RELEASE: Mayor Rawlings-Blake announces Inspired to Inspire: Champions & Visionary Honorees

City of Baltimore

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

City of Baltimore

250 City Hall • Baltimore, Maryland 21202 • 410-396-3835 • Fax: 410-576-9425

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Howard Libit

Mayor Rawlings-Blake announces Inspired to Inspire: Champions & Visionary Honorees

In honor of Women’s History Month, Baltimore city women are recognized by those they inspired

BALTIMORE, Md. (March 4, 2016)—Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the winners of the Inspired to Inspire: Champions & Visionary essay contest.

The women are being recognized in honor of Women’s History Month, following a citywide program that sought out written essays from individuals about the women who inspired them most.

A review panel, including Mayor Rawlings-Blake, carefully deliberated over the numerous submissions and selected eight winners. These extraordinary women will be honored during a private dinner with the Mayor, as well as featured on CharmTV.

“As I reviewed each of these essays, I was reminded about the impact that women can have in changing lives,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “I am so pleased to honor these women as part of Women’s History Month, and I look forward to meeting with them in person and learning first-hand what makes them so inspirational.”

In alphabetical order, the following are the 2016 Inspired to Inspire: Champions & Visionary Honorees:


Joconda Barnes, Momma Jo, has been an inspiration to many. It has been said that she knows the right words to say in the darkest moments of life to offer strength to those in need.

Ms. Barnes has a special way of making a difference in lives through strength and perseverance. She is helping people every single day who are fighting for their lives. And through this she has beaten breast cancer, and undergone knee replacement surgery and other life-altering medical procedures. Yet, even with her own personal physical challenges, she inspired others through advice and teachings.

Ms. Barnes believes there are unlimited possibilities in life. Her positive outlook has changed and improved lives for years. She believes in the dreams of others and helps to keep them on the right path.


Ife Assata Fatiu is dedicated to the growth and empowerment of families, communities and other women. Through her community work, she is paving the way for all women with heart, dedication and drive to help liberate urban families from poverty, education limitations, and drugs.

She is one of the founders of the Urban Youth Initiative Project, which is dedicated to providing behavior rectification to inner city children via the application of culture and history. From that organization, life-changing programs such as urban therapy for couples and families, study classes and courses for adults, lectures and community events have been created.

Ms. Fatiu has taken her experiences growing up in Baltimore City, along with her lifelong commitment for study and research, and developed the tools needed to heal and repair families and children who require her help, regardless of race and cultural differences.

Ms. Fatiu started the Wake Up Rise Up Sisters Movement. This brings women together on issues related to community involvement, health (spiritual, mind, body, relationships), safety and self-defense, child rearing, physical fitness, leadership, sisterhood and unity.


Flor Giusti has a passion for empowering others. Her deep commitment to raising people up has been demonstrated in her over 20 years of working with Baltimore women and families, including 16 years working with victims of domestic violence.

She took on the difficult task of working to break the cycle of violence -- not only with victims, but abusers as well. The past five years, Ms. Giusti has worked at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, concentrating on low-income clients who have significant needs but few resources, to identify possible solutions, both material and mental.

Ms. Giusti sees the power and strength in others, many times when they don’t see it themselves. She is treasured by those she serves because she believes in them and works to help them believe in themselves.

Ms. Giusti’s is fondly referred to as a “Gentle Giant.” She believes if you give someone a fish, they are fed for a day. If you teach them how to fish, they are fed for a lifetime. 


Dr. Joanne Martin has served as an inspiration, teacher, champion, visionary and invaluable asset to countless people throughout Baltimore City, the entire state of Maryland and around the world.

Along with her late husband, Dr. Elmer Martin, she co-founded The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, which is located in East Baltimore. The museum is used as a vehicle to help disadvantaged youth overcome feelings of alienation, defeatism and despair by educating them on history.

Dr. Martin believes community and cultural development go hand in hand. Today, the museum attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually and is working on a multi-million dollar expansion that will encompass 120,000 square feet.

Dr. Martin has made an extraordinary impact on Baltimore through her world-renowned museum and teachings. Her wax figures capture the emotions and strengths of the African-American community and were an inspiration to Lupita Nyong’o for her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years As A Slave. 


Terra Mason has been a positive influence in a blended family. Bringing her high-functioning autistic son to a new marriage, she welcomed her husband’s daughters with open arms and has been a positive influence in their lives.

When Ms. Mason was pregnant with her second son, she worked three 12-hour night shifts weekly, and then went directly to her nursing classes at Coppin State University. The rigorous schedule lasted for two years.

With a brief break after giving birth, she went back to the challenging work and school schedule. Her perseverance and determination inspired many around her to work hard to achieve a better life.

And throughout the long hours at work and school, she supported her family, her husband’s foundation, and the special needs of her autistic son. 


Beatrice Riley is a lifelong resident of Baltimore City. Educated in the Baltimore City Public School system, she was one of the first women of color to integrate Western High School in the 1950’s and was co-valedictorian of the 1959 graduating class.She earned an Associate’s Degree from Baltimore City Community College, a Bachelor and Master’s Degree from Coppin State University, and went on to teach elementary school before becoming a professor at Coppin.

She taught her daughter, and many others, that everyone has something to give. Everyone can serve. Mrs. Riley has volunteered with Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, with her sorority Zeta Phi Beta, and through her church, Union Baptist Church of Baltimore. She has mentored hundreds of children and young adults. Through love, laughter and song she has touched the hearts of many.

A dream to be an author was realized in 2014 under the pen name Bea Bea deShong. She has written three children’s book, one being Thomas Loves French Fries. She is a living, breathing example that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.


Margaret Roth is the co-founder and chief marketing officer for Yet Analytics. As a member of the Junior League of Baltimore, public service is one of her priorities in life. She is driven by a desire to immerse herself in the local community and to be truly involved in what happens in Baltimore.

Ms. Roth is also committed to connecting people professionally to help further their personal lives and careers. Mentoring others started with her work as a wilderness leader and student instructor while teaching middle school in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Helping people utilize their strengths and developing opportunities for improvement is important to her.

Ms. Roth has been recognized as a Change Makers of the year for her work with EdTech Women. EdTech Women is an international community connected on the local, national, and digital levels that works to link women and their supporters within the edtech industry to further opportunities for leadership development and leadership capacity of women within the tech industry.


Aletheia Shin is a creative community fellow at National Arts Strategies, as well as an artist and community organizer, and leader in the Korean community.

Ms. Shin’s efforts to build leadership within the Korean community, and promote awareness about their culture and social and economic development needs, has been a passion for a number of years. Ms. Shin facilitated the first Bmore Seoul to Soul event in Station North and has since leveraged new resources and engaged community partners to enhance the event.

Ms. Shin has a talent for building the leadership of Baltimore’s diverse community through creative platforms.  Her generous spirit is an inspiration to all around her.

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