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About Gretchen

A Life of Public Service Homegrown in Baltimore County

I grew up understanding public service as a way of life- every bit of good fortune I’ve been granted, I’ve viewed as an opportunity to give back, and my service has been its own reward time and time again. I love meeting new people, learning about their history and how they came to their beliefs and values. I enjoy discovering why people do the kind of work that they do, and what their hopes and dreams are for their families. I’m humbled and inspired every day by the work ethic, perseverance, optimism and kindness of the people who live in District 42, Baltimore County and Maryland.

I graduated from Towson High School (THS) in 1992, where I was active in student government and community service activities. From planning the annual Senior Citizens Prom, working to collect blankets for the homeless, starting one of the first recycling programs in the community and performing water quality testing in the stream that runs through the THS campus with my environmental science class- I began to sow the seeds of being a “community helper” at a young age.

During college, I majored in Political and Social Thought, minored in Urban Planning, and received a Certification in Mediation. While in college, I continued my path of community and public service as a Program Director with the Big Sibling Program, and as a Grants Coordinator Intern with the local Department of Community Development.

While in college I was inspired to pursue a career in community development during an internship at The Enterprise Foundation, having the opportunity to work with my urban planning hero, James Rouse. Mr. Rouse’s famous quote “Whatever ought to be, can be” has guided me throughout my life and career.

Making Change Happen by Listening, Empowering and Collaborating

I have spent my entire career making change happen by listening to and understanding the needs of individuals and families, and then empowering and working collaboratively with them to achieve a better quality of life.

After graduating from college, I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with a local community development corporation,  supporting economic development through the Arts, and crafting a business plan for a burgeoning Arts anchor institution with underserved communities in Seattle, Washington.

Following my year of AmeriCorps service, I returned to the East Coast and made the decision to work for a high profile management consulting firm, with the goal of learning best business practices so that I could apply efficient, effective and fiscally sound strategies in my work with the public sector, first with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC. While in Washington, I was appointed as the Senior Research Analyst and National Public Housing Resident Liaison for a U.S. Congressionally mandated study in charge of determining an equitable and cost-effective formula for allocating the $3 billion national public housing operating budget.

Inspired to learn the nuts and bolts of housing development and finance after working at the federal public policy level for several years, I decided to go to graduate school to study Community, Economic and Housing Development and I received my Masters Degree in City Planning from MIT.

I next applied the skills that I learned in graduate school while managing a $100 million affordable housing development portfolio in Brooklyn, New York. The time I spent working in the grassroots nonprofit sector with a local community development corporation allowed me to witness first hand the need for strategic and comprehensive tools for community needs assessments and data analysis to inform and support sustainable policy and programming decisions, and leverage funding, for government and nonprofits in New York City. To address this need, I became the founding executive director of a nonprofit organization that provided quantitative and qualitative resources to support data- and constituency-driven community, housing and economic development decisions, work which I enjoyed for nearly a decade.

A Powerful Advocate Who Will Value Your Voice in Annapolis

Since my family’s move back home to Baltimore County in 2014, in addition to working with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City to bring in federal resources via a Choice Neighborhood’s grant application, I have been working in rural community and economic development as the Implementation Coordinator for Smith Island’s new Vision Plan. Working with the communities of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland has allowed me to cultivate a deep understanding of rural issues in Maryland such as preservation, resource conservation and economic and workforce development, complementing my prior experience working in urban and suburban communities.

I have a great deal of respect for my rural, suburban and urban colleagues, conservative and liberal alike, and I firmly believe that there is inherent value in my ability to advance key policies and programming in the State of Maryland based upon my experiences successfully “reaching across the aisle” in my work with the communities of the greater Baltimore region, as well as those of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.

My advocacy and organizing work in Annapolis, and locally in Baltimore County, for safe public school facilities, affordable and quality health care, workforce and economic development, environmental stewardship and alternative power solutions, safe neighborhoods and support for our seniors, has fortified my commitment to reaching across the aisle to tackle tough issues facing our community, and has strengthened my resolve to put people before politics as I have consistently done throughout my career.

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend in addition to being a Neighborhood Planner. I came of age in Baltimore County where I established strong roots of public service. I am raising my children in our community, sending them to our public schools, and and I am fighting for the rights of us all to ensure thriving schools, good jobs and a strong economy, affordable and quality health care, a healthy environment, safe neighborhoods, and empowered seniors.

I am deeply invested in working with you all in the years to come toward a prosperous District 42 that is abundant with opportunity, and is inclusive, safe and healthy for all of us.