Happy Women’s History Month! We want to take a moment and thank the incredible women and femmes in Baltimore who have shaped our city in brilliant, positive ways. We are honored to stand beside and support the work of these hometown heroes.
1. Regina Hammond, Executive Director Rebuild Johnston Square, Community Organizer
Regina Hammond is a 30+ year homeowner in the Johnston Square Community in East Baltimore City, Maryland. Regina has served her community over the past 7 years as the President and Founder of Rebuild Johnston Square Neighborhood Organization, with the support and leadership of B.U.I.L.D. (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development). In 2021 became Executive Director of Rebuild Johnston Square Neighborhood Org. She is a proud mother of two professional adults, and the happily married spouse of Keith Hammond, her equally strong partner and community leader in the Rebuild Johnston Square Neighborhood Organization.
January 2021 Rebuild Johnston Square and the Johnston Square Partners completed construction a 60 Unit Affordable Housing apartment building, celebrated the Grand Reopening of Henrietta Lacks Education Park, a world class model for future city parks, begun Phase I construction on their vision of 300 New and Rehabilitated Homes and apartments in Johnston Square; Ms. Hammond’s vision of the Johnston Square Art and Garden Walk has resulted in the adoption, beautification, and maintenance of multiple vacant lots in the community. The organization has assisted families obtain energy efficient homes, free wifi, ring cameras and exterior lighting, and currently and led a food relief program weekly during the Covid Pandemic serving 200 families per week in the Johnston Square Community. Our future vision includes a World Class Athletic Field/Community Greenspace across from Historic St. Francis Academy as part of our 2020 Johnston Square Vision Plan Accepted by the Baltimore City Planning Department.
2. Sally Michel, Founder of Parks & People, Youth Advocate
Sally Michel was a fierce civic activist and founded Parks & People in 1984 to develop a private-public partnership to enhance the city’s parks — which became a national model for urban parks, recreation and environmental issues. During her lifetime she was on the board of 57 local and state organizations, serving as chair of 19 of them. Her family, friends, colleagues, and Parks & People family remember her as a thoughtful, fearless, and selfless leader. Another cornerstone achievement came in 1996 when she organized SuperKids Camp, an enriched reading program for elementary school children.
Sally believed in the development of urban parks throughout Baltimore to reach children and families in neighborhoods that were often overlooked, providing much-needed safe and friendly places to enjoy. She also instituted youth programs to give thousands of Baltimore children opportunities to improve their academic skills, broaden their minds through cultural enrichment programs, develop character and physical fitness through sports, and experience the wonders of the natural world through environmental adventures.
Sally Michel’s energy and ethos is something we carry with us at Parks & People. We are very proud and honored to continue her legacy by advancing our mission every day to make a greener, healthier Baltimore for all its people.
3. Adeline Hutchinson, Chairwoman Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council
Adeline Hutchinson has been a resident in the Greater Mondawmin community for 37 years. Ms. Adeline is a graduate of Coppin State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Social Science and has a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Counseling. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and previous chair of the Social Action Committee for 4 years. She retired in 2011, after thirty-three years of service with the Baltimore City Public Schools. Since 2002, Ms. Adeline has been President of the Robert W. Coleman Community Organization as well as currently serving as President of the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council. As President of both organizations, Ms. Adeline has 31,200 plus hours of volunteer service toward community activities such as The Environmental Project, Maryland Student Service Learning, and League of Women Voters. Ms. Adeline serves on the committee of the 21st Century BCPSS project for her community school, Robert W. Coleman Elementary School.
As she kindly reports, “Parks & People has been a great asset to support our community, most recently Herbert St. Park. This was an area of vacant houses demolished and now serves as a community park with picnic benches, standalone grills, and an entertainment stage for the community.”
Adeline Hutchinson heads the Greater Mondawmin Community Council (GMCC) of which Parks & People’s President sits on the board. We have worked closely together on the Herbert St. Park project where Adeline was the lead in all community organizing. We’re looking forward to working together on the GMCC on developing the exciting, uplifting TouchPoint Empowerment Center.
4. Aleesha Manning, Principal of Cecil Elementary School, Baltimore City
Mrs. Aleesha Manning, Principal of Cecil Elementary, began her teaching career in Baltimore City in 2003 as a Kindergarten teacher at Lakewood Elementary. The following year, she joined the Cecil family/community and served as a teacher and assistant principal. She is a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania with a degree in Early Childhood Education and earned her Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership from Towson University. Principal Manning deeply believes in the power of arts as a transformative practice for her students and fights to keep arts as a funded program.
Principal Manning has been a key player in our upcoming renovation for Cecil Elementary School. Cecil is getting a brand new playground and landscaping. Principal Manning has been enormously supportive for this project and is working with us tirelessly so her students can receive the best possible playground.
5. Wanda Best, Executive Director of Upton Planning Committee, Community Leader
Wanda Gibson Best tends to be a connector. Being the executive director of a non-profit, allows the use of skills learned throughout one’s career. She is proficient in leadership of various types of organizations. Her grassroots community organizing began at an early age in the South Carolina Cooperative Extension Programs while representing the State of South Carolina across the Country in leadership roles. A graduate of South Carolina State University with a BS degree in Foods and Nutrition with a triple minor in Biology, Chemistry, Business; Later receiving a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. She worked as a Dietician in a comprehensive health center in Charleston and the surrounding remote islands. There she managed and delivered direct services to the Women Infant and Children Program, Home Health Program and Migrant Camp Nutrition Program. Later she managed the food production department of a medical university hospital which included two satellite hospitals. There she managed employees of several departments. For more than twenty years was the program analyst for federal food safety and quality programs of the US land grant system. A career that centers around public health and economic development maintaining a license for thirty years to practice as a Nutritionist and Dietician. Ms. Best is the proud mother of two sons, Derek Moses Best and Joshua Chamberlain Best.
Ms. Best and her Upton revival community partner Ms. Jules Howie-Dunham both head the Upton Planning Committee and are forging the way for Upton to become a blueprint in development without displacement. Their focus is on reestablishing the historic Upton community into a “community of choice” as they rehab beautiful homes and greenspaces in the neighborhood.
6. Dr. Joanne Martin, Historian, author, co-founder of Great Blacks in Wax Museum
Dr. Martin is a noted historian, educator, and researcher. Drs. Joanne and Elmer Martin co founded the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore over 30 years ago. The Martins also co-authored four books together; Social Work and the Black Experience; The Helping Tradition in the Black Family and Community; and Spirituality and the Black Helping Tradition in Social Work; and the Black Extended Family. Dr. Joanne Martin received a BA from Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida; MA degrees from Atlanta University, Atlanta Georgia and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio: and her PhD from Howard University, Washington, DC. Dr. Martin is a lifetime champion for youth and education in Baltimore.
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