Community leaders like Michael Middleton of the South Baltimore Six Coalition (SB6) proclaim Alicia Wilson is the “glue” responsible for bringing and keeping community residents at the table during the long and arduous Port Covington negotiations that recently yielded an unprecedented agreement with more than 200 community organizations. Ultimately, this community agreement –crafted and negotiated in large part by Sagamore Development’s Wilson, resulted in the city’s decision to award the company a $600 million TIF for the Port Covington Project – the largest TIF awarded by the city of Baltimore and one of the largest TIF deals nation-wide.

Alicia Wilson, Sagamore Development’s vice president for community affairs, played a crucial role in the Port Covington deal. (Courtesy photo)

Alicia Wilson, Sagamore Development’s vice president for community affairs, played a crucial role in the Port Covington deal. (Courtesy photo)

The community agreement also brings millions of dollars of economic, housing, community infrastructure and small business benefits to residents from low and moderate wealth communities across the city; in the SB-6 communities, defined as Brooklyn, Cherry Hill, Curtis Bay, Lakeland, Mt. Winans and Westport, and in uptown in neighborhoods like the East Baltimore neighborhood where Alicia Wilson was born and bred miles from the Port Covington development.

Remembering Her Roots

Wilson, currently Sagamore Development’s vice president for community affairs and legal advisor, is the baby sister of two older brothers raised in a humble but close-knit East Baltimore community. Wilson never forgets the thousands in her city who have not yet nor have they ever, experienced the upside of America’s economic recovery.

Today, in the first stages of walking out recently signed Port Covington agreements with the SB-6 community and for struggling and aspiring Baltimoreans across the city, Wilson carries with her a commitment to “make good” on Sagamore Development’s promise to ensure the Port Covington Project benefits the entire city of Baltimore.

Wilson finds value in the truth that even with the affirmation of the SB-6 communities and city-wide groups like Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), there are still legitimate community voices that disagree with the Port Covington Project.

“It’s healthy to have a diversity of opinions. It’s healthy to have criticism.  It makes me think about things from a different angle. I welcome people to have honest and frank respectful disagreement so we can see if there is common ground”, Wilson told the AFRO.

Living the Intersection

Wilson has always understood the need to facilitate bring together seemingly disparate concepts – like excellence and equity; community good and corporate growth.  Wilson in fact, embodies those intersections and comfortably moves back and forth between communities and sub-groups.  Her mentors say, Alicia has always been the glue between diverse concepts and people.

At her older brother’s graduation from Baltimore’s Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, Wilson said she was mesmerized while observing a young woman eloquently addressing her classmates.

“I thought that was a pretty cool thing to see this student standing before the whole graduating class, parents, teachers and everybody,” Wilson said.

She later discovered that the student was the school’s valedictorian. “I didn’t even know what a valedictorian was, but I decided that day that I wanted to be one and address my classmates at graduation, too,” Wilson said.

Indeed, in her graduating year, Wilson led her classmates academically, addressed them as school valedictorian and began a trajectory of walking in and bringing together diverse worlds.  Wilson has always maintained close community ties and traditions and brings an authentic self-to her corporate surroundings.  She often greets co-workers and first time encounters with a hug, and remains connected to community concerns that reflect her East Baltimore upbringing.

Wilson serves on the Executive Board of the Collee Bound Foundation, an organization committed to supporting low-wealth Baltimore City high school students achieve their dreams of attending and graduating from college. She remembers high school instructors and mentors pulling her aside and placing her on Mervo’s college track.

Wilson understands the value of the full scholarship to UMBC that made her own college education possible – and facilitated her connection with lifelong mentors, UMBC President Freeman Hrabrowski and his wife, Jackie.

“In fact, from my first-time meeting with her as a freshman at UMBC, I knew she was destined for greatness. Since that first day, I have found her to be consistently excellent in every endeavor — from her academic work, to the legal profession, to community involvement.  She has the rare combination of strong analytical skills and rare emotional intelligence,” Hrabowski said. “I wholeheartedly agree,” Jackie affirmed.

As a young attorney at Gordon Feinblatt LLC, Wilson said she learned much from observing the firm’s involvement in other inner Harbor development work.  “ I learned the negotiating skills needed to facilitate development but to do so in a way that brings benefit to the community,” Wilson said.
Barry Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Gorden Feinblatt, concurs that Wilson has the rare gift of being able to find commonality with people from all walks of life.
“ Alicia authentically connects with everyone she meets.  In fact, a two or three block stroll anywhere in the City with Alicia takes an hour or two, because she knows everyone, and everyone she meets greets Alicia with genuine warmth and affection,” Rosen said in a statement to the AFRO.
 
Time Now To “Walk the Talk”   

Wilson understands that for the Port Covington Project to be a win-win for the entire city of Baltimore she and her colleagues at Sagamore Development must demonstrate to the community that they can follow through with their promises.

“Baltimore has been through a lot in these past few years with the unrest and all that has followed. There are people in this city who are understandably wary about the project,” Wilson said. “It’s going to take time. Now is the time that we must come through on our promises to the community,” she said.