Theodora A. "Teddy" Stephen offers directions to those who find themselves at career crossroads.
With 26 years' experience as a state employee, Ms. Stephen, the manager of the county office of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED), has helped many unemployed people redirect their skills and find jobs.
For her efforts with displaced homemakers, she received the "Partners in Change Award" yesterday at Carroll Community College.
Sherry Glass, director of the college's Displaced Homemaker Program, recommended Ms. Stephen for the award, one of 50 given nationwide.
"Through DEED, she has provided internship opportunities and has hired women from our program for her office," said Ms. Glass. "She has set a standard for business in our community by recognizing the strong assets and impressive strengths that mature women offer employers."
She praised Ms. Stephen's foresight in recognizing the contributions mature women make to the work place.
"Displaced Homemakers is a great organization to work with," said Ms. Stephen. "They really work with people one-on-one."
The college and DEED have been able to develop a "terrific network, like no other in the country" listing job opportunities in the county, she said.
"All jobs in DEED office are readily accessible to us and 11 other county organizations," said Ms. Glass, whose program, funded through the county Department of Human Services, serves about 350 members and adds about 130 new clients a year.
Many of those people are middle-aged women who often have never worked outside the home and need to develop job skills.
"We provide support and education," said Ms. Glass. "Teddy [Stephen] helps with the jobs."
Ms. Stephen said she tells clients to widen their job circle, often through education. Opportunities exist, she said, especially at entry levels.
"Many people come to our office, frightened about their futures," said Ms. Stephen, a Towson resident. "I tell them they are going to get a job. It will just take a while."
Jane Hoffman said she knows the co-operative endeavor works. A former displaced homemaker, she entered the college's program three years ago and is now a full-time employee with DEED.
"Teddy is well-deserving of this recognition," said Ms. Hoffman.
Ms. Stephen said her job can be stressful and depressing, especially in a recession.
"This award made it really worth it to come to work today," she said. "I am going to hang my plaque in the office and share it with my co-workers."