Event Celebrates Corrections Director Mary Lou McDonough as 2014 Gladys Noon Spellman Award Winner and Sends Strong Message of Strength and Inspiration to Women

Upper Marlboro, MD Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III stood proudly before an audience of over 900 people that was largely made up of County employees and kicked off the 29th Annual Women’s History Month Luncheon by honoring his wife Christa Beverly Baker for her love and support.  The event, which took place at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, Maryland on March 20, was the County’s culminating activity for Women’s History Month to honor women in County government.  See photos from the Women's History Month Luncheon.

Watch the 29th Annual Women’s History Month Luncheon

CE with the corrections director
County Executive Rushern Baker
Corrections Director Mary Lou McDonough
NBC 4 News Reporter and Anchor Erika Gonzalez
Women’s Commission Chair Jennifer Jones

“When I look into the audience and see all the women who are stakeholders in our county, I am overwhelmed with pride and admiration.  This year’s theme, Celebrating Women of: Character, Courage and Commitment could not be timelier in the context of my Administration and our government,” said Baker.  Every day, and in different ways, each of you contributes your intellectual talents and time to improve the quality of life for others.”

Aja Baker, the County Executive’s oldest daughter, moved the crowd with a very touching tribute to her mother Christa Beverly Baker, using the theme for the event in her remarks.

“You see, Christa, or mommy, has always personified all three of the words in today’s theme.  And she passed on her character, courage and commitment on to me, my brother and my sister.  I’m sure many of you can say the same thing about your mother or some woman in your life.  But I will say this, the woman that is sitting over there is my role model.  And today, I would like to salute her for all she and my father have done for me,” said Aja Baker.

The presentation of the highly coveted and prestigious 2014 Gladys Noon Spellman Public Service Award was awarded to Mary Lou McDonough, Director of the Department of Corrections.

Ms. McDonough’s career in Prince George’s County Government spans over three decades as a public servant.  Her leadership, exemplary professionalism and administrative expertise have resulted in steady career growth since her tenure with the Department of Housing, where she first worked and organized programs assisting countless citizens in achieving the American dream through homeownership.

Her courage is clearly visible in a male dominated profession in which she is the first female to lead this department.  In 2005, she decided to pursue the challenge of a career change.  When the Director’s position became available, she was offered this important leadership role during very challenging times.  In her first month as Director, she was faced with a media crisis and had to quickly restore the professional integrity of the Department through transparency.  This was no easy feat but she embraced the challenge in a field that traditionally requires a public safety background.

Not only did she restore the Department’s image, she quickly gained the respect and admiration of her staff.  She did not climb the ladder without reaching back to help others.  She has promoted, encouraged and provided other women the opportunity to excel in the field of Corrections.

In addition, she is active in her profession and served as Immediate Past President of the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association.  She has a “heart” for the incarcerated and their families, serving on the Judiciary Task Force to reform the bail review process statewide. 

Her community service is equally impressive and she has served as a board member of the American Red Cross and the Prince George’s Community College.  In 2002, the American Red Cross recognized her as Volunteer of the Year.

Ms. McDonough’s long standing career in County Government and dedication to the highest professional standards closely parallel that of Gladys Noon Spellman, former United States Congressional Representative for Prince George’s County.  She is always willing to take risk and assume the challenges to promote the positive image of County Government through excellence and service.

“I was pleased and honored to be recognized as the 2014 Gladys Noon Spellman Award recipient.  I join a long list of exceptional women leaders who are recipients of this award. Prince George’s County is a wonderful place to live, work and raise children,” said Mary Lou McDonough, Director Prince George’s County Department of Corrections.

In addition,  two Prince George’s County high school students each received $2,000 scholarships as recipients of the 2014 Gladys Noon Spellman Scholarships.

Miss Giovanna Ama Baisie-Arthur, a student at Parkdale High School High School with a Grade Point Average of 3.5 and Miss Ashley De’Sean Jones-Quaidoo, a student at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School with a Grade Point Average of: 3.96 were both honored to be awarded the scholarship. 

whml 2014
Jewel Diamond Taylor

Both the award and scholarships are presented in honor of Gladys Noon Spellman, who was a Prince George’s County educator, county council member and served in the United States Congress for three terms beginning in 1974.  She was a leader with a strong interest in the fields of political and social sciences as well as a tireless fighter for people.

“Ms. Mary Lou McDonough, Miss Giovanna Baisie-Arthur and Miss Ashley De’Sean Jones-Quaidoo are shining examples of Gladys Noon Spellman’s legacy,” said Baker. “These awards have been exciting ending to a great luncheon and an incredible month!” 

NBC 4 News Reporter and Anchor Erika Gonzalez served as the mistress of ceremony and international Motivational Speaker Jewel Diamond Taylor was the keynote speaker.  Using the popular song, “I’m Every Woman,” as her introductory theme music, the crowd was nearly dancing in their seats and singing along.  “I’m every woman!” said Taylor as she rattled off a litany of reasons why women are so powerful and the importance of honoring women from all walks of life.”  Her riveting remarks led to a rousing standing ovation from the audience.