Baltimore Icons: Inspiring Philanthropy


In a few days, we’ll attend Exponent Philanthropy’s annual conference, which GMA is always proud to sponsor. This year, we travel to Baltimore, a city steeped in history and culture (and baseball!), for connection, learning, and for inspiration. I am glad to be returning to the city I grew to love as a resident for many years.

Community Connection

Baltimore’s rich history is intertwined with iconic figures who have left an indelible mark on the world. Some have changed the course of history, industry, and science, while others have brought us creativity, the arts, and joy. (My adult kids still remember celebrating Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,131st consecutive game.)

A philanthropy conference is well-placed in the heart of Baltimore, a complex city rich with people and ideas. As grantmakers, we work to forge meaningful connections with the individuals at the heart of the communities we serve. It’s through these relationships, that our work has an impact.

The people of Baltimore, past and present, iconic and every day, serve as powerful reminders of the values and aspirations that drive our work in philanthropy. At the conference, we hope to learn, connect, and imagine the future with today’s remarkable community leaders.

Baltimore Icons

When we thought about historic Baltimore figures who have changed our own views of the world, four icons, in particular, grabbed our attention – so we’re bringing Baltimore-made, kitschy lapel pins bearing their images to the conference.

Follow the links to learn more about each, via Wikipedia:

  • Frederick Douglass – abolitionist and social reformer, tireless advocate for freedom and justice
  • Divine – iconic actor and drag queen, born Harris Glenn Milstead, a vibrant example of celebrating diversity and inclusion
  • Edgar Allan Poe – master of macabre storytelling, calls us to reimagine what’s possible
  • Billie Holiday – jazz great aka Lady Day, whose soulful music touched the hearts of millions and reminds us of the power of empathy and healing

These stories and legacies serve as a testament to the profound impact that individuals can have on their communities. Whose image would be on your lapel as a source of inspiration?


Judy Sneath is the Director of Communications for GMA. Stop by exhibit booth #14 at the Exponent Philanthropy conference on October 17 and 18 to pick up a Baltimore icon pin (or several) and say hello.