GBC’s 66th Annual Meeting places emphasis on Racial Equity and Social Justice

Moving Forward with Purpose

The Greater Baltimore Committee’s 66th Annual Meeting took place virtually on May 18, 2021. This year’s theme was Moving Forward with Purpose and focused on racial equity and social justice.

In his opening remarks, GBC President & CEO Donald C. Fry said as the GBC moves forward this year, “The overriding priority is advocating and advancing a racial equity and social justice agenda.”

Fry also noted, “Thankfully, across the region we have witnessed extraordinary efforts on the part of elected officials, businesses and others to unite and collaborate to address the impact of the pandemic.”

In introducing the regional county executives and Baltimore mayor to make brief comments, Fry said, “In challenging times, our regional leaders rose to the occasion. …Strengthening regional ties and collaborations strengthens the entire Baltimore region.” [Hear more from Fry here.]

Each elected official thanked the GBC for its leadership role and thanked healthcare and frontline workers for all their efforts and sacrifices during the pandemic. [Watch the presentation here.]

One Region, One Future by Tom ChalkleyAs part of the program, illustrator and cartoonist Tom Chalkley created a caricature of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr., Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Carroll County Commissioners’ President Ed Rothstein who joined together to promote the “One Region, One Future” message. (Pictured clockwise from top center)

GBC Board of Directors Vice Chair Mary Ann Scully presented this year’s GBC Regional Visionary Award.

“Congratulations to the 2021 Regional Visionary Award winners,” said Scully. “Outstanding organizations doing outstanding work and service to our community.”

The Regional Visionary Award was presented to:

  • University of Maryland Medical System (accepted by Mohan Suntha, President and Chief Executive Officer, University of Maryland Medical System)
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine (accepted by Kevin Sowers, President of Johns Hopkins Health and Executive Vice President of Johns Hopkins Medicine)
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore (accepted by Bruce Jarrell, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore)
  • Johns Hopkins University (accepted by Ron Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University)

[Watch the presentation here.]

GBC Board Chair Calvin Butler commended the honorees for their “combined work providing medical care, for their assistance and medical research all related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He added, “The Baltimore region’s medical assets have proved to be second to none. What they have done is unmatched by any other region in the country. You have truly led the way.”

Calvin Butler, 66th Annual MeetingIn referencing the remarks he made during the 65th Annual Meeting, Butler said, “Our goal at the GBC – as community business leaders – should be to ensure that everything we do engages all segments of our city and region … and to drive an agenda of equity, inclusion and opportunity.”

This year, he said, “we’re making good on that goal. We’re not just thinking about it, we’re not just talking the talk. We’re moving forward with purpose.”

Butler said the GBC can’t grow complacent or allow its enthusiasm for the mission to waiver. “We must continue to face the challenge of inequities in our communities head on. We must continue to break down barriers and strive for interconnectedness. We must keep moving forward with purpose today to be a national example of how business leaders can be a catalyst for a better, more equitable tomorrow.”

In closing, Butler said, “The GBC will continue to evolve. If we don’t, we will get left behind. …Every great journey begins with one step. Keep stepping with me. Keep moving forward with purpose.”

Thomas FriedmanNew York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman delivered the event’s keynote address.

Friedman focused on three concepts: Intentionality, Ownership and Complex Adaptive Coalitions. “Now is the time to be intentional about how you actually deliver sustainable change,” he said.

In referencing the George Floyd murder and the social climate in his hometown of Minneapolis, Friedman noted how important it is for racial equity solutions to be Black-led and Black-designed.

“When you do that, you end up with the most important metric, which is ownership,” said Friedman. It “is hugely important. I’m a big believer that in the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car.”

Complex Adaptive Coalitions, Friedman said, is “when the business community partners with the philanthropic community, partners with the education community, partners with the social entrepreneur community, partners with the city government to actually manage the change.”

He noted that the need for labor can break through cultural and religious prejudices or ignorance. “If you’re desperate for labor, suddenly you will not care about the color of people’s skin, what god they pray to, who they sleep with.”

Friedman closed his comments with, “My message to you all today is really – as you think about Baltimore – think about those three [terms]: Intentional, Ownership, Complex Adaptive Coalitions.”

Don Fry 66th Annual MeetingConcerning future goals of the GBC, Fry said, “Moving forward, the GBC will announce more programs that will offer solutions to address systemic societal inequities and build more equitable and inclusive workplaces.”

In reminding GBC member companies that all their employees are also GBC members, Fry said, “The more they become engaged with our work, the more that can be achieved.”

He added, “These are challenging times but promise lies ahead. This is an ideal time for you to become involved with the GBC.”

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View the 66th Annual Meeting Program here: