Erin Howland has had an interesting career, including stints with Morgan Stanley as a financial adviser and the Baltimore Ravens as a sales and marketing account executive. But she didn't think either one was her calling.
The Towson resident wanted to be involved in athletics, and now she has that chance. Howland is the new athletic director at St. Paul's School for Girls.
"What's really in me is athletics," said Howland, who was an All-American lacrosse player at the University of Virginia and later coached the sport as an assistant at Loyola Maryland University, James Madison and George Mason. "It's been my passion pretty much since birth. Athletics is who I am. Anything and all things athletics."
Howland, 44, doesn't officially start until July 1, but she couldn't wait to jump in.
"She is not really supposed to be under contract yet," said Penny Evins, St. Paul's Head of School. "But one day this spring I was walking down the hill at school and there she was on the (lacrosse) field working with the girls. She does it with softball and tennis, too. She is an incredible role model for our young women."
"I think she will be the role model for athletic directors," Evins said. "The administrative side comes naturally to her, but she is a person. She takes the time to have conversations and build consensus through principled leadership."
For Howland, going to work at St. Paul's has a lot of the aspects of a homecoming.
She lives five miles from campus, graduated from neighboring Maryvale Prep and her father, John Stewart, coached lacrosse and football at Loyola Blakefield for 14 years. She considers Loyola like a second home because she spent so much time there.
"I grew up at Loyola from the time I can remember," said Howland, who is married and has 4-year-old twins. "My family will be part of this community. My children will be attending kindergarten at St. Paul's next year. It seems like everything is coming full circle. It's kind of ironic and a pretty cool thing for me."
Howland has made upgrading the athletic facilities a priority. She wants to improve the school's fitness center and see the school build a track similar to the state-of-art facility at Maryvale.
St. Paul's had a cross country, indoor track and outdoor track team for the first time this school year.
"That's one thing that would benefit a lot of the students," Howland said. "All the sports could use a track."
Howland never ran track in high school or college, but her athletic achievements are impressive. She was a member of two national lacrosse championships at Virginia, where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations.
Howland was inducted into the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Maryvale Athletic Hall of Fame. She played field hockey, lacrosse and basketball at Maryvale.
"What impresses me the most about her is that she goes above and beyond," St. Paul's lacrosse coach Ali Jacobs said. "She is extremely hands-on. She wants to help the coaches and athletes any way she can. We are very lucky to have her."
Howland replaces Jim Stromberg, who served in the position for 15 years. The Gators won more than 20 postseason championships during his tenure.
The Maryland State Athletic Directors Association named Stromberg Athletic Director of the Year among the 31 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland schools in December.
"I think there is a pretty amazing foundation at St. Paul's," Howland said. "Jim worked his tail off. I just want to continue to work on all the things he has done well. These are big shoes to fill for sure, but I am confident in what I bring to the table for the girls."