(BALTIMORE – October 13, 2022) – Attorney Cheryl Washington could be spotted at Coppin State in the mid-90s. She could be seen with her sister as they were adamantly assisting their Super Mom, Dr. Hattie Washington. Dr. Washington has a stellar reputation in the realm of helping our most vulnerable to learn, grow, and evolve. She operated an organization that specialized in helping traumatized young boys.
Dr. Hattie Washington is one of those unforgettable people one meets in life who has not just a heart of gold, but the wherewithal to help empower others. She is the quintessential professional who only accepts the best. She believes in the efficacy of all children’s ability to learn. And she is one of the most tenacious authors in the business. To say the least, Dr. Washington sets the bar pretty high for almost anyone and everyone with which she comes in contact.
One has to mention Dr. Washington when it comes to Cheryl Washington because there is no way on God’s green earth that the good doctor hasn’t made a most meaningful impression on her. She grew up serving others. She watched young lives transform before her very eyes – lives that others had categorized as hopeless.
Fast forward: Today, Cheryl Washington is the President and Chief Executive Officer for East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI), which is the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization charged with overseeing the $1.8 billion revitalization of an 88-acre portion of East Baltimore adjacent to the Johns Hopkins medical campus. EBDI was established in 2002 by the Mayor and Baltimore City Council with the mission of positively transforming a targeted East Baltimore neighborhood by creating new and enhanced economic, housing, employment, business, and human development opportunities for current and future residents.
This is Historic East Baltimore, home of the Dunbar Poets, Johns Hopkins, McKim’s Wrestling, and Mack Lewis’ Gym.
Some know that Black Baltimore started in this part of town because it was closest to the harbor where there were jobs. BmoreNews has previously noted the work of Isaac Myers in the days of slavery. This free Black man led the nation’s first Black labor union movement … straight out of East Baltimore. And Lord knows we can’t fail to mention Frederick Douglass’ time spent in East Baltimore and how Locks Funeral Home is one of the oldest Black family businesses in America. It dates back to around 1835 or so.
So, there’s a lot of Black pride in East Baltimore; and there’s a lot of history.
Some of that history is very ugly. For instance, older Blacks have long discussed Johns Hopkins Hospital and the stories about its treatment of Blacks. Truth be told, Hopkins is hated by many Black East Baltimoreans. Whether the stigma is fair or not is kind of like racism: fair or not, some people are just racist. There is a certain perspective that Hopkins has in the community, accented when an Attorney Ben Crump sues Hopkins finally on behalf of the family of Henrietta Lacks. The whole community knows the story of how her HeLa cells were taken and capitalized on without the family receiving proper compensation.
This is a part of the landscape where servant-leader Cheryl Washington has dedicated years of her professional life, day in and day out. Her road is not easy. Life for her seems to be a combination of a traffic cop and a firefighter. She has to manage her relationship with the community and balance that with the need to make profitable decisions. After all, no business wants to lose money. And with inflation very real, money decisions have to make sense. And, especially in dealing with city government, patience is a prerequisite.
As President and CEO, Ms. Washington provides the vision and leadership necessary to implement the master plan for this large mixed-used and mixed-income community revitalization effort. Ms. Washington has been with EBDI since 2004 and has provided leadership in every aspect of the organization by always keeping the core values of community engagement, economic inclusion, and responsible redevelopment at the forefront of every decision. Harnessing the strength and power of this public-private partnership, Ms. Washington prides her leadership style on being collaborative, inclusive, and solution-oriented.
She is the first women CEO and the first Black woman at this level of leadership.
In addition to overseeing the administrative, financial and operational functions of the organization, Ms. Washington serves as the lead negotiator in real estate development transactions and sets the programmatic and policy agenda for EBDI’s human and community services work. During her tenure, EBDI was the 2020 recipient of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s 2020 Bridging the Gap Achievement Award in Diversity in Leadership.
Prior to her current appointment, Ms. Washington was the Chief Operating Officer at EBDI and had the primary responsibility of advising the President & CEO and other key members of the executive and senior management team on operational, administrative, human resources, internal and external communications, economic inclusion and workforce development. She served as the management liaison to the Board of Directors and the various Board committees and served as Corporate Secretary. In addition, she served as grants manager and liaison to funders and other stakeholders regarding grant applications, reporting, payments, and other matters that may arise; as well as the liaison to external stakeholders regarding communications, marketing, and branding strategies, and the planning of all events to be held in the EBDI project area.
Ms. Washington also managed economic inclusion and workforce development programming, policy development, and compliance monitoring. Under her leadership, EBDI has exceeded its goals related to local and minority business contracting and local hiring. Moreover, EBDI’s economic inclusion and workforce development model has been commended by Congressman Cummings as setting the pace for inclusion across the country and has been emulated by other redevelopment projects and jurisdictions.
Prior to EBDI, Ms. Washington was the Executive Director of Aunt Hattie’s Place, Inc., a residential leadership program for boys in foster care that her mother, Dr. Hattie Washington, founded. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 1996 and was admitted to the Maryland State Bar later that same year. She graduated magna cum laude from Norfolk State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications.
Ms. Washington currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the East Baltimore Community School and the Advisory Board of Fulton Bank, National Association. From 2011 through 2014, she was a Mayoral appointed member of the Governing Board for Baltimore City Head Start and served as Secretary and Chair of the Board during her tenure. Previous board service was with Outward Bound and Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. In 2013, Ms. Washington was honored to be a recipient of the Daily Record’s Top 100 Women of the Year Award. Ms. Washington was a member of the Class of 2000 Greater Baltimore Committee LEADERSHIP program and the Class of 2003 of Leadership Maryland. Ms. Washington has been a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. since 1992.
“I’m impressed with Cheryl,” said Andra Cain, CEO of Cain Construction. “I’ve watched her career evolved and know that she has the best intentions for East Baltimore.”
Cain has been in the construction business in Baltimore for the past two decades.
According to Leon Purnell, “I think Ms. Washington has done a very good job with the difficult mess she inherited.”
Purnell is the Director of the Men & Families Center at 2222 Jefferson Street. He is a longtime servant of Historic East Baltimore.
He added, “Shortly after the buildings were completed and the people who once were the advocates for the people in the Bio-Tech Park area left, Cheryl was the person who had to figure out what would happen with the property and disgruntled persons who remained. She was very nice and respectful to the people that I saw her interact with, no matter how difficult the situation seemed. Personally, I found her to be a very pleasant person. I had most of my interactions with her through the East Baltimore Historical Library and her interactions with Nia Redmond. These were very interesting times and often very confusing. To her credit, she kept things moving. I most appreciated the fact that if she didn’t know something, she would honestly inform you that she didn’t and had to find out what the situation was before proceeding. Most people in that position would have lied and moved on. She did not. In fact, she found the answers. I thought that the EBDI office was closing when the money supposedly dried up. Apparently, there will be further development with her as the head of EBDI. That being said, I certainly hope that the tiff that was so often talked about will reach the 2200 block of Jefferson Street and the Men and Families Center might benefit from these dollars.”