Wells Fargo commits to increase African American homeownership

— Wells Fargo & Company, the leading U.S. home loan lender, announced a $60 billion lending commitment to create at least 250,000 African American homeowners by 2027.

The company’s commitment is a direct action to help address the lower homeownership rates in the African American community and follows Wells Fargo’s announcement to address Hispanic homeownership rates in 2015.

Wells Fargo’s commitment seeks to:

•Lend $60 billion to qualified African American consumers for home purchases by 2027

•Increase the diversity of the Wells Fargo Home Lending sales team

•Support the effort with $15 million to support a variety of initiatives that promote financial education and counseling over the next ten years

“Wells Fargo’s $60 billion lending goal can contribute to economic growth by making responsible homeownership possible for more African Americans in communities across the country,” said Brad Blackwell, executive vice president and head of housing policy and homeownership growth strategies for Wells Fargo. “We are proud to be the first mortgage lender to make a public commitment to help increase African American homeownership. And, we are grateful for the support of key housing and civil rights organizations, who work alongside us to increase economic prosperity in our communities.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by the year 2024, 75 percent of the expected 14 million new households (renters and owners) in the U.S. will be diverse. African Americans are projected to represent 17 percent, or the third largest segment, of the new households. Joining Wells Fargo in the effort are the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (composed of African American real estate professionals), which has also set a homeownership goal, and two of the nation’s most influential civil rights organizations, the NAACP and the National Urban League. The National Urban League provides homebuyer education and counseling through its network of affiliate offices across the country.

“NAREB applauds Wells Fargo’s $60 billion loan commitment. The bank is the first financial institution to acknowledge publicly black Americans’ wealth-building potential which could be greatly improved through homeownership,” said Ron Cooper, president, National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). “NAREB welcomes their entry into the struggle to close the ever-widening wealth gap for black Americans, and looks forward to having Wells Fargo as a partner in NAREB’s ‘2 Million New Black Homeowners in 5 Years’ program. Let us all work together and grow this initiative which represents a solid and meaningful start for more Black Americans to become homeowners and wealth-builders.”

The African American lending commitment is the second initiative from the company’s Housing Policy and Homeownership Growth Strategies group, a Wells Fargo Home Lending team advancing homeownership for minorities, first-time homebuyers and low- to moderate-income customers. In 2015, the team announced an agreement with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals to support their Hispanic Wealth Project.

“Homeownership has become an indispensable part of being a full participant in American society,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “An erosion of homeownership rates among African Americans represents not only a devastating financial loss but a barrier to full participation in the American dream.”

Despite these factors, Wells Fargo has learned through a series of consumer surveys with Ipsos Public Affairs that African Americans view homeownership positively. According to the 2016 survey, 90 percent of African Americans say homeownership is a “dream come true,” 79 percent say it’s essential for building families and 51 percent are considering buying a home in the next two years.

Hosanna School celebrates 150th anniversary

— It was nearly 40 years ago when Christine Tolbert was approached by the president of the Harford County Historical Society for information regarding the history of the Hosanna School, a historic institution for African-Americans in Darlington, Md.

“I met with the Society to discuss the little I knew and after that meeting I began to question my maternal grandmother and other relatives and learned that it was the first public school built for the black community in 1867,” said Tolbert, a board member of the Hosanna School.

A simple sign marks the location of Hosanna School Museum in Darlington. Hosanna is now a living schoolhouse museum, which attracts visitors from all over the country.

Courtesy Photo/Hosanna School MuseumA

A simple sign marks the location of Hosanna School Museum in Darlington. Hosanna is now a living schoolhouse museum, which attracts visitors from all over the country.

Hosanna School Museum is a two-story structure that was built in 1867 by the Freedmen's Bureau.

Courtesy Photo/Hosanna School MuseumA

Hosanna School Museum is a two-story structure that was built in 1867 by the Freedmen’s Bureau.

After interviewing some of the neighborhood elders about the school, Tolbert said she was encouraged to explore the possibility of restoring the building, which was in great distress after being destroyed by Hurricane Hazel.

By 1983, with the help of Maryland Delegate Barbara Kreamer, the restoration received its first bond bill of $50,000.

For Tolbert, who attended what is now known as the Hosanna School Museum as a child from first through fifth grade and would later serve as its executive director, the joy of restoring the historic building will forever be remembered as officials prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Hosanna on Friday, April 7, 2017.

“What I find compelling is the opportunity for younger people to experience a living history. They’re able to hear the stories, see, and touch and feel what schools in rural America looked like; to learn about the times when black people were denied an education equal to their white counterparts,” Tolbert said.

The first Freedmen’s Bureau school in Harford County, Hosanna will celebrate its anniversary with a banquet and a keynote address by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of UMBC.

Hosanna is a living schoolhouse museum, which attracts visitors from all over the country. Housed inside the two-story building with two rooms on each floor, the museum hosts various events including living history presentations in the schoolroom.

Also, known as the Berkley School, Hosanna was built in 1867 on land owned by James Paca, the son of Cupid Paca, a free African-American who bought 50 acres of land from Berkley to Darlington.

It was used as a school, community, meeting place and church and remained active as a schoolhouse for African-American children until 1945.

Significant restoration of the building began in 1983, and the second floor was added in 2005, returning it to its original two-story structure.

“African-Americans from or associated with Harford County were involved in significant events that had national impact. But these stories are not well known,” said Iris Leigh Barnes, the school’s current executive director.

“One of my personal missions is to seek out these stories and ensure that they are included in the national narrative,” Barnes said, noting the Supreme Court Case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the Christiana Resistance, and the desegregation of restaurants and public accommodations along Route 40 in Maryland.

“What is important to me is that the public learns about the history of the school, and by extension life in Harford County in the context of emancipation, reconstruction and Jim Crow and how regardless of the social and political obstacles faced by the students that attended the school-the families that supported them-and the church that sustained them-they persevered,” added Board Member Sharoll Love.

“Too little is taught in our schools about history in general and African-American History, in particular,” Love said.

The anniversary event will take place at the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College, 7 p.m.

In addition, the banquet will feature a sit-down dinner, live entertainment and a book signing by Hrabowski.

“We are honored to have Dr. Hrabowski as the keynote speaker. His speaking is significant because in the same way the first teachers of Hosanna School were committed to providing education and changing lives in untold ways for African-Americans— committed sometimes to the point of putting their lives on the line— Dr. Hrabowski is equally committed to providing educational opportunities for today’s black youth, particularly males through STEM programs,” Barnes said.

Banquet tickets are $60 and are available online at: www.hosannaschoolmuseum.org. Proceeds are earmarked for the continued preservation of Hosanna School Museum and to support interpretative and educational programming.

Light City Returns to the Inner Harbor March 31-April 8

You are at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and see large goldfish swimming inside a car. You walk along a little further and now see lighted figures along the grass and amidst the water. You continue along your trek, and now see a huge illuminated cocoon emblazoned with colorful flowers. You are not seeing things. You are at Light City, the nation’s first large-scale light, music and innovation festival.

Presented by The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA), the electrifying festival returns for its second consecutive year, and runs Friday, March 31, 2017 through Saturday, April

8, 2017. Light City transforms Baltimore into an interactive playground of light art installations. The family-friendly event also includes concerts and performances.

Last year, the inaugural festival drew more than 400,000 visitors and generated $33.8 million in economic impact to Baltimore. Building on last year’s success, organizers promise that Light

City 2017 will be even bigger, bolder and brighter with brand new installations and experiences.

“If you liked last year, you will love this year,” said Kathy Hornig, festival director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. “We have worked hard over the past 12 months to ensure

than this year’s event is even bigger and brighter than last year’s event. We thought we would come out this year in an even more newer, brighter, and bolder way. This includes running the festival for nine nights, which will give people more time to enjoy the displays. One of the biggest things people requested was that the event be open more nights.”

The Baltimore Office of Promotion &The Arts is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, which serves as Baltimore City’s arts council, events agency, and film office. By producing large-scale

events such as Light City, Artscape and the Baltimore Book Festival, and providing funding and support to artists, arts programs and organizations across the city, BOPA’s goal is to make Baltimore a more vibrant and creative city.

“Last year, the event also provided a big boost to the Inner Harbor from the huge crowds of tourists and citizens,” said Hornig. “Many of them had not visited the Inner Harbor in a while. Once again, the heart of the festival will be the BGE Light Art Walk. We will also be bringing back last year’s favorite exhibits.”

The BGE Light Art Walk, is a 1.5-mile trail along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor featuring illuminated artworks, performances, music, locally sourced food concepts, a children’s area and maker

tents. Of the 23 light installations on display, 21 are brand new to Light City with ten brand new commissions making their debut at the event.

The two “crowd favorites” that are returning for 2017 are The Peacock by Tim Scofield and Kyle Miller and The Pool [Reflect] by Jen Lewin. This year’s Light City also includes a new line-up of

performances and concerts, and nightly themed kickoffs called “Nightly Moments.”

Festivities include fireworks on the final night, parades, a themed food and beverage program, and Neighborhood Lights, an immersive community artistin- residence program that will feature light installations in eight Baltimore City neighborhoods, which includes Coldstream Homestead Montebello, Greater Mondawmin, and Sandtown-Winchester.

“There is so much talk about what divides us, but Light City is a great way to celebrate what connects us, and what we all have in common,” said Hornig. “Last year, folks met new friends and shared with others. They loved the art, and the concerts, but they really loved the vibe and positivity that was at the Inner Harbor.”

She added, “I am so excited. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have put together. It’s like Christmas for me.”

For more information on Light City, call 410-752-8632. You can also visit www.lightcity.org for a listing of the

events and other details, and to download the Light City Baltimore App.

Local Nurse among ‘greatest’ in nationwide competition

Kristy Gorman tirelessly advocates for children, and her colleagues at Essex Elementary School say she has had a strong and positive effect in just the one year she has been a nurse there.

In addition to normal nursing duties like bandaging scraped knees, measuring sugar levels of diabetic students and tube feeding those with more severe medical needs, Gorman works with state social service agencies to provide needed food, clothing and mental health services for children and families. She also has the staff at Essex participating in a healthy eating contest.

Lauded for her diligence inside the school and throughout Baltimore County’s school district, Gorman is now

receiving notice from the outside as well. She is the state finalist in the Children’s Advil, Children’s Robitussin and Children’s Dimetapp nationwide contest, which seeks to find “America’s Greatest School Nurse.”

“It’s an honor to be a finalist for Maryland and to represent school health in a national contest,” she said.

Officials began to accept nominations earlier this year. One school nurse from each state will be selected as a finalist and receive $500 and a chance to win a summer vacation.

The public is invited to vote for the finalists until April 16, and the winner will be announced on May 5.

“I was completely surprised when I got the call. I wasn’t aware that my school administrators even nominated me for this contest,” Gorman said. “It was a pleasant surprise. I am humbled by the nomination and it reinforces that I work for wonderful people who go above and beyond to recognize their staff.”

Gorman has been a nurse for 12 years and says she loves her profession.

Her decision to become a nurse occurred after she visited the mother of a close friend who had been hospitalized. Gorman was intrigued by the complex needs of her friend’s mother’s care and how the family needed the clinical and emotional support of the medical staff.

“This feeling did not go away. My family encouraged me to apply to nursing school and even helped pave my career path after graduation,” she said. “I went on to get my graduate degree in leadership and management in the healthcare profession and obtained my teaching certification. Every step of my career

has involved developing close relationships with patients and their families.”

Gorman obtained her BSN and MS from the University of Maryland School of Nursing and in addition to her job at Essex Elementary, she also works as an oncology infusion nurse at a local hospital.

“If you have compassion and a desire to help those in their most vulnerable moments, this is the career for you. It is a privilege to work with patients and families who need not only clinical care but emotional support,” she said. “Sometimes all a patient or family member needs is someone to listen and to know that they have been heard.”

As voting for Greatest School Nurse heats up, Gorman offered a thought on why voters should select her.

“I truly love what I do. I work in a great state, in a great county and for an outstanding school with wonderful staff,” she said. “We are a team at BCPS and Essex Elementary. Voting for me would be voting for us.”

To cast a vote for Gorman or for more information about the contest, visit: www.americasgreatestschoolnurse.com

How to end construction union racism— start a black union!

— It has been 45 years since my mentor, Dr. Arthur A. Fletcher, implemented the Philadelphia Plan, a federal program used to integrate unions. From the beginning, the construction trades resisted with violence and Jim Crow style segregation. Take the pipe fitters’ union halls in Chicago, they have been successfully sued various times but still will not integrate their halls. It is this way across our nation. Therefore, the National Black Chamber of Commerce will not support pro–union Project Labor Agreements.

Then, why do most civil rights organizations and local black elected officials support such instruments of racism? That is simple. They accept donations from the very construction locals who discriminate against us. Sometimes they will claim that they will start an Apprentice Training Program that will result in black youth starting careers in productive union jobs. Many have gone through these programs; graduate and sign onto a union hall; and wait forever. There will be no jobs and there will be no career. It is a sham. This is a national disgrace. If they do it all the time in Washington, D.C., the Capital of our nation, it is happening everywhere. Forty-five years and there is no progress. Construction unions were “skipped” during the Civil Rights Victories. Now the unions will allow general laborers and cement workers to integrate which provides cover for the higher paying trades.

Last week at the request of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, I visited something I never envisioned. I sat in a meeting with a group who introduced themselves as an international construction union. The U. S. Department of Labor accepts them. Their members are black and they have active apprentice training programs. The key to this is that they are “International” and are not affiliated with the Jim Crow unions. I said to myself, “Finally Lord, we have found the way.”

This meeting took place at the historic Altgeld Gardens, a public housing neighborhood under the management of the Chicago Housing Authority. I have been into hundreds of public housing facilities but this one was quite different. It is like a subdivision. Two story homes housing 3,400 residents. It is clean, quiet with all the residents speaking to one another. Unique would be an understatement.

Section 3 of the HUD Act (24 CFR part 135) was enacted in 1968, right after the first Watts Riot in Los Angeles. It was updated after the Rodney King Riot in 1992. Unlike the 95 percent of HUD facilities, which ignore Section 3, Altgeld is compliant with Section 3. Section 3 provides on the job training for all projects that have “some” HUD funding. That HUD funding could be in a shopping center, hotel, football stadium, etc. Those projects are to contract 10 percent of that funding to Section 3 companies. A Section 3 company is one that hires at least 30 percent Section 3 workers (people that live in public housing or Section 8 rentals.) Altgeld should be a national model.

So here we are— a black union running apprenticeship programs through Section 3 construction contracts and using Section 3 workers. Keep in mind that Altgeld is the largest public housing facility in greater Chicago. Their tenants’ association works hand in hand with this black union. They have a working calendar which keeps everyone busy improving their lives. It is more like a happy town.

This progress reminded me of a classic James Brown hit, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing! Just open up the door and I’ll get it myself. Do you hear me?!!”

The union has big plans of spreading their “gold medal” process. They contract with a large public housing unit; complete the project and run apprentice programs at the same time utilizing Section 3. Keep in mind a journeyman drywall installer makes $80.00 per hour in the Chicago area. Before long the residents of public housing will be saying “Bye, Bye” to poverty, drug trafficking and despair.

These guys knew about the Section 3 classes we were producing across the country 25 years ago, that is why they wanted to meet the NBCC. Their plan is to spread this model across the country city by city. Chicago is their second city. They got their start in New York City.

Well, the NBCC will collaborate with them. They will make a formal presentation at our annual conference in July. Our chapters located in urban areas can bring the prototype of this program back to their communities.

In conclusion, I will quote a more melodic singer: “God bless the child who has his own,”— Billie Holiday.

Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. For more information, visit: www.nationalbcc.org and to contact Harry Alford, email: halford@nationalbcc.org

Fifth Harmony Songstress partners with American Cancer Society

Atlanta— Normani Kordei, of the internationally acclaimed pop group Fifth Harmony, has partnered with the American Cancer Society as a global ambassador to increase awareness around the importance of breast cancer screening and HPV vaccination. The fight against cancer hits close to home, as Kordei’s mother, Andrea, is a breast cancer survivor having been diagnosed when Normani was just five years old.

“I remember seeing my father shaving my mother’s head in the bathroom after her chemo treatments; It was so traumatizing,”Kordei said.

The heartbreaking memory of her mother, who she calls her role model and inspiration, made the decision to

partner with American Cancer Society in helping to fight this horrible disease a no brainer..

“My mom is my hero, and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her,” said Kordei. “I am so committed to this fight. I love the work the American Cancer Society does, and being a global ambassador provides me an amazing platform to share my experience and story while growing up, support my grandfather who is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, and honor the legacy of my Uncle Norman, to whom I am named after and never met, having passed from lung cancer at the age of 33.”

The American Cancer Society is the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research and offers patient programs and services including free transportation to treatment, no-cost lodging at more than 30 Hope Lodge facilities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as education and prevention initiatives around the world.

“Cancer has touched my life and the lives of those I love, and now I’m ready to help all that I can in the fight,” Kordei said.

“We are honored to have such a strong voice in Normani to help us save more lives from cancer,” said Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for the American Cancer Society. “Her passion and commitment at such a young age is remarkable. In November, Normani visited a hospital with us, and watching her interact with patients young and old was special. She has the ability to put smiles on the patients who need happiness most.”

“Being only 20, it was especially tough to watch kids who were struggling,” Kordei said. “But it was truly memorable and inspiring to see their parents provide support. It was really emotional yet rewarding when a few of the parents came up to me with tears in their eyes saying that it has been a long time since they saw their kids smile. That experience set the course and the desire to do more.”

The American Cancer Society is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem, and it’s because of her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis that Normani is especially committed to increasing awareness about the importance of mammography among women in underserved communities. And as a young woman who has taken a step toward the prevention of cervical and other cancers through HPV vaccination, she is the perfect ambassador to share the message to make HPV vaccination a national and global public health priority.

“Vaccines are among the few medical interventions capable of achieving almost complete eradication of a disease,” Byers said. “We have a cancer prevention vaccine that has been available for 10 years. They’re safe and they work, yet in this country only about half of girls and boys who are vaccinated with the other vaccines recommended for preteens are getting vaccinated to protect them from cancer.

“It’s not often there’s an opportunity to prevent cancer, or in this case multiple cancers, with a single tool. Concerted efforts are needed so that the opportunity is not lost. Having a widely known and well-connected spokesperson like Normani, who has a pulse on the younger generation and a passion for working with kids, will help to educate today’s parents and youth.”

Baltimore Light City

Bigger, Bolder and Brighter.The second annual Light City, the nation’s first large-scale light, music and innovation festival, returns to transform Baltimore’s Inner Harbor into an interactive playground of light art installations, activities for the whole family, free concerts and performances. The festival, produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, is open from 7-11pm on weeknights and until midnight on the weekends. Visit lightcity.org for schedules and more information.

Hidden ER Costs Undermine Health Markets

— Imagine you’re traveling in a different state when, suddenly, you begin to feel severe abdominal pain. Being unfamiliar with the area and wanting to avoid hefty out-of-network bills, you call your insurance company to find an in-network hospital. After receiving some medication and a few routine tests in the emergency department, you leave feeling better.

A month later, you receive a bill from your insurance company: $1,600 in out-of-network charges!

This actually happened to businessman Doug Moore. And it’s happening to hundreds of thousands of others across the country, due to a flaw in health insurance markets. Fixing this shortcoming would save patients from unexpected, ruinous bills and enable consumers to make rational economic choices about their health.

The problem is that insurers contract with hospitals and emergency room doctors separately. So even if a hospital is in-network, the doctors in the ER might not be. Patients rarely realize this. And even if they did, there’s little way for patients to check if the ER doctors are covered by their insurance plan.

The resulting out-of-network charges are stunningly expensive— and common. More than one in five patients who visited in-network ERs were treated by out-of-network physicians, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their average bill was over two and a half times higher than what they would have paid for an in-network physician. For some patients, surprise out-of-network ER bills can hit upwards of $19,000 for a single visit to an in-network hospital.

These surprise costs would devastate most American families. Indeed, nearly half of Americans would not be able to afford an ER bill of just $400 without borrowing money or selling some of their assets, according to the Federal Reserve.

According to the study, hundreds of thousands of families are facing ruinous out-of-network bills that they have no way of foreseeing or preventing. That’s tragic. It’s also bad policy.

To control healthcare spending, patients need to know which providers and treatments are in-network, so they can seek care accordingly. They can’t do that if insurers keep them in the dark about which ER doctors are covered, and then hit them with surprise bills.

Insurers could fix this problem by negotiating with hospitals for a bundled reimbursement rate that includes ER services. Hospitals would then conduct their own pay negotiations with ER doctors. As a result, hospitals would compete with one another to employ the best doctors and offer insurers favorable rates.

And insurers would compete for consumers’ business based on premiums and the breadth of hospitals— and thus ER departments— that are covered by the plan.

Patients could easily see which hospitals are covered by which plans, and make their own decisions about where to seek care.

That would put an end to billing practices that shock consumers with hefty tabs and it would improve consumer choice, putting downward pressure on rising healthcare costs.

Wayne Winegarden is a senior fellow in business and economics at the Pacific Research Institute.

Author and activist donates 500 books to city schools

Baltimore— Baltimore author, activist and filmmaker Kevin Shird has donated, and personally delivered, 500

copies of his latest book, “Uprising in the City,” to five Baltimore City public schools.

The books were evenly distributed in classrooms at Frederick Douglas High School, Renaissance Academy High School, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School, and Baltimore City College. The books will be used for various purposes, including classroom study, reading assignments and other ongoing initiatives.

“Uprising in the City,” which was released in August of 2016, takes a scholarly look at the various factors

that contributed to the unrest that hit Baltimore’s streets in 2015 shortly after the death of Freddie Gray, who

died as a result of injuries sustained while in the custody of Baltimore City Police. The donation comes shortly before the anniversary of the riots next month. Shird says he donated the books because he feels it’s important for Baltimore City students to understand the various historical and social factors that contributed to the demonstrations and riots.

“When I wrote this book, I approached it as a student of history,” said the self-published author. “The death

of Freddie Gray was an unnecessary tragedy but that was more of a catalyst than a cause for the outpouring

of frustration and anger that we saw two years ago. There are issues in this city going back over 30 years

that are far more responsible, and I think it’s important for students to understand that, because eventually it’s going to be on them to address those problems and try and make it better.”

Shird’s previous book,”Lessons of Redemption” has reached o acclaim as an international best seller.

He has long been an outspoken advocate for education and Baltimore’s youth. Although he spends a considerable amount of time conducting speaking engagements at colleges and universities around the

country, students in Baltimore are near and dear to him.

As part of his donation, Shird is also personally sponsoring an essay contest with a prize of $500. Details of

the contest will be announced soon, and the winner will be chosen and announced later this year.

For more information about Kevin Shird, visit: www.kevinshird.com

Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business

Women have successfully challenged the role they play in both business and the paid labor force. Women have proven that they can be successful in every field.

Women have always worked but often their work has been undervalued, underpaid or unpaid. As labor, business leaders and innovators, women defied the social norms of our times by demonstrating their ability to create organizations and establish their own businesses that paved the way for better working conditions and wages for themselves and future generations of women.

This year’s theme for National Women’s History Month, “Honoring trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,”recognizes women’s contributions to the workforce. The five women highlighted in this article are examples of trailblazers who have accepted opportunities and overcome obstacles to become successful in their chosen career paths.

In addition, they are passionate about their role in mentoring and encouraging young people, especially girls to excel. The honorees are: Dr. Denise Beach Davis, podiatrist and surgeon; Elizabeth S. Glenn, retired Baltimore County administrator; Dr. Jocelyn Gainers, entrepreneur and addictions counselor; Karen Gibbs, founder of the Gibbs Perspective and business TV anchor; and Donna Stevenson Robinson, president and CEO of Early Morning Software.

With the encouragement of her mentor, Dr. Denise Beach Davis, chose to consider podiatry.

“I was happy to [enter] a profession that was Jewish male dominated for so many years. Today, we have many minorities in the profession. I am glad to have considered this career path,” said Beach Davis, explaining that as a woman in podiatry, she had to prove that she added value to most patient circumstances, especially in the operating room.

Beach Davis believes in the importance of mentoring young women to help them to develop the confidence, self worth and determination that will enable them to become whatever they choose. She encourages youth to excel beyond their comfort zone in order to maximize their potential.

Another trailblazer, is gifted artist and fashion designer Elizabeth S. Glenn who retired from the Baltimore County government as deputy director of planning. Glenn worked with the County administration to increase funding and programming for the homeless. She administered community planning and development programs such as sustainable development and affordable, accessible housing units, both rental and home-ownership. These efforts helped hundreds of people to obtain permanent housing upon exiting Baltimore County shelters.

Described as a high-energy trainer and consultant for human service programs, Dr. Jocelyn Gainers is the CEO of the Family Recovery Program, Inc. located in Baltimore City. The program aims to reach substance abusing parents who have children ages 0-10 years entering foster care for the first time, with the intention of engaging parents in substance use treatment,reunifying families, and avoiding subsequent mal- treatment.

As a certified addictions counselor with expertise in working with adolescents, adults and couples in both group and individual settings, Dr. Gainers said, “The work of the Family Recovery Program exists for parents in times of challenge and controversy and as an organization, it chooses to be motivated by the desire to create good outcomes for the families that they serve.

Karen Gibbs is president and founder of The Gibbs Perspective, a company concerned with financial literacy/capability and investor education. She is a veteran business television anchor and correspondent. A noted speaker and moderator, Gibbs is now the financial expert for the Maryland Public Television’s

Smart Thinking for Your Money campaign. Most recently she was a contributor to PBS’ Nightly Business Report and a host for the Moneyshow.com Video Network.

“Once money took over as the world’s largest commodity, I rode the wave of financial futures from treasuries and mortgages, foreign currencies, stock index futures and options,” said Gibbs, who

believes it’s imperative to nurture and encourage anyone who wants to further their education, work in corporate America or start their own business.

Donna Stevenson Robinson is President and co-founder of Early Morning Software, Inc., a software manufacturer of the flagship Contract Compliance and Supplier Diversity Management solution, PRISMCompliance.com.

Stevenson’s introduction to the possibility of a career in Information Technology (IT) was spawned at a college career fair and later job fair where she met personel from her first employer, IBM. Stevenson

learned and developed as an IT/Project Management professional, which prepared her for entrepreneurship. The biggest challenge has been accessing funding and earning the respect as a national software manufacturer.

“Today, I seek champions, rather than mentors for our business vision and creating economic development outcomes that are derived by having procurement and compliance practices managed by the PRISMCompliance.com system,” Stevenson said.