Donald C. Fry, who has led the Greater Baltimore Committee for nearly two decades, said Wednesday that he plans to retire June 1 from the private-sector business advocacy group.
Fry, the GBC’s president and CEO for more than 19 years and a former executive vice president, said he will stay on as a consultant in the second half of the year. He is the second-longest-serving president and CEO in the group’s 67-year history.
Fry, 67, said he is stepping down because “it’s time for a new chapter.”
The GBC’s board of directors plans to launch a national search for a successor who can step in by June 1. The group advocates on behalf of the Baltimore region on issues of economic growth, job creation, workforce development and transportation.
“I’ve been blessed and honored to have served with so many of the top leaders in the private sector over more than two decades and worked closely on a number of major challenges and issues with elected leaders at the state and local government level,” Fry said in Wednesday’s announcement.
Calvin Butler, chair of the GBC’s board, praised Fry’s legacy and record as one that “will be hard to match.”
“Don Fry has been a leader among leaders in the Baltimore region and the state,” said Butler, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of Exelon Corp., in the announcement.
Butler called Fry a champion for the Baltimore region and the GBC’s agenda who helped build the GBC’s pro-business reputation in Maryland while also serving on numerous outside boards, commissions and task forces.
“This commitment underscores just how dedicated Don was each and every day to making the Baltimore region a great place to live, work, study and visit,” Butler said.
As GBC leader, Fry worked on the legislative effort to keep the Preakness in Baltimore and supported a plan to renovate Pimlico Race Course into a year-round sports and community facility.
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Under his leadership, the group in 2018 launched the Baltimore Women’s Advisory Board, to improve gender diversity and equality in the workplace, and in 2003 established the Bridging the Gap program to recognize and support women and minority-owned businesses.
The group, which has 500 member organizations, including companies, nonprofits, education institutions and foundations, also has advocated for major transportation projects, funding and policies in the state and region. Baltimore Sun Media is a member.
Fry said he thought the timing was right for a transition in leadership. New GBC directors are set to be elected at the group’s annual meeting in May, and the primary election is coming up in June. A transition will allow a new CEO to begin to develop relationships with new business and elected leaders, he said.
Fry joined the GBC in April 1999 as executive vice president and general counsel before taking on the top role in 2002. He has worked with more than 600 individual board members over the past two decades, including top leaders in corporate, philanthropic, health care and higher education sectors in the region.
Before joining GBC, he ran a private law practice in Harford County, while also serving in the Maryland General Assembly, both in the House of Delegates and the Senate. Fry served on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Appropriations Committee as a state delegate. In the state Senate, he was a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee.
Fry serves on Towson University’s Board of Visitors and on the board of Harford Mutual Insurance Co.
He has served as campaign chair of United Way of Central Maryland, on the Maryland Port Commission, and in roles with CollegeBound, Visit Baltimore, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center Board of Visitors. He chaired the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, which selected the location and operators of the state’s casino locations.
An earlier version of this article included an incorrect title for Calvin Butler. He is Exelon's chief operating officer. The Sun regrets the error.