Michelle Obama Awards

The Office of County Executive Steuart Pittman, in partnership with the Caucus of African American Leaders, will recognize women in our community who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

 Monday, March 25, 2024 | 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
 Maryland Hall | 801 Chase St, Annapolis, MD 21401

This event aims to celebrate remarkable women across the county who recognize the imperative need to eradicate bias and discrimination from our lives and institutions, paving the way for a more positive future.

This special award is named after former First Lady Michelle Obama, who serves as a role model for women and advocates for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, health, and wellness.

Thanks to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee for supporting this event. We hope to see you there!

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Angela Alsobrooks

Keynote Speaker

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks

A lifelong Marylander, Angela was born and raised in Prince George’s County. Angela was taught from a young age to care for her neighbors and give back to her community – urged on by the words of her great-grandmother not to sit on the sidelines but “go farther and do better.”


How our honorees are selected

Honorees are selected using the following criteria:

  • A resident of Anne Arundel County 
  • Not a previous award recipient
  • An individual who exemplifies this year’s theme
Faye Allen Belt

Faye Belt is driven and supported by her faith and her family. Faye has a servant’s heart, as demonstrated in her geriatric nursing specialization and experience as the Columbia Beach Community Improvement Association (CBCIA) President from 2021 to 2023. During her presidency, Columbia Beach was designated as an African American Heritage & Culture site in Anne Arundel County, recognizing the community’s history, which was established in 1940 and winner of the 2024 Maryland Historical Trust Award. She continues her commitment to sustaining the historical legacy of Crownsville Hospital Center. She supports Antonia Hylton, author of NY Times Best Seller Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum. As she moves into the next chapter of her life, she will continue to put the community's needs at the forefront of her life’s journey.

Karen Theimer Brown

Karen Theimer Brown is the President and CEO of Historic Annapolis. She brings over 20 years of experience in the preservation field. As President of HA, Karen serves as the primary spokesperson for the organization, setting policy, advocacy, preservation planning initiatives, and a commitment to inclusive storytelling. She is a past Commissioner of the Annapolis Historic Preservation Commission and is currently serving on the Annapolis Heritage Commission. Karen also served on the board of the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions and the Annapolis City Dock Advisory Committee. She worked for the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for close to a decade and the City of Annapolis Preservation Division prior to joining the staff at Historic Annapolis. Karen lives in Annapolis with her husband and three boys.

Dr. Maisha Gillins

Dr. Maisha Gillins is the Chief Equity Officer for Anne Arundel County Public Schools. The goal of the office is to work with schools, parents, and the community to create equitable school cultures that are vital to eliminating gaps in student achievement. Dr. Gillins has been in education since 1995. She was a middle school math teacher, assistant principal, Title I coordinator, Mathematics coordinator, Middle School principal, and Director of School Performance. She is also an adjunct professor for Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she has taught a master’s level course that focuses on emotional intelligence, brain-based research, culturally responsive instruction, and critical race theory for the past twelve years. Dr. Gillins earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education at Virginia State University, a master’s degree in administrative leadership at Bowie State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership for changing populations at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Mikel Hicks

I am a native of Annapolis, Maryland, who was appointed as the first-ever Director of Fair Practices for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. I oversee an Equal Employment Opportunity Program promoting a diversified workforce environment free of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. I graduated from the Anne Arundel County 29th Citizens Police Academy in 2022 to learn about laws, self-defense, and police procedures that help to build bridges between the community and the police department. I am also a #BePresent Mentor for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education Program as an alumnus at Glen Burnie High School. Lastly, I was recently accepted into the Leadership Anne Arundel Neighborhood Leadership Academy (NLA24), graduating this June. 

Ginina A. Jackson-Stevenson

Ginina A. Jackson-Stevenson is an Associate Judge for the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County, appointed by Governor Wes Moore in November 2023. With distinction as the first African American female Magistrate in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court history, she served families and children with integrity, wisdom, and sound legal knowledge for three years.

The Burlington, New Jersey native attended the University of Maryland Baltimore County as the first African American player on her Division I soccer team and later led as a Captain. She pursued her degree at the University of Baltimore School of Law and began her legal career in criminal defense as an assistant public defender, followed by her own practice in civil and family law and criminal defense.

She “gives back” as a member of many legal and community organizations and belongs to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., but most of all, she loves being a wife and mother.

Tatiana J Klein

Tatiana J Klein teaches at the Key School and is the founder/director volunteer of the Marshall Learning Center under Marshall Hope Corporation, an after-school and summer program for children and youth. She has volunteered for many non-profit organizations around the county and partners with several to bring quality programming to children. Mrs. Klein received the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2022 from the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the Excellence in Leadership Award from Leadership Anne Arundel in 2016, the Volunteer of the Year Award from Leadership Anne Arundel in 2011, and the Volunteer of the Week by the Capital Gazette in 2006. She is also a graduate of the Neighborhood Academy 06′ and the Flagship program 07′ of the Leadership Anne Arundel and graduated Class 10 from the Watershed Stewards Academy. Ms. Klein, originally from Costa Rica, became an American citizen in 2006. She is a Johns Hopkins alumni from the School of Education and the Peabody Institute and is currently pursuing a second master's in Counseling from the Westminster Theological Seminary.

Enid Collinson Lee

Enid Collison-Lee, a native Annapolitan, is a passionate advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion through the lens of education. With over 40 years of experience as an educator with the Anne Arundel County Public School System, Enid remains dedicated to the transformative power of education.

Despite her retirement, Enid is actively involved with several scholarship committees that provide scholarships to minority students pursuing higher education; these include Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Morgan State University Alumni Association, and First Baptist Church of Annapolis. She is also one of the longest-standing commissioners on the Annapolis Education Commission. As the Education and Community Chair of the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, Enid takes on the role of ensuring that a variety of health, financial, and educational resources are available for both children and adults.

From early in her career, when she served as the Special Olympics Director of Anne Arundel County, to now serving on the Instructional Professional Development Committee of the Maryland State Educators Association (MSEA) and Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC-R), it is apparent her commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive educational environment is unwavering.

Kellie McCants-Price

Dr. Kellie McCants-Price is the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) and started her AACC career as a full-time faculty member in 2014. Her commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, antiracism, and accessibility is evident in nearly two decades of work as a child psychologist in higher education and the K-12 system in Maryland, Washington, DC, and community mental health settings. One of Dr. McCants-Price’s passions is ensuring that all – especially those historically excluded - find a seat and amplify their voices at the table in higher education and the community at large. She was awarded the 2019 AACC IDEAL Faculty Equity Champion and the 2018-2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Zeitgeist Award for her efforts to increase opportunities for inclusive excellence at AACC and in the surrounding community. Dr. McCants-Price guides her equity and inclusion work with the following quote from Caroline Belden: “Equality is leaving the door open for whoever has the means to approach it; equity is ensuring there is a pathway to the door for those who need it.”

Ellen O. Moyer

Selected three times as one of Maryland's top 100 women, Ellen has a lifetime of community service contributing to our quality of life. The last living founder of Maryland Hall for the Arts, she has received numerous awards for her works on parks, the environment, and the arts. She brought the City of Annapolis to an AA+ Bond rating as the first elected Woman Mayor and enhanced benefits for public safety personnel. Breaking the glass ceiling, she has spent a lifetime opening doors to opportunity for others, including the Annapolis Community Foundation, which she initiated, which supports new start-up non-profits and programs for citizens in need.

Janet Owens

The Honorable Janet S. Owens was the first woman elected to the county executive position in Anne Arundel County and served from 1998 to 2006. Her contributions to equity included preserving Wiley H. Bates High School, assisting in building the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and appointing the first African American fire chief for Anne Arundel County.

Leah Aiello Paley

Leah Paley is the Chief Executive Officer of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank, a position she has held since September 2021. Leah is a passionate spokesperson for the AACFB and the neighbors they serve. She actively advocates for issues that impact under-resourced people experiencing food insecurity in our community.

Growing up in Albany, New York, Leah’s parents — a teacher and a human service worker — emphasized the values of service and social justice. Volunteering in her community laid a solid foundation for Paley, who completed a year of service in Baltimore City as an AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) after earning her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Providence College in 2005. She earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2011 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, with a concentration in management and community organizing and a specialization in social action and community development. From 2011 to 2021, Leah worked at a human services-focused nonprofit in Laurel, MD. She held positions of increasing responsibility at this organization, including the role of Executive Director, which Leah held for six years before transitioning to the food bank. An Anne Arundel County resident since 2016, Leah is a committed volunteer for several organizations, a mother to two elementary-age children, a devoted dog owner, and a tireless nonprofit leader.

Lisa Shore

Lisa is a dedicated community advocate with a focus on public space, education, mental health, equity, and food access. She supported the Severn Center project on Reece Road in Severn, which opened in 2023 after many years of community advocacy. Lisa is passionate about ensuring safe, equitable, and engaging public spaces for all residents of Anne Arundel County, including parks, libraries, community centers, and trails.

Toni Strong Pratt

Toni Strong Pratt is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, bonus mother, and friend. She is also a home and business owner, advocate, and community organizer who wakes up committed to being a voice for the voiceless.

Toni’s business, People Builders Consulting, focuses on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with clients such as elected officials. She also founded and facilitated a women’s and men's leadership program, My Sistah’s Keeper and My Brothas Keeper, that has already graduated over 75 women and 25 men.They are community members and professionals who have found new jobs, returned to school, and started businesses—and this started at the height of the pandemic.

Toni has helped lead the fight in Annapolis for affordable, accessible, and quality housing, opioid recovery, public safety, environmental justice, and educational equity. She has been part of launching initiatives to bring diverse communities together and build leaders in places where other elected officials have given up. Toni was a two-time aldermanic candidate coming up short by a close margin both times, but never has she stopped fighting for and with the people who are still trying to find their voices. Toni is a member of ACT, Anne Arundel Connecting Together, and is determined to create change one man, woman, and family at a time.

Juanita Banks-Whittington

Juanita Banks-Whittington, Founder of Nehi Cares & Diverse Children’s Books Matter, is an award-winning children’s book author, Army Veteran, Social Worker, and Diversity Practitioner. Her mission is to empower and educate individuals on reaching their full potential while promoting daily healthy habits for improved physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being. Through her training, Juanita facilitates an understanding of the fundamental aspects of wellness, highlighting the intersectionality with diversity and inclusion across all stages of development, extending beyond the workplace. As a children’s book author, she spotlights positive relationships and bridges diversity gaps, providing young minds with a future where they feel seen and represented within the pages of her books.