The William Donald Schaefer Award honors the legacy of former Governor, Comptroller, and Mayor William Donald Schaefer, and celebrates the contributions of the honoree to effective government and lifelong commitment and service to the well-being of the citizens of Maryland. The award is designed to honor lifetime achievement.

The previous honorees include Congressman Elijah Cummings (2015); Dr. Nancy Grasmick (2016), former Maryland State Superintendent of Schools; and The Honorable Carolyn Colvin (2017), former Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration.

William Donald Schaefer
William Donald Schaefer

2024 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient United States Senator Ben Cardin

A third-generation Marylander, Ben Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment, and fiscal issues while representing the people of Maryland in the U.S. Senate, and before that in the House of Representatives.

Currently serving as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has worked across party lines to further U.S. national security and to ensure good governance, transparency, and respect for human rights are integrated into American foreign policy.

First elected to the Senate in 2006, Senator Cardin is a senior member of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Environment & Public Works Committee. From 1987-2006, Ben Cardin represented Maryland’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served for 17 years on the Ways & Means Committee. He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967-1986. During his time as Speaker from 1979-1986, he reformed Maryland’s property tax system, the school financing formula, and the ethical standards for elected officials.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

2023 William Donald Schaefer Conference & Award Ceremony Highlight Video

The 2023 William Donald Schaefer Conference & Award Ceremony was held on May 9, 2023, at The Westin in Annapolis, MD. The theme was The Future of Public Service and included numerous keynote speakers and our award recipient Dr. Carla Hayden. Watch the highlights below and more from the conference on our YouTube channel

2023 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient Dr. Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden is our current serving Librarian of Congress. As the 14th Librarian of Congress, Hayden became the first African American and the first woman to hold this post. She is also the first professional librarian to hold the post since 1974.

Before the Library of Congress, Hayden obtained her degree from Roosevelt University in 1973 with majors in political science and African history. She then graduated with her master’s in Library Science in 1977 and her doctorate in Library Science in 1987 both from the University of Chicago Graduate Library School.

She began her library career at the Chicago Public Library and from 1973 to 1982 working as an Associate/Children’s Librarian and the Young Adult Services Coordinator at the Whitney Young Branch. From 1982-1987 Hayden worked as the Library Services Coordinator at Chicago’s Museum of Science. Hayden moved to Pittsburgh where she was an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences from 1987-1991. After, she moved back to Chicago and became the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991-1993. 

During her time as the Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, she served as the President of the American Library Association (ALA) from 2003-2004, her theme during her presidency was “Equity for Access”. Before and during her ALA presidency, Hayden also played a role in influencing the creation of the Spectrum Scholarship Program, which was first developed in 1997 and still offers yearly scholarships. This scholarship program seeks to actively recruit and provide scholarships to BIPOC students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA.

On July 1, 1993, Hayden was appointed position of Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library located here in Baltimore, MD. During her tenure, she oversaw the entire library system with 22 locations including overseeing the first new branch opening in 35 years and a $112 million renovation of the library’s central branch. One program she is notable for is the outreach program she began at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The program included an after-school center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance, college and career counseling. Because of this, Hayden received the Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in 1995 and the first African-American to have received this award. She left her position in 2016 when she was appointed to the Library of Congress.

On February 24, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Hayden to serve as the next Librarian of Congress and was confirmed on July 13 2016 after more than 140 library, publishing, educational, and academic organizations signed a letter of support. As Librarian of Congress, Hayden aspires to modernize the institution during her tenure by both preserving the collection and modernizing access to it.

Hayden has numerous accolades with over 20 awards including Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, Fortune Magazine’s the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, and Firsts Honoree for Time Magazine. She also has been a recipient of numerous honorary degrees from universities including the University of Baltimore.

Dr. Carla Hayden

2021 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient The Honorable James T. Smith, Jr.

Until May of 2019, Mr. Smith served on the Executive Team of Mayor Catherine Pugh in Baltimore City as her Chief of Strategic Alliances, responsible for coordinating federal, state, municipal, non-profit and Foundation interactions with the City, and overseeing eight Baltimore City departments and agencies.

Prior to his City appointment, Mr. Smith served as the Maryland Transportation (MDOT) Secretary beginning in May of 2013, and was responsible for the State’s highways, transit and rail networks, Motor Vehicle Administration; Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; the Port of Baltimore; and served as Chair of the Maryland Transportation Authority, the agency that owns and operates the State’s eight toll facilities

Prior to serving as State Transportation Secretary, Mr. Smith was “Of Counsel” at the law firm of Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, where he returned in January, 2015 until his appointment with Pugh administration in Baltimore

Mr. Smith’s other experience includes eight years as Baltimore County Executive (2002-2010), and 16 years as an Associate Judge on the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. On the Circuit Court, Mr. Smith handled domestic, negligence, malpractice and serious criminal cases, and all appeals from administrative bodies (1985-2001).

Prior to his judicial service, Mr. Smith was a partner in the law firm of Smith, Johns, and Smith (1968-1985), served as the Deputy Public Defender for Baltimore County (1973-1977) and on the Baltimore County Council (1978-1985), serving twice as Council Chair.

Mr. Smith has received numerous awards and recognition including:

A Daily Record ICON Honoree – 2020; The Daily Record Leadership in Law Award – 2011; The Good Scout Award – 2009; The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation, Renaissance Man of the Year – 2008; The National Association of Counties, County Courthouse Award – 2006; Greater Baltimore Committee Regional Visionary Award – 2005; St. Thomas More Society, Man for All Seasons Award – 1995; Wheeling Jesuit University Distinguished Alumnus Award – 1987; Black Renaissance Orchard Street Church Committee Recognition Award – 1982; Maryland Jaycees, One of the Five Outstanding Young Marylanders – 1973

Mr. Smith currently serves on the UM St. Joseph Medical Center Board of Trustees, The Advisory Board of Towson University, The University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy Board (Chair) and the Boards of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Cavanagh House, Parity Baltimore, Rebuilt Parish at Church of the Nativity, and as a mentor for Innovation Works in Baltimore.

Mr. Smith is married with four children, twelve grandchildren and two great grandchildren and currently works for The Platt Group of Annapolis as a mediator/arbitrator.

Judge Jim Smith
Honorable James T. Smith Jr.

2020 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient Sister Helen Amos, RSM

Sister Helen Amos, RSM has served as Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees of Mercy Health Services since 1999 following a seven-year tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer from 1992 to 1999. Sister Helen has been a member of the Mercy Board of Trustees since 1980.

With $775 million in annual revenues, Mercy Health Services includes Mercy Medical Center, a 184licensed beds acute care teaching hospital; a network of primary care and specialist physicians serving Central Maryland; and Stella Maris which offers a range of services to seniors.

Sister Helen and the leadership team of Mercy Health Services are responsible for the development and implementation of numerous programs at Mercy, including the creation of The Center for Women’s health & Medicine and its flagship programs in gynecologic oncology and breast cancer diagnosis and treatment; “The Woman’s Doctor” program on WBAL-TV; and Mercy’s network of specialty and primary care physicians. Sister Helen is dedicated to improving the quality of life of women and the community as a whole. Mercy provides millions of dollars in uncompensated care and community benefits and is a founding partner of Health Care for the Homeless.

She has more than 35 years’ experience in the fields of education and health care administration. After working as a teacher in Georgia, Sister Helen arrived in Baltimore to take a position as Registrar for Mount Saint Agnes College where she had earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1962. Sister would later take on administrator duties with the Sisters of Mercy of the Union and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Before coming to Mercy, Sister Helen served as President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union in Silver Spring, Maryland from 1984 to 1991.

Sister Helen also serves on the board and is President of Mercy Ridge, a continuing care retirement community in Timonium, Maryland. She is currently a board member of Mercy Health Ministry, St. Louis, Missouri; the Downtown Partnership (past chair) and the Downtown Management District Authority of Baltimore City; Cristo Rey Jesuit High School; Mercy High School; and the Board of Financial Administration of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah, Georgia; Board of Directors for the Greater Baltimore Committee and the United Way of Central Maryland. She is the immediate past chair of the Leadership Advisory Group for Baltimore City’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Sister Helen earned her Master of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame and received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from College Misericordia in Dallas, Pennsylvania, and from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Sister Helen Amos RSM
Sister Helen Amos, RSM

2018 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes U.S. Senate, Maryland (1977 – 2007)

Senator Paul S. Sarbanes was the longest-serving Senator in Maryland history when he retired after five full terms in 2007. He was, at various times, Chairman of the Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs and of the Joint Economic Committee and a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. When President George W. Bush signed the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reforming the regulation of financial reporting for United States public companies, he referred to it as “the most far-reaching reform of American business practices since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” In recognition of his work on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Senator Sarbanes received the prestigious Paul H. Douglas Ethics in Government Award from the University of Illinois in 2003.

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Paul Sarbanes served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Paul Sarbanes also served in the Maryland House of Delegates representing Baltimore City.

Born and raised in Salisbury, Maryland, Paul Sarbanes is a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Paul S. Sarbanes
Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes

2017 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient The Honorable Carolyn Colvin

Carolyn W. Colvin’s extensive career in public service spanned the local, state, and federal levels. Under President Obama, she served as Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration of the United States from 2013-2017. Prior to her appointment as Acting Commissioner, Ms. Colvin served as Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration from 2011—2013. Previously, she served as the director of Human Services for the District of Columbia, and director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. Under Governor Schaefer, she served as secretary of Maryland’s Department of Human Resources. Under Mayor Schaefer, Ms. Colvin served as Deputy Commissioner for Administration, Baltimore City Health Department and Director of Administration and Management, Baltimore City Health Department.

Commissioner Colvin has described her leadership style as putting people first. In an interview with The Washington Post, she noted, “Former Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer gave me the best advice, and that was to put people first and to demonstrate to people that you care about them. He always talked about the importance of being a compassionate leader and the need to serve your people well and to serve the public. That helped generate my leadership style.”

Carolyn Colvin speaking
Honorable Carolyn Colvin

2016 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient Dr. Nancy Grasmick

Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, PhD, served as Maryland’s first female state superintendent of schools. She was the longest serving appointed superintendent in U.S. history, holding the position for 20 years, from 1991 to 2011. During her tenure, she instituted an explicit pre-K-12 curriculum, developed statewide assessments, and was known for holding school systems accountable. Under her leadership, the state of Maryland received one of the federal government’s coveted Race to the Top education grants in 2010, worth up to $250 million to continue building upon a solid record of school reform. Maryland schools were ranked number one in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Quality Counts report as the country’s most consistently high performing state, and were consistently ranked number one by Education Week.

Additionally, Maryland was also the top ranked state for advanced placement performance for three years in a row under Dr. Grasmick’s leadership. She began her career as a classroom teacher at the William S. Baer School for the Deaf in Baltimore City. She went on to serve as a teacher, principal, supervisor, assistant superintendent, and associate superintendent in Baltimore County Public Schools. Dr. Grasmick received her doctorate from The Johns Hopkins University, her master’s degree from Gallaudet University, and her bachelor’s degree from Towson University.

Nancy Grasmick and Kurt L. Schmoke with 2016 William Donald Schaefer Award Plaque
Dr. Nancy Grasmick

2015 William Donald Schaefer Award Recipient The Honorable Elijah Cummings U.S. Congressman Maryland, 7th District (1996-2019)

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings has represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. He previously served for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem. Congressman Cummings currently serves as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He is also a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, serving on both the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. He is committed to ensuring that our next generation has access to quality healthcare and education, clean air and water, and a strong economy defined by fiscal responsibility.

Elijah Cummings
Honorable Elijah Cummings