United WayWomensForum1

Women from across Maryland met April 22 in Baltimore to discuss ways to make life better for Maryland families in need.

At the James Rouse Visionary Center at the American Visionary Art Museum, members of the United Way of Central Maryland’s Woman’s Leadership Council mulled issues including food deserts in Baltimore City, graduation rates, and how to keep teachers in the classroom.

It was part of the group’s first Women’s Forum, and marked a special occasion for the United Way of Central Maryland.

“This event not only marks United Way of Central Maryland’s Women’s Leadership Council’s 15th anniversary, it also celebrates United Way of Central Maryland’s 90th anniversary,” said the chair of the United Way of Central Maryland’s Women’s Leadership Council, Dana Gloor.

The event was led by United Way’s U.S. president Stacey Stewart. Stewart, along with youth, nutrition and homeless experts from around the state discussed ways that things have changed for families in need, and things that still need improvement.

“Women are the ones who nurture. They are the ones who are driving many of the decisions to keep families on track,” Stewart said before the event. “Women who have resources and have the ability to give back never lose touch with this. They understand the struggle and challenges that women face. This is an opportunity for women to give back and realize that individually, our impact is so much more amplified when we work together.

“These are women from all kinds of backgrounds,” Stewart said. “Business leaders, community leaders, coming together around a common desire to want to lead and change things in the community.”

She said that members of the council have made it their mission to tackle some of the biggest challenges in Maryland – including things like poverty and homelessness.  She said the group has helped spearhead a healthy food initiative.

She said that the United Way is especially skilled at solving the problems that plague many communities because they know how to unite various agencies to create a positive solution.

“There’s never a silver bullet solution,” she said. “United Way is the organization that looks at issues holistically and then galvanizes a community to work collectively.”

The United Way of Central Maryland said that the Women’s Leadership Council is part of a network of 55,000 women worldwide. The group says they have raised more than $1 billion to help communities all over the United States.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” was the event’s keynote speaker. She discussed the role of women in the workplace.