Baltimore lost one of its civic guardians when philanthropist Carole Sibel lost her battle with cancer on March 27.


Carole Sibel

City leaders remembered her as a dynamic presence who worked to bridge divides between communities and included Black voices on the city’s prominent boards.

“She just understood what it meant to be giving, to be a very giving person,” said former journalist, business owner, and patron of the arts Kevin Brown. “We’re going to miss her a lot.”

Sibel brought Brown onto the board of directors of the Baltimore School for the Arts, a pre-professional arts high school in Baltimore, according to its website. Brown said that Sibel leaned on the school to get them to create an after-school program for Black youth from the city so that they would be academically prepared for the curriculum at the school.

Sibel was also instrumental in putting together the Life Songs for AIDS benefit, annual concerts held in Baltimore in the late 80’s and 90’s to raise money for AIDS research and those suffering the disease, said Brown.

Dana Moore, a prominent Baltimore attorney, first met Sibel when Moore joined the board of the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, a two-year leadership program for high schools students from Baltimore designed to cross cultural divides between Jews and African Americans and which has a college enrollment rate of almost 100 percent, according to its website.

Moore remembered Sibel as a tireless and effective philanthropist, but more than anything Moore recalled a woman with a great sense of humor and a big heart.

“What I really was impressed with was how much she really really cared deeply about the program and its mission, its purpose of engaging with young people and creating opportunities for them to grow and be leaders,” said Moore, adding, “Her ability to raise money is wonderful, her bank of friends is tremendous, but for me: her heart.  She really cared about young people, and that’s something we need a lot more of.”

Marsha Jews, host of Keep it Moving on WEAA FM 88.9 in Baltimore, met Sibel while involved with the Alvin Ailey Concert Series and remembers a consummate philanthropist who passed down the importance of giving to her children and grandchildren.

“I went to her funeral and it was really interesting because her grandchildren…stood up there and said, ‘For holidays, she would come and say I have a check and you need to write down the organization you want to donate to,’” said Jews, whose first Seder was celebrated with Sibel. “And her grandchildren have been learning , and I’m sure her children learned the same thing over the years.  She was just delightful.”

“It’s a great loss to the community,” said Jews.

Jake Oliver, publisher and CEO of the AFRO-American Newspapers, knew Sibel since the late 90s and called her “one of the most dynamic ladies I’ve had an opportunity to work with since I returned to Baltimore.”

“She’s always been a friend of the Black community, involved in community issues,” said Oliver, citing the way Sibel would work to make sure Black voices were included on the boards of directors of organizations involved in civic life, such as the Baltimore Zoo—from which Black perspectives might have been excluded.

More than anything, Oliver remembered Sibel as a close friend, who even introduced him to the benefits of personal exercise. The two ended up sharing a trainer who would first train Sibel at her home, and then head over to Oliver’s to do the same.

“Carole was an amazing, energetic, tireless person and a good personal friend.  I will truly miss her” said Oliver.