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Women Who Lead Initiative 2020 class bios

Women Who Lead Initiative

The 2020 class of the Women Who Lead Initiative joined others at the Women Who Lead Legislative Event at the Governor Calvert House in Annapolis Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. From left, Amanda O’Donohue, NYLA; Kate Fritz, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay; Julie Reddig, Lerch Early & Brewer; Delora Sanchez Ifekauche, Cornerstone Government Affairs; Cheryl Knauer, McDaniel College; Marianne Navarro, Mayors Office Baltimore City; Cara Frieman, Carroll County Government, and Cara O’Brien, The Law Office of Evan K. Thalenberg P.A. (Contributing photographer/Brooke Jackson)

The Daily Record is pleased to announce the group of women who make up the Women Who Lead Initiative class of 2020.

The initiative was announced at Leading Women in December and was open to past Leading Women winners. The group will participate in a yearlong program with access to our Circle of Excellence and Icon women leaders and participate in small-group conversations focused on topics that affect women leaders. They will also build strong connections that will help each of them make a positive impact across Maryland.

The class met for the first time at the Women Who Lead Legislative Summit in Annapolis Feb. 24. They will meet before the Women Who Lead networking series events, and also at the Top 100 Women event on July 27 and will be recognized at the Leading Women event in December.

Following are bios of the members of the 2020 class:

Dr. Tara Doaty

Dr. Tara Doaty

Tara Doaty
Sage Wellness Group

Tara Doaty Ph.D. obtained her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Howard University. She has obtained several certifications in evidenced-based practices aimed at strengthening parent and child attachment and working with survivors of trauma. With 20 years of experience working with parents and families, Doaty has developed several curricula covering the areas of parenting from a trauma-informed perspective, mindfulness and recovery from various forms of addiction. She has also developed curricula for social work supervisors aimed at increasing productivity, skill, supporting staff and clients, and increasing agency motivation.

In 2018 she founded ‘It’s Dr. Tara’ to expand the reach of Sage Wellness Group’s trainings to a larger and broader audience within the community. Under her leadership, Sage Wellness Group’s program development department has assisted client agencies in being awarded more than $7 million from state, local and private funds.

Doaty is a national speaker and trainer and is frequently asked to speak on issues affecting children and families. She served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology at Notre Dame University of Maryland and is a frequent guest on WEAA radio, where she provides clinical insight surrounding current issues.
In 2014, Doaty celebrated the release of her first children’s book, “Let’s Talk About It,” a collection of five short stories that highlight the journey to self-discovery that every child travels. She resides in Maryland with her family.

Cara Y. Frieman

Cara Y. Frieman

Cara Frieman
Special Counsel to the State’s Attorney
Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office

Cara Lewis Frieman serves as special counsel to the state’s attorney for Carroll County. She has been a prosecutor for nearly eight years, serving as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore city before joining the Office of the State’s Attorney for Carroll County in 2015.

In her current position, Frieman wears many hats, including the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network (MCIN) site coordinator for Carroll County, where she focuses on cross-jurisdictional data sharing and investigations targeting gangs, drugs, firearms and human trafficking. She volunteers as a coach to the Westminster High School mock trial team and as a counselor for Carroll County Camp C.O.P.S., a day camp for middle school-aged children aimed at building positive relationships between youth and law enforcement. Prior to becoming a prosecutor, she clerked for the Honorable Robert E. Cahill Jr. in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County and was an associate at Tydings & Rosenberg.

Frieman lives by a personal and professional credo: “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” Often, we will not receive that for which we do not ask, and we should be bold and unapologetic in asking for opportunities and resources to develop and grow.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with the fiercest girl she knows: her daughter, Piper.

Kate Fritz

Kate Fritz

Kate Fritz
Executive Director
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

While only in her 30s, Kate Fritz has built a lengthy resume as an environmentalist, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field (most recently an Executive Masters of Natural Resource Management, Leadership in Sustainability from Virginia Tech in 2012) and working in a variety of environmentalism positions across Maryland and beyond.

As head of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay since 2017, Fritz now heads a nearly half-century-old organization dedicated to restoring and protecting the Bay.

“She is an outstanding leader among many who are working in the environmental field toward the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay,” Lynn Buhl, assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, who has known and worked with Fritz for five years, said. “As a female professional who has worked in the environmental field for 30-plus years … I am thrilled to see younger women such as Kate step up to leadership roles.”

“I believe that the greatest thing I can do as a leader is to create more leaders,” Fritz said. “I believe that when individuals are given permission to fail forward, magic happens. I promote a culture of taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone.”

sanchez-deloramf-05Delora Sanchez Ifekauche
Cornerstone Government Affairs

Delora Sanchez Ifekauche, Esq. is a principal in Cornerstone’s Annapolis office, she specializes in representing hospitals, Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs), pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical cannabis companies and private sector special interests. She led the creation of the Maryland MCO Association, comprised of Maryland’s nine Medicaid MCOs, and served as its executive director for two years while at Cornerstone. She has an extensive background in state legislative and regulatory issues. During the past 13 years, she has used her deep policy expertise and legislative connections to save or create tens of millions of dollars in state funding for clients and shape health care policy.

Delora joined Cornerstone in 2015 after eight years at Johns Hopkins, most recently as Director of Policy and Advocacy for State Affairs. In that role, she represented Johns Hopkins before the Maryland General Assembly, Governor’s office and state administrative agencies. Prior to her work at Johns Hopkins, Delora worked within the Baltimore City Circuit Court, the Department of Justice health care fraud division, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Delora holds a Juris Doctor degree with a certificate in Health Law from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Management from Towson University. She is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

knauer-cheryl04Cheryl Knauer
Director of Public Relations
McDaniel College

Cheryl Knauer has worked since September 2011 at McDaniel College, where she is currently director of public relations. In this role, she is responsible for spearheading and managing the college’s ongoing public relations efforts, including media relations, social media and advertising and sponsorship strategy. She also serves as the college’s official spokesperson.

Before coming to McDaniel, she spent four years at Nevins & Associates, a strategic boutique marketing and communications firm. She previously served as media relations director at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and public relations associate at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.

An experienced public relations professional, she was elected president of the Baltimore Public Relations Council for a one-year term in 2006. She has shared her public relations, marketing and social media expertise on committees for the Maryland Independent College and University Association, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, Baltimore Social Media Club, Maryland Women’s Heritage Center and Baltimore Collegetown Network. In 2013, she founded a coffee group for Baltimore-area higher education communications professionals to serve as a resource, sharing insights and offering support. She was named one of The Daily Record’s 2017 “Leading Women.”

A first-generation college student, Knauer received a bachelor’s degree in communication, concentration in public relations and minors in French and women’s studies, from La Salle University in Philadelphia. She is also the proud mother of three.

mccray-kishaKisha McCray
Deputy Director
The Y in Central Maryland

Kisha McCray is currently the deputy director of the Y Baltimore County Head Start. She began her journey working as an early childhood teacher in 2005 and since then has devoted her career to working in the community with children and families. In 2007, she discovered her love for Head Start and has held various positions including family advocate, family services supervisor, health coordinator, director of child health and wellness, director of child development and health, and program director of health, family and community partnerships for Y Head Start.

McCray began her educational foundation at Coppin State University, graduating in 2004 with a bachelor’s of science degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in psychology and history. In 2010, she received her master’s in human services administration with a specialization in health care administration. After working in the field for more than 10 years, she decided to broaden her scope to social work policy and is currently seeking a second master’s in social work.

She volunteers her time participating on a board of directors for WBC CDC and community organizations like Black Girls Vote. In 2019, she assumed the role of chairperson for the Baltimore County Tobacco Coalition and Maryland Health Managers Network Coordinator for the Maryland Head Start Association. She is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Baltimore County. Her goal is to take an active role, professionally and personally, in addressing social and economic injustices.

navarro-mariannemf09Marianne Navarro
Special Assistant for Neighborhood
and Economic Development
Baltimore City Mayor’s Office

Marianne Navarro currently serves as a Special Assistant for Neighborhood and Economic Development for the Office of Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young supporting Baltimore communities, businesses, anchor institutions and other stakeholders on various city-related matters including neighborhood revitalization and community development efforts.

She was recently appointed to the State of Maryland’s Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays and serves as the Mayor’s representative on the Baltimore City Planning Commission. Before the Mayor’s Office, she held roles within the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore Development Corporation and other local jurisdictions in Maryland.

A certified urban planner, she earned a Master of Community Planning from the University of Maryland, College Park and, more recently, an MBA specializing in real estate and infrastructure from Johns Hopkins University.
She and her husband, John, live in Locust Point in south Baltimore with their three daughters, who all attend Baltimore Public Schools.

o_brien-caraCara O’Brien
The Law Office of Evan K. Thalenberg

Cara O’Brien is an attorney in Baltimore. For more than a decade, she has been dedicated to representing and advocating for children that have been poisoned by lead-based paint and now continues to achieve justice for individuals that have been injured by others.

Born in Baltimore, O’Brien attended Loyola University Maryland and received a Bachelor of Business Administration, summa cum laude, with a major in economics and minor in mathematics. She attended the Francis King Carey University of Maryland School of Law and received a Juris Doctor, cum laude. After graduation, O’Brien served as a law clerk to the Hon. Stephen M. Waldron in the Circuit Court for Harford County.

O’Brien was selected to the 2017, 2019 and 2020 Maryland Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, an honor bestowed upon only 2.5% of Maryland’s lawyers. She is also a member of the American Association for Justice, Maryland Association for Justice, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Baltimore City Bar Association, Anne Arundel County Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland. O’Brien currently co-chairs the Women’s Caucus for the Maryland Association for Justice.

She is involved in several community groups and associations and was involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake as a mentor for more than seven years. She serves on the board of directors for Community Law in Action, a nonprofit organization that develops young people to be leaders and participate in the process of positive community change.

odonohue-amandaAmanda O’Donohue
Chief Experience Officer

Amanda O’Donohue is Nyla’s chief experience officer (CXO). As CXO, O’Donohue expertly prospects and maintains mutually beneficial relationships with both business partners and customers alike. Internally, she directs process improvements to ensure an unparalleled level of employee engagement and that every potential candidate experience is a positive and pleasant one.

O’Donohue leads Nyla’s philanthropic efforts through external partnerships and spearheads internal initiatives. She received The Daily Record’s Leading Women award in 2019, which honors 50 women who are 40 years old or younger for the accomplishments they have made so far in their careers.

O’Donohue graduated from The State University of New York College at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Science in forensic chemistry and earned a master’s in forensic science from Towson University.

reddig-julieJulie Reddig
Lerch, Early & Brewer

Julie Reddig is an employment attorney and principal at Lerch, Early & Brewer. She helps employers build and maintain productive workplaces by navigating the many federal, state and local laws protecting employees in the workforce. She counsels management on how to avoid employment claims, and, when necessary, defends employers against claims in various administrative agencies as well as state and federal courts. She also trains executives, human resource professionals and front-line managers on compliance with employment statutes and regulations.

She has regular speaking engagements and is active in various trade associations including the Associated General Contractors of DC and the American Subcontractors Association of Metro Washington. She is active within her law firm, chairing the employment and labor practice group and facilitating a networking group among female attorneys in the firm.

Reddig is a member of the board of directors of ArtStream, a Washington-based nonprofit that assists adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities gain the skills and confidence to engage with the world through the arts, including inclusive musical theater companies, drama and social skills classes. She is also active in her church, Westmoreland Congregational UCC, serving as a church school teacher and a member of the Board of Spiritual Formation. In her spare time, she volunteers in various fundraising activities for her children’s elementary school and enjoys cheering her children on in their various sports and scouting activities.

Alicia Shelton

Alicia Shelton

Alicia Shelton
Associate Attorney
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP

Alicia Shelton represents individuals and corporations in complex civil disputes, class action litigation and white-collar criminal defense. She also represents lawyers and law firms in legal malpractice claims and professional liability issues.

Shelton’s practice focuses on representing companies, executives and individuals in issues related to the False Claims Act, federal health care fraud statutes, the federal anti-kickback statute and the Sherman Act. She also has represented clients in commercial civil litigation matters, shareholder class actions, consumer class actions, government investigations, legal malpractice claims and regulatory appeals.

Her legal career also included a clerkship with the Hon. Lynne A. Battaglia in the Court of Appeals for Maryland and internships with the Maryland WBA Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration and the Hon. Susan K. Gauvey’s office in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Shelton is currently chair-elect of the board of directors of the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter Inc. She also volunteers as a tutor for ¡Adelante Latina!, an academic enrichment and college preparatory program for Latina girls who are sophomores and juniors in Baltimore high schools.

She is the treasurer of the Equal Justice Associates for the Maryland Legal Aid and a member of the Women’s Advocates Committee for the American Bar Association.

thorn-alyssaAlyssa Thorn
Kennedy Krieger Institute

Alyssa Thorn is a staff attorney at Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law), a community-based program of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Thorn earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and Spanish from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2011 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2014.

After law school, Thorn worked as a law clerk for the Hon. Pamela J. White on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Thereafter, she began her legal career as an assistant public defender in the Post Conviction Defenders Division of the Office of the Public Defender.

Immediately before joining Project HEAL, Thorn worked as a staff attorney in the mental health unit at Disability Rights Maryland. She was recognized as with The Daily Record’s 2019 Leading Women Award. Thorn also serves on the board of directors for The Arc Baltimore.

In her free time, Thorn volunteers with Athletes Serving Athletes (“ASA”), a nonprofit organization that empowers athletes with disabilities to compete in mainstream running events throughout Maryland. She served as an ASA Captain for three years and has been serving as the community coordinator for the Baltimore group of ASA since 2019.

Women Who Lead This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Women Who Lead: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Women Who Lead (formerly Path to Excellence) magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Women Who Lead.