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EDC Charged Up County 'Wonder Women' At Inaugural Women's Excellence & Leadership Luncheon


l. to r.: Julie Lenzer (Honoree); Dr. Debra Mahone (Honoree); Sharon Lockwood (Panelist); Muriel Garr (Co-Chair); Jim Coleman, President  & CEO, PGCEDC; Monique Anderson Walker (Co-Chair); Sara Bahethi (Honoree);Tammi Thomas (Panelist); Marva Jo Camp, Esq., Vice Chair, PGCEDC Board; Sylvia Syphax, PGCEDC Board; Shawn Wright (Panelist); Dr. Gloria Mayfield Banks (Keynote Speaker); Lisa Liu (Honoree)Oxon Hill, MD - Yesterday, under the glitz and glamour of Prince George's County's iconic MGM National Harbor, more than 300 business women came out to attend the 1st Annual Women's Excellence & Leadership Luncheon, hosted by the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation (EDC).  Under the theme of "Yes! You Can Have It All", this highly anticipated networking event brought out the best and the brightest in the Washington Metropolitan area to be inspired and charged up by powerhouse women from across the region who shared tips on how to have it all.  EDC President and CEO Jim Coleman was excited to welcome event co-chairs Muriel Garr, Senior Vice President of SunTrust Bank and Monique Anderson Walker, Principal Broker with Fleur De Lis, LLC, as well as luncheon attendees as the Economic Development Corporation dedicated this event to inspiring everyday business women while honoring five phenomenal women for outstanding accomplishments, contributions and dedication to Prince George's County.
"We are extremely proud to be able to provide a platform where successful business women can share the secrets of success that have made them the dynamic, powerful warriors that they are today," said Coleman. "Prince George's County is fortunate to boast that five out of nine of its Councilmembers are powerhouse women.  Part of the inspiration that brought the EDC to celebrate women making things happen is my very own dear mother, a driven, hardworking woman who was the biggest inspiration in my life.  Our panelists and honorees are fantastic role models for all women. Today was an amazing day in Prince George's County."
The primary focus for Women's Excellence and Leadership Luncheon was to provide a platform for women to learn from others who are breaking the glass ceiling in male dominated careers.  Great Day Washington (WUSA9) host Markette Sheppard served as the Mistress of Ceremonies and moderated the "Yes! You Can Have it All" panel discussion on creating a culture of success in any business sector. 
"I am so honored to take part in such a phenomenal event," said Sheppard.  "Prince George's County is where I started my TV career, so I'm always excited to come back to the community and give back. It was very encouraging to see women inspiring other women in my community."
County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III was among the dignitaries in attendance and, along with daughter Quinci, accepted an award honoring the First Lady of Prince George's County, Christa Beverly Baker as a true 'Wonder Woman'.  Also in attendance was County's Bowie High School Quartet who kicked off the program with a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.
The panel discussion participants provided vivid testimonials on how they overcame their deepest fears, how complacency is not a friend to those who are looking to for the next best thing, and how failure doesn't mean defeat; it just means that there is a different path for you.  Panelists included: Tammi Thomas, Vice President of Marketing, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO); Shawn M. Wright, Partner, Blank Rome LLP; Sharon Lockwood, Hotel General Manager, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center; Gaylia Campbell, Vice President of Quality and Mission Success, Lockheed Martin Corporation; and Carla Reid, General Manager and CEO, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC). Attendees were also encouraged to always move forward, take the time to learn the skills needed to get ready for their next role and to take the time to say something nice to three women every week.
Dr. Gloria Mayfield Banks, motivational success strategist, international speaker and sales trainer captivated the audience with her keynote address. Dr. Mayfield Banks told the ladies that everybody's journey is unique, but that their ability to make good decisions, to sacrifice for long term success and to use kindness as their strength can move them from being number three to number one.
"Today was truly one of the most inspirational, educational and motivational experiences that I have encountered," said Mayfield Banks.  "As I think about how excellence means so many different things to different people, I was delighted to walk into this room filled with women who get it; that excellence is required to succeed.  The EDC gave a gift to Prince George's County with this Women's Excellence and Leadership Luncheon, just as Prince George's County has given a gift in the opportunity to give so many powerful women the opportunity to succeed. It is okay to compete because iron sharpens iron."
In addition to the panel discussion, the luncheon concluded by honoring five phenomenal "Wonder Women" who have made remarkable contributions in Prince George's County.  The Excellence in Partnership Award was given to Angela Franco, former President and CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for her advocacy and relationship building between the Hispanic business community and Prince George's County.  The Excellence in Leadership Award was given to Julie Lenzer, Associate Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at the University of Maryland for her collaboration and promotion of startup ventures in College Park and at other colleges and universities around the region. 
The award for Excellence in Community Service  was given to Lisa Liu, the Founder and Manager of Long River Realty for her service as the Asian Business Advisor to the Prince George's County EDC and her cooperation in creating mutually beneficial partnerships between the County and the local Asian business community.  The fifth award was given to Sara Bahethi, the Corporate Secretary and Treasurer of Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI) for Excellence in Entrepreneurship.  Through her leadership, SSAI, founded in 1977 with a small contract from NASA is now a multimillion dollar science and technology company with more than 800 employees worldwide.  The Excellence in Education Award was given to Dr. Debra Mahone, Director of State and Federal Programs for the Prince George's County Public School System for her role in school reform and leadership development. 
"I am honored to have received the Excellence in Education Award today at the inaugural Women's Excellence & Leadership Luncheon," said Dr. Mahone. "It is a misnomer that it is impossible for women to have a career, family and full personal life.  It is important that all women understand that it is not all our responsibility to carry the load; we have a network of resources, like the ones in this room, which we can utilize to help us.  Today's event was an opportunity to bring that fact to the forefront again."
Today's Women's Excellence and Leadership Luncheon, the first annual event highlighting, empowering and inspiring business women in Prince George's County was graciously sponsored by CareFirst and many others.  For more information about business development, contact Dr. Pradeep Ganguly at 301-583-4650 or pganguly@co.pg.md.us.