Commission for Women
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2010 Woman and Young Woman of the Year Winners

Each year, the Baltimore County Commission for Women presents its annual "Woman of the Year" and "Young Woman of the Year" awards. Three winners were also named in the category, “Women Making a Difference,” which recognizes women for their outstanding achievements, unique contributions to their community and their ability to provide creative solutions to complex community and social challenges.

2010 Woman of the Year

Photo of Joan Marie Twining.
Joan Marie Twining 

Joan Marie Twining is the founder and volunteer executive director of the Rose of Sharon Equestrian School, or ROSES, a nonprofit therapeutic riding program established in 1998 in Glen Arm, Maryland. ROSES’ mission is to improve the quality of life for children and adults facing the challenges of disability by providing opportunities to engage in beneficial interactions with horses. Ms. Twining holds a Masters in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University and worked as a special education teacher for Baltimore County Schools for 12 years. She is also a certified language arts teacher and certified therapeutic riding instructor, making her uniquely qualified to do this extraordinary work. 

Ms. Twining is the lead instructor who is admired by her students and their families for her commitment to providing personal attention and quality instruction in a loving, nurturing environment. She is involved in every aspect of the organization, from the daily care of the horses to searching for program funding and grants. She coordinates the volunteer recruitment and training program and schedules student programming. She has developed partnerships between ROSES and Baltimore County Schools (Infants and Toddlers with Autism, Student Service Learning and Post Secondary Vocational Placement), with Towson University (Occupational Therapy, Family Studies and Community Development), with Sheppard Pratt’s Forbush School (Autism Program) and with The ARC of Baltimore.

Under Ms. Twining’s leadership, ROSES has touched the lives of hundreds of individuals, many of them young women dealing with a disability or mothers of children with special needs. A large number of the volunteers at ROSES are girls at the crossroads of young adulthood or women at critical turning points in their family lives or careers. Despite her busy schedule, she finds time to mentor interns interested in becoming equine therapists.

We congratulate Ms. Twining on her many accomplishments and contributions to the community and celebrate her award as Woman of the Year 2010.

2010 Young Woman of the Year

Photo of Chen Sheng.
Chen Sheng

Franklin High School senior Chen Sheng is being recognized for her extraordinary academic and artistic abilities that she employs to benefit her fellow students and her community. Her leadership in numerous extracurricular activities motivates others to also serve their  community. Chen is at the top of her class academically and is an AP Scholar. She currently serves as President of both the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society as  well as being the Historian in her school’s Student Government Association. As leader of these organizations, her focus has always been on organizing charitable community  activities, which have been numerous. She has coordinated a peer tutoring program that  matches peer tutors to students needing assistance and is herself a math tutor. 

Chen is  also on the Walters Art Gallery Teen Council that plans and coordinates events to promote teen involvement with the arts. She has worked with the Maryland Crisis Center and the Mora Crossman Recreation Center on projects for underprivileged families. For the last two summers, Chen has been a student intern at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She noticed that the walls in the Children’s Center were empty, so she organized a studio night for her National Art Honor society members to create and donate their art to the Center. As an artist, Chen would like to create awareness in the community through art by creating and publicizing  works with social themes. She is considering a career in either law or medicine. Chen Sheng has won many academic awards and art competitions. Her achievements and service to others truly represents the values of the Baltimore County Commission’s Young Woman of the Year for 2010.

2010 Women Making a Difference

Photo of Lisa Hurka Covington.
Lisa Hurka Covington 

In 1999, Lisa Hurka Covington founded the community education program Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids (SPEAK) and has since become nationally known as the spokesperson for suicide prevention. She has been a force behind changing public policy toward suicide prevention in Maryland and was instrumental in the passage of the state’s first anti-bullying legislation. Lisa fought for and obtained funding to have telephones installed on the Chesapeake Bay and Francis Scott Key Bridges in an effort to prevent suicide jumps. There are now 26 phones on these bridges posted with the 24 Hour Crisis Hotline number as well as camera monitors. The Crisis Hotline number also now appears on Maryland student photo identification cards. Lisa is keenly aware that our troubled economy contributes to depression and rising suicide rates and plans to energetically continue with SPEAK’s mission. She tirelessly works to dispel the social stigma surrounding depression and suicide through her campaign of education and community awareness. We congratulate Lisa Hurka Covington on her accomplishments and celebrate her Women Making A Difference 2010 award.

Photo of JoAnn C. Murphy.
JoAnn C. Murphy

JoAnn C. Murphy has led a life of service to the citizens of Baltimore County. She began as a school teacher at Overlea High School where she taught for many years. While teaching, she also served as Director of Community Relations for the Baltimore County Board of Education, establishing numerous partnerships with the business community. She currently serves as the President of the Baltimore County School Board. She has also served as the Director of the Open Door Child Care Program; served on the Board of the Hannah Moore School; and is past President of the  Maryland Volunteer Network. Her involvement with a community writing class led to a collaboration resulting in the publication of a book entitled “Filling In The Dash”. We congratulate Joann C. Murphy on her accomplishments and celebrate her Women Making A Difference 2010 award.

Photo of Vera Reiner.
Vera Reiner

Vera Marie Reiner has lived in Baltimore County since the late 1930s when her family built their house in Oliver Beach along the tidal portion of the Gunpowder River. She has held many leadership positions in the Oliver Beach Community and in the Oliver Beach Improvement Association. Ms. Reiner helped start the Island Waterways Improvement Association and worked tirelessly with the fledgling Maryland Save Our Streams to report pollution problems, build membership, connect organizations, and educate those with the power to clean up silt entering the waterways. She has held positions in Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources/ DNR Gunpowder State Park Advisory Commission in the 1980s, where she was a leader in protecting the park’s habitat for future generations. The Park’s 18,000 acres and 100 miles of trails are now enjoyed by hundreds of visitors each year. In the late 1980s she also participated in the Hart Miller Island Citizen’s Oversight Committee on the dredging plans. Her focus now is on the Marshy Point Nature Center where she is the “heart and soul” of its educational program. She also organizes the Popsicle Plunge, an annual early March plunge into the cold Gunpowder River to raise money for the Marshy Point Nature Center. We congratulate Vera Marie Reiner on her accomplishments and celebrate her Women Making A Difference 2010 award. 

Revised November 18, 2013

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