Dozens of newsmakers spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors came together Tuesday for iMPACT Maryland, The Baltimore Banner’s new event for thought leaders to swap insights and discuss innovative ideas for the state’s future.
The summit’s inaugural lineup of speakers included figures from national, state and local government, including keynote speakers such as U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.
The daylong event, presented by Whiting-Turner, drew hundreds of people Tuesday to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore for panel discussions and fireside-style chats moderated by Banner journalists. The nonprofit, independent local news organization shaped the event with the goal of driving meaningful dialogue on topics such as economic development, education, biotech health care, public safety, sports, transportation and entertainment.
Here is a look at key takeaways from some of the panel discussions:
Empowering dreams: Advancing education for all in Maryland
Description: The far-reaching impact of COVID-19 has given rise to unique educational obstacles for our students, especially in Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has effectively ended race-conscious admissions, making colleges work hard to recruit diverse students. How are Maryland’s education leaders equipping young minds to thrive in higher education and to a rapidly changing modern workforce?
Panelists: Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools; Valerie Sheares Ashby, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Tierra Dorsey, president of the Central Scholarship Bureau; Kurt Schmoke, president of the University of Baltimore; Melanie Perreault, the interim president of Towson University.
Key takeaway: Santelises said the Baltimore City school system makes student achievement a priority with its “movement of no excuses.” It means the school system doesn’t put ceilings over student achievement because of the personal challenges they may face, like having parents who struggle to put food on the table. Not only are school staffers responsible for making sure students achieve, but since the pandemic, society has expected them to handle public health, feed families and find housing.
Impactful quote: “Do we really ... fund schools, have the expertise in schools to accomplish this long litany of roles?” Santelises asked.
A Safer Future: Identifying solutions to reduce youth gun violence
Description: Some of the city’s foremost experts in gun violence coalesced around the need for more accurate data in real time that would help inform policy decisions for violence intervention workers in the public and private spheres.
Panelists: Beth Blauer, associate vice provost for Public Sector Innovation at the Johns Hopkins University; Adam Rosenberg, executive director, Center for Hope and vice president, violence intervention and prevention, Lifebridge Health; Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician in chief, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, system chief for critical care services, University of Maryland Medical System; Daniel Webster, Bloomberg Professor of American Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; James Timpson, managing director, community violence initiatives, Roca Impact Institute. Dr. Josh Sharfstein, a professor of the practice in health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was the moderator.
Key takeaways: Timpson said that most programs in the city focused on violence intervention are not designed for young people, who are at the forefront of the city’s gun violence epidemic.
Timpson said that social media is an exacerbating factor on youth gun violence, and most of the teens he works with have some kind of unaddressed mental health issue.
Blauer said that data on gun violence is a “mess” and that the university relies on data that comes in on an 18-month delay, which makes it harder to understand the effects as shootings are taking place.
”The data is not as straightforward as we all think,” Blauer said. “We need to have a more focused, agile way to collect this data, to release this data.”
Webster agreed with Blauer, but said the data still makes clear that there is a problem around youth gun violence that is getting worse. He called for a “homicide and shooting review board” that would help collect and release data in real time to help inform law enforcement, other government agencies and private sector groups make decisions around violence intervention.
Impactful quote: ”Substance abuse is on a whole other level,” Timpson added. “I don’t know what the data says, but I can tell you what my eyes tell me. More young people are using substances.”
Prescription Progress: Creating health care for all through collaboration and innovation
Description: Baltimore has a lot of choices in hospitals that offer world-class care. The hospitals further seek to innovate and collaborate to improve. But regular care is out of reach for many in underserved communities, who lack insurance or more basic things such as housing and food that contribute to health. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the disparities. And when people visit the emergency room for potentially avoidable issues, it puts more pressure on an already strained workforce.
Panelists: Joe Ochipinti, chief executive officer, Mid-Atlantic Region, UnitedHealthcare; Bradley S. Chambers, senior vice president and chief operating officer, MedStar Health, Baltimore Region; Dr. E. Albert Reece, dean emeritus and endowed professor, the University of Maryland School of Medicine; Kevin W. Sowers, president, Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Katie Wunderlich, former executive director, Health Services Cost Review Commission; Neil M. Meltzer, president and chief executive officer, LifeBridge Health.
Key takeaway: Panelists said it’s imperative for hospitals to work together and to help address the “social determinants of health,” the nonmedical factors such as access to stable housing, food and transportation, as well as safe places to live, work and exercise. Health care systems already are partnering on initiatives with community groups to address basic needs and provide preventive care. But officials need to find more ways to improve their communities’ overall well-being and keep people out of the hospitals.
Impactful quote: “We realized our responsibility doesn’t end when the patient leaves our four walls. There is a continuum of care,” Chambers said. One remedy may be food pharmacies: “Picture when a physician can write a prescription where patients have food insecurities that is impacting their health and they can receive a prescription for so many weeks of food.”
Lights, cameras, Maryland: Shining a spotlight on the state’s entertainment industry
Description: A discussion of the cultural and economic impact of the state’s entertainment industry, from tax credits and competitiveness to what creators owe the city in terms of representation.
Panelists: David Simon, author, former journalist and creator of TV series such as “The Wire,” “We Own This City” and more; Thea Washington, CSA of Thea Washington Casting; Ngozi Olandu-Young, Emmy-nominated makeup artist; and Meryam Bouadjemi, senior adviser and chair of the Maryland Entertainment Council.
Impactful quote: “We can have a fighting chance here,” Washington, on the importance of local productions to African American audiences.
Biotech and Beyond: Unleashing Maryland’s Next Innovation Frontier
Description: Maryland has the I-270 corridor of biotech industry, but what’s next? California has Silicon Valley, North Carolina has the Research Triangle, how can Maryland develop the next pipeline of research to entrepreneurship to industry. This panel will discuss the areas of opportunity for the state.
Panelists: · Carim Khouzami, President & CEO, BGE; Christy Wyskiel, Senior Advisor to the President of Johns Hopkins University for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Kelly Schulz, CEO, Maryland Tech Council; Jamie McDonald, CEO Upsurge Baltimore. Moderator: Andrea McDaniels, managing editor The Baltimore Banner.
Key takeaway: Baltimore and Maryland have a lot of talent that needs to be leveraged, retained and uplifted in this region.
Impactful quote: Wyskiel on how AI might impact Maryland’s tech and economy: “We can think of it like the internet in 1995... It’s going to be widely applicable and I think we could sit on the leading edge of it ... Harnessing AI for good.”
Building Maryland’s Economic Renaissance: Identifying opportunities for growth and transformation
Description: A discussion of ways Maryland can continue to grow and adapt.
Panelists: Dan Griffis, president of Global Partnerships, Oak View Group; P. David Bramble, managing partner, MCB Real Estate; Shelonda Stokes, president, Downtown Partnership; William C. Wiedel, Jr., CEO & president, CFG Bank; Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and chief executive officer, University of Maryland Medical System and chair, Greater Baltimore Committee.
Key takeaway: Panelists recognized transportation as a major problem as far as accessing things to do in downtown and in other parts of Baltimore.
Impactful quote: “We need to foster a sense of economic opportunity. ... It’s not just about downtown, it’s about the entire city, especially East and West Baltimore,” Bramble said.
Keynote: Gov. Wes Moore
Key takeaway: Moore sat down with media journalist and author Brian Stelter for a discussion of a range of topics, from the Hamas attack on Israel to violence here in Maryland.
Impactful quote: On gun violence, the governor said he won’t be someone who just offers thoughts and prayers without addressing the problem. “I refuse to be powerless. I refuse to just sit back and say, ‘This is how society works.’ That’s not the way society works.”