KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Veteran Democratic political strategist Stephanie Rawlings-Blake served as the 49th Mayor of  Baltlimore, MD, the largest independent city in America. She was elected by her peers as the 73rd President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) – the first African American woman to hold  the post. A long-time active participant in national politics, Rawlings-Blake held the position of  Secretary of the Democratic National Committee from 2013- February 2017. She currently runs her  own consulting firm, SRB & Associates working with national clients including Hudson News,  MasterCard, Airbnb, and Global Energy Solutions. Stephanie also served as a Political Contributor  for ABC News, and commentator on several networks.  

Rawlings-Blake launched her political career when she became the youngest person ever elected to  the Baltimore City Council at the age of 25. She won a citywide election to the position of City  Council President, serving from 2007 until early 2010, when she became Mayor.  

The hallmarks of Rawlings-Blake’s administration include strong fiscal stewardship, regulatory  reform, trusted leadership, smart development, sustainability and enriching programs to improve the  lives of residents as well as attract and retain entrepreneurs and national retailers.  

Rawlings-Blake created Baltimore’s first long-range financial plan and implemented a bold set of  reforms, taking on some of the biggest and most controversial challenges facing America’s urban  centers. The plan put Baltimore on track to reduce homeowner property taxes by more than 20%  over a 10-year period. Her package of financial reforms led to the city receiving its highest bond  ratings in more than 40 years.  

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

In 2015, the City of Baltimore earned the highest national ranking of a 5-Star Community for  progress on a range of economic, social and environmental issues. 

She advanced energy conservation efforts through the Baltimore Energy Challenge, securing $52  million for the Baltimore Energy Initiative.

 

Recognized as a national leader on sustainability, Rawlings-Blake developed and adopted a number  of innovative programs and projects including: The Climate Action Plan, Disaster Preparedness  Project and Plan (DP3), Homegrown Baltimore Urban Agriculture Plan, and the Green Pattern  Book. The administration also laid the ground work, and kicked off the Green Network Plan, an  initiative aimed at leveraging public and private resources to reclaim and transform vacant and  blighted land to create green space. 

To further energy efficiency, Rawlings-Blake added a solar installation at the waste water treatment  plant and adopted stronger green building regulations. She examined efficiencies and new markets  under the Waste to Wealth Initiative and increased climate change adaptive capacity through stronger  floodplain regulations and outreach efforts.  

As a part of her energy education initiatives, she launched a tiny house mobile energy education  center. Additionally, she increased sustainability education by engaging youth and City Schools  through the Green, Healthy, Smart Challenge. The program provides tools to clean neighborhoods 

through the Baltimore Clean Corps program. Rawlings-Blake’s food policy initiatives include urban  farming and programs dedicated to providing healthy food access in food deserts.  

Under the leadership of Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore increased its Zipcar fleet and electric vehicle  charger installations. Most recently, she secured funding for a bike share program and expanded and  improved the bike infrastructure citywide. 

Baltimore is experiencing a renaissance. This is attributed to Rawlings-Blake focusing on building a  diverse group of neighborhoods where young professionals can see their impact on the community.  Taking on the challenge of unwanted and aging buildings, she created tax incentives to attract  developers to revitalize areas of the city into dynamic mixed-use communities with new residential  apartments.  

Because of her bold leadership, the crane is no longer extinct in Baltimore. During Mayor Rawlings Blake's tenure, Baltimore City experienced a renaissance with billions of dollars in new construction  activity. Her targeted tax credit to decrease the office vacancy rate has created thousands of new  market-rate apartment units have been developed. As a result, Baltimore is the 4th fastest growing,  and 8th largest, millennial population in the U.S. Downtown Baltimore now ranks as the 9th largest  residential population with the 12th largest commercial district in the U.S.  

With all of this activity, it is no surprise that Under Armour chose to expand its existing world  headquarters in Port Covington -- one of the nation's largest urban redevelopment projects. Mayor  Rawlings-Blake and her economic development team shepherded through one of the largest Tax  Increment Financing deals in the nation as the project will require more than $535 million in  infrastructure improvements. In all, Port Covington is expected to add more than $6 billion in new,  vertical construction and create tens of thousands of new jobs over the next two decades. 

Rawlings-Blake made history by signing a landmark executive order to protect New Americans from  discrimination within Baltimore, as well as increasing access public safety resources and City services  for foreign-born residents. She successfully fought for a state-wide ballot initiative known as the  “Dream Act”, which provides in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students who  attend Maryland high schools.  

Rawlings-Blake worked passionately with state leaders to pass Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection  Act which allows same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license. When the law took effect on  January 1, 2013, she presided over the first same-sex marriages in Maryland’s history during a  midnight ceremony at Baltimore’s City Hall.  

Rawlings-Blake has been honored with numerous awards and accolades. In 2013 she was awarded  the First Citizen Award by the Maryland State Senate, a top honor for dedicated and effective  participants in the process of making government work for the benefit of all. The Maryland Daily  Record selected her as one of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women” in 2007 and again in 2011. The  National Congress of Black Women named her a Shirley Chisholm Memorial Award Trailblazer. 

And the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs named her one  of Baltimore’s “Young Women on the Move.”  

Rawlings-Blake earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Oberlin College and her  Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law. She is a member of the Federal Bar  Association and the Maryland State Bar Association. She has served on numerous boards including  the National Aquarium; Baltimore Convention and Tourism Board; Baltimore Substance Abuse  Systems, Inc.; Living Classrooms Foundation; Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore; and Parks and  People Foundation. Rawlings-Blake currently lives in Baltimore.