Annual Women and Leadership Forum—The Cost of Silence: Census 2020
March 4, 2020
“Women’s voice is vital in achieving a fully functioning society,” stated Karen Smith, chair of the AAWGT Leadership Development and Nominating Committee, in introducing AAWGT’s annual Women and Leadership Forum. She emphasized that we as women leaders need to use our voices in Census 2020 because the cost of silence is high. To drive home her point, she told attendees that during the last decade, Anne Arundel County did not receive more than $43 million in federal dollars it could have received….simply because one in five residents did not respond to Census 2010. For our community to receive the resources it needs, everyone must be counted in Census 2020.
Karen further explained that AAWGT’s annual Women and Leadership Forum is scheduled each year to coincide with International Women’s Day and designed to inspire and empower each of us as women leaders. This is especially pertinent this year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote in the United States.
Education Meeting: Craving a Solution to Hunger—A Path to Food Security by 2030
June 12, 2019
AAWGT’s second educational program in June drew one of the largest audiences ever, with 130 members and guests registered. In this land of plenty attendees were given a chilling overview of the number of people in the US who are not sure when and how they will get their next meal.
While causes vary, food insecurity universally creates a vicious long-term cycle of decline among affected populations. Inadequate nutrition from conception to 24 months negatively affects a child’s ability to succeed throughout life. This pattern continues through youth and adulthood, as an ongoing diet of non-nutritious, calorie-dense foods causes obesity and associated chronic diseases, ultimately leading to increased healthcare costs and decreasing the financial resources needed to purchase nutritious food.
In looking towards solutions, it was heartening to learn of recently formed county/school partnerships to combat food insecurity locally, as presented by Ann Heiser Buzzelli, RD, LDN, Community Education, Anne Arundel County Department of Health and Jodi Risse, RD., Supervisor, Food & Nutrition Services, Anne Arundel County Public Schools. After surveying the Brooklyn Park Community, Ann & Jodi encouraged a local farmer and other partners to set up the Brooklyn Park Farmers Market featuring foods with a rainbow of colors, enticing attendees to taste new foods. Jodi also applies the rainbow of colors approach to nutritious eating in school cafeterias, where students may serve themselves an unlimited number of fruits and vegetables.
The final speaker of the program was Michael Wierzbicki, a North County teacher who has pioneered a STEM education program for underserved students to combat food insecurity. Mike provides hands-on classes in growing nutritious food in urban gardens, farming tilapia, and tending honey-producing bee hives. Through these activities he teaches lessons in environmental science, nutrition, and general science, as well as principles of business. His students have started packaging their foods under the Cohort Brand, and several samples were displayed. At the completion of the program, Mike and his student assistants shared product tastings with the audience.
Education Meeting: Transportation—A route to Education, Jobs, Health Care and Food
October 3, 2019
Transportation: A Route to Education, Jobs, Health Care, and Food, AAWGT’s third educational program in October, focused on an issue that is seemingly intractable in our large, spread-out county of Anne Arundel.
Dr. Celeste Chavis, Associate Professor in Transportation and Urban Infrastructure Studies at Morgan State University, used maps to illustrate the inherent inequity in current public transportation systems in Baltimore City. One example is the long commute to school facing many lower income children who must use public transportation. Dr. Chavis also defined several types of equity that can impact public planning, including procedural equity, which asks whether residents who have been historically excluded from planning are authentically included when a proposed policy change or new project is considered.
The final speaker of the program was Steuart Pittman, County Executive for Anne Arundel County. Pittman recognized his Transportation Officer, Ramond Robinson, who has worked tirelessly to make incremental changes that make a real difference, as highlighted by Pam Brown's presentation. Pittman thanked Anne Arundel Women Giving Together for convening the discussion, and thanked the group for its commitment to the issues of lower-income residents of Anne Arundel County.
2019 Grants Showcase
September 11, 2019
The annual Grants Showcase highlights the impact of AAWGT’s philanthropy as grantees inform and inspire community members with stories illustrating how our grant funds are making a difference in Anne Arundel County. On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 77 AAWGT members and 69 guests gathered at the Blue Heron Room in Quiet Waters Park to hear how six non-profits utilized the funds provided them during the 2018 grant year. President Sue Pitchford opened the evening while Assistant Membership Chair Margo Cook thanked corporate sponsors One North Wealth Services and Holden & Campbell, Attorneys at Law for their support in underwriting some of AAWGT’s operating costs. Opening remarks also were made by Ann Francis, Development Director for the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC), the umbrella organization under which AAWGT operates.
Also introduced during the program were the seven grantee organizations chosen to receive a total of $112,778 in grants for the 2019 grant year, beginning July 1. They are: Creating Communities, Light House, Inc., Organization of Hispanic/Latin Americans of Anne Arundel County, Inc., Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County, Inc., STAIR-Annapolis, Inc., Tahirih Justice Center, and Touchstones Discussion Project. Attendees were able to visit the organization’s information tables to learn more about their mission and programs, and it will be exciting to hear their stories next year.
Sue Pitchford closed the evening by announcing an exciting initiative to raise $20,000 in donations to AAWGT’s grant fund by the end of 2019 to fund an extra grant in 2020. Details on how to donate to this fund can be found on this site.