A Riverview woman with six decades worth of community service, a Towson University administrator who has helped develop the school and its relationship with the community, and a dynamic Dulaney High School senior were honored Thursday at Baltimore County Commission for Women's 32nd Annual awards ceremony.
"The three outstanding recipients that we're recognizing tonight have all impacted the Baltimore County community in an incredible way," Amy Reid, co-chairwoman for the Woman of the Year awards for the Baltimore County Commission for Women, said. "Many lives have been touched, improved or changed because of the passion each has for serving others."
Deb Moriarty, vice president for student affairs at Towson University, was honored with the LaFrance Muldrow Woman Making a Difference award, while Dulaney High senior Francesca "Frannie" Brancati was named the county's Young Woman of the Year. Elizabeth "Betty" Cain, a licenced nurse who has led efforts to feed the hungry in southwest Baltimore County for over 60 years, was honored as the county's Woman of the Year.
Baltimore County's Commission for Women gave the awards before a crowd of more than 100 people in the County Council chambers, and said the three chosen from dozens of applicants were shining examples of the influence women can have in their communities.
"Tonight's awardees are being honored because they make an impact every single day in their communities, inspiring the rest of us to keep working together to make this country a fairer, more just place for everyone who lives here," said Donna Morrison, deputy administrative officer for Baltimore County, who was speaking on behalf of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Reid said Moriarty was an innovative leader who has helped spearhead increased services for Towson students in its Women's Center, Career Center, Veterans Center and Dowell Health Center. She also has strengthened support for African-American and Latino students, and gay and lesbian students, Reid said.
Her work has long been recognized outside of the school's campus as well. Moriarty helped form the University Relations Committee, which is made up of school and community leaders. She has also served as president of the Towson Chamber of Commerce.
In her remarks at the event, Moriarty said she was "truly flattered and touched" by the award.
"I think part of what's humbling about it is I just like doing my job," Moriarty said.
Moriarty also said she appreciated that Towson University President Maravene Loeschke nominated her.
This year's awards marked the first year that the Woman Making a Differnce award was named for Muldrow, a longtime Commission for Women member and former deputy director of social services for Baltimore County who died in July.
Given her resume, Brancati's selection as Young Woman of the Year comes as no shock.
"My parents have always pushed me to do what I want to do, and I like to do a lot," she said after the ceremony. "I've kind of had this idea that you're only in high school once, you're only a senior once. So I've kind of put sleep on the backburner and started piling on activities and stuff I enjoy."
Brancati's nomination form was full of praise from teachers at Dulaney High. But Brancati's resume speaks for itself. She is an athlete, musician and editor of the school's award-winning paper, The Griffin. She played four years of soccer and basketball each, and instead of a fourth year of outdoor track this year, Brancati instead decided to join the school's softball team. She'd never played softball before tryouts, but is already the team's starter in left field.
But her real passion is medicine, which she also inherited from her parents, mother Dr. Elizabeth Jaffe, and her late father, Dr. Frederick Brancati, both Johns Hopkins physicians. This coming summer will be Brancati's third as a summer intern lab assistant at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where last summer she worked on potential pancreatic cancer vaccines.
"I just loved it, because it's not like the bio labs you're doing in high school," Brancati said. "It's actually real stuff, and it's helping people, which is super important. If I'm going to be waking up for the next 50 years doing something, it has to be something that I love and something that's going to help people."
Cain, an 80-year-old Riverview resident, was honored for her tireless efforts to feed those in need in her community. Every other week, she organizes a meal for 200 people at Lansdowne United Methodist Church. She also works closely with all of southwest Baltimore County's neighborhood associations in order to better her community.
"I think it's evident from our selected nominees that we have so many hard-working and conscious women who consistently give back to the community and their school, and who have made a tremendous difference in the lives of others," said Nancy Surosky, Kamenetz' liaison to the commission, said.