Archived Articles: April 2018

For Mary Lasky, and LHC, the Emphasis Is on Continuity

Talk with any Leadership Howard County (LHC) graduate, and you’ll likely conclude that his or her class is still in session. Long after graduation, classmates continue to maintain bonds they formed during their training by holding frequent social events, networking, collaborating, and engaging in community service and philanthropy.
They tend to stay active, and one of LHC’s most active graduates is Mary Lasky (Class of 2010), program manager for Business Continuity Planning at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL), in North Laurel.

Aside from her primary career, Lasky chairs the boards of the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and Howard County’s Community Emergency Resiliency Network (CERN), and also serves on the Steering Committee for LHC’s Leadership Premier program.
“The Class of 2010 was declared Best Class Ever for three years in a row,” Lasky said. The annual designation recognizes the level of community and volunteer involvement, dues commitment and other criteria under which classes informally compete with one another. “You don’t get that [designation] unless you’re really working together as a team.”

Important Introductions

From her own perspective, Lasky said her LHC class was helpful for getting to know the county, its leaders, and the people in the county as well.

“It provided us with contacts and brought a better understanding of how the county operates and functions,” she said, adding that knowledge gained through the class was particularly valuable in her role of guiding CERN to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
“My classmates from 2010 helped with that whole process,” Lasky said.

Seven years after graduating, the Class of 2010 still gets together once a month or so for breakfast. And even though it’s a social event, the class members still find a way to incorporate some type of community involvement.

“We’ll bring supplies for Grassroots or local food bank donations, or we’ll coordinate on support for HopeWorks of Howard County,” Lasky said. “It’s another opportunity for service.”

Continuity Planning

Lasky has spent most of her career working in the information technology field for APL.

“Over the last few years I’ve become more concerned about business continuity planning at APL in particular, but also within the local business community,” she said.

Those concerns proved well founded in light of the challenges posed in the aftermath of both the county’s 2012 derecho event and in the recovery from the 2016 flood in Ellicott City.

CERN, a public-private partnership that links government leaders, first responders, nonprofits and volunteer organizations, grew out of a partnership between the Horizon Foundation, county government and other agencies in the county after the events of 9/11.

The organization provides materials to help educate the community on emergency preparedness issues, including instructions on surviving a range of disasters as serious as a nuclear attack and as common as a flood or storm.

To ensure that CERN was doing its part to reach all county residents, “We put in a request for a community impact project the very first year I became involved with CERN,” Lasky said.

Addressing the challenge of disseminating emergency preparedness information to the county’s non-English-speaking residents, the project resulted in a universally understandable pictorial card that’s now available at libraries, churches and interfaith centers, and at county agencies and the nonprofit organizations that support non-English-speaking communities.

Lasky also has become active on the national stage, chairing the InfraGard Electromagnetic Pulse Special Interest Group, a public-private partnership between U.S. businesses and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that is responsible for planning and preparation for catastrophic events involving the electrical grid.

Leadership Premier Program

In years past, Lasky has been active on LHC’s Finance Committee, and five years ago she began her involvement with the Steering Committee for LHC’s Leadership Premier program.

“The Premier program is tailored for more seasoned leadership and those who are serving in leadership roles,” she explained, whereas LHC’s entry-level program provides the essentials for people exploring the potential to become leaders.

Part of the Steering Committee’s duties is to help plan each LHC session day and ensure that everything from training to logistics and resources has been coordinated and nothing has been left to chance.
“One of the other things I’ve done as co-chair for the Steering Committee is to analyze the surveys that class members submit after each session day,” Lasky said.

The information gleaned from questionnaires at the beginning and end of each class year has been “remarkable,” she said. “Leadership Howard County is truly making a difference in leaders and what they are learning about the county. This work is guaranteeing results.”

While Adults Debate School Safety, Students Say #Enough

As local boards of education work with police forces and legislators to propose and fund measures to improve school safety, students are ensuring their voices are not lost.

While some observers may consider school walkouts an excuse to miss classes, Anna Selbrede, student member of the Howard County Board of Education, believes such acts offer an important perspective on the issue.

“We are the students in schools where this is happening,” she said, “and we should have the right to be heard when we speak.”

On Feb. 22, Selbrede passed a resolution recognizing the rights of students to express their views on matters relating to student well-being. The resolution states that “the Howard County Board of Education recognizes that the events in Parkland, Fla., have served as a nationwide call-to-action to address school safety, as well as the power of student voice.”

The “events in Parkland” refer to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 students and faculty. Since, students have been participating in walkouts, among other protests to voice their concerns about school safety, which recently resulted in the well-attended (estimates are varying greatly) March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C.

Closer to Home

Selbrede’s resolution was passed 26 days before a student opened fire at Great Mills High School (in St. Mary’s County, in Southern Maryland), injuring a 14-year-old boy and critically injuring a 16-year-old girl, who died March 23. The gunman shot himself and died shortly thereafter of his injuries.

The very next day, Selbrede was among hundreds of students from Howard and Anne Arundel counties who traveled to Washington, D.C., for the march, the nationwide protest against children being shot in schools.

More than 200 Howard County students attended the march, with busloads leaving from local churches, community centers, park-and-rides and schools, with others making their own way. Participation was organized by students, but was not sponsored by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).

“As for constructive ways students can have a voice, they are doing a great job right now finding them,” said Selbrede. “Walkouts and speeches call attention to the issue, and the march in Washington makes it even bigger.”

Students also have been contacting their school systems to promote local measures and ask about what is being done, as well as questioning policymakers with letters and visits, said Selbrede.
The social media campaign #enough — a movement to prevent gun violence — is also helping students keep the conversation going, she said.

From the Adults

In addition to measures being debated at both county and state levels, local school systems and police forces are taking measures to improve school safety.

In a March 27 press conference, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced he will include $1.1 million in his fiscal 2019 Capital Budget to enhance the security of school buildings, and include nearly $800,000 in his Operating Budget to hire three additional School Resource Officers (SROs) and a supervisor.

Kittleman said he was making this funding a priority in his upcoming budgets after a recent HCPSS security assessment determined that not all school buildings are fully secure.

“I was deeply disturbed to learn that there were some security issues that need to be addressed,” said Kittleman. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our students, teachers, administrators and staff. This additional funding will help the school system address any shortcomings.”

HCPSS Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano spoke of the importance of working collaboratively with county and community partners to establish a safe learning environment for all children and school staff.

“Keeping our students and staff safe is my number one priority, and it requires the collaborative efforts of our county and community partners,” said Martirano. “From immediate physical measures, such as installing buzzer systems at each high school, to long-term cultural shifts, such as cultural proficiency training, keeping our schools safe requires a multi-pronged approach. I am encouraged by the investments announced today and appreciate the county’s commitment to help us implement the necessary security resources in our schools.”

Howard County Police Chief Gary Gardner said police have already taken additional measures to increase security and safety at county schools. Most recently, Gardner and Kittleman have expanded the police department’s mandatory foot patrol program, which in the past has included places like shopping centers and apartment complexes, to include schools.

These interactive visits will enable officers to be familiar with the layout of the schools in the event of an emergency; develop positive relationships with students; and get to know the administrators and front office staff at the schools in their patrol beats.

Up and Running

In Anne Arundel County, Steve Schuh, county executive; Board of Education President Julie Hummer; Superintendent George Arlotto and Police Chief Tim Altomare announced a $14.8 million funding proposal to protect the school system’s 82,000 students.

The proposal would fund 20 additional school resource officers, enough to station one at every county high school and middle school; 1,500 cameras for schools; lock upgrades for 4,000 doors in county schools; double-door security systems at all high schools; and protective tactical equipment for every school.

The plan would be funded over two years, with some costs defrayed by state funds.

Arlotto also announced that the school system will reinstitute its School Safety & Security Council, composed of school, county, law enforcement and community officials, as well as parents and students. “We intend to have it up and running before the end of the school year,” said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier.

Anne Arundel schools also will be asked to make space available for patrol officers to use on down time in between calls, so that those officers can provide additional presence in the county’s 120-plus school facilities.

Howard County and Nonprofits

Creating Human Services Campus

About a year ago, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced two major projects in his fiscal 2018 capital improvement budget.

One was to establish the Howard County Innovation Center in the county-owned Gateway Building, a move that kick-started a new era for Columbia Gateway Business Park. The news was met with enthusiasm, given the county’s focus on the redevelopment of Downtown Columbia and relative lack thereof in Gateway, which is known for hosting some impressive tenants, as well as its lack of amenities.

The perhaps lesser-discussed part of that news was the plan to create the Howard County Community Resources Campus in nearby Patuxent Woods Business Park, off Snowden River Parkway, to consolidate the county’s human services offerings with entities from the nonprofit sector. It calls for moving four community-service based agencies out of the Gateway Building to the new campus, which will be easily accessible through public transportation, and convenient to routes 95, 32 and 29 from adjacent Broken Land Parkway.

Last year, necessary resources were committed to create the NonProfit Collaborative of Howard County at the new campus to lend greater support to the county’s Department of Community Resources & Services (DCRS), which operates under the Maryland Department of Social Services (DSS); the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD); the Office of Human Rights; and the Community Action Council, with the goal of attracting nonprofits with similar missions.

Move-in dates for the county agencies are slated for mid-2018.

All in One

Jackie Scott, director of CRS, called the move “a tremendous opportunity for us, as we can collocate our CRS offices with those of other agencies and nonprofits.”

To Scott, this consolidation is really about time, and how much of it will be saved for virtually all concerned. “We can now help people in real-time,” she said, “since all of these agencies will be in one place. We can provide that warm handoff by walking someone over to a nonprofit or the Department of Social Services, instead of them having to make another appointment and maybe even catch a bus.”
As for providing the more convenient transportation, “the bus route not only comes to us, but is designed is to link all of the services on our campus, so it will heighten access to those areas, also.”

Scott is looking forward to moving out of the Gateway building in the beginning of July, with its Office of Children & Families, where 20 workers are employed at Ridge Road in Elliott City.

Indeed, “We will all be within a stone’s throw from each other so we can collaborate much more easily, and so residents who seek services and need to take public transportation can get wherever they need to be from that one bus stop,” said DHCD Director Kelly Cimino.

“Also, we’re coordinating services, so we don’t want citizens bounced from office to office, even if they’re so close,” said Cimino. “ACS [Association of Community Services] is spearheading how all of the government and nonprofit entities will work together. This will equate to better service, better information sharing and a lot less meetings.”

‘Two Hours’?

Karen Butler, director of the Howard County Department of Social Services (DSS), which is located not in the Gateway Building, but at 7121 Gateway Drive, in Renaissance Business Park, has long had a problem with clients gaining access to her office, and she, too, expressed enthusiasm about coming together on the new campus. Noting that an agreement to make the move was signed on March 16, she said, “We want to be in place by the end of the year, at the latest.” She merely had to mention a few numbers to illustrate why the move is a no-brainer. “We see an average of 1,200–1,400 people per week who need help, and we end up redirecting about 45% of them if they need other services,” she said. “So collocating with some of our frequent partners, like HopeWorks and CRS, is a great thing.”

Then comes the issue of transportation. “It can take a client up to two hours to get here from The Mall in Columbia, which is a 15-minute car ride to our current location,” Butler said.
All told, it just makes sense. “We see this approach as good practice,” she said. “I see it becoming a trend in the state and the country.”
A number of nonprofits are already based at Patuxent Woods. The Association of Community Services (ACS), for instance, moved last year into the NonProfit Collaborative, spurring the project into motion. Joan Driessen, executive director of ACS, said she knew the DSS lease was running out at its Gateway location and is hopeful it “will be in place at the new human services campus by the end of the year.
“The Kennedy Kreiger Institute already had an office here, which was another attraction to this intersection at Snowden River and Broken Land” parkways, Driessen said, adding that, as good as the co-location concept sounds, this is actually the third attempt to make it happen.

“The move to do this started in the 1980s,” she said, with the second try occurring during the Ken Ulman administration. “That was less intensive than the current effort, which began in May 2013.

“This time, we got great support from the county,” she said, “and all of the pieces fell into place,” including getting new sidewalks, bus shelters, bus routes, etc.

ACS, with the 16 nonprofits within its wingspan, has been up, running and seeing clients since last spring, and even has a navigator to help people use Howard County’s Care App so they can “work their way around the campus to ensure their needs are addressed,” she said, “because people are typically dealing with more than one issue while they get back on their feet.”

Good Anchors

Heather Iliff, president and CEO of Maryland Nonprofits, has seen the approach Howard County is taking work in other places in Maryland, such as Rockville and Easton; in the latter case, it helped make its downtown more vibrant.

Taking the campus approach is “a great way” to better serve the community, because clients get one-stop shopping from the governments, and the nonprofits can share space and collaborate, Iliff said.

“Much of what we do is based around meetings, so having many as you [need to have] in one place makes sense,” she said, “and from the economic development angle, nonprofits serve as good anchor institutions to help boost neighborhoods and local economies.”

Howard County’s efforts also were praised by Katie Edwards, interim executive director of the Nonprofit Centers Network (NCN), in Denver. “We know of just less than 500 such nonprofit centers around North America,” she said, which NCN defines as establishing “at least two nonprofits on shared or adjacent spaces,” with the intent of collaboration to build and leverage organizational strengths.

“About a third of those places are like what’s coming together in Columbia, where you’re seeing a campus set up to make it easier for people who are down on their luck to get services,” Edwards said.

What’s interesting about the Columbia project, she said, “is that local government is showing up in a big way. We see some local governments get involved in these kinds of projects around the country, but not in proactive partnerships on this scale. That’s important, because [that helps eliminate] an overlap of services between the government and nonprofits.”

Gettin’ Happier

The overall effort “is nice to see,” Edwards said, “because of the increased awareness of resources, the increased vibrancy of the nonprofits and how more people will be served,” Edwards said. “Happier staff makes for happier organizations.”

And if that all happiness happens, the Howard County Community Resources Campus will be a great success that could draw favorable attention from other jurisdictions.

“We’re hoping it will be a model for the region and the country,” said Scott. “This is an opportunity for us to show what can be done to make services more accessible and, in doing so, improve thousands upon thousands of lives.”

Sidebar:

On the Flip Side

The other side of establishing the new Howard County Community Resource Campus is the large amount of suddenly available space in the 88,000-square-foot Gateway Building. Larry Twele, CEO for the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), said the move-in process of its Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) into that building will be an ongoing effort.

But even though act one is just getting underway, it’s already time to start the second act. “By pulling the agencies together [elsewhere] and opening up that space in our Gateway building,” said Twele, “we can continue to spur the Innovation District and keep working on turning the MCE into a more robust location.”

At the old Bendix building, where it’s currently located, the MCE has been limited to 25,000 square feet to accommodate more than 20 companies, “but when all of the human service agencies move out of [the Gateway] building, we’ll have 50,000 more square feet available, which will allow us to move [the MCE] here and help us accommodate other entities,” he said. “Some may be new and suddenly available to assist our cause, like educational entities and accelerators, as well as co-working space for small entrepreneurs, a demonstration space and room for a new speaker series.

“What it does,” said Twele, “is give us the ability to attract the right stakeholders.”

So far, there is a small amount of vacant space available where the county’s police department and its housing commission moved out that hasn’t been renovated. “However, we were able to offer some of the startups who left the Chesapeake Innovation Center (in Anne Arundel County) last summer some space, so they have a roof over their heads until we start moving forward,” he said, noting that there is also one MCE graduate company there, VitusVet. “They’re an early settler.”

The MCE move-in date is slated for early 2019, and Twele is looking forward to the new possibilities that lay before the HCEDA, having already seen what can be accomplished when multiple services are offered under one roof.

“We’re the only EDA in the state that runs its own incubator and tech council, and Howard Community College is here, too,” he said. “That give us a tremendous advantage by [spurring] attraction and retention. And we’re already talking to various innovators.
“We want the new venture to not only be a big deal for Howard County,” Twele said, “but a big deal for the region.”

Church Sues City of Laurel Over Worship Regulations

Redemption Community Church has sued the City of Laurel over a zoning regulation that prevents the congregation from holding religious services in the Main Street coffee shop it owns and operates.
At issue is a series of zoning code changes that include a new parking waiver requirement that the church’s pastor, Rev. Jeremy Tuinstra, believes is too expensive and alleges may constitute a discriminatory practice against houses of worship.

Formerly known as the Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Burtonsville, Redemption Community sold its original property and acquired its current property at 385 Main Street in March 2015, spending approximately $470,000 for the building and roughly $600,000 for renovations.

According to Tuinstra, the church began searching for a new property in the summer of 2014 in order to be closer to the homeless and underprivileged community it serves.

“We conduct classes and services to help this community, but the operational logistics of operating a van to continually transport these people didn’t make sense,” he said. “It was easier to relocate to Main Street where we could continue to serve them without the added expense and effort.”

At present, Redemption operates Ragamuffins Coffee House as a for-profit entity, but is prohibited by the city from holding church services in the building.

Bad Timing

Original plans called for the church to support its mission by operating a nonprofit coffee shop Mondays through Saturdays, and holding worship services for two hours on Sundays. The church intended to donate coffee shop proceeds to other nonprofit entities, such as Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, the Laurel Pregnancy Center and the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center.

In February 2015, when Redemption Community began the process to acquire the Main Street property, Laurel’s Commercial Village (C-V) Zone allowed nonprofit businesses and houses of worship as permitted uses under the city’s Unified Land Development Code.
One month later, however, the City Council amended the code to exclude nonprofit businesses from the C-V zone, forcing Ragamuffins to transition to a different business model.

In fairness, that zoning action derived from so-called cleanup legislation that was already in progress, tied to zoning amendment changes set in motion in December 2014 by the relocation of another church, Royalhouse Chapel International, Maryland, into an Industrial-Commercial Service Zone on Braygreen Road.

Tuinstra said Redemption was not aware of the proposed nonprofit legislation when it purchased the Main Street property.
In April 2015, the council approved additional code changes addressing parking waivers, requiring a special exception for houses of worship located on less than one acre in the C-V zone.
According to the new regulations, the process requires a non-refundable $2,000 application fee and the hiring of an engineer to draft an existing conditions site plan and a proposed site plan.

Discrimination?

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Washington, D.C., law firm that specializes in religious freedom litigation, filed a federal lawsuit in February on behalf of Redemption Community Church.
“The government can’t discriminate against churches simply because they are religious,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Despite making every effort to work with the city to comply with its burdensome zoning changes, Redemption Community Church is now being told to either stop holding worship services or pay severe fines. Federal law is clear: The city’s discriminatory practices violate the law.”

“Laurel officials allow secular groups, such as cinemas, theaters, comedy clubs, schools and health clubs, to locate downtown, but not this small church that wants to serve its community,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “That’s not legal or constitutional.”

During his testimony on the zoning changes before the City Council in April 2015, Laurel Clergy Association President Rev. Kevin McGhee, pastor of Bethany Community Church, asserted that the city has a troubling history of making life difficult for churches within its jurisdiction.

“Decisions by [this body] drove Lighthouse Church from our community, cost City of Zion Church more than a year and thousands of dollars, and disallowed Faith Fellowship Church to meet on Main Street,” McGhee said.

“We all know the 300 block of Main Street has every business closed on Sunday morning; there’s really not a parking issue there,” said. “My heart breaks that [former Laurel Economic Development Officer] Karl Brendle is not here; we worked together under three mayors and dozens of council [members] to make those changes, and now you are reversing them.”

In a response to the lawsuit, the City of Laurel released a statement denying the claim that it discriminated against the church through the exercise of its zoning authority.

“The City of Laurel takes great pride in applying its laws equally and without discrimination to all residents, businesses and religious institutions within the city, and will continue to do so in the future,” the statement said. “Given the pending litigation, there will be no further comment at this time.”

Quality Java

In the meantime, business at Ragamuffins Coffee House has actually exceeded Tuinstra’s original expectations since opening in April 2017.
“We had modest goals for the beginning, and told ourselves we’d be happy just to meet payroll,” he said. “One of our goals was to be solvent after the one-year mark. We’ve had surprising growth over the past two months, and solvency is well within our reach.”
The coffee sold at Ragamuffins comes from La Colombe Coffee Roasters, in Philadelphia.

“First and foremost, they provide us with exceptional quality beans and provide excellent training for our staff on how to brew coffee, steam milk and other technical aspects of the business,” Tuinstra said. “It takes a very hard lesson learning curve to do things right, and they have provided excellent service for us.”

The coffee shop’s other food and beverage items are sourced from local producers, including Fresh Baguette in Rockville, Bottoms Up Bagels and JD Honeybee in Baltimore, and Razz Bundts and Blondies, in Laurel.

Roadblocks, Delays

“We feel it is our calling to cultivate community by ministering to the homeless and the less fortunate around us, and giving them a safe place to connect with others,” Tuinstra said. “We accomplish part of that through the coffee shop, but without a worship space, the rest of our identity is no longer being expressed.”

According to Holcombe, the City of Laurel filed a motion for preliminary injunction on March 23 and is asking that the case be dismissed.

The initial hearing in the case has been scheduled for June 5 at the U.S. District Court’s District of Maryland Greenbelt Division.

In his own testimony before the City Council in April 2015, Tuinstra explained that the church required no more than five additional parking spots beyond the seven located on Redemption’s property. He also cited verbal agreements with PNC Bank and BB&T Bank to use their lots on Sundays, as well as written permission to do the same given by Key West Family Dentistry.

“I think [Redemption Community Church] is creative and [is] the kind of thing that addresses blight on Main Street,” Tuinstra said. “I want to do good things for the city, and I have the capital to do good things for the city, but I keep running into roadblocks, obstacles and delays. I don’t know what to do next other than just keep playing the game, being patient and trying to find a place for our small church family to gather.”

CAMI Holds Second Annual Cybersecurity Awards Event

More than 300 cybersecurity professionals from business and academia attended the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc.’s (CAMI) second annual awards ceremony in March, held at the American Visionary Art Museum, in Baltimore.

According to CAMI Executive Director Stacey Smith, the organization has grown since its founding in 2016 to include nearly 400 Maryland cybersecurity companies as members.

That growth has extended to CAMI’s mission, which now includes workforce initiatives and the recent launch of a nationally unique skills-based cybersecurity jobs portal.

CAMI also has intensified its legislative agenda, working with State Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Dist. 13) on his sponsorship of Senate Bill 228, which would provide a tax credit for qualified investors in Maryland cybersecurity companies.

“It would also establish the nation’s first ‘buy local’ tax credit for businesses with 50 employees or fewer who buy their cybersecurity solutions, both products and services, from Maryland cybersecurity providers,” Smith said. “We will find out within the next two weeks if that bill goes into effect.”

According to CAMI Board Chair Gina Abate, who serves as president of Edwards Performance Solutions, in Elkridge, CAMI will expand its business outreach effort this year with its new Connect to Protect program.

“We’ve developed a high impact video and helpful cybersecurity tips presented in as few as 20 minutes by one of our experienced cybersecurity professionals within the organization,” Abate said.
The multimedia presentation serves as a tool to engage and educate business leaders at industry trade organization events, chamber of commerce meetings, Rotary club luncheons and other business gatherings.

During the awards event, CAMI Board Member Jay Turakhia of PNC Bank recognized the young women from Montgomery Blair High School and Poolesville High School who participated in this year’s national Girls Go CyberStart competition program, developed by the SANS Institute. Competing against more than 2,200 teams from 17 different states, teams from these two schools took four of the event’s top five spots, including best overall team.

Best of the Counties

Several Maryland counties created their own judging processes to evaluate CAMI award nominees from their jurisdictions, selecting one nominee to receive a separate county-level award.

Vice President, Communications, Rosa Cruz of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) presented the 2018 Best of Anne Arundel County award to Bridges Consulting, of Hanover.

The Best of Baltimore County award, presented by Director Will Anderson of the Baltimore County Department of Economic & Workforce Development, went to Syncopated Engineering, an incubator company located at bwtech@UMBC.

Howard County Chamber of Commerce CEO Leonardo McClarty presented the Best of Howard County award to Enveil, of Fulton.

Signature Awards

The CyberWire, of Fulton, was recognized as CAMI’s Diversity Trailblazer award winner, recognizing a company or organization that has pledged its support to attract more women and minorities to cybersecurity careers.

“With more than 1 million open cyber-related jobs, only 11% of the workforce is female,” said presenter Spencer Wilcox, of Exelon Corp. “They created a very popular, well-attended annual Women in Cybersecurity reception [where] those just starting out in their careers have the chance to meet the technical and business professionals who are shaping the future of cybersecurity.”

The AAEDC received the Industry Resource award, which recognizes a non-cybersecurity entity that has significantly contributed to Maryland’s cybersecurity industry.

“Their Defense Tech Toolbox helps numerous cybersecurity government contractors capture new business in the federal government market,” said Winquest Security CEO Jon Leitch, who presented the award. AAEDC has committed $200,000 under its Next Stage Tech Fund with an additional $800,000 in the pipeline, provides a complimentary Consultants on Call program that has served two-dozen companies, and operates a workforce training grants program covering a maximum of $1,000 per employee.

Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of bwtech@UMBC, was selected as Cybersecurity Champion of the year, presented by South River Technologies CEO Michael Ryan.

“About 10 years ago this former banker, venture capitalist and economic development leader saw a need for early stage cybersecurity company incubation,” Ryan said. Her work has led to a cyberincubator which currently houses 48 cybersecurity companies, 34 of which are minority-, women- or veteran-owned.

CAMI’s 2018 Cybersecurity Company to Watch award spotlighting an emerging company that has displayed exceptional vision and demonstrated plans for exceptional future growth went to Cyber Crucible of Severna Park.

“With a patented automated solution, Cyber Crucible’s product enhances both intrusion detection and response,” said Brian Hubbard, director of the Commercial Strategic Business Unit for Edwards Performance Solutions. “The result reduces the workload on cyber experts and improves the response time, data loss, forensic analysis cost and subsequent legal, regulatory and business impacts.”

Defenders, Innovators

CAMI’s Cybersecurity Defender of the Year award, given to a cybersecurity services company that has succeeded in protecting businesses and government entities from cyberthreats and/or damages, went to CSIOS Corp., of Rockville.

Enveil received the Cybersecurity Innovator of the Year award, presented to a company demonstrating exceptional innovation with a technology designed to protect business and government entities from cyber threats, attacks or damages.

“Enveil is revolutionizing data security by mitigating data-in-use vulnerability that has eluded others for decades,” said PSA Insurance & Financial Solutions Vice President Mike Volk. “This allows enterprises to securely operate on both encrypted and unencrypted data in the cloud, on-premises or anywhere in the community. It has the potential to open large and previously impossible business use cases across multiple verticals.”

Enveil Team Member Jacob Wilder said his company was very excited to see its groundbreaking technology recognized.

“We have a truly unique capability that allows enterprises to operate securely with data the way they never could before,” he said. “We’re looking forward to bringing our nation state-level of security to companies everywhere.”

Emma Garrison-Alexander, vice dean of Cybersecurity Information Assurance for the University of Maryland University College, received the People’s Choice award presented by Ron and Cyndi Gula, cofounders of Gula Tech Adventures.

“This is very special and highlights the fact that cybersecurity is important not just on an individual level, but also to the community and to our government,” Garrison-Alexander said. “I’m very happy to be part of that community and making an impact that’s going to benefit society, individuals and our entire community.”

Private Business, Civilian Spotters Enhance Weather Forecasting

The United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists, will grow 12% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all other occupations.

In Maryland alone, that growth is expected to reach 21% from 2014 through 2024, with the DOL noting that the best job prospects for atmospheric scientists lie in private industry.
Moreover, Maryland ranks fairly high on the list of states with the best opportunities in this field: fourth among states with the highest employment level in this occupation, fifth among states with the highest concentration of meteorological jobs and first in hourly wages.

While that paints a sunny picture, there are some unpredictable pressures that are exerting an influence, particularly at the federal level, where forecasting plays a critical role in the nation’s ability to predict and plan for weather-related natural disasters.

For starters, President Donald Trump not only proposed cutting 355 National Weather Service (NWS) jobs in his latest budget, eliminating 20% of all the forecasters at the nation’s 122 forecast offices, but also proposed closing forecast offices at night.
The demand for real-time weather intelligence and near-term forecasting is growing; there’s no question that weather patterns are changing and that the intensity of storm events is increasing, as evidenced by last year’s precedent-setting hurricanes.
Even without the proposed cuts, the NWS is finding it difficult to perform its critical mission.

“Based on service assessments conducted following 10 major storms that have occurred since 2008, it’s evident that understaffing has been responsible for a poorer quality of forecasting and less timely services,” said Richard Hirn, counsel for the NWS Employees Organization.

High Tech Help

Private enterprise is moving into the fray to help forecasters do more with fewer personnel.

StormCenter Communications, a bwtech@UMBC Incubator & Accelerator company specializing in weather and climate communications technologies, is developing solutions that enable weather and climate visualization and collaboration, using nothing more than a browser and an Internet connection.

“We’ve developed a technology that allows information to be shared, in real time, across any computer system,” CEO Dave Jones said. “We’re looking at offering it to the National Weather Service. It’s something that can accomplish a lot of their mission for a lot less money. They’re evaluating it now to get a better idea of its utility and value.”

A former broadcast meteorologist for WRC-TV NBC4 in Washington, D.C., Jones knows what the NWS is up against.

“They’ve been operating at razor-thin levels for years, and haven’t been able to hire all the meteorologists they really need,” he said. “Something else that concerns me is that upwards of 45% of that workforce is going to be eligible for retirement in the very near future.”

Hirn, however, said he’s not quite as concerned by that figure as others.

“It’s not unusual to have a situation like that in federal government,” Hirn said. “In fact, the whole federal workforce is aging, but there are always new employees coming along to replace them.”

Low Tech Help

Another tool available to stretch the capabilities of the NWS is one that’s been around since the 1960s: The SKYWARN program consists of trained weather spotters who provide reports of severe and hazardous weather to help meteorologists make life-saving warning decisions.

Spotters are concerned citizens, amateur radio operators, truck drivers, mariners, airplane pilots, emergency management personnel and public safety officials who volunteer their time and energy to report on hazardous weather impacting their community.
Although NWS uses Doppler radar, satellite and surface weather stations, that technology cannot detect every instance of hazardous weather.

“We use spotters to fill in the gaps to confirm weather phenomena and report damage or dangerous conditions,” Hirn said.
Laurel City Administrator Marty Flemion has served as a SKYWARN spotter for years, and is certified in both flood and snow reporting.
“Spotters become a credible source of information,” Flemion said, helping local officials — and sometimes even state and federal officials — determine the correct response and the scope of resources that need to be deployed.

“A lot of people will call city officials to report flooding conditions, but those conditions may not be related to a weather event,” he observed. “It might be a failure in the storm drain system.”
Spotters help by learning about different types of weather events, how to collect data, and how to call into the NWS data center and report useful information.

“My observations of wind damage on Main Street led to the confirmation of an F2 tornado in 2001,” Flemion said.

Unique Situation

The combination of new technology and people who serve as eyes and ears on the ground help the NWS be more efficient and effective, Hirn said.

That’s true everywhere the NWS is active, but it’s of particular value to the state of Maryland.

“Maryland is one of the few states that does not have its own forecasting service facilities,” Hirn said. “This service is actually covered by the NWS forecast office in Sterling, Va.”

Last month, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe and the city’s Emergency/Floodplain Manager Stephen Allen issued a release asking city residents to consider enrolling in the SKYWARN program.
According to the release, the NWS is offering free basic weather spotter classes in Maryland, in Leonardtown (St. Mary’s County) and in College Park, on April 11 and April 21, respectively, and a flood class is offered on May 24 at the University of Maryland’s Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute, also in College Park. The courses last about two hours, and more information is available at www.nws.gov/wx/skywarn.

Q&A With NBC Sports Coordinating Director Charlie Dammeyer

Thirty-four-year-old Annapolis native and resident Charlie Dammeyer is a prime example of what can be accomplished by a young person who finds an industry he loves, takes any work he can get and keeps pushing.

It was television broadcast production that Dammeyer found fascinating, and he kept working at his chosen craft until he was named coordinating director with NBC Sports. From his perch inside a mobile production truck, he observes a large bank of video screens and selects the images that best tell that event’s story for the viewers.
He’s had an interesting start to 2018. As lead director of the NHL on NBC, on New Year’s Day in New York, he worked the NHL Winter Classic; then the NHL All-Star Game, from Tampa; then last month, Dammeyer worked the NHL Stadium Series game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which was won by the home-standing Washington Capitals.

Those assignments were in addition to working his eighth Olympics, this time the Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea. The Emmy Award-winner also directed last season’s Stanley Cup Finals, NASCAR broadcasts and previously worked in various roles on Sunday Night Football, as well as five Super Bowls.

The former Annapolis High School quarterback and University of Maryland College Park grad started his career at age 15 as a runner during Fox Sports NFL broadcasts. After progressing to computer statistician, in 2004 he left Fox for NBC Sports, where he became a production assistant and worked on the 2004 Summer Olympics, in Athens. He’s been with NBC since.

How did you get into broadcasting?
The father of a friend of my sister worked as a statistician for Fox Sports. That connection resulted in my introduction to other Fox Sports employees, including an associate director named Chuck McDonald (now lead producer for the Fox Sports college football package). He hired me in 1999, at age 15, to be a gofer at FedEx Field during Washington Redskins games.

Who were your main mentors?
Chuck was one, and that first job led to work as a specialty statistician in the graphics mobile unit on various NFL games in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Once I entered college, Chuck hired me to work with the production crew at Fox, where I was a computer statistician, tracking plays and building graphics for the shows. At that point, I also worked with Producer Bob Stenner and Director Sandy Grossman, both legends in the industry.
In spring 2004, I was introduced to Sam Flood, now the executive producer and president, production, for NBC Sports, which led to my working with the network on graphics at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

My first full-time job at NBC came in 2005. Shortly thereafter, NBC secured the rights to Sunday Night Football, where I worked for Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli, who is demanding, and is a tremendous producer and teacher, as well; Director Drew Esocoff, who I learned a lot from; and Director Pierre Moossa, the former lead associate director, who taught me a great deal about live sports TV.

How do you set up for a typical sports event?
That depends. My primary role is serving as coordinating director, and I work primarily for the NHL on NBC. In hockey, as the playoffs progress, the production levels rise. Early in the tournament, you often don’t know where you’ll be until just before a game, and for such special events, setup takes much longer. We were able to go to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium to do a survey for the Caps’ game last August.

But for NASCAR coverage, for instance, you only have a week to prepare for the weekly races. We can address specific needs weeks in advance in those cases, because the dates are set; however, for the hockey playoffs, the dates and teams typically aren’t set in stone, so that makes planning more challenging.

Then we have a group that strictly works on the Olympics, and they’re already working on Tokyo 2020, and beyond. During the recent winter games, I directed alpine skiing. To prepare, I was over there a year early, for two days, in February 2017. But know that there are whole groups from NBC who will be in Tokyo multiple times before the Olympics; as they will for the next winter games, in Beijing in 2022.

What are the particulars about directing a hockey telecast?
I try to not step on the game and let our announcers, along with our production elements, tell great stories. When there’s a lull or a break, that’s the time to interject; you can’t script live events. That’s part of why I like working in sports. You don’t know what’s going happen, and that’s the point about live TV. You have to react.

NHL on NBC uses up to 15 cameras for a typical national telecast, but used 40 cameras at the recent Capitals game in Annapolis and used 50 cameras for the recent NHL All-Star Game. What was the difference in your approach?

In the case of the game in Annapolis, some cameras were the NBC cameras and others were shared with Rogers Sportsnet (the Canadian broadcaster) which, in that case, served as the pool broadcaster, which shares broadcast feeds for the big games. The theory is, the more cameras you have shooting different aspects of the game, the better replay angles we’ll have.

One of the robotic cameras used in the game, for instance, was controlled by Rogers, but I had access to it. It added a new dimension to the normal complement of cameras for a regular season national telecast.

What’s the difference in the technical setup of a typical NHL on NBC Sunday/Wednesday game of the week, as opposed to an outdoor game?
We had a couple of days to set up at USNA because that stadium was built in the late 1950s, so it’s not designed to accommodate fiber connections. That meant everything had to be hardwired back to the truck.

Plus, it also adds set-up days as you add extra equipment, as we did for the Annapolis game. Navy-Marine Corps Stadium has been extensively renovated in recent years, but it still is not designed to handle major TV events.

The broadcaster’s booths in NHL arenas, such as Washington, D.C.’s Capital One Arena, can be set up almost as high as the rafters, so why did you position play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick and color analyst Mike Milbury at rink level during the game in Annapolis?
Doc and Mike called the game at the right blue line, at ice level, as they do at all of the outdoor games, due to the even greater distance of the press box in a football (or baseball) stadium; we positioned behind-the-glass reporter Pierre McGuire between the benches, as usual.

I’d be remiss not to mention how much those three, and regular color analyst Eddie Olczyk (who didn’t call the Annapolis game due to receiving cancer treatment) helped me as I got involved with the hockey telecasts. I didn’t play hockey when I was growing up, and I wouldn’t be here without what those guys have taught me. I’m still learning from them.

Also know that I travel upwards of 175 days at year and have two children with my wife, Caitlin, who also has a full-time job. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without her support.

You used the sky cam at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium since it was an outdoor game. Do you foresee being able to employ a similar camera from inside an arena?
That’s an area where I’d like to continue to explore. We experimented with what’s called a JitaCam (or a jib in the air, similar to a small crane) camera at the all-star game, and it went well. I’d like to provide that unique angle for the bigger events, such as the Stanley Cup Finals.

Will we see anything new with NHL broadcasts during the playoffs?
Nothing drastically different. When we get to the Stanley Cup Finals, I like to add a 4K camera to help with definitive replays, as well as high speed cameras, to slow down what is a very fast sport. We also added three high speed hand-held cameras at ice level for last year’s finals, which are very good when viewing deflections of the puck, for instance. We’re looking to do likewise this year.

Did broadcasting the Olympic games from South Korea present special technical challenges?
Not at all. Technically, the games were a huge success. What was happening at the venues and how they translated on the air was transparent to me from the director’s chair. That says a lot about our Olympic technical and advance teams.

We were able to broadcast in remote locations halfway across the world, on top of mountains and from my standpoint in the control room/TV truck in Korea. I was very happy with the experience.
What’s your take on sports being delivered via various platforms?
Today, people often consume sports and TV on phones, iPads and tablets, so streaming TV broadcasts is here.

Watching traditional big screen TVs is still good for big events and big movies, for instance, but society has become quite mobile, and that means more people will be consuming their media that way. When I can’t watch at home, which I prefer, I’m on my iPad. And that’s how people live today. And that’s a good thing.

What else would you like to do?
I’d love to direct the Super Bowl. That’s the biggest broadcast event on U.S. television — nothing else is even close. I’m in this to do big shows, so that would be the ultimate for me.

I’m young and I started young, so I’ve had some great teachers. You learn different things from different people, producers and directors, so I’ve been taking in the bits and pieces they’ve offered me. While we all want to do a perfect show, I think, in live sports TV, that doesn’t exist. Just like when a sports team wins a game, there are always things to improve on.

I like to take strategic chances and try new things, if that will make the show better. If you keep doing the same show over and over, it’ll never get better.

Five Cyber Firms Garner Loans From the AAEDC’s Tech Toolbox

The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) announced that five local technology companies have been approved for loans through its Next Stage Fund, the signature component of its Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox. The announcement translates into allocations totaling more than half of AAEDC’s initial investment of $1 million when it launched the program in July 2017.

“We created [the Next Stage Fund] to assist companies at the mezzanine stage of growth; a business that has launched and invested in themselves in the early stage and has had initial success, but needs support to scale up,” said Julie Mussog, CEO of the AAEDC.

The Next Stage Tech Fund offers 0% loans from $50,000 to $250,000. Loans can be structured with flexible payment terms between one to five years to accommodate a company’s cash flow. Companies benefitting from this finance program include the following.

• Penacity, Pasadena: A veteran-owned small business, this cybersecurity company specializes in social engineering, cyber threat analysis, penetration testing and cyber technology integration penetration testing.
• Applied Information Technology, Annapolis Junction: An information technology (IT) and security firm, [it] has clients in the government and commercial space. CEO Gwen Greene is currently in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
• Netrias, Annapolis: Supports projects within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The company’s work focuses on applying Artificial Intelligence and machine learning techniques to cybersecurity and life sciences problems.
• Xona Systems, Annapolis: Xona Systems provides a secure gateway for remote access to business applications. CEO Bill Moore is an IT networking and security professional and has developed civilian and DoD business for FireEye.
• XentIT, Crofton: A certified minority-owned business, XentIT specializes in managed/co-managed security operations center services; cybersecurity and compliance advisory services; and IT resale and integration services.

To access the toolbox, businesses must be located in Anne Arundel County or have a signed lease demonstrating their intent to move into the county. For more information, contact AAEDC Business Development Associate Sarah Purdum at 410-222-7410 or by email at spurdum@aaedc.org.

Arundel’s Schuh Announces Smart Growth Initiatives

After more than six months of intensive public input during the general development planning process, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh announced further steps the county will take to ensure responsible, measured growth.
“Over the past six months, we have engaged nearly every community as we look to map future growth in our county,” said Schuh. “As this process continues over the next two years, we must ensure we preserve the character of our communities by instituting measures to combat the forces of development.”
The responsible growth initiatives to be proposed by Schuh include the following.

Insituting a zoning freeze: To ensure the county does not undertake any zoning designation changes so close to the general development planning process, Schuh will propose legislation preventing the Office of Planning and Zoning from processing requests for rezoning for any property until a general development plan is submitted to the Anne Arundel County Council in 2019.
• Restoring small area planning: He will submit to the council legislation that would mandate small area planning for a five-year period after the completion of comprehensive rezoning.

Eliminating unnecessary modifications: At Schuh’s direction, the planning and zoning officer will reduce the number of development plan modifications and institute a stricter review process to ensure the intent of the code is observed. Planning and Zoning also would be barred from granting waivers on the public meeting requirements.
• Reforming the variance process: He will submit legislation to create an administrative waiver process for the planning and zoning officer to allow for officials to thoroughly evaluate variances for projects with a substantial environmental or community impact.

The announcement comes after a year of land use reform in the county. Last September, the county reduced general development timetable from 10 years to eight years. For more information, visit www.aacounty.org/Plan2040.

The general development plan is scheduled to be completed by December 2019, with the comprehensive rezoning legislation submitted to the county council thereafter.

Five Cyber Firms Garner Loans From the AAEDC’s Tech Toolbox

The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) announced that five local technology companies have been approved for loans through its Next Stage Fund, the signature component of its Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox. The announcement translates into allocations totaling more than half of AAEDC’s initial investment of $1 million when it launched the program in July 2017.

“We created [the Next Stage Fund] to assist companies at the mezzanine stage of growth; a business that has launched and invested in themselves in the early stage and has had initial success, but needs support to scale up,” said Julie Mussog, CEO of the AAEDC.

The Next Stage Tech Fund offers 0% loans from $50,000 to $250,000. Loans can be structured with flexible payment terms between one to five years to accommodate a company’s cash flow. Companies benefitting from this finance program include the following.

• Penacity, Pasadena: A veteran-owned small business, this cybersecurity company specializes in social engineering, cyber threat analysis, penetration testing and cyber technology integration penetration testing.

• Applied Information Technology, Annapolis Junction: An information technology (IT) and security firm, [it] has clients in the government and commercial space. CEO Gwen Greene is currently in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

• Netrias, Annapolis: Supports projects within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The company’s work focuses on applying Artificial Intelligence and machine learning techniques to cybersecurity and life sciences problems.

• Xona Systems, Annapolis: Xona Systems provides a secure gateway for remote access to business applications. CEO Bill Moore is an IT networking and security professional and has developed civilian and DoD business for FireEye.

• XentIT, Crofton: A certified minority-owned business, XentIT specializes in managed/co-managed security operations center services; cybersecurity and compliance advisory services; and IT resale and integration services.

To access the toolbox, businesses must be located in Anne Arundel County or have a signed lease demonstrating their intent to move into the county. For more information, contact AAEDC Business Development Associate Sarah Purdum at 410-222-7410 or by email at spurdum@aaedc.org.

SDAT Streamlines the Form 1 Annual Report, Personal Property Return

For many Maryland businesses, big and small, April consistently brings with it the requirement to file Form 1 – Annual Report and Personal Property Return.

Filing this return is necessary for business entities in the state to maintain good standing with the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation (SDAT).

Without good standing, a business may lose its name, its limited liability protections under Maryland law, its ability to sue and even its ability to continue to do business in the state. It can also cause technical defaults in loan documents (many of which require the entity to remain in good standing throughout the life of the loan) and can render an entity unable to transfer property.
Despite the potentially harsh consequences associated with not filing, year after year not filing the return continues to be the main reason that most entities lose their good standing.

Purpose Examined

The purpose of filing the return is to account for any personal property that an entity may own and use in order to conduct business during a given tax year. The state then assesses a tax based upon the personal property that is reported.

A practical problem with requiring all entities to file the return is that the majority of Maryland entities do not have personal property to report; for that reason, many business owners allow the return to fall to the wayside and simply do not file.

As of December 2017, SDAT reported that an estimated 200,000 business entities throughout Maryland did not actually own any personal property. As more businesses continue to maximize depreciation deductions and take advantage of home and virtual offices, this number is expected to increase.

Filing the Form 1, however, is not optional, and not filing for any reason can cause big problems for any business.

Remedies Available

Losing good standing does not necessarily mean the demise of a business. Due to the commonality of the problem, the state does have remedial options available for a business looking to revive its good standing — especially in a hurry.

For any entity looking to reinstate its good standing, it is important for the business to contact SDAT to discern how many years behind the entity may be in filing the Form 1. The business should then immediately file returns for all missed years, pay the filing fees (and late fees), as well as any tax due. If the charter has been declared forfeited, however, the additional step of filing articles of revival will be needed.

To help business owners, the SDAT website provides Form 1 returns dating back five years from the current tax year to provide for easy accessibility. Furthermore, SDAT strongly encourages taxpayers to take advantage of their online filing platform, which is available through Maryland Business Express, in order to file past returns quickly and easily.

Anticipated Changes

In January 2018, the current Form 1 was separated into an Annual Report and a Personal Property Tax Return. For the majority of Maryland entities that do not have personal property to report, they will no longer be required to complete the personal property section.
While the two-page Annual Report continues to be mandatory, directions within the document provide guidance to business owners regarding whether or not it is necessary for them to also attach a Personal Property Tax Return.

The SDAT hopes that simplifying the filing process and reducing the amount of paperwork to be completed by most Maryland business owners will encourage more taxpayers to oblige by the filing requirement.

A new Personal Property Tax Return will need to be included with the Annual Report if the business owns, leases or uses personal property located in Maryland; or if the business maintains a trader’s license with a local unit of government in Maryland.

Although the form has been revised and streamlined, the methods for filing have not changed. The simplest and easiest method is via the SDAT online platform available through Maryland Business Express.
If a business should anticipate needing an extension, it is strongly encouraged that an extension request be filed through the SDAT website before April 16, 2018. Beginning in 2018, extension requests will only be accepted if submitted online. Once an extension is received and approved, the necessary Annual Report and possible Personal Property Tax Return must be filed no later than June 15, 2018.

Jessica Gorsky is an associate attorney and Sarah Dye is a partner at Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett & Scherr, in Columbia. Gorsky can be contacted at jmg@carneykelehan.com and Dye can be contacted at shd@carneykelehan.com.

The Southern Rhone Valley

Among my all-time favorite wines are the luscious reds from France’s southern Rhone Valley. More specifically, I’m referring to the Grenache-based blends from the appellations of Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas, Lirac and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Wine drinkers are familiar with the wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, but how familiar are they with the wines from the Rhone Valley? It’s among the largest quality wine-producing regions in the world, and of all the red wines produced in France, nowhere will you find a wider variety of exciting offerings than the Rhone.

About the Valley

The Rhone River begins in the Swiss Alps, flows west into Lake Geneva, passes through the vineyards of Savoie and joins the Saône River in Lyon. From there, it flows south for about 250 miles into the Mediterranean; it’s the area between the city of Vienne to the north and Avignon, a commune, to the south that connect, the Rhone Valley. Some of the world’s finest wines are produced along this stretch of river.

The Rhone Valley is considered as one wine region, though it contains two distinct areas with different climates, and is home to different grape varieties. The northern Rhone occupies a 45-mile stretch from Vienne to the city of Valence. The climate here is continental, with hot summers, cool autumns and cold winters. The cool fall weather means that the early-ripening Syrah grape is the single red variety used in the wines.

After a gap of about 37 miles and just south of the city of Montèlimar, the Southern Rhone begins. The climate here is Mediterranean, with hotter and dryer summers, warmer autumns and milder winters. The weather here is perfect for the late-ripening Grenache grape. The wines of the southern Rhone are blends of the signature Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvèdre making up most of the rest. Smaller amounts of Cinsaut and Carignan are sometimes added.
A dominant climatic feature of the Rhone Valley is the strong, cold north wind, known as the Mistral. Because it’s so strong, the vines need to be staked to withstand its onslaught. However, the improved air circulation inhibits diseases and also reduces the size of the grapes, which concentrates their flavors.

Côtes-du-Rhône

Côtes-du-Rhône is a huge wine area that accounts for more than 80% of the production for the region. In fact, it is the second largest appellation next to Bordeaux. The wines are some of the best values in the southern Rhone and maybe the world, and are fruit driven, reliable and perfect for everyday drinking. By appellation law, more than 20 grape varieties are allowed to be used in the blend.
Côtes-du-Rhône wines are medium bodied, loaded with red and black fruit, with fresh acidity and spice, so they are extremely food friendly and pair well with a wide variety of dishes. They are great with any type of meat, whether it is grilled, roasted, braised or stewed.

Gigondas

The village of Gigondas is in the Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains not far from the more famous area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wines are blends of up to 80% Grenache, along with at least 15% Syrah and Mourvèdre. Other authorized grape varieties can be used up to a maximum of 10%.

Gigondas is often called a baby Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but I think the wines deserve to stand up on their own. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is more structured and concentrated while Gigondas tends to show more bright fruit and fresh acidity.

Gigondas wines are not cheap, as they cost more than Côtes-du-Rhône, but are considerably less than Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Dollar-for-dollar and given what you get in quality, the wines are a good value. Pair Gigondas with robust stews and casseroles.

Lirac

Lirac is just across the Rhone River to the west of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wines are made with varying blends of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre and Cinsault. They are loaded with flavors of rich, red berry, blackberry, herb, and baking spices, and often a hint of anise.

Lirac wines are great values, priced somewhere between a Gigondas and a Côtes-du-Rhône. Pair Lirac wines with strong flavored meats like lamb and duck breast. Try it slightly chilled, with grilled fish.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most famous village and the star of the southern Rhone Valley. Here, Grenache is considered to be at its very best, due to excellent exposure of the vines to the sun. The climate is very hot, so the grapes get fully ripe, sweet and fruity at harvest. Along with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsaut are also included in the blend; however, the proportions can vary significantly from producer to producer and, in some cases, all 13 permitted grape varieties are included.

These wines can be very age-worthy with incredible depth and concentration. Over time, they develop complex aromas like dried fruit, baking spice, coffee and leather. Châteauneuf-du-Pape pairs with game dishes and foods with intense and complex flavors, as well as beef and lamb dishes.

A Few to Try

• 2015 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Loaded with aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry and black raspberry, with hints of cola and leather. This richly textured wine is drinking well now, but will be better in a few years and for at least another 20 years. Priced in the high $80s.
• 2015 Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux “La Tour Sarrasine” Gigondas. Plush and smooth textured, this full-bodied wine shows lots of red and dark fruit flavors along with notes of spice and licorice. Priced in the mid $20s.
• 2015 Château de Ségriès “Cuvée Réservée” Lirac. Rich and concentrated with aromas and flavors of blackberry and blueberry, with hints of licorice and herb. Priced in the high teens.
• 2015 Domaine Pélaquié Côtes-du-Rhône. Full-flavored with notes of fresh black and blue fruit, spice and a hint of floral. Priced in the mid- to low-teens.
Whether you go for a classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a wallet-friendly Côtes-du-Rhône, know it’s easy to fall in love with the red wines of the southern Rhone. Cheers.

Sam Audia is a former advertising and marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry. He is a Wine Specialist and buyer at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits, in Annapolis, holds a Certification Diploma from the Sommelier Society of America and Intermediate and Advanced Certificates from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He can be reached at sippingwithsam@verizon.net.

Howard Board of Ed Adopts Fiscal ’19 Operating, Capital Budgets

The Howard County Board of Education adopted its Operating Budget Request for the 2018–19 school year totaling $906.8 million. The amount requested represents $87.7 million, or 10.7%, over the amount funded for the fiscal 2018 school year, as well an additional $50.5 million request for one-time funds during the next several years.

The recurring amount requested from the county is $583.2 million, which is at the Maintenance of Effort level. An additional request for county funding includes $11.4 million in one-time costs for fiscal 2019, as well as a $50.5 million request from the county to address the Health Fund deficit accrued during fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018. The Howard County Public School System will work with the county to develop a multi-year plan to eliminate this accrued debt of $50.5 million.

The total request for state funding is $249.3 million, an increase of $10.7 million from fiscal 2018. The remaining budget includes funding from federal and other sources totaling $12.6 million.
The Capital Budget request includes funding for costs associated with locating and constructing a new 13th county high school, targeted to open in fall 2023; an addition to increase school capacity at Waverly Elementary School, scheduled for completion in August 2018; and the final phase of construction of New Elementary School No. 42, scheduled to open in Elkridge in August 2018. Additional funding is allocated for systemic renovations, which include replacements and upgrade of rooftops and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at several schools.

The Capital Budget and Capital Improvement Program Request provides for an accelerated start date for the Hammond High School addition project, and reflects $98.6 million in reductions for planned projects to accommodate projected county and state funding levels.

Pounding the Keyboard

Chinese Carryout

So, the U.S. government has blocked the sale of Qualcomm, a U.S. chipmaker and innovator, to Singapore-based Broadcom, citing national security reasons.

This is probably a good idea, if not for the reasons given.
Broadcom is in the middle of moving its headquarters back to San Jose anyway, as announced, with great fanfare, by the White House last November as part of the sales promotion of the new tax laws. This seems to have been forgotten lately in the rush to characterize Broadcom as an evil Chinese stealer of U.S. technology (which isn’t necessarily wrong, by the way).

It has its operating headquarters in San Jose anyway, but had legally incorporated in Singapore — which is not part of China — in its chase of tax breaks some years back. So coming back to the U.S. is just keeping with its style of chasing breaks wherever it finds them.
This is definitely in keeping with Broadcom’s management style. It is known in the industry as a “chop shop,” a corporation that buys companies, then dismantles them in search of short-term profits. One writer in PC Magazine characterized them as a “technology Dollar Tree,” and worried what the potential merger would do to Qualcomm’s pursuit of 6G (yes, they’re working on that) technology.
So if the merger was to be blocked using the national security argument, it had to be done soon, before the official move.

 

Another Philosophy

Qualcomm, on the other hand, is known as a long-term player, a company that takes risks on projects with possible great future value, but no guarantees of success. It is led by a former MIT computer science professor and has pioneered many of the technologies used in everyone’s smartphones, including a method of sharing airwaves by multiple smartphones simultaneously that is used by Verizon, Sprint and many international firms.

As a result, its chips are used in many current phones, including Apple, Samsung and Google models.

It makes money by selling chips that it designs, but are actually manufactured by others, sort of like Apple with its phones. These chips include CPU and really, really fast modem chips, the next generation of which will allow virtual reality streaming to your phone. But the vast amount of its profits are garnered from licensing its patents, of which it has thousands. Its pricing model on this is unique as well, since it charges phone manufacturers not on the price of the chips, but as a percentage of the entire phone.

This has led to a slight tiff with Apple — if you think a slight tiff involves lawsuits, countersuits, withholding of royalties and occasional court requests to halt sales of Apple phones in the U.S.
Apple, which started using Intel chips in half of its iPhones two years ago, is presently designing new phones using only Intel modem chips. This, despite tests that show they are slower, leading Apple to throttle the speed of phones using Qualcomm chips so the Intel phones wouldn’t be less desirable.

News of the Apple decision sent Qualcomm stock down, something that Apple will no doubt use in its negotiations with Qualcomm in that slight tiff mentioned above. But by choosing Intel chips that are a generation behind Qualcomm, Apple is sacrificing speed, which everybody wants. It probably will settle out sometime soon (or not), depending on the number of lawyers involved.

Beep, Beep

What can you see in the Arizona desert, in addition to a road runner, a coyote and a bunch of packages from Acme Corp.?

How about automated Volvo big rigs being run by Uber? Human drivers take the trucks across the Arizona border before the autonomous driving takes over (with a token human in the driver’s seat, at least for now) for the long haul portion. A conventional driver takes over for the final portion of the trip. This has been taking place since November. The human driver, who drops the load in Arizona, then takes another load back. When it works, it reduces driver time and warehousing costs, too.

Uber is not alone. Waymo (formerly part of Google) has been working on self-driving trucks for a decade and just recently settled a lawsuit against Uber about theft of its technology. Tesla is also working on self-driving trucks. But is Acme?

You Can Stop Now

While searching for a phone app to chart my walking, I came across MapMyWalk by Under Armour, which then asked me if I wanted to connect to my Smart Shoes.
Smart shoes?
Give me a break. Although I guess they would be better than Smartass Shoes, which would periodically text you with “You’ve been on your butt for hours. Get up.” or “You call that a walk?”

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing, which does PC troubleshooting, network setups and data retrieval for small businesses, when not recalling Maxwell Smart and his shoe phone. He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at cliff@feldwick.com. Older articles are available at http://feldwick.com.

Pendergrass Works Under Radar, Gets Job Done

Del. Shane Pendergrass, the Howard County Democrat who chairs the Health and Government Operations Committee, works quietly and efficiently, shunning most publicity, on some of the biggest (and most boring) issues in government involving health care and health insurance.

A few weeks ago, Pendergrass, whom I’ve known since she entered local politics 33 years ago, told me on the floor of the House that she was happiest about resolving the most important issue of the session — how to help those in the individual health insurance market who were getting slammed by skyrocketing premiums, due to loss of federal subsidies.

It sounded like one of those dull, but significant, issues that get little attention from reporters, as they prefer drama and controversy. Turns out it was a good, even surprising, story that everybody in the media paid no attention to; that is, until it passed the House of Delegates in the flurry of hundreds of bills debated in marathon sessions by the March 19 crossover deadline. Bills passed in the House or Senate by that date are guaranteed at least a hearing in the other chamber.

It was a story of real bipartisan cooperation and compromise, with nobody trying to grab headlines. The tax-loathing Hogan administration even agreed to a one-year $300 million tax hike on the insurance industry.

 

A Snoozer

Short titles for bills often don’t tell you much, but this one sounded like a real snoozer — Individual Market Stabilization, with a subtitle of Maryland Health Care Access Act of 2018. Pendergrass’s committee has been working on the issue for a year, after the loss of federal subsidies for some individual and family policies through the Health Benefit Exchanges. Middle income folks — household incomes above $70,000 not covered by employer plans — were seeing health insurance costs rising to thousands of dollars a month. About 150,000 Marylanders had health insurance costs so high that the only option seemed to drop health insurance altogether.

All the legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, were hearing from constituents whose health care premiums were now higher than their mortgages. The Hogan administration engaged early on in the work groups, as officials tried to find at least a temporary solution until the state could set up its own reinsurance program with another pot of federal funds, the subject of a companion bill.

The Hogan administration and the legislators found themselves scrambling to protect constituents from some of the fallout of Congress’s failure to fix or replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.

Collaboration

Gov. Hogan “worked the House and the Senate every step of the way,” Pendergrass told her House colleagues in floor debate March 19. “All of the stakeholders were involved. We listened to what the governor had to say.”

As originally introduced late in February, the bill contained an individual mandate to buy health insurance with penalties for those who didn’t. For Republicans, that was one of the most pernicious provisions of the federal ACA.

“We took out the mandate because the governor said take out the mandate. We compromised,” Pendergrass said.

There was also a tax on hospital earnings, a method the state had used in the past to raise health care revenues. Hogan’s health secretary, former Anne Arundel County Executive Robert Neall, asked for that to be removed. The legislators agreed.

The solution was the federal tax on insurance companies that had been imposed by the original ACA. But Congress gave the companies a reprieve next year, and the legislators decided that an equivalent state tax could generate about $300 million to keep premiums for the individual market from escalating.

“We do not have the option to do nothing,” Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, the subcommittee chair who worked on the bill, told her House colleagues. “Are we all going to pay for it? Yes,” she said, whether through increased premiums from the other health insurers or because of the uncompensated hospital care from the families who drop their insurance. That cost of that care is spread to everyone through increased hospital rates.

The only voice in opposition on the House floor was Del. Herb McMillan of Annapolis, who said, “The best [the bill] can do is to stabilize failure.” (Look for more on maverick McMillan in the Anne Arundel column.)

The bill eventually passed 91-47, with most Republicans silently opposed, despite the governor’s support for the bill. Its fate now rests with the Senate.

“Thank you to the administration for all the help they gave us,” Pendergrass said.

Ed’s Final Budget

Senators heaped bipartisan praise on Budget Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer, the Howard County Democrat who is retiring from the Senate. He got three standing ovations from his colleagues as he presented the $44.5 billion budget.

“It’s one of the best budgets I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said Sen. George Edwards, the three-term Republican from the mountains of Western Maryland, praising Kasemeyer for his “effort at bipartisanship.”

The fact that the budget is largely the handiwork of Republican Gov. Hogan helped explain the unanimity of the 13 GOP senators, who made only two brief attempts to amend the work of the Democrat-dominated Budget and Taxation Committee.

Kasemeyer had to defend the committee’s decision to not grant as much tax relief as originally promised to about 9% of Marylanders; they’ll pay slightly more in state and local income taxes due to changes in the federal tax code. The governor wanted to make sure no Marylanders paid more by allowing them to itemize their deductions, even if they didn’t do it on their federal return. Kasemeyer said that wasn’t possible.

“We wanted to be sure to [hold] taxpayers harmless,” he said, but “we don’t go all the way with this bill. … There was no way to make everybody whole,” without costing the state $300 million or more in the long term if all were allowed to itemize.

Franchot in HoCo

Comptroller Peter Franchot is under attack in the legislature for overstepping his authority on beer regulations and school construction, and for political grandstanding in general. But brief stops in Columbia last month showed why he continues to be popular among voters.

He visited Atholton High School and presented an award to the school maintenance chief for keeping up the building, which was renovated in 2015. As a member of the Board of Public Works that authorizes school construction spending. Franchot harps on school maintenance as a way to reduce long-term costs.

A bill moving through the legislature wants to cut Franchot and Hogan out of any oversight on school construction spending because of how they used their power to challenge local officials.
Franchot then awarded several proclamations, including one to a nonprofit group involved in assisting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and another to a group that helps people manage their finances better.

Some legislators make fun of these awards, but when you see how enthusiastically awardees react to some positive attention from a statewide official, you can see why Franchot has more friends than enemies among voters.

Franchot and his team deliberately antagonized members of the legislature with his own task force and legislation to reduce regulations on the budding craft beer industry. Last year, the legislature had put together a compromise between the local brewers, distributors and retailers, a compromise none of the parties were happy with.

The legislature is set to pass a bill creating a task force to study how the comptroller regulates and enforces its alcohol laws. Howard County Del. Warren Miller is co-sponsor of the bill that is in direct response to Franchot’s efforts to change the state’s beer regime.

Howard Spending Affordability Committee Calls for Conservative Approach

Howard County’s Spending Affordability Advisory Committee is recommending a conservative approach to budgets and spending in the near future, despite preliminary multi-year revenue projections showing 3.4–3.6% growth annually for fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2024.

“Changing demographics, anticipated reductions in federal and state expenditures, as well as possible decreases in the federal workforce will all affect the county’s long-term outlook,” the committee advised in its latest annual report, released in late February.

Several drivers are having a critical effect on the county’s ability to generate revenue, chief among them the aging of the population. The county’s Department of Community Resources and Services projects that the population older than age of 65 will double within the county by 2025.

Additionally, the county is dealing with a general slowing of growth, and is slowly running out of untouched land to develop.
“Revenues are slowing down, but we haven’t diminished our demand for services and the things we want,” said Steve Sachs, chair of the Spending Affordability Committee. “We’re going to need to prioritize some things, and be better, smarter, more efficient and effective with our spending.”

In fiscal 2018, the county experienced a $7 million projected revenue shortfall that resulted in a mid-year 2% budget reduction for county agencies, exclusive of education entities.

And despite a continued recovery in the real estate market, the county’s assessable property base, using the last state projections, will see a moderate growth rate of 2.4% in fiscal 2019 due to lower growth in residential property reassessment value and the state’s three-year phase-in policy.

Recommendations

Among the committee’s recommendations is the development of the fiscal 2019 budget based on projected revenue of $1.1 billion, an increase of 1.75% over the approved fiscal 2018 budget.
It has also recommended limiting authorized new general obligation bonds in fiscal 2019 to $75 million, and the development of a multi-year fiscal plan that strategically balances service needs and resources to build a sound fiscal structure supporting the county’s priorities.

“We think there also needs to be a long-term study to understand the financial impact of the recently passed Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) legislation,” Sachs said. “We’re not saying the legislation is good or bad, right or wrong, we just want to know what the impact is when you strip away the emotions and get the facts.”
Meanwhile, the county does have a few options for additional revenues. These include increasing the current transfer tax from 1% to 1.25% on property transactions, implementing an ambulance/EMS transport fee to be paid by insurance companies and other providers as reimbursement of costs incurred, and finding ways to recover costs by the police department and department of fire and rescue services for overtime associated with special events.

While education remains the county’s top budget and policy priority, it is also the county’s biggest fiscal challenge, considering that the Howard County Public School System’s (HCPSS) requested funding growth alone exceeds the county’s entire projected General Fund revenue growth of $19.1 million in fiscal 2019.

Moreover, the HCPSS budget request does not deal with the projected $50 million cumulative deficit in its own health benefit fund for fiscal 2018.

“We’d like to see the school board come up with a plan to tackle this debt,” Sachs said. “It’s egregious that it happened; there should be some sharing [of responsibility].”

Howard Candidates

With the deadline for candidacy filings now behind us, the County Council race has drawn one of the largest fields of contenders in years.

In District 1, Raj Kathuria is running on the Republican ticket, while incumbent Jon Weinstein will face Elizabeth Walsh in the Democratic primary. Republican John Liao and Democrat Opel Jones are running in District 2.

No Republicans filed to run in District 3, with the Democrat field made up of Hiruy Hadgu, Steven Hunt, Greg Jennings and Christiana Rigby.

In District 4, Lisa Kim filed for the Republican side, and the Democrat contenders are Deb Jung, Ian Bradley Moller-Knudsen and Janet Siddiqui.

Finally, in District 5, Republicans Jim Walsh and David Yungmann are joined by Democrat China Williams.
In the County Executive race, Republican incumbent Allan Kittleman is offset on the Democrat side by outgoing Councilman Calvin Ball (Dist. 2) and Harry Dunbar.

Siddiqui’s campaign got off to a rough start, with the director of the Division of Candidacy and Campaign Finance for Maryland’s Board of Elections referring her campaign finance report to the Office of the State Prosecutor on Feb. 22 for potential investigation.

According to the letter that accompanied the referral, the Excellence for Howard County Slate committee transferred $100,000 to Siddiqui’s campaign earlier in February in violation of election law, which limits slate transfers to $24,000.

Naturally, local political bloggers followed the money, to find the source coming from the unspent campaign coffers of Siddiqui’s husband, Nayab Siddiqui.

In response, Janet Siddiqui filed a new campaign finance report on March 20 noting a return of $76,000 to the slate, and receipt of a subsequent non-candidate loan in the same amount from her husband.

Long Reach Hearing

In late March, Howard County Zoning Board Chair Jen Terrasa (D-Dist. 3) announced that the board would schedule a hearing on the Long Reach Village Center case on May 7, making an exception to its earlier decision not to hear cases after a self-imposed mid-April deadline.

The announcement came after County Executive Allan Kittleman (R) made public a letter he issued to the board criticizing board members for a decision that would have delayed progress on the Urban Renewal project by up to a year, and handed over responsibility for the case to a newly-seated and relatively inexperienced Zoning Board in December.

The sitting Zoning Board, made up of the members of the county council, is legally prohibited from hearing zoning cases after the primary election in election years.

“Despite the early notice of this [mid-April] deadline, unfortunately, this case did not come to us until the very last minute,” Terrasa said, in a response to Kittleman’s letter. The Zoning Board announced the deadline in October 2017.

She added that the decision to hear the case beyond the board’s deadline “is based on our understanding that there was no opposition to this case at the Planning Board hearing, and the Petitioner asserts that the hearing for this case will take only one night. If this case ends up requiring more than one night, there is no guarantee that we will be able to finish the case this term.”

It must be noted that scheduling a date to hear this case on short notice is not a simple task. Zoning Board members do not have a wide open calendar to work with, given the personal work schedules of the board members, in addition to their duties as county council members and their involvement with other government boards, regional commissions and state government organizations.

Novice Politician Seeks Collaboration, Listening in Annapolis

Maureen “Mo” Bryant quit her long-time work last year as an executive in the commercial construction industry, and began knocking on doors in northwest Anne Arundel County.

What was she selling door-to-door? Herself, as a prospective Republican state senator in District 32. For months, she thought she’d be facing Democrat Pam Beidle, the three-term delegate and former county council member, in the fall. But on the Feb. 27 filing deadline, she got a Republican opponent in John Grasso, the loud and flamboyant county councilmember who had toyed for months with challenging County Executive Steve Schuh. Instead, term-limited on the council, Grasso settled on the post he originally said he was interested in and might have a better chance of winning.
Bryant shifted gears, though not her strategy. She treats her candidacy as a job, and goes door-knocking every morning and afternoon, along with roadside sign-waving.

She says she’s up to 3,000 households now, and once Grasso entered the race, she’s shifted to just approaching Republican primary voters.
“They don’t know me,” Bryant, 59, concedes, making her first run for public office. “I’m very much in a David-and-Goliath situation.”
She’s relying on the skills she developed as an Air Force daughter moving around the country, eventually landing in Prince George’s County where her father was commander of Andrews Air Force Base (now Joint Base Andrews). Her father later became involved in Prince George’s County Republican politics, which is how she met the young Larry Hogan, Jr., who recently encouraged her to run for office.

“I truly believe Maryland is on the right track, but we’re not going to get there as long as Democrats keep blocking good legislation and passing bad ones.” Among them she includes proposals to make Maryland a sanctuary state, and the so-called “rain tax.” Grasso is the rare Republican who enthusiastically supports the tax to help clean up stormwater runoff as part of an aggressive environmental record.
“I’m fiscally conservative and socially responsible,” said Bryant. “There’s a way to bring people together; there’s a way to let everybody win. It’s called compromise, and it really isn’t rocket science. There’s no reason for the divisiveness, the name calling.”
That’s part of what she saw when she attended county council meetings, an office she first considered running for. “I didn’t see listening skills.”

She said she’s been balancing budgets and using her collaborative and listening skills her whole professional career. They were essential for success in the male-dominated construction trade.

She’s also blended her career with her “philanthropic passion for certain at-risk communities.” She’s served on the boards of the D.C. Police Foundation, Mentors Inc. and the YWCA. But she felt her work with nonprofits was just not moving the needle enough, and led to running for office.

“John Grasso thinks I’m a non-entity,” Bryant said, and she hopes it stays that way until she wins the Republican primary in June.

McMillan on Stage

Nobody expected Del. Herb McMillan to shrink quietly off the political stage in his final days in the House of Delegates, where he’s always been one of the most talkative members of either party.
On March 19, he was the lone opponent to speak against the move to prop up the disintegrating individual health insurance market (as described in this month’s State Column).

“This bill will increase health insurance costs for everyone,” said McMillan, as the other 46 Republican colleagues who would later vote against the bill sat silently. The current rates, “they’re not affordable now, yet we want to stabilize them.”

The bill, supported by Gov. Hogan, attempts to fix the problem, but “it’s not fixable,” McMillan said. “I will not vote to stabilize failure.”
Later that week, as the lawmakers debated the $44.5 billion state budget, McMillan said that the Democrats and the governor, as well, failed to live up to their promises to hold Maryland taxpayers harmless from any increase in state and local taxes because of the recent changes in the federal tax code.

“If a person makes a commitment to do something, I expect them to keep it — be it the governor, the Senate president or the speaker — all of whom promised to fully make whole all Maryland taxpayers,” McMillan said, never afraid to take on members of his own party.
McMillan may not be missed by most of his colleagues, but he may be missed by the reporters who could count on him for juicy quotes whenever he stood up in the back of the chamber.

Kipke Flips

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke was in a difficult position on the bill to stabilize the individual health insurance market. He serves on the Health and Government Operations Committee, which takes pride in its somewhat unusual bipartisan cooperation.

Kipke was one of four Republicans who voted for the bill in committee, trying to stabilize skyrocketing insurance rates for about 140,000 customers of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. The other four committee Republicans voted against the bill, including his seatmate, House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, of Baltimore County.

“There is an enormous affordability crisis on the horizon,” Kipke said. Like many legislators of both parties, he was getting calls from constituents about the rising health insurance costs. Since many of these constituents were small-business owners and self-employed professionals and craftspeople, many of them were Republican voters and the natural constituents of the GOP.

The plan to stabilize rates depended on taking $300 million from health insurers who had been paying a premium tax to the federal government, but were getting a one-year reprieve in 2019 when they wouldn’t have to pay the federal tax.

“It was very appealing to me,” said Kipke. “Let’s use it for some public purpose.”

But by the time the bill got to the House floor two days after the committee vote, the members received some additional information from the League of Life and Health Insurers in Maryland: It turned out not all health insurers had been paying the federal tax on premiums, and this state tax would be a new expense for them.

“We got bad information,” Kipke said. “I do know not everybody paid this tax.”

So on the final floor vote, Kipke voted against the bill that he had supported in committee.

The measure is going to go into law, with the governor’s support, but it leaves open the big question no one in Washington has been able to figure out.

“What are we going to do to make health insurance more affordable?” Kipke asked.

Myths, Realities of 8(a) Certification: Golden Ticket of Not?

The federal government’s 8(a) Business Development Program (8a) is, simply put, often misunderstood. Among the common misrepresentations of the program is that it’s only geared toward minority individuals; that one must be certified as 8a in order to win contracts; and once certified, you are guaranteed business.

In reality, anyone can be considered for 8a certification, one can win contracts without being 8a certified and that no one is ever guaranteed a federal contract, whether 8a certified or not. In fact, many 8a-certified companies never see a dollar increase in revenues after getting 8a certified.

On the flip side, more than $40 billion in federal prime contracts were awarded to 8a certified businesses in fiscal 2017, which is motivation for many businesspeople to pursue the certification.

Two Phases

To set the stage, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) created the 8(a) Business Development Program to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. This program offers a broad range of assistance to those companies that are owned and controlled, at least 51%, by individuals who are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. These individuals may be of any sex or heritage.

The 8a program has a nine-year life span, which is divided into two phases: an initial four-year developmental stage and a final five-year transition stage.

The 8a program application process is extensive and requires financial, organizational, banking and personal information to address eligibility requirements, such as proof of ownership and control of the business, social and economic disadvantage statements, business acumen, experience in the government market, business revenues and number of employees.

Businesspeople may choose to apply for the certification on their own, use the local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for guidance, follow the SBA website step-by-step or engage with a consultant or attorney.

Applying for the 8a certification has recently been improved and now includes an online submission process. The good news is that a complete, straightforward application may take the SBA as little as a month to approve. The bad news is that complicated or incomplete applications take much longer, especially if there are red flags in finances, ownership, experience or other mandated requirements.
Once approved, it is the responsibility of the 8a certified business owner to actively research opportunities and market its capabilities to the various layers of federal customer decision-makers. The time and effort involved in getting 8a certified is substantial, and many of the 8a companies never realize a measurable benefit in going through the certification.

Advantages

However, for those businesspeople who understand the 8a program, are established in the market and aggressive in pursuing business, the benefits are unique. Direct-award (or sole-source) contracts may be awarded, without competition, up to $4 million for services and $7 million for manufacturing. There is a limit on sole-source contracts during the life of the 8a participant of $100 million or five times the value of the primary NAICS code.

It’s a fallacy to think that one wins business simply because of certification. The competition among 8a certified firms is fierce, and the business development and marketing process required to identify opportunities, position and pursue before the request for proposal is advertised can be lengthy and complicated.

Once an 8a certified firm begins to see success by winning prime contracts and reinforces positive contract performance with great contract report cards, the door does begin to open for aggressive growth within the 8a program.

There are other advantages, too. The 8a companies may also form joint ventures and teams to pursue larger prime contracts and participate in the mentor-protégé program to help grow business, and take advantage of specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and resource partners. Also, 8a participants may be eligible for assistance in obtaining access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans and bonding assistance while involved in the program.

While it is often thought of as a minority program, any person of any heritage may be 8a certified if s/he can prove social and economic disadvantage. Under federal law, socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of their identification as members of groups without regard to their individual qualities.
For purposes of the 8a program, the following individuals are presumed socially disadvantaged: Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans. However, the SBA states that, “An individual who is not a member of one of the “presumed groups” can be admitted into the 8(a) Business Development program if they can submit preponderance of evidence … Other individuals may similarly be found socially disadvantaged and eligible for the program on a case-by-case basis.”

Once the SBA accepts the social disadvantage of the individual, it is necessary to satisfy the economic disadvantage eligibility requirements by proving that his or her competition in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities. Required supporting documents include business and personal financial information for the applicant and spouse (if any), including (but not limited to) tax returns, financial statements, fair market value of all assets, retirement accounts, property owned, debt and tax issues.

In every case, when married, the socially disadvantaged individual must submit separate financial information to SBA for his or her spouse (including tax returns and certain SBA forms).

The Terms

Before the SBA can approve an application, the individuals claiming to be disadvantaged must submit supporting documents to prove their assets, income and net worth fall below certain threshold amounts. These include assets not exceeding $4 million, personal income not exceeding $250,000 (averaged over three years) and adjusted net worth must be less than $250,000.

This is often when SBA, PTAC, attorneys or consultants can be of help in understanding the acceptable kinds of social or economic disadvantage proof and acceptable documentation.

Gloria Larkin is president and CEO of TargetGov and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkin@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free at 866-579-1346 for more information.

Focus on Community Service & Philanthropy

Local Animal Rescues Serve the Furry, the Feathered and Sometimes the Scaly

No matter which species they gravitate to, animal rescuers have one universal motivation: It’s a labor of love. Nobody is getting rich rescuing stray, feral, mistreated or abandoned animals. The long hours, never-ending expenses and ongoing need to provide consistent care soon would become overwhelming without fierce motivation on the part of the rescuer to be “a ray of hope for helpless animals,” as the new tagline for Sunshine’s Friends Cat (soon to be Cat and Dog) Rescue will read.

Sunshine’s Friends, located off of Route 1, just over the border in Anne Arundel County, is run by Bev and Keith Burnham, two of the directors of Sunshine’s Friends, along with Darvin Rivera, a young man who’s been helping with the cats for approximately 10 years and who lives on-site at the rescue. A team of staff and volunteers provides needed assistance, both at the Jessup adoption center and at adoption events held regularly at a local PetSmart.

The Burnhams operate a cage-free, indoor-outdoor cat rescue and adoption center, including a 20-foot by 20-foot enclosed “catio,” complete with beams to walk along and structures to climb, and a kitty condo, which provides shelter from the elements and holds individual cat beds, each with a heating pad underneath. In the indoor area, roomy, multi-level crates house cats that are being rehabilitated or have special medical or feeding needs. Cats can range at will between the two areas.

Beyond that, roughly an acre of land enclosed with a Purr…fect Fence, a patented product specifically designed to keep the mighty climbers in the yard, houses those cats that are more feral or accustomed to living outdoors. With insulated, heated shelters, culverts to hide in, artfully-piled tree trunks to climb and other distractions, these cats can live out their days, safe and food-secure. Occasionally, some of them are adopted out as barn cats.
As are many rescues, Sunshine’s Friends is a foster-based program and is always looking for loving homes to accommodate its rescues until they are adopted.

Area Rescues

This region boasts animal rescues that, well, rescue anything from the smallest of mammals, such as mice, hamsters and rabbits, as do the Friends of Rabbits, in Columbia, and the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, in Annapolis; to animals that are a bit larger, such as horse (and the occasional mule) rescues Days End Farm Horse Rescue, in Woodbine, and Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, in Mount Airy.
And then there’s Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary, in Woodstock, which is the forever home for 15 monkeys (it’s had up to 31 in the past) and a wide variety of assorted wildlife. Sanctuary founder Colleen Layton, who’s fostered animals since 1970 — “I had a litter of bunnies brought to me, and the rest is history,” she said — began caring for primates in 1989, traveling to Cincinnati to rescue a Rhesus Macaque infant whose mother had rejected it. Gizmo is still at the sanctuary.

On occasion, law enforcement will seize an exotic animal that’s illegally being kept as a pet, such as a baby alligator, and will turn it over to Frisky’s for temporary care. Layton has a broad network of facilities that will take wildlife that the sanctuary is not equipped to care for long-term.

Frisky’s also accepts and rehabilitates injured wild animals, with the intent of releasing them back into the wild once they heal. This winter, it played host to a great horned owl, three barred owls, five hawks, a falcon, three vultures and a Canada goose, all of which soon will be released.

Now that the spring birthing season is here, it also is receiving baby foxes, squirrels and other animals whose mothers either were killed or abandoned their young. Fawns also are brought to them, but Julia Dagnello, a volunteer with Frisky’s, reminds people that deer frequently leave their fawns alone and only return to feed them every four to six hours, so unless the fawn is obviously injured or has been crying for a long time without the mother returning, the best thing to do is to leave it alone.

“If you should need to pick up a fawn, make sure to wear gloves,” Layton said, “to guard against internal and external parasites, among other things. And pad the bottom of the container you put them in. Their little bones are so fragile, like glass.”

‘I Think I’ll Start a Rescue’

Most rescues don’t start out to become an official “thing.” It generally starts with a single animal, or small group of animals, that are in need of help, and a compassionate person who realizes the situation and provides that assistance.

Sunshine, the cat that started the ball rolling with the Burnhams, was part of a feral cat colony that was feeding out of dumpsters at a nearby industrial facility. When the company moved out in 2004, the cats lost their food supply and began looking further afield. Bev Burnham began feeding Sunshine — so named for his early-morning appearances in her yard — and he soon brought his friends, and his girlfriend, there was a litter of kittens, and the Burnhams realized they had a population that was depending on them for food and care.
Belinda Brotherson and her husband, Spencer, on the other hand, founders of the fledgling Second Nature Parrot Rescue (which is still achieving its 501[c][3] status, which would make contributions to the rescue tax-deductible), had been bird foster parents for another rescue, and thought they could expand on, and improve, the process.
“The rescue we were involved with didn’t take the smaller birds, and they need love and care, too,” said Belinda Brotherson. “We saw a greater need, so we opened up our own doors to a wider range of birds to receive help.”

The birds, which are sheltered in their home, each have an enclosure, but free flight within the house is allowed as much as, and to as many birds as, is practicable. (Some of the birds, like the tiny lovebird Dax, must be closely supervised during free flight time, as she will bully or try to pick fights with some of the other birds.)

Although only established as a rescue since June of last year, Second Nature already has adopted out 17 birds to new homes.

Forever Home

The goal with most of these animals is to find them a forever home — and the right kind of owner. The rescues are forthright about the behavioral, health and care issues an animal has, and has experienced; its temperament; and the type of new home environment the animal would be most comfortable in.

Gentle Giants is candid about the condition of the horses it deems adoptable. In its website listing, it indicates that a horse named Storm, for instance, is suitable for “walk/trot for an intermediate rider,” and his “limitations/maintenance” include “hock arthritis, Cushings disease and past founder. Requires front shoes.” A horse named Pony Boy “has a very distrusting personality, but he warms up to those who wish to gain his affections through consistency. He has a lot of potential but needs to find ‘his person’ who is willing to put time and patience into the relationship.”
Almost universally, the rescues have an adoption agreement clause stipulating that, should the new owner wish to or need to surrender the animal for any reason, s/he must return the animal to the shelter it was adopted from.

Many of the small animal rescues partner with Adopt-a-Pet and Petfinder to showcase their adoptable animals online to a wider audience. Several also partner with local pet stores, such as PetSmart and Petco, to hold rescue events, where potential adopters can get up-close and personal with the animals.

The Message

When asked what message they would like to impart to the public, the rescues’ response was pretty unanimous.

Don’t adopt, or buy, an animal you are not sure you will be able to take care of. Find out what, exactly, caring for that animal will entail, and how long the animal can be expected to live. Make sure your living arrangements will be able to accommodate the pet and that there will be no unforeseen issues with anyone in your household, such as allergies to the animal. If possible, don’t shop; adopt.
And if you do bring an animal home, respect and love the animal. Provide the care it needs, for as long as it needs it.

The cat and dog rescues have a further message: Spay or neuter the animal. Don’t assume that, because the animal spends its time indoors, there’s no need to spay or neuter. Sexually intact animals will find a way to get together. Don’t bring additional animals into the world where so many now are homeless.

They have a request, as well. If you care about animals, support your local rescue. Even small donations can go a long way toward helping to care for more animals. If you can, give of your time, as well, by volunteering at the rescue or at the adoption events.

Bev Burnham summed it up succinctly. “If we had more volunteers, we could save more lives.”

In Brief

Buy a Day of Crisis Services

ChangeMatters, the student-led community service and philanthropy initiative, has focused on suicide prevention for years, launching such programs as “Don’t Do Nothing,” aimed at encouraging students to get help when they see a peer in trouble. This year’s high school campaign, “Pi Day, Buy a Day,” raises awareness about suicide prevention and raises funds for Grassroots Crisis Intervention’s services.

School math departments are providing lessons plans that connect the concept of pi, 3.14, as a never-ending number to Grassroots crisis services that are always available 24/7.

Initiated by Mt. Hebron High School math teacher Sara Tagget, who lost her daughter to suicide, the campaign includes educating students about suicide prevention and calls upon them to raise $2,111 per school to “buy” a day of crisis services. For each calendar day selected, Grassroots will post the name of the donor school on the call center door and collect information about services it delivers and the clients it serves that day. That information will be shared afterwards with the school funding that day’s crisis services.

Other organizations have joined in the initiative, raising funds to support 24 hours of crisis support or more, “buying” a day of service for $2,111. Students and program coordinator Cathy Smith have been visiting local Rotary clubs to encourage their participation and are available to speak to other groups. To join in the Grassroots Buy a Day of Service Program, contact Cathy Smith, cathyvsmith@verizon.net, 410-302-4662.

NAMI Report Issues Recommendations to Improve Relationships Between Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health

In March, NAMI Maryland released “Course Correction Collaboration of Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health: Advancing New and Proven Models for State and Local Government,” a new report that provides recommendations on alternatives for incarceration as a means of dealing with people living with mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year, and many states, including Maryland, are struggling to find and implement alternatives to incarceration.

“The State of Maryland can reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system and improve the lives of all Marylanders by building on proven, effective projects and programs and collaboration between systems. This new report aims to provide the guidance needed to address this issue,” said Kate Farinholt, NAMI Maryland executive director.

The report came out of a Maryland summit held in November 2017 that addressed these issues and identified solutions to increase collaboration between law enforcement, corrections, the courts, behavioral health and other systems serving the needs of individuals with mental illness. The summit grew out of previous work by NAMI Maryland and other organizations, the current administration’s commitment to addressing these issues, recent news stories and a Maryland court’s contempt order related to the prompt placement of inmates in need of treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

Summit participants represented a diverse group of professions and sectors, and included representatives from state and local agencies, professional associations, philanthropic foundations, the Maryland Legislature, Judiciary and Governor’s office, as well as law enforcement and correctional agencies.

Summit recommendations include the following.
• Improving education and training for criminal justice
• Promoting statewide innovative criminal justice/behavioral health partnership programs and practices
• Identifying innovative ways to fund criminal justice services designed for people with mental illness issues
• Improving screening for mental health or other behavioral health problems at all points of entry to the criminal justice system
• Studying the nature and extent of recidivism for people with mental health and other behavioral health conditions
To learn more and to download a copy of the report, visit www.namimd.org.

Le’Chic Academy Foundation’s BIZ Kidz Day Set for April 21

Le’Chic Academy Foundation’s BIZ Kidz Market Day will be held Saturday, April 21, from noon–5 p.m. at The Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, in Columbia. “Kidpreneurs” ages 5–18 will exhibit and sell their creative products and services, make money and compete for awards and prizes. Family, friends and the community are invited to support these young entrepreneurs and experience a day of exhibits, entertainment, games and contests.
Le’Chic Academy Foundation is a Christian-focused, nonprofit organization developed to inspire young girls and boys. The event is being presented in sponsorship with The Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and Maryland STEM Festival.

Fundraising Garage Sale at Frisky’s

Frisky’s Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary will hold its annual Garage Sale fundraising event every weekend in April, beginning April 7. Each Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., the sanctuary, which is located at 10790 Old Frederick Road in Woodstock, will open to sell a wide variety of donated goods in a typical garage sale format. It also will accept cash donations during that time.
Frisky’s is still accepting donations of goods for the sale, although it asks that no used computer equipment be donated. Frisky’s is home to 15 monkeys and a wide variety of wildlife.
For questions or to make a donation, call 410-418-8899 or email friskyswildlife@yahoo.com.

EcoWorks Helps Inmates Plant Seeds for the Future

Howard EcoWorks, a nonprofit with the goal of empowering an underserved workforce to respect and restore natural systems for future generations, is teaching inmates at the Howard County Department of Corrections about sustainable gardening and landscaping. With a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, EcoWorks is offering 19 inmates a series of classes, called “Landscapes for Life,” that will result in a vegetable garden for the prison.

“Previously the prison had a garden but had trouble finding the resources to keep it maintained, in part because of the choice of crops and in part because of guard turnover that resulted in a lack of oversight and maintenance,” said Lori Lilly, EcoWorks executive director. “So we designed a vegetable garden for them and will be providing instructions that the guards and inmates can use to successfully maintain and harvest from the garden over the next year.”

Minimum-security inmates completed five classroom sessions and two work days to prepare the garden and plant the first crops. “We’ll work with them later to do other successional plantings in later spring, summer and fall,” said Lilly.

The prison will use some of the vegetables internally, and some will go to the Howard County Food Bank. EcoWorks has also had conversations about collaborating with Roving Radish, a Howard County government program dedicated to promoting healthy farm-to-table eating habits in the community while creating sustainable markets for local and regional farms.

Healthy Rewards

Darlene Jolly, work release reentry supervisor at the Howard County Detention Center, said, “I am always looking for new opportunities that inmates can take advantage of during their time with us. Through EcoWorks, participants are able to learn new skills in sustainable gardening and soil preservation. It not only benefits them personally and professionally, it also benefits the community and environment.”

Inmates seem to find the program rewarding, said Lilly. “Some want to get jobs in the landscaping industry. Some want to beautify their homes,” she said.

One participant reported: “Once you get a sustainable garden going, it will require less maintenance for you.”

Irene Sadler, an instructor with EcoWorks, said she finds it rewarding to share her knowledge of sustainable gardening with people who are trying to restart their lives. “I have expertise in horticulture, ecology and landscape design, and enjoy passing any of this knowledge on, especially to motivated, curious people who may have had limited opportunities for education and career growth,” she said. “I find it gratifying to spread ideas that can help regenerate ecological systems and support joyful living.”

Another instructor, Brandt Dirmeyer, said his goal is to have the class be rewarding for those who want to apply sustainable gardening methods within their professional or personal lives in a way where they can also extend their sense of self out into their environments. “I hope that by teaching them sustainable gardening, they will gain perspective on their connections to the land that they live on and the food that they eat,” he said.

Education Into Action

EcoWorks, with the slogan “Solutions for healthy streams and communities,” has also developed a Watershed Action Team (WAT) that is working on the Tiber Hudson sub-watershed of the Patapsco River to remove debris and potential blockage from the streams.
The WAT team is composed of five people who are spending a 10-month term studying, assessing, conducting community outreach and implementing projects.

In an Ellicott City “Soak It Up” campaign, with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, EcoWorks is engaging the private residential community in being a part of the solution for flood mitigation. “Our long-term goal is to convert 700 acres of turf grass to native vegetation,” explained Lilly. “We are asking the community to convert their turf grass to native plantings, rain gardens and stream buffers because turf grass is almost as bad as hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, etc., in terms of runoff.”

With the grant, EcoWorks can provide technical and financial assistance for implementing projects on private property. “We also have a Soak It Up Homeowner Workshop coming up on April 28,” said Lilly. “This workshop is being held in partnership with the Neighborhood Design Center, and all attendees will leave with an Action Plan for their property that we can help them implement.”

READY for Earth-Friendly Work

Howard EcoWorks constructed its first bio-retention facility in the Greenleaf neighborhood in Columbia. Designed by the Howard Soil Conservation District and funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Howard County, construction involved nine high school students who spent their spring break in 2017 with a crew from the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) Program. They excavated 80 cubic yards of soil by hand.

The facility now treats a 1.17-acre drainage area that is 30% impervious. A second bio-retention facility was built by the summer READY program; that facility treats a 0.86-acre drainage area that is 25% impervious.

Through READY — which is now accepting applications for the summer program — EcoWorks employs Howard County residents ages 16–26 to build rain gardens and conservation landscapes that filter stormwater runoff and alleviate flooding from pavement and other impervious surfaces.

On the Flip Side

The other side of establishing the new Howard County Community Resource Campus is the large amount of suddenly available space in the 88,000-square-foot Gateway Building. Larry Twele, CEO for the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), said the move-in process of its Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) into that building will be an ongoing effort.

But even though act one is just getting underway, it’s already time to start the second act. “By pulling the agencies together [elsewhere] and opening up that space in our Gateway building,” said Twele, “we can continue to spur the Innovation District and keep working on turning the MCE into a more robust location.”

At the old Bendix building, where it’s currently located, the MCE has been limited to 25,000 square feet to accommodate more than 20 companies, “but when all of the human service agencies move out of [the Gateway] building, we’ll have 50,000 more square feet available, which will allow us to move [the MCE] here and help us accommodate other entities,” he said. “Some may be new and suddenly available to assist our cause, like educational entities and accelerators, as well as co-working space for small entrepreneurs, a demonstration space and room for a new speaker series.
“What it does,” said Twele, “is give us the ability to attract the right stakeholders.”

So far, there is a small amount of vacant space available where the county’s police department and its housing commission moved out that hasn’t been renovated. “However, we were able to offer some of the startups who left the Chesapeake Innovation Center [in Anne Arundel County] last summer some space, so they have a roof over their heads until we start moving forward,” he said, noting that there is also one MCE graduate company there, VitusVet. “They’re an early settler.”

The MCE move-in date is slated for early 2019, and Twele is looking forward to the new possibilities that lay before the HCEDA, having already seen what can be accomplished when multiple services are offered under one roof.

“We’re the only EDA in the state that runs its own incubator and tech council, and Howard Community College is here, too,” he said. “That give us a tremendous advantage by [spurring] attraction and retention. And we’re already talking to various innovators.

“We want the new venture to not only be a big deal for Howard County,” Twele said, “but a big deal for the region.”

Arundel Business Leaders Assist At-Risk Youth via Take Back Our Streets

Take Back Our Streets (TBOS), an Anne Arundel County-based nonprofit that offers assistance and encouragement to at-risk youth, recently raised $8,000 during an event at Pasadena’s Two Rivers Restaurant.

TBOS was founded by the late Sen. Mike Wagner in 1992. The function of the organization is to provide support and financial assistance to community organizations and programs that work for the betterment of youth and their families.

The nonprofit worked collaboratively with the Anne Arundel County Police Department until 2003, when the Anne Arundel County Youth Activities Program, which was instrumental in developing a respect for police work and rapport with the youth of local communities, was disbanded. TBOS has worked under its own auspices since.

The organization’s mission is to create proactive community involvement, thus helping to minimize the negative influences of society. TBOS organizes fundraisers and community-support initiatives that promote educational and motivational alternatives to drug and criminal activity while raising the self-esteem of the county’s youth.

“Our fund — and all of the money we collect, is funneled back to the kids — provides backpacks and tennis shoes for kids who are heading back to school, as well as Christmas presents via the Abundant Life Church on Furnace Branch Road [in Glen Burnie] and Pastor Nate Drye,” said spokesperson Mike Wagner, Jr. “We also collect toys from the local Ravens Roost for at least 1,000 kids.”

For more information, visit www.takebackourstreets.com.

United Way’s ALICE Report Reveals Households Living Below Survival Threshold

Imagine having to make tough financial choices every day, choices like: Do I buy medicine or groceries with the money I have left? Do I fix my car so I can get to work, or pay my rent to keep from losing my home? Do I leave my kids home alone so I can take a night job that offers health benefits?

Odds are, you know someone who is faced with choices like these. Perhaps you once had to make these decisions — or even find yourself facing them now.

United Way recently released a report that gives an identity and voice to people who work hard, yet struggle to make ends meet. These people are called ALICE.

ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE is the person who waits on tables, fixes cars, scans groceries and cares for elderly and young people. Cashiers, administrative assistants, laborers, security guards — they’re ALICE.

Survival Threshold

ALICE represents a growing number of individuals and families who are working, but who live paycheck to paycheck, most often with nothing left over for an unexpected event, such as an illness, a car repair or a job loss. Their earnings are not enough to support a Survival Budget that is more than twice the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which does not accurately reflect current, local costs of living.
The United Way report revealed that in Howard County, 22% of households live at or below the ALICE threshold. That percentage jumps to 34% in Savage, 29% in North Laurel and 28% in Elkridge.
A family of two adults and two children requires an ALICE Survival Budget of $61,224, far above the FPL of $23,850. This Survival Budget covers only the most basic and necessary of expenses: food, housing, health care, transportation, child care and taxes. For a single adult, the FPL is $11,670; for a single ALICE adult, an annual budget of $23,568 is required to meet basic needs. For ALICE, one emergency can spiral into a crisis.

In contrast, the ALICE Stability Budget—the amount needed to support and sustain a household over time that includes savings, a mobile phone and modest miscellaneous expenses—is $39,030 for an individual and $121,656 for a family of four.

The report also reveals that low-wage jobs dominate the state economy, with most paying between $10 and $15 per hour (or $30,000 per year at $15 per hour).

A Case Study

Heather is a working mom with three children who’s finding it harder and harder to make ends meet for her family. Heather makes $16.50 an hour as a front desk manager in a dental practice. A new baby boy means that her family’s already tight budget must stretch even further. Day care for her son and daughter is more than $1,500 month, and the rent on their 700-square-foot apartment was just raised.

Heather recently returned to work after six weeks of unpaid maternity leave. “I started saving up when I learned I was pregnant so I could take some time off after the baby came, but the money ran out — and I can’t afford not to work. And lately it seems like groceries and other things have just gotten more expensive.”

Heather left her previous job when a raise was not forthcoming. “I worked there for five years and was never late; never took a sick day.” Like her old job, her new job doesn’t offer any benefits other than free cleanings and minor dental work for her and her family. It does pay 50 cents more an hour and helps with the household income, but, she said, “We make too much to get help, but not enough to survive.” She and her boyfriend drive for Uber when not working their full-time jobs to help bring in some much-needed extra money.
“I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t pay my bills — I stay on top of them. But it’s not hard to get behind with the day care and health care bills.”

Strengthened Support

United Way commissioned the ALICE report to fully understand and best respond to the needs of ALICEs like Heather. The findings will be used to strengthen existing programs and to create new, sustainable initiatives that will, in collaboration with United Way partner agencies and others, improve the lives of all ALICE individuals and families in Maryland.

United Way of Central Maryland has long addressed the needs of ALICE through its Family Stability programming. There are currently 15 sites — two of which are located in Howard County — offering families a variety of services to help them get back on their feet. These Family Stability sites are strategically located in neighborhoods with high rates of evictions, and call into United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline that connects callers — many of them ALICE — with important health and human services resources.

“Basic needs like housing, employment and health should not be hopes and dreams,” said United Way of Central Maryland’s president and CEO Franklyn Baker. “The ALICE Report gives a face to our Howard County neighbors in need. We must address ALICE for the economic well-being of all of our residents.”

Sandy Monck is senior vice president and chief impact officer for the United Way of Central Maryland. She can be reached at sandy.monck@uwcm.org.

The NonProfit Collaborative Is all About Connections

Over the course of more than 20 years, various groups and individuals thought it would benefit the local community to have a place where many nonprofit organizations could be housed under one roof. In the spring of 2017, this vision became reality with the opening of the NonProfit Collaborative of Howard County (NPC). By August, the center was fully leased, with 16 tenants sharing meeting space, a break room and a common goal of bringing services together to enhance lives.

It didn’t take long for people to learn about nonprofits that they hadn’t been familiar with, and for the nonprofits to discover that there were unexpected opportunities for collaboration to benefit their clients. Executive directors and staff members of organizations who had been working out of their homes, Wegmans and similar spaces found that suddenly they had a peer network close at hand for brainstorming and support.

A Social Network

In addition to finding the connections between organizations, the NPC also wanted to foster fellowship on a more individual level by giving staff members chances to chat with people from other organizations to learn about what they do at work, their interests and hobbies outside the office, and of course, which sports teams they root for. One of the places where this happens is in the break room, which is centrally located in the building and accessible to all staff.
Thanks to the efforts of NPC’s tenant council — a group with representatives from each of NPC’s 16 nonprofits — a number of staff social events, held at various times of the day to accommodate various work schedules, have been offered. The first months at the NPC included a breakfast meet-and-greet, an ice cream social, an after-work happy hour, a multicultural holiday luncheon and sweet treats for Valentine’s Day. These informal personal connections have carried over to client services, making it easier for staff members of the various nonprofits to collaborate and do warm handoffs to meet the full range of client needs.

Expanding the Reach

In a few months, the Department of Social Services, the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services, the Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development, the Howard County Office of Human Rights and the Community Action Council of Howard County will be moving into adjacent buildings to create the Howard County Community Resources Campus. NPC already has begun working with its soon-to-be neighbors to explore ways to form connections that will benefit all of the organizations, as well as the populations that they serve.

It is also important that the center be a space that supports not just organizations at the NPC and the campus, but the broader Howard County nonprofit community as well. To foster these relationships, nonprofit groups are offered opportunities to share the NPC space by renting meeting rooms, a fully furnished “hot desk” office and mailboxes.

The meeting spaces can accommodate groups of up to 100 people and have built-in technology to facilitate presentations. The hot desk office gives nascent nonprofits a place to meet with clients and potential funders and to collaborate with NPC tenants. Those organizations renting mailboxes benefit from having a street address and not just a P.O. box, which can be advantageous when applying for grants. They also have opportunities to network with NPC’s organizations when they stop in to pick up mail.

As the end of NPC’s first year approaches, its member organizations look forward to continuing to grow as a nonprofit community and to find new ways to increase connections and impact within the campus and throughout Howard County.

Cheri Auger is with the Association of Community Services, and is manager of the NonProfit Collaborative. She can be reached at 443-518-7704 or cheri.auger@acshoco.org.

Innovation and Inclusivity Driving New Housing Initiative in Howard County

The lack of affordable, supportive housing for adults with autism and other disabilities is reaching a crisis level across the country. It’s a particular challenge in Howard County and throughout the Baltimore area, where demand is escalating, housing prices are growing and supply is insufficient to demand.

The parent of a 21-year-old son, Trey, with autism, Theresa Ballinger knows the challenges involved with housing individuals with disabilities like her son first-hand. “It’s a struggle,” said Ballinger, who serves as president of the Howard County Autism Society (HCAS). “The long-term, affordable housing Trey and his peers need simply isn’t available.”

Ballinger and others expect the problem to escalate as more than 500 young adults with various types of disabilities will transition out of Howard County schools in the next five years. Meanwhile, the population of adults in Howard County over the age of 65 is expected to double over the next 20 years. And affordable housing for working families is in increasingly short supply.

An Answer

In response, HCAS and an alliance of partners have come up with an innovative solution that’s bigger than autism, or even disability, for that matter. It’s focused on community — specifically, a diverse, mixed-income community that will serve not only adults with autism and other disabilities, but older adults and families as well. Another innovative twist: Neighbors will keep an eye out for one another.

The project will adapt an award-winning intergenerational housing model being used across the nation to support populations facing specific challenges. In communities based on the model, older adults live alongside younger generations, and residents make a commitment to being supportive neighbors. The model is in use in communities like Bridge Meadows, in Portland, Ore., where it supports families involved with foster care; and Bastion, in New Orleans, whose residents include military veterans with life-long rehabilitative needs.

The Howard County initiative would be among the first in the country to adapt the intergenerational model to create a community with adults with autism and other disabilities in mind. The goal, said Mark Dunham, a consultant serving as the initiative’s project director, is to “use supportive community as a springboard to maximize individual potential.”

Too often, Dunham said, housing ends up segregating by income, ability and age. Social isolation sets in, which is a major problem for many older adults and adults with disabilities. “Sharing human capital among neighbors, alongside whatever direct support services residents may need, can be a great strategy for building individual and community well-being,” said Dunham. “It can also be a cost-effective solution” for optimizing resources during a time of tightening finances. “Being a thoughtful, engaged neighbor doesn’t cost anything, but it can make a real difference,” he said.

The Plan

Preliminary plans call for a 60- to 70-unit community of both affordable and market rate apartments and common space for residents to interact. A location with access to public transportation and walkable amenities is essential to ensuring residents are fully integrated into the larger community, as well as opportunities for employment and social engagement.

The initiative’s progress is being driven by a new, 12-member task force, including public and private sector leaders and experts in aging and disability services, housing and community development. It’s a complex undertaking. Dunham said the task force’s current focus is on establishing the project’s program and feasibility and identifying the site and development partner it will require to move forward.
It also will be unique. “This project will inevitably look, feel and function differently from other communities that have adapted this approach,” said Dunham. “This is a person-centered, organic approach, so it’ll have to be attuned to the needs and the strengths of the people who live there.”

Several funders, including HCAS and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, have provided seed funding to support planning activities. Dunham said more support is being sought. “We’re actively seeking venture philanthropists who are committed to housing and service innovation and can help us realize the potential of this approach.”

Meanwhile, HCAS, now entering its 25th year, is looking ahead to its next quarter-century. The organization is not planning to enter the housing business, said Ballinger, but instead is excited to help catalyze the partners and resources necessary to develop the project and bring this vision to life. “We see this as an opportunity to help pioneer an approach that could eventually be replicated throughout the Baltimore area and the entire state.

“The need is there, and we believe we’re onto a real solution.”
For more information, visit www.howard-autism.org/housinginitiative.

ACS Announces Winners of the 2018 Robbins Humanitarian Awards

The Association of Community Services (ACS) will present the 44th Annual Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards, which honor volunteers and staff in Howard County for exceptional service to their community, on Friday, April 20, at The Great Room at Savage Mill. Guests will have the opportunity to network and meet the winners from 11 a.m.–noon; the awards presentation and lunch will be held from noon–2 p.m.

Each year, a selection committee reviews nominations and selects winners in four categories. This year’s honorees are as follows.

• Jackie Eng, Volunteer of the Year. Jackie Eng is a leader and volunteer who is recognized for her work with nonprofits and county government and her collaboration with diverse individuals and organizations. Since early 2000, she has been a champion for affordable housing, ending homelessness and other human service needs in Howard County through her involvement with nonprofit organizations. They include Bridges to Housing Stability; the Association of Community Services (ACS); and county initiatives, committees and commissions.

• Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority/Iota Lambda Omega Chapter, Volunteer Team of the Year. The Howard County chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority fulfills the international service organization’s mission locally through continuous programs of service in a variety of human service areas including legal services, food insecurity, clothing needs and homelessness. In November 2017, ILO launched Howard County’s first Homeless Resource Fair, a one-stop resource event for the homeless population.

• Joan Webb Scornaienchi, Employee of the Year. As executive director of Howard County’s HC DrugFree since 2009, Joan Webb Scornaienchi has transformed the organization by building relationships, attracting new sources of funding, recruiting new partners and expanding services. She has been instrumental in educating residents and community leaders about the opioid epidemic and HC DrugFree’s educational campaign in English, Spanish, Korean and Arabic, and gets printed materials about opioids to those in need.

• Humanim’s Healthy Transitions Program, Employee Team of the Year. Humanim’s Healthy Transitions program was founded in 2015 to address the need for services for 16–25-year-olds with mental health concerns in Howard County. Using three evidence-based practices, including supported education, supported employment and psycho-social family education, Transition Facilitators work to assist program participants in successfully accomplishing critical life goals and living full, independent lives.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit acshoco.org or call 443-518-7702.

In Brief

Service Awards Nominations Sought

The Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism is looking for nominations for this year’s Governor’s Service Awards, marking the 35th year for this awards ceremony, which will be held this fall. The Governor’s Service Awards recognize Marylanders who have provided significant volunteer contributions to communities around the state during 2017 (or longer for the Lifetime Achievement Category), and are working to change Maryland for the better.

The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, June 1. Nominations are encouraged to include strong narrative writing within the word limit, focus on the previous year of service (excluding the Lifetime Achievement category), and provide comprehensive quantitative data to support service efforts, such as the number of people served and number of hours volunteered. Nominations may be submitted for individuals and groups in one of 15 categories.

• AmeriCorps Alum • Lifetime Achievement
• Corporate Business • Member of the Board
• Emerging Leader • National Service
• Exemplary Service Learning • Nonprofit Volunteer Program
• Faith-Based • State Employee
• First Responder • Veteran
• Group/Team • Youth
• Individual

To learn more about the awards and submit a nomination, visit gosv.maryland.gov/governors-service-awards.

Industry Perspective 522 Schoolkids and APFO: ‘And,’ not ‘Or’

In the 2015–2016 school year, the Howard County School System counted 522 students as homeless. Yet, in February of this year, the county council passed amendments to the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) that makes it significantly more difficult to build new housing in the county.

APFO is a seemingly common-sense measure that is in place in a number of suburban counties. It is intended to ensure that the county’s public facilities maintain pace with ongoing development. It imposes tests regarding the capacity of the school system and roads to absorb new residents. In areas that are overcrowded, new housing must wait a number of years, allowing time for the schools and roads to catch up.

The APFO amendments passed by the council this year expand the definition of what is an overcrowded school and extend the waiting period before new housing can be built. A map of the county using the new APFO limits shows strikingly few areas where new housing can be created.

Lack of Housing

At the same time, Howard County continues to have a severe shortage of affordable housing. The numbers show this in myriad ways: In 2014 there was a shortage of about 6,650 affordable apartments, with 9,900 renters earning less than $50,000 annually and only 3,247 affordable units. At the same time, for every 100 extremely low income households (for example, a family of four earning less than $20,050 annually) there were only 26 affordable places to live. The Howard County Housing Commission’s waiting list for housing choice vouchers, which helps pay rent, has more than 5,000 names.

The APFO amendments will only deepen the crises faced by many county families today. They will feel the direct impact of the changes in three ways. First, the basic economics of supply and demand will mean that, as the number of new homes in the county declines and demand remains constant, prices will rise. And this calculation underestimates the problem. Howard County continues to be a desirable place to live. The population has been growing, as it has been in the entire region, and there is no sign that rising demand will abate any time soon.

Second, due to APFO, there will be substantially fewer market rate homes, which will result in very little affordable housing built under the county’s Moderate Income Housing Units ordinance. This ordinance mandates that developers create a certain percentage of affordable homes when they build market rate units, or pay a fee to the county that can be used to create affordable housing elsewhere.
Finally, there will be less affordable housing simply because the APFO rules apply to affordable developments as well as market rate, making it more difficult, expensive and time-consuming to build them.

A New Standard of ‘Poor’

This is not a time to ignore the needs of the county’s lower-paid workforce. The affordable housing that is being built today does not serve our poorest neighbors. Only public housing and the housing choice voucher program do that, and these programs have been systematically cut for years to the point that the country is losing about 10,000 public housing units annually.

Rather, new affordable housing serves people earning real incomes — just not enough to afford the high cost of housing. A typical affordable unit would be home to a family of three earning somewhere between $41,000 and $49,200. This is a single-parent household with two children, in a health-care position, or custodial job, or working retail at our stores and shops. Or for a family of four, it is a two-parent family with one in the traditional role of staying home with the children and the other earning up to $54,660. This is almost the median household income for the United States as a whole. The families that will primarily benefit from affordable housing are not poor by any standard we have used before. They are just too poor to afford Howard County.

Exception to Crowding Designation

During the APFO deliberation there were some who framed the issues as a trade-off — the county can have either good, less-crowded schools or affordable housing. This is a false choice. We can, and indeed must, have both top performing schools and additional affordable housing for county residents.

As ultimately passed, the APFO legislation included an exception that would allow certain affordable housing developments to bypass the limits on school crowding. In order to move ahead, such housing will need to be approved by both the county executive and the county council in a public vote. At least 40% of the homes or apartments in the development must be set aside for individuals or families earning no more than 60% of the area median, or $49,200 for a family of three and $54,660 for a family of four.

The county executive and the county council should look for every opportunity to create affordable housing through the exception. The need continues to be overwhelming. The school system has adequate capacity for the student population when viewed as a whole. The relatively small number of new students that will benefit from the educational opportunities in the county can be accommodated.
If Howard County, one of the wealthiest places in the world, cannot find homes for 522 students who already have classroom seats, then who can?

Peter Engel is the executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission, which owns and operates more than 2,000 mixed-income housing units throughout Howard County. He can be reached at pengel@househoward.org.

Minimize the Stress of Work Travel

Traveling for work can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it. There are some great aspects of business travel, like visiting new, exciting places or staying at a fancy hotel with a room just for yourself that make it worthwhile.

Dealing with flights, hotels and transportation, on the other hand, can be a drag.

The only way to completely look at business travel in a positive light is by eliminating the stress that comes with those negatives. To point you in the right direction, here are seven essential practices to ensure an easier, stress-free business trip.

Expedited Traveler Status

Apply to the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre3 program for a quicker security briefing every time you fly. For $85 every five years, you can speed through security — and skip removing your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and other amenities. If you’re traveling within the next few months, submit an online application and schedule an appointment at one of its 380-plus enrollment centers. With a quick background check and fingerprinting, you’ll be set.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are key for every frequent traveler, and this works for airlines and hotels. Members of rewards programs often receive special perks alongside travel points, such as early boarding, priority hotel rooms and even first-class upgrades. Be loyal to a specific airline or brand and it’ll treat you well.

There’s an App for That

AwardWallet. Track your points and miles from all your accounts with one simple app. You will also get notified when your balances change and before your points expire; that way you can use your points at the perfect time.

TripIt. This app creates an itinerary in a calendar format by forwarding all of your confirmation emails from hotels, flights, car rentals and restaurants, so all your plans are in one place.
Evernote. Everything you’ve written, annotated and collected on any format, all in one place. This is useful when putting together presentations from the road.

PackPoint. It’s the packing list to end all packing lists. All you need to do is tell the app where you’re going and on which dates. A full checklist of what to pack based on length of stay, climate and weather will be generated in seconds. The best part? Checklists can be shared with friends and coworkers.

Just In Case

The last thing you need is a delayed flight and missing your meeting or hotel check-in time. It’s always a good idea to pick an earlier flight that will get you to where you need to be a little while before you need to be there, since the extra time will decrease stress. And, you might get to sneak in some extra time to explore your destination.

Skip Baggage Check

Many airlines charge extra fees for checking baggage, ranging from $25-45 for just one bag. Should you accidently have a bag that’s oversized or overweight, you’ll be hit with a harsh fee that can more than double the cost. Save your money and stick to just bringing a carry-on and a personal item. Not only does this save you money, but it also saves you time and stress.

By skipping the baggage check, you won’t have to worry about waiting by the carousel after your flight for your luggage and possibly missing your ride, meeting or hotel check-in. You also won’t have to worry about the possibility of the airline sending your luggage on the wrong flight (or losing it).

Booking Your Hotel

Waiting to book your hotel until the day you arrive can give you access to the best rooms for the best rates. If the unknown stresses you out, there is no shame in skipping the last minute deals and spending the extra dollar to secure a hotel room.

Charge Up

Not much is more stressful than your phone battery dying, especially when you’re in a new place and may need to rely on it for emergencies. Make sure you keep your electronics fully charged before you get on the plane, as not all aircraft have charging capabilities. To eliminate another checklist item you have to remember the morning of the flight, charge your electronics overnight so they will be ready in the morning.
For more information, visit bbb.org.

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and abarnett@greatermd.bbb.

From the Desk of CA President Milton Matthews

Columbia Association’s (CA) board of directors voted in late February to pass the budget for fiscal 2019, which runs from May 2018 through April 2019; and the conditional budget for fiscal 2020, which runs from May 2019 through April 2020.

That vote came after the previous issue of The Business Monthly went to press, so I wanted to use this April issue to spotlight what the budget entails — what it means for the community and for CA.

CA uses a two-year budget cycle to ease the burden on its volunteer board and on our staff. The process is extended and extensive. As there is so much to discuss and so many opportunities for public input, we plan two years at a time, and then revisit the conditional budget the following year to see what adjustments may need to be made.

The annual charge rate remains the same that it has been since 2004: 68 cents per $100 of valuation, assessed on 50% of the fair market value, as determined by the state of Maryland for property tax purposes. CA’s annual charge rate is nearly 10% less than the allowable maximum under state law, which is 75 cents per $100 of valuation.

The annual charge, which is paid by residential, commercial and industrial property owners, provides approximately 54% of CA’s income. The remaining 46% comes from memberships, classes, programs and fees.

The fiscal ’19 budget includes approximately $74.5 million in revenue and $70.7 million in operating expenses. That budget was built on strategic objectives that emphasize financial and environmental sustainability and, as befits CA’s mission, the budget is centered on activities, services and amenities in which the community is interested.

If you flip through the pages of CA’s budget, you’ll see a breadth and depth of programs and services, the many reasons why Columbia is such a great place to live, and how much of a difference CA makes in differentiating this community from others.

CA’s budget reflects an enormous investment in open space, in beloved amenities such as lakes, parks, pathways and tot lots. The natural environment is at the core of Columbia’s character. As such, CA has a responsibility to take care of the environment, whether that is through reduction of our carbon footprint in everything from our building systems to the buildings themselves, or through the work we are doing to restore our streams and improve the watershed.

There is also funding for 23 outdoor pools, three fitness clubs, and other sport and fitness facilities. This, after all, is a community that values wellness and recreation. And the budget also continues to prioritize community services, which include the free concerts and movies nearly every night at the Lakefront Summer Festival, the multicultural programs that continue to highlight the importance of diversity, the before and after school care programs, summer camps and other family friendly activities.

And CA’s capital budget shows a continued investment in many of the facilities that serve you, including the numerous village and community buildings CA owns and maintains, as well as our fitness and recreational facilities.

Among other projects scheduled to take place during the next two fiscal years: a significant set of renovations at Columbia Athletic Club that will modernize Columbia’s oldest fitness club; the third and final phase of upgrades to Columbia Swim Center; renovations to the theater at Slayton House in Wilde Lake; more improvements to CA’s pathway system; a new HVAC system at Columbia Gym; an ADA-compliant wading pool at Hawthorn Pool; dredging at Lake Elkhorn; pond dredging and repairs; bridge replacements; watershed stabilization; and renovations at the Supreme Sports Club.
These decisions are based on need, as well as on what CA can reasonably afford to borrow. Over the years, we will continue to address our aging infrastructure.

Through it all, we will proceed with the guiding philosophy of using the community’s resources wisely.
E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.

Howard County Chamber

Leaders Unite for Women’s Leadership Conference

“If you want something done,” a certain saying goes, “give it to a busy woman.”

On that note, a group of more than 200 busy women joined the Howard County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) on Thursday, March 8, for its annual Women’s Leadership Conference.

HCCC President Leonardo McClarty kicked off the event by introducing the morning’s keynote speaker, Laura Gamble, regional vice president, PNC Bank. Gamble focused on tips, rather than challenges, and said some of the most important advice she could offer was to know yourself, then work from your strengths.

The first panel of the day, moderated by Lisa Anderson of Anavo Transformation Solutions, was focused on mentoring and championing. Anderson set the tone by referring to her panel’s discussion as “black coffee conversation;” the straight talk that followed with panelists Margaret Davis, Maryland Hall; Sharon Pinder, Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council; and Holly Shook, CUPs Coffeehouse and Project I CAN, focused on how leaders can pass on their skills. All of the panelists talked about learning to lead, but also of the importance of having people you can speak with openly and honestly.

The second panel, led by moderator Nicole Mitchell, Aronson, included Lisa Cines, Radius; Howard Community College President Kate Hetherington; and Elizabeth Edsall Kromm, Howard County General Hospital. All of the panelists agreed that the struggles of the baby boomer generation are not always the same as today’s struggles, but they also emphasized the importance of “not making the next generation do things the hard way, like we did.”

The third panel was about succeeding in male-dominated fields. Moderator Kim Watters, GovRealm, asked panelists Susan Brown, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab; Debra Cruz, Levin & Gann Law; and Sallie Sweeney, GDIT, about their experiences working in male-dominated industries. All three women talked about the importance of emotional intelligence and “picking your battles.” But above all else, they agreed that you have to know your audience, know your stuff and hold your own.

After a brief break, conference attendees were treated to a visit from Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan. She met with guests in the Exhibitor Hall and then addressed the entire conference, saying she was “very pleased” to be able to attend, having been a one-time resident of Howard County and because the day was all about celebrating women. She also offered that women should “continue helping each other and supporting each other.”
The last session, “Rising To and Inspiring From the Top,” was among the day’s highlights. Moderator Anna Fleeman Elhini, founder of Creatrix, introduced two women who needed no introduction: Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, Maryland National Guard; and Jane Campbell, Washington Office for Advocacy, National Development, and former Mayor of Cleveland, who shared their life stories. Singh spoke about her hard-fought journey to success and also said, “When you get up here, you gotta start pulling.” Campbell talked about how she got into politics as a child through her religion and her family, but was constantly having to be the first woman to hold most offices in Ohio along her way.

Afternoon keynote speaker Laurie Moe Buckhout, Col. (Ret.) U.S. Army, and now of Corvus, kept the crowd laughing and riveted through her stories of public service, motherhood and entrepreneurship. She mentioned she had been reading a lot of presidential biographies recently and has learned “the people who stand still in life aren’t the ones they write books about.”

Central Maryland Chamber

Celebrating Regional Success
The Central Maryland Chamber (CMC) Annual Meeting, which is set for May 1, will celebrate regional business success, with awards going to the Start-Up Business of the Year; Woman-Owned Business of the Year; Minority Owned Business of the Year; Small, Mid-Size and Large Businesses of the Year; and more. The event will be held at the Live! Casino & Hotel and is expected to attract 200 attendees. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available at www.centralmarylandchamber.org.

Shoutin’ Out
Congratulations to Gina Avramidis for opening Shape Your Body Fitness, located at 2620 Annapolis Road, Suite J, Hanover. CMC welcomes Avramidis and her team to the organization and for the opportunity to celebrate her new business’s grand opening.

The BCN Grows
The CMC launched the Business Connections Network (BCN, a leads group) earlier this year. The program has been so popular that a third group has already formed and will have its first monthly meeting in early April.
The focus of each group, made up of 20 representatives from non-competing businesses, is on building relationships. “I like being a part of the CMC Business Connections Network. I have enjoyed several one-on-one sessions with fellow members,” said Jeanne Rieken, of Severn Bank. “People do business with people that they know, like and trust. I now know, like and trust several members in this group. Plus, the monthly professional development training is excellent.”
The BCN is a free benefit for CMC members. To learn more, contact Nancy LaJoice, CMC membership director.

Recruiting, Retention
It was recently reported by various media outlets that the unemployment rate is at a 49-year low. Companies are finding it challenging to fill some positions and are looking for creative ways to recruit new employees.
Others recognize the value of their current employees and are stepping up retention efforts to keep them on board. The CMC is partnering with Cornerstone Defense, a small business servicing the defense and space communities of the U.S. government, to host HR Directors, a roundtable discussion for human resource directors with regional businesses, to discuss recruiting and retention best practices.
If you are an HR director responsible for recruiting and retention at your company and wish to be a part of this roundtable discussion, contact Nancy LaJoice.

April
For details and registration for these events, visit www.centralmarylandchamber.org.
• 12 Networking Breakfast, Severna Park, location to be determined, 7:30–9:30 a.m.
• 19 Membership 101, 9–10:30 a.m. 312 Marshal Avenue, 1st Floor, Laurel. Free.
• 25 Women Mean Business Luncheon. CMC Conference Room, 8379 Piney Orchard Parkway, Odenton, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

May
• 1 CMC Annual Meeting, Center Stage at Live! Casino & Hotel
Keynote Speaker: Freeman Hrabowski, president, UMBC. The event will also feature the Hall of Fame Business Awards. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
• 8 Networking Mixer, location to be determined, 5 p.m.
• 16 Business Seminar: “Filling Your Sales Pipeline,” David Wendkos, Sandler Sales Training, 9 a.m.
• 17 Membership 101
312 Marshall Avenue, 1st Floor, Laurel, 9–10:30 a.m. Free
If you are not a CMC member and you would like to learn how being a member can help you grow your business and save you money, call 410-672-3422, ext. 4, for a free benefits guide or visit www.centralmarylandchamber.org.

Nonprofit News & Charitable Giving

Howard County Opens Second Phase of Blandair Park
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman was joined by county, state and local representatives at a ribbon-cutting on Saturday, March 10, to mark the opening of the second phase of Blandair Park, in Columbia. Following the ribbon-cutting, Kittleman threw out the first pitch for a 14U baseball game.
The newest section of Blandair Park includes a challenge course specifically designed for teens and adults, five tennis courts, a pavilion/shade structure, two synthetic turf baseball fields with shaded bleacher seating, restroom facilities, an open green space and a new parking lot. In addition, this phase of the project included the realignment of Oakland Mills Road from north of Kilimanjaro Road to east of Shadow Fall Terrace. New ramps from eastbound Route 175 (Rouse Parkway), two roundabouts, driveway extensions, entrance parking lots and concrete sidewalk were constructed as part of this construction project.
Cost of construction of the park’s phase two was $7.4 million; the road relocation and ramp connections to Route 175 cost $6.4 million.

Arundel Enters Into Negotiations to Purchase Turtle Run Property
Anne Arundel County has entered into negotiations with Snyder Development Corp. to purchase the 140-acre property in Churchton popularly known as Turtle Run at Deep Cove. The property, which abuts Franklin Point State Park, has been the subject of litigation between the developer and the citizen group South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (or SACRED).
After 10-plus years of attempts, the project had been granted conditional approval to locate 11 homes on a 40-acre parcel along Deep Cove Creek. That decision was appealed by local residents and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and is now before the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals.
Should the county obtain the property, it will be a site for passive recreation activities like hiking, preservation of environmentally-sensitive features such as tidal and non-tidal wetlands that feed into Deep Cove Creek, preservation of habitat for bird species that require substantial stands of riparian forest and opportunities for major tree planting efforts.
The plantings would be funded with fee-in-lieu money paid into an account when developers remove trees from their projects.

Arundel Announces $3.8 Million Upgrade to Bell Branch Park
Anne Arundel County has announced a $3.8 million turf field upgrade project at Bell Branch Park, in the Crofton/Gambrills area. The project consists of amenity upgrades and the installation of two synthetic turf fields to address field shortages in West County. The artificial turf fields will replace the grass surface fields, extend the playing season and reduce down time due to waterlogged playing surfaces or lack of grass.
Site amenities include improved field lighting, bleachers, scoreboards, pathways and goals. Bell Branch Park, which is located on Davidsonville Road, is home to three baseball fields, five multi-purpose fields, a concession stand, a dog park, a paved trail, a pavilion and picnic areas.

Large Stream Restoration Project Planned for Three Columbia Villages
A large stream restoration project is planned during the next few years in the villages of Harper’s Choice, Town Center and Wilde Lake. The project is being conducted by Columbia Association (CA), the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and SHA contractor Ecotone Inc. CA’s goal is to reduce the amount of sediment flowing into Wilde Lake and Lake Kittamaqundi. All work is restricted to open space owned by CA.
In total, approximately 6,691 feet of stream channel will be restored by this project. The project area will include the section of stream that flows under Little Patuxent Parkway to Lake Kittamaqundi. The project will skip over Wilde Lake and the section of stream behind Green Mountain Circle and Faulkner Ridge Circle (which is partially on Beaverbrook property) and then will start again at Hesperus Drive.
Restoration work will continue on the main section of stream all the way past Eliots Oak Road to Howard County Parks and Recreation property at Cedar Lane Park. Restoration work also will occur on the tributary between Fallriver Row Court and Mystic Court.
The timeline for this project is between two and three years. Planning has begun, and a design for the project should be available by summer. Permitting will include county, state and federal resource agencies and will take six months to a year to accomplish.
SHA is funding all aspects of this $2.2 million project, at no cost to CA, in exchange for stream restoration credits that will apply towards the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit that SHA is obligated to meet. Maintenance of the restored stream sections will be SHA’s responsibility. For information, email CA’s Open Space and Facility Services Department at OpenSpace.ResourceRequests@ColumbiaAssociation.org.

Howard County’s 50+EXPO to Celebrate 20th Anniversary This Fall
Vendor and sponsorship applications are now being accepted for Howard County’s 20th annual 50+EXPO. Presented by the Department of Community Resources and Services, this event for older adults will take place Friday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia.
Coordinated by the Department’s Office on Aging and Independence, the 50+EXPO provides a unique marketing opportunity to reach Howard County’s older adults, caregivers, professionals and baby boomers.
Vendor information and forms are available on the Office on Aging and Independence’s website at www.howardcountymd.gov/50plusexpo.
All proceeds will benefit the Vivian L. Reid Community Fund. For more information, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/50plusexpo or call 410-442-3734 (voice/relay) or email lcoster@howardcountymd.gov.

Howard Rec & Parks to Launch Tennis Ball Recycling Pilot Program
As part of its sustainability efforts, Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks is launching a tennis ball recycling pilot program this month at Centennial Park. The program will keep used tennis balls out of the landfill and instead recycle them into a crumb rubber product that can be used to create a variety of green solutions.
Two bins have been placed at Centennial Park’s West and North Tennis courts, providing a convenient place for players to recycle their used tennis balls. Each bin holds 200 tennis balls and when full, county staff will collect the tennis balls and ship them using pre-paid postage to RecycleBalls.
To learn more about the Tennis Ball Project, visit http://tennisballcourts.com.

$3M in Improvements in Line for Baltimore & Annapolis Trail
Anne Arundel County will invest more than $3 million to improve the Baltimore & Annapolis (B&A) Trail and Earleigh Heights Ranger Station, in Severna Park. The project includes $900,000 to improve the ranger station, which sits adjacent to the trail, with the work beginning this summer. In addition, the county will make a $2.1 million, multi-year investment to repave the route.
The B&A Trail stretches 13 miles, from Boulters Way in Annapolis to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie. The ranger station offers parking and a gazebo; horticultural gardens and park benches are found at the Hatton-Regester Green property, which is also in Severna Park.

Kittleman Seeks Members for Consumer Protection Advisory Board
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is seeking applicants interested in serving on the Consumer Protection Advisory Board.
Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., at the Office of Consumer Protection, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia. Applicants should send a résumé and a brief letter to David Lee by email to dklee@howardcountymd.gov or by mail to Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: David Lee, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 20.

2018 Children’s Discovery Fair: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead
A celebration for children ages 3–5 and their families, “Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead,” is set for Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Cradlerock Elementary School, located at 6700 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. This free event will include hands-on activities relating to preschool science, technology, engineering, arts and math concepts, including interactive games, songs, crafts and stories. A dental van will be on-site for free dental screenings for children ages 2–12 years old.
This event is part of the Launch into Learning school readiness initiative and is sponsored by the Howard County Early Childhood Advisory Council. For more information, call 410-313-1940 or e-mail children@howardcountymd.gov.

Explore Columbia’s Sister Cities Without Leaving Columbia
An event spotlighting the cultures of China, France, Ghana, Haiti and Spain will be held at The Mall in Columbia on Sunday, April 22. “Explore Columbia’s Sister Cities: 5 Countries in 4 Hours” is an afternoon of music, dance and other performances, as well as table displays. It will be held from 1–5 p.m. at the Lord & Taylor lower level court at the mall, 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia.
The event features Columbia’s four sister cities — Cergy-Pontoise, France; Tema, Ghana; Cap-Haitien, Haiti; and Tres Cantos, Spain — plus Liyang, China, which has been proposed to become Columbia’s fifth sister city.
In between performances, visitors can speak with representatives from the various sister city committees, explore the different cultures, learn about local events, discover travel opportunities for youth and adults. For more information, visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/multicultural or call 410-715-3162.

CA Climate Change Advisory Committee Seeking Members
Columbia Association (CA) is seeking members for its newly formed Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory Committee. Candidates with an interest and experience in climate change, environmental sustainability and community engagement are encouraged to apply.
Interested individuals should send a cover letter and résumé by April 30 to Energy@ColumbiaAssociation.org.
Members are expected to attend bimonthly committee meetings, engage the community, contribute thoughtfully to discussions and documents being developed by the committee and provide support at committee events.

City of Laurel Schedules Pax River Cleanup Day on April 7
With the arrival of spring, the City of Laurel is gearing up for its annual Patuxent River Cleanup on Saturday, April 7. Mayor Craig Moe announced this would be the City of Laurel’s 14th consecutive year of participating in the statewide event, which is coordinated by the Patuxent Riverkeepers. The staging area will be Riverfront Park, on Avondale Street, starting at 9 a.m.
Volunteers will be asked to assist in removing trash and debris from the river, which will help the river flow better during rain events. Trash bags and gloves, along with some hand tools, will be provided. For additional information, contact the Laurel Department of Parks and Recreation at 301-725-7800.

City of Laurel’s 2018 Open
House Rescheduled
The new date for the City of Laurel’s Open House is set for April 8, and the public is invited to meet local officials and connect with area organizations. Mayor Craig Moe and the Laurel City Council invite the public to attend from 1–4 p.m. at the Laurel Municipal Center, located at 8103 Sandy Spring Road, Laurel. For more information, contact Laurel’s Department of Parks and Recreation at 301-725-7800.

TowerCares Foundation Funds Cybercafés to Help Homeless Vets
The TowerCares Foundation donated $20,000 to the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) to provide funds for three computer rooms at MCVET’s facility for homeless veterans in Baltimore. The new “cybercafés” are equipped with computers, printers, Wi-Fi, computer desks and chairs.
The computers and Internet access will help veterans residing at MCVET apply for jobs, increase work skills, learn new technologies and communicate with family and friends.
Since 1993, MCVET has provided homeless veterans, both men and women, and other veterans in need with comprehensive services designed to help them rejoin the community as productive citizens.

HCPSS Seeks Citizen Members for Ethics Panel
The Howard County Board of Education is seeking citizens to serve on the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Ethics Panel.
Any Howard County resident at least 18 years of age is eligible to serve on the Ethics Panel. Candidates cannot be an employee of the school system, an HCPSS student, an incumbent member of the Board of Education, or an owner or individual employed by an entity doing business with the board. Appointees serve a five-year term.
Howard County citizens interested in serving on the Ethics Panel are asked to send a letter of interest and their résumé to the Office of the General Counsel at Kimberly_Clare@hcpss.org or by mail to the HCPSS, 10910 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042. The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 30. A complete copy of the Ethics Regulation is available at www.hcpss.org/about-us/ethics-panel.

HHC Offering 200 Free Trees to Howard Residents Via Foundation
The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) is providing 200 trees to residents of Howard County through the Community Canopy Project, an Arbor Day Foundation program that helps expand the tree canopies of cities and towns across the United States. Howard County residents can reserve their free trees at www.arborday.org/howardhughes.
Residents of Howard County can reserve up to two trees and are expected to care for them and plant them in the location provided by the online tool. The types of trees offered include Eastern Redbud, Northern Red Oak, Red Maple, River Birch and White Dogwood.
The Community Canopy Project for Howard County will continue until all 200 trees are reserved. The two- to four-foot-tall trees will be delivered directly to customers at an ideal time for planting.

CFHoCo to Hold 36th Annual
Spring Party
The Community Foundation of Howard County (CFHoCo), which raises, manages and distributes funds to support Howard County nonprofits, will hold its 36th annual Spring Party on Friday, June 8, from 5–8 p.m. in the Science Engineering Technology Building at Howard Community College, Columbia.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the foundation’s programs and services that promote local philanthropy and provide grant funding for nonprofit organizations serving Howard County. Tickets cost $100 and include a full buffet and open bar. For more information, tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.cfhoco.org or call Allyson Lestner at 410-730-7840.

Verba Shadow Theatre to Perform at Rouse Theatre
The east coast debut of Verba Shadow Theatre, from Ukraine, will take place at The Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, Columbia, on Saturday, June 30, at 7 p.m., on the last night of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Pioneers of this art form, Verba is a new family show that takes its audience on a journey into an imaginative world of storytelling through dance, light, shadow and beauty while visualizing various subjects taken from life, literature and film.
The shadow version of “Titanic” has more than 5 million views on YouTube, and the troupe has performed in India, Argentina, Ireland, Monaco and Germany. Verba recently appeared on “Ukraine’s Got Talent” and “Minute of Fame” in Russia. See its most recent work, celebrating the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeong Chang, at http://bit.ly/2FlYpho and its version of “Titanic” at http://bit.ly/2ijirD0.
The full schedule of 25-plus events to be held from June 14–30 at the 2018 Columbia Festival of the Arts can be found at Columbiafestival.org.

Free Spring Classical Concerts at St. Louis Church
St. Louis Church, in Clarksville, hosts its last two concerts of the season this spring with classical compositions, ranging from European to American styles. The Barclay Brass ensemble, St. Louis Choir and guest artists perform chants of the European Renaissance masters — echoing from royalty to iconic cathedrals — on Sunday, April 22, at 4 p.m.
Then, violinist Destiny Mermagen and pianist Heather Adelsberger perform a violin sonata by Charles Ives, and Henri Vieuxtemps’ “American Bouquet,” a virtuosic suite based on American folk tunes, on Friday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, call 410-531-6040 or visit www.stlconcertseries.org.

HCAC’s Plein Air Events Set for
July 6–9
The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) is currently seeking artists to take part in Paint It! Ellicott City 2018, an annual plein air paint-out sponsored by HCAC, Howard County Tourism, the Ellicott City Partnership and the Howard County Public School System.
This year’s paint-out will take place from July 6–8. During the weekend, juried artists will set up their easels throughout Ellicott City’s historic district and “paint the town” as they vie for a minimum of $2,000 in total awards. Community artists are invited to join the event as part of the Open Paint-Out taking place concurrently. The weekend also will include a “quick draw” competition.
On July 9, HCAC will host a special reception from 6–8 p.m. to celebrate the opening of an exhibit of the juried artists’ work at the Howard County Center for the Arts. The evening will feature the presentation of awards, as well as a one-night exhibit of work created during the open paint-out. The juried artists’ exhibit will run through Aug. 17. The deadline for entries for the event is April 27.
Entry information is available in the Exhibit Opportunities section at hocoarts.org. For more information, email info@hocoarts.org or call 410-313-2787.

CAC Announces Holland Humanitarian Award Recipient, Keynote Speaker
The Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) has selected a 2018 Reverend John W. Holland Humanitarian Award recipient and a keynote speaker for the 23rd Annual Holland Awards Dinner.
Vivian “Millie” Bailey will receive the organization’s 2018 Humanitarian Award. Bailey has distinguished herself for the award through a lifetime of community service. In addition, award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be featured as the keynote speaker at the event, which will be held on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Turf Valley Conference Center, Ellicott City. A social reception will begin at 6 p.m., the presentation at 7 p.m.
Bailey, a World War II veteran, has devoted a lifetime to serving the community. In the 1980s, she established a fund at the Community Action Council of Howard County in honor of her late husband, William Bailey. Since its inception, the fund has provided critical support to more than 126 Howard County residents in need of housing assistance; Adichie, who divides her time between Columbia and Lagos, Nigeria, is the leading African writer of her generation. Adichie’s work has been translated into more than 30 languages.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 410-313-6174 or emailing jgrieb@cac-hc.org. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Learn About ‘Maryland’s Mother of Civil Rights’ at LHS
The woman who has been called “Maryland’s Mother of Civil Rights,” Gloria Richardson, will be the focus of a talk by historian Artura Jackson at the Laurel Historical Society (LHS) on April 12, at 7 p.m. The program will explore the life of Richardson, an important, but often-overlooked, civil rights activist.
Her actions with what is known as “The Cambridge Movement,” a struggle for civil rights and economic opportunities in Cambridge, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, during the 1960s deeply affected her community and generated national attention. Sponsored by the LHS in partnership with Black History Program of the Maryland-National Capital Parks & Planning Commission, the event will be held at the Laurel Pool Room, 9th and Main streets, Laurel. Suggested donation is $3 for members, $5 for non-members.

MDOT SHA Launches Maryland TRAC at Laurel’s CMIT Academy
Encouraging education, opportunities and careers in STEM and engineering for Maryland students, Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) Deputy Administrator Jason Ridgway joined teachers, administrators and students at Chesapeake Math and Information Technology (IT) Academy (CMIT), in Laurel, to launch Maryland’s new TRAnsportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) Program.
Chesapeake Math and IT Academy is one of Maryland’s inaugural schools to integrate American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official’s TRAC program into its curriculum.
CMIT students demonstrated the TRAC learning modules for bridge building. In a Maryland first, a CMIT student team has been selected as a national finalist to compete in the 2018 AASHTO TRAC Bridge Competition in Franklin, Tenn., in May. In a competition of more than 115 entries, the CMIT 11/12th team has been chosen as one of 18 finalists from across the country, and is the only school on the east coast representing this grade level.

Whipps Annual Plant Sale Set for May 11–12
On Friday, May 11, and Saturday, May 12, Ellicott City’s only public garden-park, run entirely by volunteers, the Whipps Garden Cemetery, will hold its annual fundraiser Plant Sale at the First Lutheran Church, located at corner of Chatham and Frederick roads, in Dunloggin.
The sale features many unusual and hard-to-find varieties, including many butterfly, shade-loving and deer-resistant plants. Many of the plants are donated from the gardens of master gardeners. Free compost bins will be available on Saturday from noon–2 p.m.

Human Rights Commission Announces Winners of 2018 Human Rights Award
The Howard County Human Rights Commission has announced that Dr. Yen Li and The Build Haiti Foundation are the recipients of the 2018 Human Rights Award.
Li has spent decades as an advocate for Chinese cultural inclusion in county schools and in the local health care system, as a former principal of the Chinese Language School of Columbia and a board member and volunteer for the Asian American Healthcare Center. With a similar mission to strengthen communities, The Build Haiti Foundation coordinated with Folly Quarter Middle School on a service-learning project related to the impact of poverty on individual health and education.
An award ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Historic Oakland Ballroom. The award ceremony is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited. To reserve your seat, call the Human Rights Commission Award reservation line at 410-313-5906.

Family Fun and Community Game Night Slated for April 14
The 2nd Annual Family Fun and Community Game Night, presented by Getting Ahead graduates, is slated for Saturday, April 14, from 5–8:30 p.m., at the Bain 50+ Center,. Activities include arts and crafts, ice cream sundae station, relay contests, games and prizes, raffle drawings and music. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 per family.
Presented in partnership with the Howard County MultiService Center Office of Community Partnerships, the Family Fun and Community Game Night is a benefit for MakingChange financial wellness programs, which are attended by Getting Ahead participants. For information, call 410-313-0220.

Kittleman Forms Task Force to Recommend Locations for Potential Elkridge High
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman created a task force to advise him on potential locations to build a future high school in Elkridge, charging the group with finding potential sites and determining the costs and unique requirements for each site. Kittleman said those potential sites will include the previously discussed Troy Park location, however he will further direct the task force that Rockburn Branch Park will not be considered.
Kittleman has named Elkridge resident Sandy Roschli to head the task force. Other members are Jose De La Mar, Ananta Hejeebu, Robert Judge, Leslie Kornreich, Julie Merson, Kristy Mumma, Dawn Popp, David Sciamarelli and Becki Vivrette. Renee Kamen, manager of the Howard County Public School System’s Office of School Planning, and Andrew Howard of the Office of the County Executive, will serve as advisers.
Kittleman has requested a full report on or before March 31, 2019.

LHC Recognizes Outstanding Community Leaders
Leadership Howard County (LHC) will honor community leaders for their service at its Annual Awards Dinner & Graduation on June 12, at Ten Oaks Ballroom.
• Distinguished Alumni: James R. Moxley, III, principal, Security Development Corp.
• Unsung Hero Award: Pete Mangione, general manager, Turf Valley Resort
• Leadership Legacy Award: Vivian Bailey
The event also celebrates the graduation of the Leadership Premier and Essentials classes of 2018.
The event is open to the public; alumni and guests are invited. Tickets for the dinner are available at www.leadershiphc.org.

2017 Leadership U Service Projects Worked to Improve the Lives of County Residents

Granting the wish of a sick child, addressing diversity at school or sexual assault on college campuses, raising awareness of homelessness, supporting veterans — these are just some of the ways the 49 students in the Class of 2017 gave back to the community through this year’s program. The students completed seven community service projects, which they created after becoming familiar with the needs of the community.

Team Wish

The goal of Team Wish was to grant a wish for a child in Howard County through the Make-A-Wish foundation and to raise awareness of its mission to those children who are waiting for wishes in Howard County. The team organized a Wish Week that included a restaurant night, bake sale, social media online donation campaign and fundraising at a county high school football game.

Beyond the Stereotype

Beyond the Stereotype created student-led conversations surrounding the issue of cultural insensitivities and diversity. The team utilized social media to celebrate the multicultural nature of Howard County. The Beyond the Stereotype team created the #beyondthestereotype and Twitter and Instagram accounts @hocobeyond to spread its message.

Speak Love HoCo

Speak Love HoCo teamed with HopeWorks to raise awareness for sexual assault on today’s college campuses. The team hosted the screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary on sexual assault on college campuses. Speak Love HoCo also facilitated a discussion with both parents and students on the impact of the film.

Hospital Helpers

Hospital Helpers organized a Sunday morning breakfast at Howard County General Hospital for the Emergency Department to show their appreciation for their staff. The team also brought notes of thanks and encouragement to share with all staff members.

We LUVeterans

We LUVeterans implemented a pilot program at Howard High School to show appreciation for veterans in Howard County. This pilot may be followed by other high schools for future veterans programs. Throughout the week, the students also collected donations for homeless veterans’ everyday needs for the McVets facility to distribute to those in need.

“The Leadership U program really empowers students to learn by doing,” said Meg Ignacio, Leadership U director. “The students learn the value of teamwork and project organization that goes beyond just learning about a subject area. By developing projects that affect them and their peers in the community, they gain a sense of accomplishment and learn they have the ability to really make a positive difference.”

 

Leadership U Class of 2017

Gabrielle Aidam
Long Reach

Julian Basena
Long Reach

Malina Beideman
Mount de Sales Academy

Veronica Cagle
Centennial

Corey Cooke
Wilde Lake

Taylor Currie
Glenelg

Lilly DeCelles
Atholton

Matthew Demme
Centennial

Annabelle Gao
Marriotts Ridge

Kaia Godsey
Mt. Hebron

Harun Gopal
Centennial

Juliana Gorman
Notre Dame Preparatory

Timothy Goulet
Howard

Maeve Hall
Notre Dame Preparatory

Lola Hankins
Mt. Hebron

Grace Hendricks
Mt. Hebron

Jeremy Jablonover
River Hill

Cassie Jeng
River Hill

Kevin Johnson
Glenelg

Tyrone Jones
Hammond

Anish Kasimsetty
Glenelg Country School

Samuel Levitt
Oakland Mills

Hassan Malik
Glenelg

Grace Mardock
Howard

Christian Maric
Atholton

Marc Marshall
Wilde Lake

Hassaan Mastoor
Marriotts Ridge

Eliza Munns
Mt. Hebron

Faith Ngundi
Howard

Sonia Patel
River Hill

Rahel Petros
Atholton

Daniel Quinter
Hammond

Trevor Romaine
Reservoir

Hamzah Rushdan
Glenelg Country School

Victorea Sangvic
Atholton

Eric Schneider
Wilde Lake

Renee Seetoo
The Excelsior Academy

Telly Smith
Mt. Hebron

Campbell Snoddy
Atholton

John Spurrier
River Hill

Kathryn Spurrier
River Hill

Alexander Strawley
Howard

Grace Virden
Marriotts Ridge

Autumn Weinig
Wilde Lake

Natalie Willard
Centennial

Emmett A. Woods-Gresham
Wilde Lake

Hamzah Yousuf
Mt. Hebron

Eric Zhu
Marriotts Ridge

Jessica Zinderman
Atholton

Leadership U: Helping Create the Next Generation of Leaders

When Leadership U (LU) was launched in 1996 by Leadership Howard County (LHC), the goal was to offer the next generation an opportunity to learn about their community and develop their leadership skills outside of the classroom. With 21 years of experience, Leadership U is continually recognized as an extraordinary leadership program for high school juniors in Howard County.

Each year, up to 50 students from public and private schools are guided through the program, which runs from late July through December, learning about leadership development, teamwork and giving back.

Summer Week: Each program year begins with an intensive summer week in early August. Similar to the adult program, students are taken on site visits and meet experts from county government, nonprofits and education, learning about how the county operates, services that are available and challenges that citizens are faced with. They also go through teambuilding activities and learn more about leadership from prominent professionals.

By the end of summer week, students take an active role in determining the issues they’d like to address, and they begin the process of creating a unique project that gives back to the community.

Fall Sessions: Throughout the fall, students work in groups to develop, implement and analyze service projects that have a direct impact on the community. Through this process, they learn valuable skills in communication, time management and general teamwork in an open environment where support is offered through volunteer mentors and other resources. As there are no grades, the learning experience is student-driven, and learning is achieved through more than just the success of the projects.

During each session, LU invites a speaker to enlighten the students about various aspects of leadership through short discussions called Leadership Lessons.

3D-HC – Dig Deep and Discover Howard County: This is an opportunity to give the students an up-close look at the important work done by nonprofits in the community such as the Howard County Food Bank, HopeWorks, Howard County Conservancy and others. Up to five nonprofits host teams of students who spend a day meeting staff and working on projects directly with clients. They also learn valuable lessons about serving on boards and committees and what it takes to make these operations run successfully.

Graduation: The program culminates in December with a creative and unique graduation ceremony. In addition to students and their families, regular attendees include school faculty and elected officials, LHC board members and many other community leaders. The students present their projects to the audience and share their experiences in a fun, entertaining setting.

Guiding the program is a team of staff and volunteers. The invaluable contributions from LU’s steering committee, mentors, summer week chaperones and community partners are critical to making this program unique and successful. Graduates of Leadership Premier and Leadership Essentials, as well as Leadership U grads, frequently offer their time and expertise in order to enhance the students’ experience.

The program is continually evaluated to ensure each class develops friendships, experiences and skills that will enrich their high school and college careers and beyond. If you work with an organization or nonprofit that wants to connect with a talented and passionate group of youth leaders, contact Leadership U director Meg Ignacio at mignacio@leadershiphc.org.

Frequently Asked Questions About Leadership Premier

What is the benefit of participating in Leadership Howard County (LHC)?

In our adult programming, we know that both the employee and the employer gain from the unique opportunities we offer. For employees, Leadership Howard County offers an unparalleled opportunity for personal and professional growth. Our program will enable you to:

• Develop community connections and networking opportunities
• Meet Howard County leaders, influencers and decision-makers
• Learn more about the community and how it works

Why should employers sponsor an employee?

Leadership Howard County is a wise investment in your most valuable asset: your employees. Our program offers a high level of professional development that also connects them to the community in which they live and do business. In particular, investing in Leadership Howard County offers:
• Development and retention of talent with valuable skills
• Succession planning through the identification and development of future leaders
• Creation of loyalty to your company and a connection with the community
• Investment in the future of Howard County leadership and prosperity

What is the program content?

The core program for Leadership Howard County is its 10-month leadership development program with an intense curriculum of civic information and leadership development. Through site visits, lectures and informal discussion, participants learn how major decisions are made and who makes them. The program also utilizes a team-building overnight retreat that allows participants to examine the concepts of leadership.

The program covers topics such as:
• Business and economic development
• Local and state government
• Public safety
• Education/lifelong learning
• Howard County history
• Health care and aging
• Human services
• Housing and transportation
• Quality of life: cultural and recreational opportunities

Participants also commit to a “Community Impact Project,” which is a project identified by a host organization — typically a nonprofit organization or government entity — addressing an organizational challenge or strategic issue. Participants work in teams on a consultant basis, performing research and proposing creative, sustainable solutions. This activity is designed to be a beneficial experience not only for the organization but for our participants as well, helping them gain a better understanding of community needs and a deeper appreciation for community involvement.

What is the long-term value of completing the program?

With a network of close to 1,300 graduates, our members continue to stay connected to the issues in the community and to each other for personal and professional support. LHC conducts many regular meetings and forums for graduates and other members of the community to meet and learn about issues or resources in the community. These include quarterly breakfasts and luncheons with guest speakers and our annual Big Event fundraiser, which features a keynote speaker with an inspiring message about meeting the challenges of community leadership.

Graduates commit to using their experience for the long-term benefit of our community. They have learned about community issues and developed their leadership skills and the knowledge of how to tap into vital resources. With this knowledge, many graduates serve on nonprofit and community boards and committees where their interests, talents and resources can best be used.

What is the time commitment?

This is a 10-month program, running from September 2018 to June 2019. A mandatory, two-day overnight retreat will be held at the end of September 2018. All other monthly day-long sessions will be held on the second or third Tuesday of the month. A complete schedule will be published by August 2018.

Applicants must have the full support (financial and time commitment) of the organization or corporation they represent. They must also commit to the opening overnight retreat and monthly sessions.

How do I apply to Leadership Howard County Premier?

Individuals may apply online by visiting the website www.leadershiphc.org, going to the Programs link and clicking on Apply.
A non-refundable application fee of $75 is required. Applications are due by the close of business May 21, 2018.

How many participants are selected for each class year?

Each year, approximately 45 to 50 individuals are selected to participate in the program. The Selection Committee reviews applications and selects participants based upon the merits of the written application and a personal interview.

How much is tuition?

Tuition is $5,450 and includes the overnight retreat, program transportation, meals during the monthly sessions and a ticket for the annual graduation dinner in June.

Is tuition assistance available?

Tuition assistance is available to those in need. We typically are able to provide up to one-third of the tuition cost. A financial assistance request must be submitted with the application; it is available online or by calling the office at 410-730-4474. Payment plans are also available. While we ask that individuals have the financial support of the organization or business they represent, we also encourage nonprofits and individuals with a sincere interest to apply, as community partnerships may also be able to offer additional financial assistance.

Industry Perspective CIP Team Assesses Impact for HowGirlsCode

HowGirlsCode is a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 with a vision of closing the gender gap in computer science education and careers. Its after-school classes, summer camps and weekend workshops are formulated to inspire and educate elementary and middle school girls in computer science and coding through a mix of interactive lessons and community role models. As Grace, one of its third-grade students, said, “Coding is fun because you get to figure out different ways of figuring things out.”

HowGirlsCode asked the Leadership Howard County (LHC) Community Impact Project (CIP) team to design a way for it to determine the impact of its program on female participation rates in computer science-related courses and activities in Howard County. The team reviewed the practices of similar programs, then recommended metrics and methodologies for HowGirlsCode to adopt.

HowGirlsCode put the team’s student survey recommendations in place during the Fall 2017 class session, forming the basis of a long-term look at its impact. Perhaps the most significant finding was that the structure of the HowGirlsCode’s program has been shown to be highly effective at improving the participation rates of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

In addition, the CIP team worked with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to get data on female participation rates in its computer science courses. In its discussions with HCPSS, the team found that the common stakeholders and purposes of both organizations created a relationship that, though presently existing, would be deepened and enhanced by a formal partnership.

Just six months after the LHC CIP team competed its project, HowGirlsCode and HCPSS became official partners in offering computer science classes at Title I schools. Together, they will be able to increase girls’ participation in computer science by raising awareness of learning opportunities among students, parents and teachers in the Howard County school system.

Lisa Schlossnagle (LP 2014) was the founding executive director of HowGirlsCode in Howard County. She can be reached at lisabmrss@gmail.com.

A Message From Stacie Hunt President & CEO, Leadership Howard County

How often have you heard the refrain, “Someone should do something”? Whether it is about our economy, our health care, immigration rights or civil rights, or our personal safety, we all agree that, these days, there is a lot of room for improvement. Someone should fix everything that is troubling our society and our communities.

As community leaders, it is up to us to respond. Waiting for someone else is not an option; concerned citizens know there is a call to action for effective community leadership on a local, state and national level. We know that positive change will only come when effective leadership empowers all of us to build strong communities that lift everyone up.

Leadership Howard County (LHC) is a part of a national movement called “community leadership.” Our mission is to “empower individuals to strengthen and transform our community.” By working and learning together, participants of all ages and skills — from high school through the senior ranks of existing leaders from corporate, government and nonprofit organizations — broaden their understanding of community issues. Individuals who come into our programs have one thing in common: They are looking for ways to improve Howard County and develop themselves.

Our programming also provides the opportunity for lifelong leadership development for our graduates. We strive to create an environment in which people participate in a variety of creative and meaningful ways. Each year we introduce our community’s newest business leaders as keynote speakers, giving them a forum to share their visions for the future. Our small member forums and community projects give our members access to influential leaders and decision-makers, and their creative solutions address Howard County’s challenges in a variety of ways. As you read through the profiles and stories about the impact of our projects in this issue, we believe it will be apparent that Leadership Howard County is the resource for connecting citizens who want to be involved in building a positive foundation for their families, businesses and communities.

Now is the time for you to consider an investment in your future — and discover how Leadership Howard County can help you play a critical role in strengthening and transforming our community. This program is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about our county and to develop a broad network of colleagues and associates who are at the forefront of current issues and challenges in our community.

To find out more about LHC’s programs and to view an online application, go to www.leadershiphc.org. We believe that one of the distinct qualities of our graduates is their capacity to provide the necessary leadership for difficult challenges and the willingness to invest time and talents in bettering our community. Join us now.

A Message From Jon May Leadership Howard County Board Chair

At its core, Leadership Howard County is an organization that cares deeply about its community, believes in the power of developing leaders so their impact can be multiplied and continually challenges itself to find new and better ways to fulfill its mission. Its primary purpose is to create a better community, and our graduates, who represent all sectors of the community, are challenged and inspired to make Howard County a better place to live, do business, raise families and envision a brighter future for all.

Each year, Leadership class participants bring a new energy to our programs, and each year our graduates carry forward our mission by continuing their meaningful engagement in community service.

Another important way our graduates serve is by helping Leadership Howard County continually improve the programs we offer. Committees plan each session day for the current class and continually find ways to make the presentations relevant and engaging. They connect the class members with key decision-makers and experts in their field, designing lessons and opportunities for everyone to engage in meaningful dialogues and future partnerships.

LHC graduates also can stay informed through participation in a variety of alumni events, planned by the General Membership steering committee. We are proud to offer many opportunities to explore topics that are important and challenging for our community to solve.

We are very grateful for the extraordinary support Leadership Howard County receives from the business, government and nonprofit communities. Our goal is to empower individuals to strengthen and serve the many organizations that contribute to our quality of life, and we are able to meet this goal through the generous support of our sponsors and members.

Our board of directors is dedicated to the future of Leadership Howard County, and together, we are committed to reaching out to the wider community, finding the unique places where our leadership will make a difference and ensuring our organization stays true to its mission, vision and values.

We hope to see you soon at one of our events, alumni meetings or as a participant in one of our programs. Thanks to all of you for your tremendous efforts and contributions to Leadership Howard County, and to the Howard County community.

‘Leadership Howard County Opened My Eyes’

Brett Plano, owner and founder of Baltimore-based Plano-Coudon Construction, traces his work ethic back to his childhood.

“Neither of my parents owned businesses,” he said. “My father worked for the federal government and my mother worked as a nurse.”

But his father had a financial mind and tasked Plano and his brothers with figuring out how they would pay for college at a very early age. “It wasn’t a matter of if I was going, it was a matter of how I was going to pay for it,” he said. “When my older brother was 14, he did lawns for several families in our neighborhood. When I was 10, he brought me in to help him.”

Plano quickly learned the value of hard work and a dollar, and the boys expanded their business.

“Together we grew it to provide lawn care for 18 clients spread over several neighborhoods. He went away to school when I was 14 and not old enough to drive,” he said. “I had to figure out how to get to the neighborhoods that were not within walking distance. I hired my neighbors (twin brothers who had driver’s licenses) to help me, and with them as partners was able to grow the business to 45 clients per week, including landscaping and other work.”

Building Equity

By the time he left for college, Plano had saved more than $14,000 and was able to pay for his entire first year with money left over.
“The lawn business was one of many jobs I had while in high school and college,” he said. “My degree from Virginia Tech cost about $66,000, and my family and I were able to pay for all except about $20,000 which I borrowed and paid off within eight years of graduating.”

Plano grew up in Catonsville, and remembers visiting many ethnic festivals in Baltimore over his childhood years, along with the Inner Harbor and Rash Field, and even being able to smell the McCormick spice plant. “When I came back to the area after college, I was set on buying a home instead of renting,” he said. “Federal Hill seemed like a great place to be, and I was able to find a house that needed to be gutted on the outskirts of that neighborhood with a water view.”

Realizing his dream of having a rooftop deck, he bought the house and renovated it while he lived in it. “I ended up doing that twice more on that same block, using sweat equity to build financial equity,” he said.

Still Building the Résumé

As engineering students at Virginia Tech, Plano, who majored in civil engineering, and Ryan Coudon, who majored in mechanical engineering, already were dreaming about creating their own company together. In 1999, after spending some time working for a large general contracting firm, they put their entrepreneurial instincts into action.

The company’s initial setup was two desks, two computers and one pet dog in Plano’s basement. At the beginning, there were several projects that felt like “starter jobs,” Plano recalled. “Our saying was: ‘Let’s eat humble pie now, and it’ll be worth it in the long run … it’ll be a résumé builder.’ We laugh, because we are still eating humble pie today and still doing work that we think will build our résumés.”

Some of their earliest projects included a sidewalk for Morgan State University, as well as renovation work for a small advertising agency in downtown Baltimore. “We did all the work at night on that one, and my partner and I cleaned it ourselves between midnight and 3 a.m. at completion,” Plano said.

Now, in addition to being proud of those “humble pie” projects, the company has completed more complicated, landmark projects, including an animal care and rescue center for the Baltimore Aquarium; a 15-story Towson Tower renovation at Towson University; an adaptive reuse on Under Armour’s campus; the Stadium Square office tower; a four-year-long, full mechanical and electrical infrastructure upgrade at the University of Maryland Baltimore Medical School Teaching Facility Tower (while it was completely occupied); and a renovation of a four-story HUD housing apartment complex that also was 100% occupied.

“I’m also extremely proud that we were selected to be the design-build contractor for the Guinness project in the United States,” Plano said. “This is their first time building in the U.S. in over 60 years, and they picked a Baltimore location and Plano-Coudon as their partner above all kinds of national and local competition. We are about halfway through that project.”

Best Class Ever

Plano, Leadership Howard County (LHC) class of 2010, got involved in LHC because he was looking for a way to invest in the community but didn’t have a feel for where to place his time and efforts. “I was told about Leadership Howard County being a way to learn how government, businesses and the community can work together to solve problems,” he said. “That appealed to me, and the experience delivered on that and more.”

Plano still sees his classmates a few times a year, in addition to meeting up at Leadership events. “I just attended the Big Event and sat with 10 classmates,” he said. “Our class stays very active.”

A classmate sends out a breakfast invitation once a month, and also gets the class involved in food drives and other initiatives. “I get together more often with a smaller subset of classmates that I have become very close with,” said Plano. “I volunteer as a selection committee member for upcoming classes. Many of our classmates are involved in Leadership in one way or another. After all, we truly are the best class ever — we’ve been named the Best Class Ever three times.”

Padgett Knows Networking – and Following Through, Too

In 2015, Suzi Padgett had reached that point in her career where it was time to make her next move. The manager of Long & Foster’s Columbia office had built the enterprise to approximately 220 professionals; she’d run it since 1998, and it was busy and stable. Her next move, she figured, was to become further involved in the community where she has enjoyed great success.

Leadership Howard County (LHC) provided just the opportunity to learn more about the area, apply her talents and give back.
“What we do at the real estate office is sell the community, so we benefit, as an industry, from everything it offers,” said Padgett, a 2016 LHC grad who came to Howard County in 1992 from her native Washington, D.C. “My husband and I raised our family here, and we saw the benefits.”

A Broader View

Graduates of LHC garner various benefits, often with a common thread of wanting deeper understanding of where they live and how they can make it better. In Padgett’s case, that meant greater integration into the general business, government and nonprofit communities.

“It gave me the opportunity to meet more people who work outside of my industry,” she said. “Our class toured places like the National Security Agency, backstage at Merriweather Post Pavilion and a recycling facility — where I learned the worst thing you can do is put your plastic bags in the recycle bin, because it [causes issues with] the equipment. You need to [dispose of them at] a grocery store.”

After graduation, Padgett became a member of LHC’s General Membership Steering Committee and LHC Premier’s Recruitment Committee, which creates its events plus programs like This Just In, which features a talk from a community leader. Padgett coordinated Mission BBQ Co-Founder Bill Kraus hosting a session.

Outside of LHC, she sits on boards of nonprofits “that speak to me,” she said. She serves as board chair of the Columbia Festival of the Arts, “because when I was a single mom, that was our entertainment.” Padgett also serves on the boards of Winter Growth, as her mother suffered from dementia; and Bright Minds, the Howard County Public School System’s (HCPSS) nonprofit, which recently garnered a $250,000 grant from Brendan Iribe, former CEO of Oculus, for HCPSS’s Advanced Research Laboratory.

“Being with Bright Minds has been important, because my kids benefited from the county’s public schools, and the residential real estate industry benefits from the system,” Padgett said, adding that her daughter teaches at Harper’s Choice Middle School.

In case that isn’t enough, Padgett also just joined the board of Blossoms of Hope, which plants cherry trees in support of people who suffer with cancer and other causes; and, from her office, Long & Foster Columbia Gives.

“It’s all a way to pay it forward,” she said.

Those who have worked with Padgett have plenty of stories about her energy and the depth of her Rolodex. John Moore, a consultant with Prosperity Home Mortgage, has worked with her since 2011.

“What I see are her leadership skills. With all of the agents, title partners and mortgage consultants in our office, that’s important,” Moore said. “She’s obviously been good at organization and delegating, as well as setting up staff events and promotions. She also has a way of picking the right person for a job and setting them up to succeed.”

In fact, that direction and drive resulted in the office recently winning its second Foster Cup in three years. “She is very good about sharing the credit. She’ll never say it was just her,” he said, “especially when she accepts the award at the ceremony.”

But Moore also made the point that she’s not all work.
“She’s a tenacious leader, but also very family- and community-oriented,” he said. “When you add everything together, it makes people respect her and want to work for her, because she’ll go to bat for you. On the other side of the coin, she knows that people can need a shoulder to cry on, too.”

In No Time

Padgett’s contributions within the nonprofit community are well understood, said David Phillips, executive director of the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

“What she brings to the table are her business leadership skills, as well as her substantial experience on the various boards,” said Phillips. “Plus, Long & Foster has a long history of being supportive in that community. She’s the reason why.”

There’s more to that compliment than first meets the ear. “Nonprofit boards are generally comprised of well-meaning people who are also very busy,” he said, “but Suzi has the unique ability to inspire and motivate our board members to stay involved. That produces results for the festival and for the community.”

Stacie Hunt, president and CEO of LHC, agreed. “She is modeling the behavior that she would like to see in everyone else; and when she attends a meeting, she’s involved and discusses ideas that can be approached as a group, and even leads. She does the heavy lifting.”

Hunt would know. She also referred to a telling moment about Padgett that occurred during an LHC General Membership Steering Committee meeting. “The day we talked about a luncheon with Bill Kraus, it took her a total of one hour to have everything arranged for Mission BBQ to host it. So she’s not only well connected, but she gets involved with an idea and follows through.”

Hunt went so far as to say that “all of the nonprofit work Padgett does helps keep the local economy stimulated. It’s not even that she needs to lead the parade,” she said. “She just wants to ensure that things are getting done, without coming across as overbearing. She tries to lift people up.”

Still More

Back at the ranch, Padgett, who managed her first real estate office at 27, doesn’t sell anymore. Instead, she sticks to managing the associates in her office “who work with 1,200 families a year.”
And while doing so, she oversees yet another nonprofit, which, in this case, is based in-house: Long & Foster Columbia Gives.

“We hold events throughout the year and fund about $20,000 in annual giving,” Padgett said. “We are the largest funder for organizations such as One Month’s Rent and the Maryland Food Bank; we fund a music scholarship at Wilde Lake High School and work with pupil personnel workers who help families with emergencies.

“It a very community-minded office,” she said, “and we’re proud to take our place here.”

Leadership Premier Sessions

Leadership Howard County (LHC) empowers and connects leaders to strengthen and transform the community. In monthly full-day sessions that include site visits, presentations and dialogues with key decision-makers, participants get a behind-the-scenes look at how the county works, what the challenges are and how to access vital resources to advance their leadership potential.

The program emphasizes experiential learning, allowing participants to get a broad overview of Howard County’s resources and challenging them to the business, government, education and nonprofit environments.

Kickoff Session: An opportunity for classmates to meet each other and get a general overview of Howard County: its history and demographics, as well as some of the current issues facing the county.

Two-Day Retreat: Designed to help participants increase awareness about their leadership style and build bonds with classmates through team-building exercises.

Living and Learning in
Howard County:
• Caring for our Community: An overview of human service delivery in the county: the opportunities and realities of living in Howard County as well as how local government and nonprofit organizations work in partnership to serve community needs.
• Health Care in Howard County: A look at the variety of systems for the delivery of health care in the community.
• Lifelong Learning: An exploration of current issues facing the Howard County Public Schools, and an opportunity to see and experience other sources of continuing and alternative learning for all ages.

Conducting Business in Howard County: An in-depth look at what it takes to get a business to locate and thrive in Howard County. Site visits with local business leaders provide an opportunity to learn about the visions and challenges.

Governing in Howard County:
• State Level: In Annapolis, participants meet members of the Howard County State Delegation, the governor and other state officials. This is an exclusive opportunity to gain insight into how the legislative process works, speak with elected officials, and learn about timely and important issues being addressed by state legislators.
• County Government: Officials from the Howard County government provide insights into factors that shape the county budget process, legislative and judicial concerns and other county functions.

Safety in the Community: A behind-the-scenes look at the many safety-related organizations that work in cooperation to keep the community safe. Participants learn about the challenges they face and experience first-hand some of the safety training provided to first responders.

Livable Community: An exploration of the various housing options available for seniors, as well as low- and moderate-income and disabled individuals; and a deep dive into some of the critical issues raised over the past year, with an opportunity to consider if Howard County is truly a “Livable Community” for all.

Community Impact Projects: Throughout the program, class members work in teams on a Community Impact Project (CIP), which has been an integral part of the Leadership experience since 2011. These projects are requested by nonprofits and community organizations that are seeking help with a specific challenge and that agree to work with the project team to come up with workable solutions.

At the conclusion of the program in May and June, the Leadership teams present their recommendations to their host organizations. As an overall part of the Leadership program, this exercise provides an opportunity for class members to gain a better understanding of community needs and a deeper appreciation for community involvement.

Taking Your Place: As class members prepare to graduate in June, they are challenged to consider their future leadership roles in the community. Processing the knowledge they have gained and relationships formed over the previous year, participants are asked to consider their next steps in ongoing community engagement and citizenship. As alumni of Leadership Howard County, members continue to build strong relationships in the community and actively participate in many of the nonprofit boards, commissions and volunteer organizations that support a vibrant and dynamic quality of life.

Class Report: Learning Enhancements: The Exclusive Extra for LHC Members

In just six months, I have been lucky enough to learn more about the county than I had in the 30-plus years I have resided here. Thanks to Leadership Howard County’s (LHC) connections and time-consuming coordination, I have gone beyond my circle of everyday activities in the western part of the county and gained a behind-the-scenes view of at least a dozen of Howard County’s most iconic organizations through the program’s Learning Enhancement component.

From learning about the valuable services offered by Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, Gilchrist, Success in Style and HopeWorks and how I could contribute my resources and time, to an inside look at the mind-boggling programs that are going on right here in Howard County at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Maryland University of Integrated Health, the Mall in Columbia and Merriweather Post Pavilion, I have gained an amazing appreciation for what makes our county so great.

I have also become a better citizen by understanding our county’s history through my visit to the Farm Heritage Museum and by simply learning the proper methods to dispose of our trash and recycling items and the challenges that the county’s landfill and recycling center face. Of course, my police ride-along experience on an active Saturday night monopolized our Thanksgiving dinner conversation, and I am sure that my upcoming visits to the Department of Corrections in Jessup and the National Security Agency at Fort Meade will do the same at our next family gathering.

As you can see, through these “field trips,” as I jokingly call them, I have zigzagged across the county to various geographic areas using my nav system and found some terrific hidden gems, such as great family-owned coffee shops and businesses, along the way. In short, there is no comparison in reading about these wonderful organizations in the weekly Howard County Times and seeing firsthand the passion and the work ethic that makes them so successful and such a valuable asset to the place we call home — Howard County.

I am glad that Leadership Howard County offers access to these on-site opportunities as part of Leadership Premier; it is definitely a perk.

Jackie Breeden is a member of the Leadership Premier Class of 2018.

For Mary Lasky, and LHC, the Emphasis Is on Continuity

Talk with any Leadership Howard County (LHC) graduate, and you’ll likely conclude that his or her class is still in session. Long after graduation, classmates continue to maintain bonds they formed during their training by holding frequent social events, networking, collaborating, and engaging in community service and philanthropy.
They tend to stay active, and one of LHC’s most active graduates is Mary Lasky (Class of 2010), program manager for Business Continuity Planning at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL), in North Laurel.

Aside from her primary career, Lasky chairs the boards of the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and Howard County’s Community Emergency Resiliency Network (CERN), and also serves on the Steering Committee for LHC’s Leadership Premier program.
“The Class of 2010 was declared Best Class Ever for three years in a row,” Lasky said. The annual designation recognizes the level of community and volunteer involvement, dues commitment and other criteria under which classes informally compete with one another. “You don’t get that [designation] unless you’re really working together as a team.”

Important Introductions

From her own perspective, Lasky said her LHC class was helpful for getting to know the county, its leaders, and the people in the county as well.

“It provided us with contacts and brought a better understanding of how the county operates and functions,” she said, adding that knowledge gained through the class was particularly valuable in her role of guiding CERN to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
“My classmates from 2010 helped with that whole process,” Lasky said.

Seven years after graduating, the Class of 2010 still gets together once a month or so for breakfast. And even though it’s a social event, the class members still find a way to incorporate some type of community involvement.

“We’ll bring supplies for Grassroots or local food bank donations, or we’ll coordinate on support for HopeWorks of Howard County,” Lasky said. “It’s another opportunity for service.”

Continuity Planning

Lasky has spent most of her career working in the information technology field for APL.

“Over the last few years I’ve become more concerned about business continuity planning at APL in particular, but also within the local business community,” she said.

Those concerns proved well founded in light of the challenges posed in the aftermath of both the county’s 2012 derecho event and in the recovery from the 2016 flood in Ellicott City.

CERN, a public-private partnership that links government leaders, first responders, nonprofits and volunteer organizations, grew out of a partnership between the Horizon Foundation, county government and other agencies in the county after the events of 9/11.

The organization provides materials to help educate the community on emergency preparedness issues, including instructions on surviving a range of disasters as serious as a nuclear attack and as common as a flood or storm.

To ensure that CERN was doing its part to reach all county residents, “We put in a request for a community impact project the very first year I became involved with CERN,” Lasky said.

Addressing the challenge of disseminating emergency preparedness information to the county’s non-English-speaking residents, the project resulted in a universally understandable pictorial card that’s now available at libraries, churches and interfaith centers, and at county agencies and the nonprofit organizations that support non-English-speaking communities.

Lasky also has become active on the national stage, chairing the InfraGard Electromagnetic Pulse Special Interest Group, a public-private partnership between U.S. businesses and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that is responsible for planning and preparation for catastrophic events involving the electrical grid.

Leadership Premier Program

In years past, Lasky has been active on LHC’s Finance Committee, and five years ago she began her involvement with the Steering Committee for LHC’s Leadership Premier program.

“The Premier program is tailored for more seasoned leadership and those who are serving in leadership roles,” she explained, whereas LHC’s entry-level program provides the essentials for people exploring the potential to become leaders.

Part of the Steering Committee’s duties is to help plan each LHC session day and ensure that everything from training to logistics and resources has been coordinated and nothing has been left to chance.
“One of the other things I’ve done as co-chair for the Steering Committee is to analyze the surveys that class members submit after each session day,” Lasky said.

The information gleaned from questionnaires at the beginning and end of each class year has been “remarkable,” she said. “Leadership Howard County is truly making a difference in leaders and what they are learning about the county. This work is guaranteeing results.”