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Luwanda Jenkins: A new column on women and leadership

Who are Leading Women and what makes them special? They are professional women 40 years old and under who are soaring to great heights in their careers, doing good in the community and inspiring change at every turn.

Luwanda Jenkins

There are many ways to describe these exceptional women. They are lawyers, educators, business owners, leaders in the fields of philanthropy, education, health care and high tech, among others. They are mothers, managers, mentors, wives, daughters, sisters, friends, caregivers, coaches and supporters to many.

But the title “Leading Women” is not about fame and acclaim. Leading Women are about resilience and accomplishment, and The Daily Record is honoring all they are and all they do.

The celebration for this year’s group of stellar Leading Women begins tonight with The Daily Record’s second annual Leading Women recognition event. This year’s impressive lineup of honorees highlights a diverse group of young women who are poised to provide tomorrow’s leadership.

Shining stars

Among this year’s shining stars are young women like Ashlie T. Bagwell, with Alexander & Cleaver PA, who is the leading lobbyist for Equality Maryland which advocates for marriage equality; and Deriece Pate Bennet, executive director for the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, who coordinates policy for the 42-member group of legislators serving Maryland’s African American community; Tracey Durant with Maryland Nonprofits, who started the 100 CAP program to help first-generation, at-risk college bound students realize their dream of going to college; and Juliana Keyser Harris, with the W. P. Carey Foundation, who plays a major role in directing significant investments to support secondary and post-secondary educational institutions throughout Maryland.

In the area of business and professional services there are several standouts, such as Jenna Boykin with Northrop Grumman, who is at the forefront of women in engineering and is on the speaker circuit making the rounds to high schools throughout Maryland to encourage girls to pursue the field of engineering. Another Leading Woman, Jonelle Ocloo, an attorney with the Murthy Law firm, who is a nationally recognized speaker on immigration law yet still makes time to provide countless hours of pro bono legal services to help refugees. And then there is Tammy Schneider, a CPA with Glass Jacobson, who is passionate about providing financial literacy to hundreds of women business owners.

These are only a few of the Leading Women being honored tonight. Each recipient has an inspiring story to tell, and the magazine in Friday’s edition of The Daily Record will include a brief article on each of them.

Upcoming columns

Inspired by these women and their stories, The Daily Record is launching this biweekly column, which will focus on women and leadership roles in a cross-section of professions throughout Maryland. In addition, the column will discuss issues facing professional women while providing sound tips for uplifting the next generation of women leaders.

Here’s a sample of upcoming columns you can look for: “At the Top of Her Game,” a spotlight on high-achieving women and what younger women can learn from them; “Mentors, Sponsors and Coaches – Building Your Support Team;” “10 Things to Liven Up Your Mentor-Mentee Relationship;” “Women on Corporate Boards, Are We Making Progress?”; “The Power of Women’s Networking & Professional Affinity Groups” and much more.

The debut of this column is just another sign of Daily Record Publisher’s Suzanne Fischer-Huettner leading by example, and I applaud the newspaper for providing a venue and voice for celebrating professional women throughout Maryland.

So for all you Leading Women, you now have a place to turn to find out what other women like you are doing and how we can gain information and inspiration from our shared experiences, challenges and triumphs.

I am honored to be the author of this column, and I welcome your feedback and ideas. You can e-mail me at [email protected].

A member of The Daily Record’s Maryland Top 100 Women Circle of Excellence, Luwanda Walker Jenkins is Special Secretary of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.