Jacqueline ‘Jacqui’ Lampell, retired city employee and state spokesperson, dies

Jacqueline “Jacqui” Lampell, who served Baltimore City government and Maryland agencies during a long career in public and media relations, died Monday at St. Agnes Hospital. She was 70 and lived in Catonsville.

Her husband, Angelo Colianni, said she had been treated for cancer and developed a respiratory condition that took her life.


Born in Baltimore and raised in Parkville, she was the daughter of Jack DiFatta, who owned a landscaping business, and his wife, Mary Lucille Rowland. She was a 1967 graduate of Mercy High School and performed in its plays. She studied at what is now Towson University.

She joined the Citizens Planning and Housing Association in 1974.


“I hired her as a secretary and after a few weeks she came to me and said, ‘I’m bored,’” said Albert R. De Salvo, who headed CPHA and now lives in Albany, New York. “I saw how organized she was and I suggested she become involved with our Livelier Baltimore Committee. She helped get out three or four guidebooks to Baltimore.”

Among her duties, she helped coordinate aspects of the Baltimore City Fair.

“Jacqui was a tireless promoter of Baltimore,” said Albert W. Barry III, a former assistant director of Baltimore City Planning. “As a young person she became involved in numerous issues.”

Helen Szablya, a friend in Los Angeles, said: “She was always inspired by artists and the arts. Jacqui was an aspiring writer when she was young. She went to poetry readings. Live theater and films inspired her.”

She later went into public relations with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and worked with William Donald Schaefer both as mayor and governor. She also served governors Parris Glendening, Robert Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley.

She had been a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, the Department of Safety and Correctional Services, and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

“She was one of the most kind and caring persons I have ever known,” said Mary Ann Saar, former safety and corrections secretary. "If people were in trouble, Jacqui would stick with them. She would go way beyond the extra mile."

“Jacqui was a consummate public relations professional who started long before the internet and social media, back in the days when communicating meant looking people in the eye, speaking and writing well, and forging strong relationships,” said Mark Vernarelli, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.


“She worked for Mayor Schaefer and four governors. ... She had a hand in everything,” Mr. Vernarelli said. “She was a beautiful human being who looked for the good in everybody and everything."

Ray Feldmann, an Annapolis-based public relations official, said she was "an incredible communicator and event planner, and I had tremendous respect for her work ethic and attention to detail. We had a deep admiration for then-Governor William Donald Schaefer and his philosophy of local government.”

Mr. Feldmann said he recruited her after he joined the Glendening press staff in 1995.

“She was an expert at pulling off the seemingly impossible when it came to scheduling last-minute events, a skill we desperately needed in that hectic State House environment,” Mr. Feldmann said, “During our two years together on the second floor of the State House I came to rely daily on her wit, wisdom, and sage advice.”

He also said: "She was a connector of people from all walks of life. Jacqui could be talking with the governor one minute, then sharing a laugh with the woman who emptied our office trash cans the next. She had a passion and zest for life that matched her fiery red hair. She took her job seriously, but she never took herself too seriously.”

Said Walinda West, a colleague and a friend: "She was the epitome of a great boss. You had her support no matter what — when you were right and when you were wrong. She’d let you know you were wrong, but nobody else would know.


“She was fiercely loyal. She was often the glue that kept people together. Even as she was battling her illness, she would call to check in and to say she loved you. If you had a party, she’d bring the salad and lasagna. She could cook. She was the communicators’ communicator. She was always willing to provide guidance to veterans and those new to the field, but more importantly, she’d show you how the job of a communicator should be done.

“Civil rights and equality mattered to Jacqui. It’s sad and profound that her death occurred on the day we remembered the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jacqui Lampell embodied and lived his dream, and our lives are better because she was in it.”

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Said Susan O’Brien, director of communications for the Maryland comptroller: “Jacqui made an impression. You never forgot her. Her hair entered the room before she did. She was a workhorse and was old-school. She did not want to be in front of the camera. She did not want to be quoted. And she offered some advice: ‘Be nice to the state troopers.’”

Ms. Lampell was honored at a retirement party in 2012 at the Little Italy Lodge on Pratt Street.

She then became a consultant and worked on projects for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Maryland Family Network and the Central Baltimore Partnership.

She enjoyed traveling in Cefalù, Sicily.


A celebration of her life is being planned.

In addition to her husband of nearly 30 years, a Department of the Army natural resources specialist, survivors include a son, Jacob Thor Lampell of Catonsville; three stepsons, Joseph Colianni of Pasadena, Jassen Colianni of Sacramento, California, and Filip Colianni of Catonsville; a sister, Jean DiFatta of Parkville; and a grandson.