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Stars of business shine at 17th annual MDCC Business Hall of Fame Awards

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With a red carpet, great music, and a vibrant energy, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce inducted three stellar leaders into its Business Hall of Fame Wednesday night.

The walk-of-fame theme transformed the banquet room at the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel into a setting that felt more like a Hollywood award night – even if the business outfits didn’t quite look the part.

 “This is a great night and a wonderful way to recognize the best of the best in Maryland business,” said MDCC President & CEO Christine Ross. “We talk a lot about the importance of leadership, but these inductees walk the walk.”

Johns Hopkins HealthCare President Patricia Brown, Prince George’s Community College President Charlene Dukes, Ed.D., and recently retired McCormick President & CEO Alan Wilson were honored for their excellence in business management, entrepreneurism, courageous approaches, inspiring leadership, and community impact.

“It’s not just about work,” Brown told the attentive crowd as she summed up the feeling of making a mission out of a career. “It’s about the work. What is the job we are at work to do?”

Each inductee brought a special feeling to the evening. Dukes reflected on her family, and how her father—who had wanted to be an architect—had been told to be a carpenter, instead. His experience, she said, led her to an important understanding.

“No one can define who you are but you,” she said.

Wilson, whom colleagues and friends hailed for his humility, brought a bit of a light touch.

“Do you like my tie?” he asked as he took the podium and pointed out the tie’s Old Bay color scheme. McCormick & Company makes the seasoning that is so popular with Marylanders.

Brown, Dukes and Wilson were not only because of their visionary leadership of high-performing organizations, but also because they give to the communities where they live and work.

All three sit on the boards of several charitable organizations and institutions. Ardent philanthropists, both Brown and Wilson have been named the United Way of Central Maryland’s Philanthropists of the Year, along with their spouses. Both have also served on UWCM’s board. Dukes has been repeatedly recognized for her dedication to diversity and leadership in the Black community.

“I see myself in the students we serve,” she said in a previously-recorded video that played right before she accepted her award.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was the featured speaker for the evening. With a high concentration of Maryland’s businesses, Baltimore sets a tone for the state’s economic vitality. The mayor recently vetoed the Baltimore City Council’s bid for a city-specific $15 minimum wage because of concerns over the damage it could do to small businesses, and wants to help minority businesses get more access to capital.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” the mayor said. “What matters is that you get on the same page about the needs of our city.”

The evening also marked the passing of the gavel from outgoing board chair Sheela Murthy, founder of the Murthy Law Firm, to incoming chair Nathan Beil, president of KCI Technologies.

Murthy led the Chamber’s Board of Directors since 2015, through staff and leadership changes and into the newly energized Chamber Ross heads up. Much like the inductees, Ross makes innovation a priority as business evolves and leaders’ needs change.

Part of that innovation involves working to strengthen the talent pipeline from schools to workplaces, so that employers can find solidly trained employees who get meaningful work as soon as they finish their education—at either the high school or college level. Education was a major connecting theme of the night. Brown and Wilson are either current or former board members for universities like Notre Dame of Maryland and the University of Tennessee. Dukes is in her 11th year presiding over a community college. Mayor Pugh spoke about the challenges of the city school system and preparing young people for future success.

This was the 17th year for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame Awards. You can find a full list of our Hall of Fame inductees on our website, mdchamber.org.

The evening capped off the annual meeting where, this year, the chair was handed to KCI Technologies President Nathan Beil, with BGE COO Stephen Woerner as vice chair. Several board members joined or accepted new terms.

Related:
See the videos of the inductees, courtesy of Comcast and VPC, Inc.!
Patricia Brown, Esq.
Charlene Dukes, Ed.D.
Alan Wilson

The evening recap—in pictures: