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The Women of the Year awards have been given annually since 1983.

The "LaFrance Muldrow" Woman Making a Difference award has been awarded since 2014. Muldrow—a retired County social worker, community activist and longtime member of the Commission—made enormous contributions during her 40-year career. In both professional and volunteer capacities, she served to improve the welfare of socially and financially disadvantaged children and families, always promoting social, educational and cultural opportunities. She passed away in July 2013.

Woman of the Year

Arkia Wade.

Arkia Wade has been in the healthcare industry for over 20 years. She recently resigned from CVS Health (Aetna) after 23 years to focus on her new nonprofit, Neighborhood Companions Inc., where she serves as the current CEO of this organization to offer the best transportation and companion services. She wants to improve the quality of life of seniors and disabled citizens so that they continue to live independently, feel safe, valued and loved. Arkia identified a gap in her community and this nonprofit is truly a passion for her.

  • Early life—Arkia grew up in Hampton, Virginia, however she has deep roots in the historic African American community of Turner Station in Baltimore County. Her father, Dr. William C. Wade, Jr., never forgot where he grew up and made sure he exposed his children to this wonderful loving community. He would drive through the community on every visit to Baltimore, to visit his parents when she was a child.
  • July of 2012—She moved to Dundalk and soon after started establishing her own roots in the community that her beloved grandfather, Dr. William C. Wade, Sr. served for over 40 years as a physician.
  • 2016 to present—She has served as the Turner Station Girl Scout Troop 353 leader. She has had the opportunity to offer the girls enriching experiences that have included assisting at the local food pantry, participating in community cleanups and donating cookies and toiletry kits to the United Service Organization (USO). She has had girls in her troop that have participated in scouts for over five years.
  • 2019 to present—She has been an active board member of the Turner Station Conservation Teams, Inc. She is the treasurer and serves on the beautification and housing committees.
  • June 2022—Arkia became an active participant with the “Witness Tree Project” in Turner Station which has three phases. She is currently the co-chair for the second phase of the project where she is working with the Nature Conservancy, two consulting groups and the community to create a three to five-year strategic plan for Turner Station.
  • Over the last year—She has helped organize several successful community clean ups. 

LaFrance Muldrow Woman Making A Difference 

Dinorah OlmosDinorah Olmos decided to establish the Latino Education Advancement Fund (LEAF) in 2016 after 30 years of professional experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, including working at international, national, state and local levels with education, and community leaders across the United States. She is founding president and CEO of this nonprofit, which is focused on Latinos’ education and social impact through equity, access and parent empowerment. Olmos has a passionate interest in research to advance equity and social justice, and in advocacy that supports educational access for Latino students. She has fused her unmatched passion in education with her experience, drive, commitment, and leadership within schools, colleges and Latino communities. Olmos has galvanized and activated a coalition of organizations, LEAF programming and communications channels, through which she has connected hundreds of Spanish-speaking families with key information about educational opportunities, as well as other critical human services and resources.

Her expertise includes:

  • Working in primary, secondary and higher education settings in the USA and select countries
  • Student admissions, enrollment and development 
  • Site management
  • Academic advising and career counseling
  • School and family engagement
  • Community and coalition building
  • Gifted education identification

Her other accomplishments include:

  • Worked as Assistant Director for National and International Recruitment at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY), where she identified and recruited gifted and talented students around the world.
  • Instrumental in the opening of two new international sites at the Universidad de las Americas and at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico
  • Began a Latino student recruitment effort in Puerto Rico and Colombia, establishing relationships with College Board Latin America and working with public and private schools to identify bright Latino students there.
  • Produced and hosted a TV educational segment for a morning show “Arriba Valle Central,” for KFTV Channel 21, Univision, which targeted Latino parents and children.
  • Founded the Latino American Club of the Central Valley in California, a nonprofit organization and served as president for three years.

Young Woman of the Year

Samantha WarfelSamantha Warfel is a graduate of Hereford High School in northern Baltimore County. Throughout her high school career, she has been involved in various service and leadership initiatives:

  • A United Nations Girl Up organization club leader
  • Allied Bocce manager
  • New student tour guide
  • Peer tutor in various subject areas 
  • Earned the Maryland Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish
  • Served as a Youth Diplomat with the World Trade Center of Baltimore City and an intern at the Women’s Housing Coalition of Baltimore

Her other accomplishments include:

  • 2020—Awarded the Outstanding Student Leader of the Year award for Baltimore County by the Maryland Association of Student Councils.
  • 2020 to 2023—Served as the President of the Baltimore County Student Councils while also serving on the Maryland Association of Student Councils Executive Board as a Communications Director and Student Workshop Coordinator.
  • 2022—Served as a research and course design intern at the University of Maryland International Studies Scholars Program, and is a published researcher in the International Journal of Student Research. Samantha is passionate about academic research.
  • 2023—Received an Optimist International Youth Citation for service to her community.
  • Fall 2024—Samantha will be headed to Yale University to study Global Affairs on a prelaw track.

Learn More

See more past winners below. Contact the Commission to learn about previous award winners for years prior to those listed below.

Explore Commission for Women


Contact Us

Commission for Women

400 Washington Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204


Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.



Carmen Christiana