GBC honors Alonso, Embry and Ravens with special awards

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The Greater Baltimore Committee, during its May 5 annual meeting, presented Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore City Public School System with a special award for courage in public service.

Also honored by the GBC with separate awards for community service in the Baltimore region were Robert C. Embry, Jr., president of The Abell Foundation; and the Baltimore Ravens with special awards

Alonso was presented with the Howard “Pete” Rawlings Courage in Public Service Award for demonstrating exceptional courage in his work to reform Baltimore City’s public schools. This award was created in 2004 to honor Pete Rawlings, Maryland House of Delegates’ long-time chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee who passed away that year.

In addition to Rawlings, who was honored posthumously in 2004, only one other person – former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes – has received this award before now.

Since becoming CEO of Baltimore’s public school system in July 2007, Alonso “has gone about the difficult work of changing the culture of a troubled school system by challenging school principals to manage their facilities, and all system employees to accept responsibility for the system’s outcomes,” said GBC President & CEO Donald C. Fry.

“Reflecting a straightforward, reform-minded approach that Delegate Rawlings was known for, Alonso has cut through the school system’s traditional politics and focused principals, teachers and school employees on results and accountability, with no excuses,” Fry said.

Embry received the GBC presented the Walter Sondheim Public Service Award for making outstanding contributions to the community without seeking recognition or accolades. This award was created two years ago to honor Walter Sondheim, the GBC‘s long-time advisor and mentor, a civic legend, and a man of renowned character and integrity. Sondheim died in February 2007.

“Like Walter Sondheim, Bob Embry has immersed himself, both professionally and personally in the process of improving the quality of life in Baltimore, with a special focus on education and improving the urban condition,” Fry said, describing Embry as “someone who truly talks the talk and walks the walk of community service.”

Previous winners of the Walter Sondheim Public Service Award are Sally J. Michel and, last year, Eddie and Sylvia Brown.

The Baltimore Ravens received the GBC’s 13th Annual Regional Visionary Award for setting a high standard of community service in the Baltimore region. The team’s president, Richard W. Cass, has also been “highly supportive of efforts to attract other major events to M&T Bank Stadium, including the NCAA Final Four lacrosse tournament and the Army-Navy game,” Fry said. “Attracting these kinds of events greatly enhances the Baltimore region’s visibility and has a significant economic on our region.”

Some past winners of the Regional Visionary Award included Walter Sondheim, former Speaker of the House Casper Taylor, Dr. David Ramsay, Chip Mason, George Roche, and last year’s winner — Lt. Governor Anthony Brown.

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