The party's stated intention may have been to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Alternative Directions. But most folks who gathered at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Museum knew they were there to honor the woman behind the mission.

Mary Joel Davis created the nonprofit to aid prisoners in civil legal matters and to help former prisoners get on the right track. In the 25 years since, Davis has continued to nurture Alternative Directions as its executive director.

"[Davis] was doing prison re-entry long before it was talked about. She was among the first to find drug treatment for women," said board member Natalie Sokoloff.

Meanwhile, the woman behind it all was busy hugging the dozens of friends and supporters, such as Marian House's Sister Paula Cockerhan, retired Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Roger Brown and board member Gwen Oliver.

"All these people have been involved. They've been friends for years," Davis said, as she dashed off to oversee the potluck buffet -- a mainstay of the group's garden party that Davis used to throw every year at her home when she lived in Towson.

"It's a great party for a great lady," said advisory board member Sister Augusta Reilly. "She's the person who's kept it going."


Ken Banks, 55, is president of Banks Contracting, a commercial construction and real estate development company. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife, Gloria. They have four adult children.

What do you do when you're not at work?

I'm sort of an adventurer. I love skiing. I'm a certified scuba diver. I've been skydiving. Those kinds of activities I really like. We travel. And I love to work out.

What are some things you haven't done yet that you'd like to do?

I would love to drive a racecar. And I have a desire to go weightless. If somebody said, hey, we're going to put you on a spaceship, I'd be the first to go.

You seem to love things that give you a rush.

I do. I love the excitement. I love the energy, that feeling of aliveness.

Do you have any guilty pleasures, things that aren't necessarily good or healthy for you?

I'm actually very disciplined in my life. I get up no later than 5 o'clock. Today, it was 3:20. I do 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups every day. ... I don't watch TV. ... I read a lot. Spiritually based books like Deepak Chopra. I also read business books. Good to Great [written by Jim Collins] is probably my favorite business book.

What is your pet peeve?

[Someone] not doing the best that you can do.

ONLINE Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of upcoming events and video reports at / scene

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