Season 2, Episode 2: Optimism, Inspiration, Innovation: The Keys to Moving Forward
“Always be prepared to expect the unexpected. The world will constantly be pushing in on you, but your inner confidence will provide your inner stability—watch your inner thoughts and talk because they often determine your outward actions.” – Dr. Jim Fielder, ‘98
In this episode, Eric Brotman '09 is joined by Maryland Higher Education Secretary Dr. James Fielder ’98 to discuss the status of higher education in Maryland—including how to move forward as a state during unprecedented times. Throughout the episode, Fielder hones in on the importance of lifelong learning, educated workforces, and how to stay relevant and ahead of the curve in the workplace and within educational institutions.
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In this episode, we discuss:
About our guest:
Maryland Higher Education Secretary Dr. James D. Fielder is an effective and highly regarded executive and public servant with a passion for leading change. Fielder is focused on improving the economic well-being of Marylanders through educational and business opportunities.
He has been appointed by four Maryland governors, providing his talents and expertise in numerous leadership capacities. These include:
He also served as Towson University’s Vice President of Finance & Administration, as well as the Director of Budget, Personnel & Institutional Research at the University of Michigan – Flint. Secretary Fielder obtained his Ph.D. at Michigan State University in higher education, his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park, and he is a Leadership Maryland Class of ’98 graduate and a past board member.
What to Expect from the Maryland General Assembly’s 2021 Session: A Conversation with Sean Looney ’96 (LM)
Maryland lawmakers recently returned to Annapolis for the beginning of an unusual 90-day session. Unfortunately, but understandably, one of the unusual aspects of this year’s session is that we aren’t able to hold our annual Leadership Maryland Day in Annapolis. But we did visit with Sean Looney ’96 (LM), Vice President – Government Affairs at Comcast and Leadership Maryland board member, who has served as our facilitator for the Annapolis program since our first event in 2006. We spoke with him about why he feels an inside-look at our state’s legislative process is valuable to our members, and what we should know about the 2021 session.
Why did you help create Leadership Maryland Day in Annapolis back in 2006?
I thought it was critical for those who are interested in learning about what really goes on in Annapolis. Unless you work in Annapolis, it’s very hard to understand the byzantine world that exists there, especially during the 90-day session.
What is your goal for the Day in Annapolis program each year?
I always begin the day with the message that if you want to be engaged in public policy, you have to understand how it works – the nuts and bolts of it – and I emphasize the “if” because it is not for the faint of heart. I think a lot of people do a little bit of exploration into the world of public policy and say “wow, this is a full-contact sport, thank you very much, but I’m not going to do this.”
But for the leaders who are the core of Leadership Maryland, the message is if you are a leader and you really want to get engaged in public policy, you have to understand what happens for 90 days in Annapolis. And I stress that the most critically important time is really the nine months leading up to the session, when the legislators are back home. I tell Leadership Maryland members to find out who their elected officials are and make time to get in front of them and talk to them about the public policy issues they are passionate about. Make a justification to your legislator as to why they should favor, or perhaps compel to change their view, on a public policy issue, and then follow it, track it, and push it through the 90-day session.
I also hope Leadership Maryland attendees gain an appreciation for the dedication and hard work of legislators and staff for the 90-day session and beyond. The vast majority are there for all the right reasons and work tirelessly on behalf of their constituents.
What do you enjoy most about Leadership Maryland Day in Annapolis?
I love meeting the great leaders who have gone, or will go, through this program over the years. I am always struck by the diversity and the strength of our members. I also enjoy seeing people who are extremely accomplished in their respective field, but yet are very naïve about the way it really works in Annapolis. I love seeing that “ahah” moment when I explain something, or give a little bit of history on an issue, and I see the person’s eyes pop open and they say “wow, so that’s really the way it works?!” And I say “Yep! For better or worse, that’s the way it really works in Annapolis!” I enjoy educating people about the complexity of our legislative process.
How is the pandemic impacting the legislative process during this year’s session?
We had a shortened session last year, so that critical time period outside of the 90-day session that I spoke of was actually 10 months this year. I’m learning that the people who are most effective right now in Annapolis are those who took advantage of that time to reach out to their legislators and meet with them back home in their districts as much as they could. This year, if the legislation is not baked, it is going to have a really hard time getting through. So, all that legwork I encourage people to do in the months before session is more important now than ever. This year, if you don’t have your sponsor/champion lined up, don’t have the bill worked out exactly the way you want it to look, don’t have people on board, and don’t have leadership understanding the importance of it, you are going to have a really hard time getting legislation passed this year.
There were a record number of pre-filed bills this year because legislators knew it was going to be that much more challenging to get a bill through, so they got them in the system much earlier than normal.
How else are events of the past year impacting the 2021 session?
Since last March, two of the most significant things that have happened around the world, and especially in our country and state, are this terrible pandemic, and the realization that we have a lot of work to do on social justice. So, I think two major priorities of this year’s session that will result in comprehensive legislation will be recovering from and moving forward from the pandemic, and figuring out how to make progress on fixing some of the social justice issues that are vexing our society.
Another issue I deal with directly is broadband. The pandemic alone has shown us that broadband is more critical than ever before for education, continuity of business, and personal communications. Everyone now realizes what those of us in the industry have been saying for years – we need a better broadband plan. There are two issues with broadband – one is access, and the other is adoption. We have done a pretty good job on both in Maryland, especially because a lot of other states are lagging behind, but we need to do better. So, I have been working with several legislative leaders on how to develop a plan moving forward for broadband.
Is there anything else significant to note about this year’s session?
If we ever needed another reminder that leaders matter, the last few months have done that. What is significant for me is that for a long time the two major leaders in Annapolis were “Mike & Mike” – Mike Busch, who passed away a couple of years ago, and was an incredible leader with a very distinct style, and Mike Miller, who just passed away recently. It broke my heart a little, with Mike’s [Miller’s] love of history, that he wasn’t able to see the historic inauguration and all it represented. But now we have two new leaders in Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones and they are putting their distinct impression on Annapolis, how it works under their leadership, emphasizing their priorities and demonstrating how legislation gets put through the system.
I think leaders matter. An okay leader may tell people what they want to hear, but a great leader will tell people what they need to hear. If anything, we’ve learned recently that you need the courage as a leader to tell people what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not. You are not always going to get a favorable reception when you tell people what they need to hear, but I think that’s one of the top requirements of a great leader. Whether it is regarding social justice, political conduct, or how to deal with a worldwide pandemic, we need leaders who are willing and able to have the courage to tell people what they need to hear.
52 business and community leaders chosen to complete eight-month professional development program
Annapolis, Md. (February 4, 2021) – Leadership Maryland officially announces the Class of 2021, consisting of 52 business and community leaders from across the state chosen to participate in the professional development program dedicated to building a better Maryland.
The Class of 2021, Leadership Maryland’s 28th class, reflects a cross-section of the state, including diversity of geographic location, profession, ethnicity and gender. The class was originally selected as the Class of 2020 but was postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure the safety of all participants, this year’s program will include a hybrid of virtual programming and in-person sessions, if and when possible.
The program will run from April to December, and include five, two-day sessions focused on Maryland’s five main geographic regions and the most vital issues impacting economic development, education, health and human services, criminal justice, the environment, and multi-culturalism/diversity across the state. More than 100 experts representing business, government, education, and the non-profit community will serve as panelists and guest speakers.
“Like everyone else, our organization has been forced to adapt over the past year, and after postponing our program for the first time in our history, we are excited to welcome the Class of 2021,” said Renée M. Winsky ‘05, president and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Maryland. “Last year’s selection process was our most competitive ever, and we are honored that the majority of our chosen candidates agreed to wait and join us this year. We are still finalizing the details for this year’s sessions and events, but we are prepared to incorporate virtual programming and are committed to making any other necessary adjustments to protect everyone’s health while ensuring the Class of 2021 experiences the full impact of the Leadership Maryland program.”
Leadership Maryland is open to senior-level executives with significant achievements in either their careers and/or their communities. Ideal Leadership Maryland members have a desire to learn more about Maryland’s most critical issues and a personal commitment to be a force for positive change in their organizations, their communities, and their state. For more information about Leadership Maryland, please visit www.LeadershipMD.org, call 410-841-2101 or email Info@LeadershipMD.org.
Leadership Maryland Class of 2021 participants:
Amanda N. Allen
Government & Community Affairs Manager
Adrianne M. Arthur
University of Maryland Strategic Partnership
Nichole Doye Battle, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
R. Andrew “Andy” Bauer
Vice President & Regional Executive, Research
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore Branch
Denise L. Beaver, CEcD
Deputy Director, Economic Development
Carroll County Government
Dr. Mary W. Bolt
Matthew Bolyard, MBA
Southway Builders, Inc.
Christopher P. Breedlove
Chief, Zoning Enforcement
Calvert County Government
Lauren T. Buckler-Duncan, PE, CEM
Assistant Secretary of Design, Construction & Energy
Maryland Department of General Services
Lucas I. Cade
Senior Economic Development Advisor
Potomac Edison – A First Energy Company
Division Vice President
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Chief Information Officer
Accenture Federal Services
Danielle Lee Conrow
Deputy Director of Engineering & Highways
Calvert County Government
David J. Corkum
Executive Vice President
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Suzanne Luers Crawford
Director of Administration
University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Melissa S. Drew
Project Executive, Director - Eastern Shore
Gilbane Building Company
Nancy L. Easterling
Historic Sotterley, Inc.
Michele S. Eberle, MBA
Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
Dr. Chrys Egan
Associate Dean, Fulton School of Liberal Arts
Enas Y. Elhanafi, M.Phil, MPPA, M.S.Ed
Associate Director of Community Engagement, Director Global Nexus Program
The Verve Partnership LLC
Managing Director, Office of Tourism and Film
Maryland Department of Commerce
Paul Frey, IOM
President & CEO
Washington County Chamber of Commerce
Kendrick T. Gibbs
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
National Institutes of Health
Jeremy D. Goldman
William Robert Hair
Maryland School for the Blind
Heidi Hammel, PMP, GISP
KCI Technologies, Inc.
John J. Horner Jr., MBA
Senior Vice President & COO
Arthur A. Jones-Dove, PE, PMP, CCM, MBA, PgMP
Atkins, member of SNC-Lavalin Group
Lisa Kemp, CPA
Deena Deese Kilmon
Director of Engagement
Arc Central Chesapeake Region
Irene Katherine Magruder, CEcD
Maryland Clean Energy Center
Kim I. McCalla
Associate Vice President Facilities, Design and Construction
Morgan State University
President & CEO
McDonell Consulting Group/Sandler Training
Austin L. Miller
Chief Technology Officer – MTA
Maryland Department of Transportation
Dr. Robert C. Mock, Jr.
Chief of Staff
University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
Luisella Perri, Esq.
Miles & Stockbridge, PC
Wendi Wagner Peters
Special Secretary of Smart Growth
State of Maryland
Dr. Bradley D. Phillips
Deputy Executive Director
Maryland Association of Community Colleges
Mark J. Potter
President & CEO
Maryland Science Center
Antonio P. Salazar, Esq.
Commissioner of Financial Regulation
Maryland Department of Labor
Arti Santhanam, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Maryland Innovation Initiative
Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO)
James C. Schmutz
President & CEO
Special Olympics Maryland, Inc.
Susan L. Schnaars
Vice President - Senior Investment Advisor
Sharon Markley Schreiber
Chief Operating Officer
Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore
Sarah J. Shin, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Dr. James Scott Smith
St. Mary's County Public Schools
Corey E. Stottlemyer
Director, Strategic Customer Service
Maryland Department of Transportation
Richard A. Tabuteau, Esq.
Attorney & Lobbyist
Equity Through Action
Turner Wealth Management
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