importance of healthcare, but treating their ailments in hoping to make them a whole and healthier person. Oral healthcare, which is many times overlooked, affects the entire body and is an extremely important part of the overall health and wellbeing of a human being. Treating patient’s oral needs and seeing how it improves other areas of their health, appearance, and life is truly gratifying,”

Dr. Burnett has memberships in the American Dental Association, Maryland State Dental Association, Baltimore City Dental Association, and Maryland Dental Societies. She is also a member of Rho Xi Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in which she participates on committees that volunteer throughout the city and metropolitan area to help those persons less fortunate, provide scholarships to deserving students attending higher level educational institutions, and to improve the community as a whole. The quotation Dr. Cassandra Burnett lives by “If I can help somebody as I travel along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.”

Damiane Hurtt-Cain

Damiane Hurtt-Cain

A full time Real Estate professional serving Baltimore and the surrounding counties is Damiane Hurtt Cain, daughter of the late Preston T. Hurtt and Mrs. Yvonne (Hurtt) Moten. She graduated from Western High School and University of Maryland Baltimore County with a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management. After working as a marketing analyst for a Fortune 500 company in Chicago, Damaine obtained a MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, Katz Graduate School of Business. After years in corporate America and while her children were young, she pursued real estate investing, and enjoying real estate and helping people. Currently, as a business professional with a vast knowledge of business and marketing, Damaine has the privilege of educating first time home buyers, and helping many clients purchase and sell homes.

Damiane is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also a long-time member of New Psalmist Baptist Church. She is a wife and mother of two teenagers and very actively involved in her children’s schools and athletic clubs. Damiane‘s quote to live by is “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Judith Fitzgerald

Judith Fitzgerald

Judith L. Fitzgerald graduated from Western High School, Lincoln University, Magna Cum Laude, with a major in Political Science and minor in Journalism, and Boston College Law School. She is the daughter of Franklin and Bettye Fitzgerald. After graduating from law school, Ms Fitzgerald became the first black woman to clerk for Chief Justice Robert I.H. Hammerman of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Later she began working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Attorney Honors Program. Wanting to pursue a career in litigation, she became an Associate at the law firm of the late Robert Phillip Thompson, then ventured out on her own and opened the Law Offices of Judith L. Fitzgerald. Soon after she became Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland for several years. Ms. Fitzgerald left Baltimore for Atlanta, Georgia where she was Senior Counsel for the Atlanta Housing Authority and General Counsel for Tycor Real Estate Development.

In 2004 after the birth of her son, Gary, she decided it was time to return to the Baltimore area. It was his birth that prompted her “purpose” and that is education. She began teaching law at Baltimore City Community College, and then joined the faculty at Bowie State University in the Criminal Justice Department. While at Bowie, she was also Program Director/Principal Investigator for the MAC-CAE (National Intelligence Studies).This program was the recipient of a $1.8 M grant in which she assisted in writing with Morgan State University. In addition, she did curriculum development as well as a new Criminal Justice program at Bowie and later became an adjunct professor in Criminal Law. Ms. Fitzgerald had a strong desire to teach in an advanced degree program which has led her to the faculty at Walden University where she currently teach in the Master’s Program for Non-Profit Management, the Doctoral Program for Public Policy and Administration. While teaching at Walden University, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Law and Public Policy.

Tracey M. Barbour- Gillett was just named as one of The Daily Records Maryland’s Top 100 Women 2015. She is an amazing women who graduated from Western High School, American University and the University of Baltimore with a Masters in Public Administration. She is the daughter of the late Joseph H. Barbour and Gwendolyn H. Barbour. Mrs. Barbour-Gillett has worked with or for nonprofit organizations throughout the course of her 22 year career. Much of her work has focused on nonprofit sustainability and on access to capital and community development/neighborhood revitalization issues. She believes that nonprofit organizations provide critical services and support in our communities, and that many people who work in this field are committed to making a difference. Her work in philanthropy has spanned 11 years which has given expertise in how foundations can provide critical support beyond grant dollars to support the work of nonprofit organizations.

Mrs. Barbour-Gillett chose this career because of her first work experiences and internships during college in Washington, DC, where there were always opportunities to work at nonprofits and community based organizations. She found the intersection between her interest in public policy and the desire to help people was most impact through 501©3 organizations. Mrs. Barbour-Gillett works for the Abell Foundation. Her affiliations include : President, Rho Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 2013 to present ; the Board of Directors, AIDS Interfaith Residential Services, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers-Baltimore Integration Partnership, Local Purchasing/Small Business Development Committee, 2014-2015; the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers- Neighborhood and Community Development Affinity Group,2014; Baltimore Homeowners Preservation Coalition, Chair, 2012-2015 and the Cultured Pearls of Service, Inc., Board Member, 2013-2015.

E. Francine Stokes-McElveen

E. Francine Stokes-McElveen

E. Francine Stokes McElveen, a native Baltimorean serves as General Counsel for Coppin State University. She is the daughter of Robert and Alice Coleman and mother of four lovely adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. She is a graduate of Frederick Douglass Senior High School, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in mathematics from Morgan State University, obtained a Master of Science Degree from the Johns Hopkins University; and then earned a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University Of Baltimore, School of Law. Since graduating law school, she has held numerous positions in the law to include:

Law clerk to Judge Robert Bell, former Chief Judge of the Maryland Court Of Appeals, attorney with the States’ Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City, Special Assistant to the President of Morgan State University for Government Relations which has led to her current position as General Counsel for Coppin.

With a deep commitment to help others resolve conflicts and challenge inequities that are witnessed each and every day, Mrs. Stokes McElveen chose a career in law. She seeks to instill in others the resolve not to accept complacency but to voice dissatisfaction and to seek resolutions.

Over the years, she has been committed to serving others through community service. She is a former member of Boards of Directors for American Red Cross, Central Maryland Chapter, the National American Red Cross, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Services the Johns Hopkins Club and the United States Food and Drug Administration, and Gastroenterology and Urology Panel. Other organization affiliations are President, Epsilon Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and the Baltimore Chapter of the Links, Incorporated and the Baltimore Chapter of the Sophisticates, Incorporated. One of her favorite quotations is the words of Maya Angelou. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”