Barbara A. Robinson
P.O. Box 7667, Baltimore, Maryland 21207

 

SelfPride Inc. was a Journey of Love
SelfPride was founded in 1990 out of a need for an organization designed to provide dignity and services to enhance the quality of life of various populations of people. The years that SelfPride was in operation were a journey of love, as individuals whose lives SelfPride touched, bloomed  into their own potential and in some cases, reached heights that they themselves did not realize they could achieve. As I reflect back over the years, as the founder and director of SelfPride, I am pleased with the many milestones that we, as a team, made to improve the quality of life of the employees and other populations of people, who would not have otherwise had a chance to follow their dreams.
SelfPride assisted various populations of people as: senior citizens, people defined as dysfunctional or hard to serve, ex-offenders, welfare recipients, troubled youths, single parents, people who are mentally and physically challenged, individuals who have interfaced with the criminal justice system, and recovering substance abusers.  SelfPride was not in the business of giving a hand out, rather SelfPride took pride in its record of giving a hand up for individuals who wanted to improve their lives and get a fresh start on defining their future.
From the beginning one of SelfPride’s efforts was to assist individuals to transition from an institutional setting to an environment that provided a home-like and family atmosphere.  We designed and implemented programs to strengthen the family structure and to assist welfare recipients to transition from a life of dependence to independence, to remove them from welfare to faring well and becoming productive members of society.  My vision was also to enhance the living conditions and improve the environment of our senior population, our wisdom group, by assisting them with their daily living needs.
It was a worthwhile journey as I watched employees combine training with experience and moved on to achieve higher employment goals. SelfPride played a major role in assisting individuals to make it against the odds and to defy the naysayer who thought they could not accomplish their dreams.
Operating a business is a difficult task and when the business is a not-for-profit organization that often must depend on obtaining operating capital from outside sources that business is twice as difficult to maintain. There have been times when I thought what the point is?  Then when I looked at the populations of people who were affected by SelfPride’s services, I realized that our business was a ministry that sent the message your condition does not have to be your conclusion.  I am proud to see the journey of love continue.

As Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Inc. assisted by a planning committee I formed, the following is the agenda I created for the 2015 annual Legislative Black Caucus Weekend.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE 2016 LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS WEEKEND ACTIVITIES

 

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland Weekend activities began Thursday, November 5th with a Prayer Breakfast at the Forum Caterers in Baltimore. The Criminal Justice Summit followed the prayer breakfast and was also held at the Forum. The all-day workshops were held on Friday, November 6th, in the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis, Maryland. All activities on this day were free and open to the public. Breakfast and lunch were provided.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  The Prayer Breakfast at the Forum Caterers in Baltimore began the weekend activities. Topic was: How to Calm the Tides: The Role of the Black Church with Rev. Cecelia Williams Bryant, Episcopal Supervisor, 4th Episcopal District and Pastor Bethel AME Church - Mt. Vernon, Indiana as the guest speaker.

11:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Also at the Forum Caterers was the criminal justice summit which
followed the prayer breakfast and the topic of  the summit was: Is Maryland’s Criminal Justice
System Failing Us? The summit focused on the following topics: Body Cameras; Public Safety;
Expungements; Citizen unrest and the criminal justice system; an Examination of the Law
Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights; a Discussion of the Qualifications Required of Police
Officers; the Psychological Overview of Police Officers and Community. The moderator was:
Delegate Jill Carter, Esq. The panelists were: Delegate Charles Sydnor, Esq.; Judge David
Young, Esq.; Delegate Erek Barron; Tessa Hill-Aston, President of the Baltimore City NAACP;
Pastor Todd Yeary, Douglas Memorial Community Church.

8:05 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.             Senator Nathaniel McFadden gave an overview of the history of the Legislative Black Caucus. 

8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.             This seminar was titled Concept of  OneBaltimore: OneBaltimore is a comprehensive and collaborative team of public/private initiatives to support ongoing efforts to rebuild communities and neighborhoods. OneBaltimore focused on the immediate, short-term needs of those communities affected by our recent unrest and violence, and seek to promote collaboration to focus on the systemic problems Baltimore City has faced for decades. This is about more than government. This is a once-in-a-generation effort to engage anyone and everyone who wants to help strengthen Baltimore City. The moderator was Paul Taylor Executive Director of the Small Business Resource Center. Panelists were: Michael Cryor, CEO, OneBaltimore; Kirby Fowler, President, Downtown Partnership; Kenneth Grant, V. P. General Services, The Johns Hopkins Health Systems

8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.             The Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) formed a panel to discuss the Governor’s strategies for promoting economic growth for minority and women-owned businesses in Maryland. The moderator for this seminar was Alison Tavik from GOMA; the panelists were: Mike Gill, Secretary Department of Commerce; Jimmy Rhee, Special Secretary of GOMA

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.         Minority Business Development in Maryland: this seminar focused on minority businesses in Maryland, where we are, where we need to go and recommendations of how to get there. The presenter was Dr. Daraius Irani, Associate Vice President, Regional Economic Studies Institute, who used proven data to drive home relevant facts.

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.         The Age of Technology: Where are We? Was the theme of this
 Seminar. It addressed the lack of African American participation in technology and the
 importance of launching the White House Tech-Hire Initiative in Baltimore. Participants were
exposed to IT employment opportunities, professional positions and minority business
participation in the industry. The qualifications and skills needed to survive in the IT workforce
 were examined and discussed. The moderator was Lance Lucas, CEO of Digit All Systems.
Panelists were: Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH Chief Health Innovation Officer at Federal
Communications Commission and Associate Director, Urban Health Institute, Johns Hopkins
University; Victor McCrary, Ph.D., Vice President Research and Economic Development,
Morgan State University; Jason Brooks, Google; Destinee Thompson, Hewlett Packard.

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.         Mergers and Acquisitions Finance was the topic of this seminar. A panel of experts focused on acquisition as a growth strategy for minority and women-owned businesses. The Mergers and Acquisition Enhancement and Acceleration Act was also discussed. The moderator was Stanley W. Tucker, President of the Meridian Management Group (MMG); the panelists were: Anthony Williams, Vice President, MMG; Anthony Rodgers, Managing Partner, Antson Capital; Willie Vereen, President & CEO, Mid Atlantic Broadband (MABB); Ajibola Fadahunsi, Director, Debt Capital Markets, M & T Investment Banking Group

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.         Minority Participation in the Renewable Energy Industry, was the
topic of this seminar. Business leaders from private and public sectors discussed contract
opportunities for minorities in the Renewable Energy Industry in Maryland. The moderator was
Robert Wallace, CEO of BITH Energy Group and the panelists were: Leigh Williams, Director,
Maryland Energy Administration; James McGarry, Policy Director, Chesapeake Climate Action
Network; Paul Rich, Director of Project Development, US Wind Inc.; Michael Miller, President,
OGOS Energy; Kimberly Armstrong, CEO, Blacks in Energy.

12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Roger Campos was the luncheon speaker and spoke on the topic of the
governor’s strategies for business development in the African American and minority
community. Roger Campos is the Business Ombudsman in the Office of the Governor.

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.             The Plight of Historical Black Colleges and Universities, (HBCUs)  Where are We and Where Do We Need to Be; was the topic of this seminar. Presidents of Maryland’s HBCU’s and legislators were available to discuss what the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBCM) has accomplished in thirty-three years since the founders of the LBCM first made this topic one of the caucus’ priorities. The lawsuit concerning duplication of HBCU programs was discussed. The moderator was Senator Joan Carter Conway; panelists included the following: Dr. Earl Richardson, past president of Morgan State University; Michael Jones, Esq., lead attorney, partner in the firm of Kirkland & Ellis; David Burton, president of the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education; Dr. Mickey Burnim, President of Bowie State University and Dr. David Wilson, President of Morgan State University.

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.             Black Voices Through Written Expressions: was the topic presented by the Black Writers Guild of Maryland in this seminar. The overall theme was that writing is a business, a profession, a hobby, a creative endeavor, a therapeutic experience, entertainment and a call to action. A panel of experts, all authors, addressed the technical aspects of writing, such as style, voice and genre. Publishing, marketing and promotions, journalism, copyright and other legal issues were discussed. The moderator was Maxine B. Cunningham, author & CEO of Empowered Walking Enterprise; panelists included the following: Dr. Maurice W. Dorsey, biographer and educator; DeWayne Wickham, Dean of the School of Global Journalism at Morgan State University; Cherrie Woods, Communications Consultant of Eclectic PR; and James Wright, President of the Black Writers Guild of Maryland.

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.             Your Vote Counts: Understanding the Political Process. This seminar focused on exploring the power of the vote and a walk through the political system to learn how a bill becomes law. The moderator was Anthony McCarthy a radio personality on WEAA; panelists were: Delegate Antonio Hayes; Delegate Nathaniel Oaks; Senator JoAnne Benson; Delegate Tawanna Gaines; and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes.

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.             This seminar was an Overview of the African American Tourism Industry in Maryland and was presented by members of Maryland’s Black Tourism Council. This seminar presented an overview of  Maryland’s $17 billion dollar and Baltimore’s $5 billion dollar tourism industry. The moderator was Louis Fields, founder and CEO of the Black Tourism Council in Maryland. Panelists were: Dr. Joanne Martin, Founder & President of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum; Laurence Hurst, Curator and Collections Manager of the Howard County Centre of African American Culture; Errol E. Brown, Sr., Phillip & Rachel Brown Collection; Dr. Janet Sims-Wood, Commissioner, MD Commission on African American History & Culture;

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.             The topic of this seminar was: Opportunities for Minorities in the Maryland Medical Marijuana Industry. Experts in the industry included representative from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, an industry entrepreneur, and legislators. Panel members discussed the categories under which African Americans can get involved with business opportunities in the medical marijuana industry that is being launched in Maryland. The moderator was Darryl Carrington, Director of the Medical Marijuana Association. The panelists were: Hannah Bryon, Director of the Medical Marijuana DHMH Initiative; Delegate Cheryl Glenn; Delegate Dan Morhaim, MD; Dr. Gregory Daniel, CEO of Alternative Medicine Associates.

 

EXPLORING BEHAVORIAL HEALTH: A STATE OF CRISIS, A STATE OF CHANGE: DIRECTED BY SENATOR SHIRLEY NATHAN-PULLIAM

 

The focus areas for this health symposium examined the current state of minority health within our communities, and provided tools that addressed anticipated changes in the current healthcare landscape, and evaluated the downstream impact these efforts have on  their organization(s) as well as black and other minority communities.

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Minority Health Opening Session: Our community has seen an increase in both the number of mental health problems and the complexity and severity of its issues. The need for strong leadership and increased diversity is a prominent matter yet to be fully addressed. Despite the widespread awareness of these challenges in the field, current action and policy recommendations are severely lacking. The time has come for a more thoughtful and policy focused approach!

Panelists included: Darren Brownlee, M.H.A., President, National Association of Health Services Executives Van T. Mitchell, Secretary of Health & Mental Hygiene, Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene Arlee Wallace, Acting Director, Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Bridging the Gap in Behavioral Health Disparities: Taking on the challenges of mental health conditions, health coverage and the stigma of mental illness affects all of us. In many communities however, these problems are increased by less access to care, cultural stigma and lower quality care. While all communities deserve equal opportunities to be healthy, good health is not distributed evenly across our society. These health inequities are an injustice — and even, preventable. This session of presentations offered tips and best practices to bridge the gap in mental health disparities for minority populations, build organization capacity, and foster community engagement and strategies that are designed to reduce health inequities and create healthy communities for all. Objectives from this session included the following: to provide adequate and accurate information, applying short and long-term assessments affecting the community and society; to work to identify and meet the healthcare needs of the community; to encourage and participate in public dialogue on healthcare policy issues and advocate solutions that will improve health status and promote quality of healthcare.

The moderator was Delegate Terri L. Hill and the panelists were: Carmela Coyle, President & Chief Officer of the Maryland Hospital Association; Camara Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Research Director Social Determinants of Health and Equity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Gayle M. Jordan-Randolph, M.D., Deputy Secretary, Behavioral Health & Disabilities; Leana Wen, M.D., MSc., FAAEM, Commissioner, Baltimore City Health Department.

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Moving Principles to Action: Executives recognize embedding health considerations intro decision making across a broad array of sectors and working collaboratively on population health improvements are necessary elements in the development of health
communities. Although major health choices are being made by where most live, work and play, our communities are often the last recipients of advanced policies or practices. This session  reviewed the approaches for including health components in local, state and national policy development discuss strategies to address health disparities and create innovative approaches to meet today’s complex health challenges. Objectives from this session included the following:
to understand current efforts being used to tackle the elimination of health disparities among respective communities; to explore success, challenges and innovation in securing community
engagement in the elimination of injustices in health; to encourage innovative partnerships that move beyond community walls. The moderator was: Delegate Erek L. Barron and the panelists were: Jan Desper, Executive Director, Black Mental Health Alliance; Peter A. Hammen, State Delegate, Democrat, District 46, Baltimore City; Jay A. Pearman, M.D., President, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Annelle Primm, M.D., MPH, Senior Psychiatrist Advisor for Urban Behavioral Associates Dr