Tag: female empowerment

Roland Park Student Duo Wins National Prize With Empowering Coloring Book

Courtesy Anna Doherty & Hope Sacco/NFTE
Courtesy Anna Doherty & Hope Sacco/NFTE

Two eighth-graders with a progressive idea and artistic eyes took home a national entrepreneurship award earlier this month for creating a coloring book that aims to inspire young girls.

Girl Scouts Celebrate Local Women Leaders at Annual Event, April 21


Girls Scouts distinguished women 2016

Maryland State Delegate Adrienne Jones among those honored at Distinguished Women’s Award Celebration 

The Girl Scouts’ 2016 Distinguished Women’s Award Celebration takes place Thursday, April 21 at the Baltimore Country Club from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and includes light fare and both a silent and live auction. Money raised at the event benefit local Girl Scout programs. This year, the event focuses on Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s community programs, which include In-School programming for girls in grades K-8. Currently, the council provides in 66 local schools programs on anti-bullying, financial literacy, and STEM. For tickets, sponsorships or general information about the event, contact Berit Killingstad, Major Gifts Officer, at [email protected].

The 2016 Distinguished Women Honorees:    

Name Change Has Friends Questioning Feminist Cred


Hi Al,

Although I consider myself a feminist, I am pretty definite in my decision to take my husband’s last name when we get married next June. My decision doesn’t cause me or my husband any problem except that my female friends and co-workers think I have somehow “sold out” by not keeping my maiden name.

Even though my husband has not in any way pressured me, my friends suspect that he has, even though I let them know that I made the decision myself.  Some of the women have known me since grad school, college, and even high school, in some cases longer than I’ve known my husband. So, I guess they think they know me better than he does, and in a way, they think they know what’s better for me. Even though I really care about some of my old friends, I think they are being arrogant. I like the idea of sharing a name with my husband psychologically and practically. If we have children some day, I want to have the same name as theirs and don’t want to create unnecessary complications. Why can’t they just accept that?

Because I used to say that I’d never take my husband’s last name when I got married, my long-time friends think I must have been coerced. My friends and co-workers are getting me down because they say I shouldn’t take the man’s name. For some reason, they don’t seem to understand or accept my interpretation of what it means to be a feminist.  I mean, really, there are other more significant ways for me to advance the cause of equality for women. Any ideas on how to get that across to them?

What’s in a Name

Dear What’s:

You are obviously being pulled in two directions: by your allegiance to your friends and your shared convictions, on the one hand, and your loyalty to your husband and your shared commitment, on the other. Because your friends passionately believe in equality for women and also believe that you do, too, they feel deserted by you in the way that you have symbolically rejected what they stand for.

What makes the name selection so symbolic is how visible it is, not how significant it is—certainly not in your case. No matter whether women keep their maiden (birth) name, they are still using a masculine moniker. Because of the way surnames are used in our culture, unless a wife and her husband create their own married name, the woman can’t avoid using some man’s name.

In this instance, your taking your husband’s name is just as significant and symbolic as not taking it. Because you love him and have committed yourself to him, as he has committed himself to you, you want to emblazon an unmistakable, visible statement above your shared life for the rest of the world to behold.

If your friends and colleagues are still unconvinced, remind them that  what you believe is much more convincing when it is reflected in how you behave. If you live your life in a way that rejects stereotypes and elevates all people with a respect that is authentic and consistent, no one can question what you stand for.  Whether you keep the name of your father or you take the name of your husband, the integrity with which you live your life will bring honor to it. So, no matter what name you call yourself, anyone who hears it and knows you will recognize its sound as sweet.

Got questions about life? Love? Parenting? Work? Write to Whit’s End, a new advice column by local husband, father, teacher, coach, former executive and former Marine Corps officer Al Whitaker.  Send your questions to [email protected]


Baltimore Women and Body Image: Five Commandments for Self-Acceptance


1920s female jogger

Recently I found myself wondering if the average American woman might not be evolving toward more self-acceptance where weight and body image are concerned — mightn’t voluptuous singer Adele’s wild popularity result in less rigidity in the media’s rulebook for how we’re all supposed to look? Adele is a world-famous sensation — and she’s a big girl. (True, she’s dropped some extra pounds since her throat surgery, but she remains full-figured, which seems to be what her body wants.) After Vogue editor Anna Wintour predictably ordered the singer’s spring cover airbrushed to slim her, fans were outraged and critics vocal globally.

“Confidence-Boosting Tips from Real Women 9 to 99,” a gorgeous photo essay in Shape, shot by Mary Ellen Mark, hoisted my optimism higher — walking readers through a diverse tour of physically active women, like yoga instructor Robin Wald, 42, who celebrates her fierce strength and consciously overlooks her perpetually flabby “Mommy” tummy, the piece reminds me that my body is, well, myself, my support system, my shelter, my stability and, in turn, my fragility. Bottom line: The body is a bodacious miracle whether you’re naturally a skinny mini or a zaftig diva.

WOW-Baltimore: Celebrating Women, Influencing Community


An event unlike any other that brings together an impressive list of talented and influential women, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Senior Counselor Alice Hill, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and BSO Maestra Marin Alsop at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, makes its American debut in Baltimore in a few weeks. 

Women of the World (WOW), a three-day festival that begins Friday, March 2, at 10 a.m., combines concerts, films, discussion panels, professional mentoring, issue-oriented debates, health and fitness sessions, financial and legal tips, book swaps, jewelry and craft vendors, food tastings with some of Baltimore’s premier female chefs, Stoop Storytelling workshops, and more.                                               

Alsop met WOW Founder and Co-Artistic Director, Jude Kelly, as a panelist at the inaugural WOW Festival in London. Alsop, inspired by her experience, was eager to bring WOW to the Baltimore community. From the initial event planning stages to the near-finalized event program, WOW-Baltimore has sought community involvement.         

The festival features a line-up of speakers and panelists certain to wow attendees. In addition to the women named above, attendees can also expect NPR’s Peabody-Award-winning producers, The Kitchen Sisters; Lynne Brick, President and Owner of Brick Bodies; Kwame Kwei-Armah, playwright and Artistic Director of Center Stage; Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp, President of Notre Dame of Maryland University; and a panel of Baltimore’s 12 to 18-year-old girls who speak about the challenges of young womanhood as part of the Girl Up! Campaign for the United Nations Foundation.                     

Attendees can also screen the documentary feature film, Miss Representation, which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film, written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, artfully compiles facts and statistics that expose mainstream media as one of the most significant impediments to a culture of confident women achieving their true potential. Viewers are encouraged to stick around for a post-screening discussion. You can preview the trailer here.                                                                                           

While the primary purpose of the event is to celebrate and empower women, the intent is that both men and women have something to gain from attending and participating. For example, one of the panels will discuss human trafficking, the second largest criminal enterprise in the world that profits by the billions from forcing 12.3 million adults and children into bondage and prostitution. These numbers represent many someones’ mothers and daughters.                                                                                     

Men and women have long said, “Behind every great man there stands a great woman.” This extended weekend could be a wonderful opportunity to see the tired adage in a new light; for the great men to stand behind and support remarkable women — our wives, mothers, and daughters who are also our current and future visionaries, entrepreneurs, educators, artists, athletes, politicians, doctors, soldiers, and humanitarians. 

There are several ticket options including day passes and weekend passes. There are also special tickets for the Mary Chapin Carpenter and the BSO Voices of Light concerts. Go here for tickets and a full schedule of activities.


Vanity almost makes me late for a photo shoot. I’m not a Klum or a Turlington and don’t particularly like having my picture taken, which, in part, is what adds to this photo shoot’s appeal. The focus is on shoes and maybe some leg. Two of my best assets.

California-based photographer Amy Martin-Friedman created the “A Day in My Shoes” photography project. She photographs women wearing their favorite shoes and publishes the collection in coffee table books. The project raises money and awareness for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

By limiting each image to a woman’s shoes, Amy has found a way to give victims the anonymity they need for their safety and the voice they need to take action. Many models weren’t victims themselves, but know someone who was or continues to be. Buckling a T-strap is an easy way to help.

Why was I curling my hair and applying make-up—and using gadgets I’d only used on my wedding day like eyelash curlers—for a black and white photo of my shoes? Because without knowing or having spoken to Amy yet, I thought I understood her point of view. Looking good is feeling good. And feeling good makes good things happen.

My eyes are red from jabbing them with eyeliner. I’m having trouble holding my head in a manner that keeps my hair out of my lip gloss. But I feel confident and excited to spend the day with women, most of whom I’ve never met, listening to and asking questions about their lives and interest in helping victims of domestic violence.

Lisa Jones-Butz, the owner of Subtle Rebellion Salon + Gallery and organizer of this shoot, has lined-up an entire weekend of participants through Facebook advertising. For today’s itinerary, she’s booked an interview and news coverage with a WJZ-TV cameraman and scheduled meeting times and locations with each model. Four of us will pose in downtown Baltimore today, in our favorite pair of shoes, also in our favorite neighborhood. I’m surprised to discover that even though all of us models have similarly creative backgrounds, we’ve each chosen different neighborhoods to reflect our lives: Canton, Federal Hill, Bolton Hill, and mine Mt. Vernon, which I chose because it’s where my husband and I were married.

The weather is unpredictable. Five minutes before I meet Amy and Lisa, rain is falling in sheets. The fabric of my grandmother’s 1970s leopard-print umbrella, while retro chic, isn’t holding up to an umbrella’s more practical role in blocking water. By the time I buy coffee at the Canton Starbucks and the three of us quickly introduce ourselves, the sun is shining.

The first model, Lisa’s sister, Rebecca, arrives with inches of heel and killer calves. The brick facade of The Shipyard apartments catches Amy’s eye. A row of surface grates run parallel to the sidewalk and the foot of the building. Amy holds Rebecca’s hand as she places the ball of her foot onto the slivers of metal. Her toes peep from the narrow band of fabric holding the shoe on. She strolls along the slats as if her stilettos are skis gliding across the Bay. Amy snaps alongside. A man passing on his bike wobbles from looking.

Rebecca has chosen the area around the Can Company for her shoot segment because it was where she launched SmartWoman Magazine in the years before starting a family. The whole shoot takes 10 minutes. Rebecca’s children are expecting her at a school event and the next model, Andrea, is expecting us at Federal Hill.

Andrea, my friend and hair stylist, told me about this project. She and Lisa are old friends who keep each other in the loop about art, culture, and important causes. Andrea loved coming to Federal Hill with her parents when she was a kid. Her nearby salon, Peter Devine Hair Design, is a connection she keeps to the neighborhood, even though she now lives in the county with her family. 

The sun is so intense I roll up my sleeves. I leave my umbrella in the car and grab sunglasses. Amy takes the most essential equipment to minimize the lugging and sweating up the hill. Lisa has spoken to Andrea who is coming from the opposite side of the hill and a WJZ-TV cameraman, Michael, who has already set up. (He knew from experience that you can drive straight into the park.)

Michael’s positioned his tripod to record Amy as she photographs Andrea. Andrea is climbing the hill as we speak, but the clouds are rolling in faster. Lightning strikes over the harbor.

“Quick, Holly!” Amy says. “Stand by that canon. I don’t want to waste this shot!”

I don’t have “my shoes” on—a day in my shoes meant saving the cute ones for the camera and running behind the scenes in my less glamorous brown boots. Amy click, click, clicks as the sky dims to near complete darkness. Andrea runs up in a pair of burgundy-colored boots that she discovered in New York. She has expertly coordinated the reds of her lipstick and the flower accent on her crocheted purse with the boots. 

Droplets plink from the sky like a leak while Andrea turns her face from the camera and towards the Baltimore skyline. Amy clicks and jostles to get the shot. Michael tosses Amy something plastic to protect her camera as he breaks down his equipment. The clouds burst open and all five of us dive into Michael’s van.    

Michael and Andrea agree to continue to the third location. A few minutes later and a zip code over, the sun reappears. Andrea and I park at the top of Mount Royal beside the predetermined historic Main Building on the MICA campus. After some confusion and a few missed calls, we find the group at the bottom of the hill by the light-rail station. They’ve seized upon a clearing in the sky to conduct the interview.

Amy pulls a black blazer over her t-shirt. Michael asks the “why shoes” question. Amy talks candidly about surviving abuse and its psychological effects. No matter the changes, the weight gains and losses, or the turns for the worse, she’s saying, shoes always fit. “They make you feel good about yourself,” she concludes.

The third model, Johnna, joins us at her appointed time wearing skinny jeans and jet-black high heel sandals that zip up the front. Michael catches on a little more at seeing them and wants more footage. Amy and Lisa dive into their car for their Ferragamos—they too have been spending a day in their “I’m on my feet all day” shoes. Unfortunately, “my shoes” are in my car at the top of the hill.

“Can you give me one minute?” I ask Michael.

I run, trying to disregard the discomfort of my knee-high boots chaffing my shins and the white oxford I washed and pressed that morning sticking to my back. (And I’d thought I wouldn’t fit a workout in.) I resist the urge to take advantage of my rear-view mirror to blot my face with special shine-removing paper. 

I run back to Michael, who has filmed the others in my absence, before I change into “my shoes.” (Sprinting will prematurely age my favorite pair.) The ladies compliment my Lucky Penny wedges with floppy bowling shoe-inspired red and navy argyle laces while Michael rolls tape. I cross one foot over the other for the camera like I’d seen tap dancers do between shuffle ball changes. 

Michael has another assignment and we’re falling a few minutes behind so we cross the street to the Mount Royal Station. Amy barely has time to set up under the train shed before a train enters the tunnel.

Johnna grips the iron fence surrounding the platform and faces the oncoming train. As the train whooshes by Amy clicks and snaps. The train and the photo op are fleeting, but Amy remains caught up in a rush of the inescapable metaphors. A wall standing between you and freedom. A hope in starting over somewhere new. A light at the end of the tunnel.

“That couldn’t have been more perfect,” Amy says. She shares the digital images with us. We all agree that the power of the image of Johnna’s body braced against the fence justifies being flexible with the “just shoes” concept.

Johnna returns to work as the weather reverts to its darker mood. A sprinkle drops on my untreated shoes. In a second, water marks will pimple the smooth leather. I balance on Andrea’s arm to get out of “my shoes” and back into the boots so we can run like hell up the hill to the car.

During the short drive to Mt. Vernon Place for the last official city shoot of the day—mine—I take stock. I am soaked. My carefully chosen, crisply cuffed and pleated trousers reminiscent of a Kathryn Hepburn era of style are drooping. My hair, which Andrea had recently highlighted with soft amber hues, hangs dark and matted. Mascara smudges evoke a likeness to Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

I dab my eyes, wind my hair into a ponytail, shelter my shoes in my purse, and grab Granny’s umbrella. 

Three compromises are made in three seconds because that’s how fickle the weather is. The Washington Monument is out because it’s pouring, the Peabody Library is in because it’s dry, and the library’s entrance ultimately wins because by the top of the stairs the rain stops.

Amy directs me to climb over the handrail to position myself between the pair of Renaissance columns. I turn out my feet like a ballerina, one on each limestone base. Amy shoots from the sidewalk below.

The columns have vertical hollow grooves, or fluting. They remind me of scrolls of ancient history and literature. My vintage-inspired wedges have a stacked heel I associate with librarians.  From this height I can see the spot at which my husband and I first glimpsed each other on our wedding day. It’s all coming together. Despite the drama, the picture of a day in my shoes will reveal a woman who hasn’t lost herself in the shuffle.

“Give me some attitude with those hips,” Amy yells. I twist my feet into second position and put my hands on my waist. Library visitors stop to watch. I have two thoughts: Any minute now we’re going to be arrested. And, I’m having a blast.

It is going on two in the afternoon. Amy has another photo shoot in Harford County, Lisa an art opening at her gallery tonight to organize; Andrea has a daughter to pick up from school. I have a husband I haven’t seen in days and an essay to write.

Lunch is about to become an oversight when Andrea and I pull that magic trick with time that women often do. We produce some where there is none and sit down to enjoy a burger.
When people talk about abuse, they talk about the cycle of violence. The honeymoon, the mounting tension, the explosion. Some people who’ve never walked in a victim’s shoes can’t understand the reasons why the victim doesn’t just leave.

But abuse, much like the weather that day, is complicated. The sun’s out; for how long is anyone’s guess, but it feels good. That is until it grows so intense that sweat beads up. A few drops of rain cool the burn until a downpour and cracks of lightning create shivers. 

Meanwhile, juggling career, finances, children, partners, and the errands necessary to provide clean clothes and warm meals for those who depend on you doesn’t stop for the weather. It’s much like walking across a grate in three-inch heels while holding your head up.

Maybe something as basic as a shoe can start a new cycle. Look good, feel good, receive good. Iconic women have delivered idioms such as “to get back on one’s feet” with style. Harper Lee devoted one of the greatest American novels to the theme that we don’t know people until we stand in their shoes. Nancy Sinatra turned the sexy go-go boot into a means of power with “These Boots are Made for Walkin’.” Tina Turner’s stems—whatever her choice in pumps—are a symbol of survival.

Because it’s not simply leather and laces you strap to your feet all day—it’s attitude. And with attitude you summon that inner strength to do what you got to do.