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Meet the Inspire MD 2023 Honorees: Public Service Award Winner

Apr 11, 2023

Senator Delores Goodwin Kelley, an accomplished legislator, trailblazer and  dedicated public servant who served in the House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate for a combined total of 32 years was recognized with the 2023 Public Service Award during the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Inspire MD event.

In addition to these honors, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce also inducted two of Maryland’s most accomplished business leaders, Sheela Murthy and Mike Rosenbaum, into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame, and awarded four deserving young professionals with the 2023 Rising Star Award.

Senator Delores Goodwin Kelley, Ph.D.

Senator Delores Goodwin Kelley is an accomplished legislator, trailblazer and dedicated public servant who has committed her career to effecting change that has touched and improved the lives of Marylanders in countless ways.

After graduating from high school at the age of 18, Keely went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Virginia State University, a master’s degree in religious education from New York University, a master’s degree in speech communication from Purdue University, and a doctorate in American studies from the University of Maryland College Park.

Kelley then went on to teach at Coppin State University for 31 years, sharing her wealth of knowledge and mentorship with students as a professor. She later served as dean, retiring in 2004.

In 1991, Kelley began her storied 32-year legislative career, first serving in the House of Delegates representing Baltimore City. However, after redistricting and serving one term in the House, Kelley decided to move to Baltimore County and run for elected office, becoming one of the fist elected officials of color to serve her district. Kelly successfully ran for a seat in the State Senate representing Baltimore County, serving from 1995 to 2023 — one of the longest serving members of the Maryland Senate.

In her last term, Kelley served as Chair of the Finance Committee and as a member of the Executive Nominations Committee. She previously served on numerous other committees, commissions, task forces and advisory councils, learning and lending her expertise to improve policies on behalf of Marylanders. Included among her legislative victories are the Right to Counsel for Juveniles Arrested or Detained; Permanency for Children in Out-of-Home Placement; the Mothers and Infants Health Security Act; the New Home Builders Registration Act; and the No Probation before Judgment — Sexual Offenses Against a Child.

In addition to her work as a legislator and educator, Kelly volunteered and provided leadership to a number of organizations. She is a founding director of the Harbor Bank of Maryland — the first full-service Maryland bank owned by people of color ­— and served on the institution’s executive committee. She has also served on numerous boards, including the Baltimore Urban League and the Institute for Christian-Jewish Studies, is a past president of the Black Jewish Forum of Baltimore, a former secretary of the Democratic Party, a former chair of the Maryland Electoral College, and as a member of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Kelley has deservingly earned numerous awards for her dedication, leadership and public work, including the Legislative Leader Award from the Maryland Commission for Women, the First Annual Racial Justice Award from the YWCA of Greater Baltimore, the Dorthy Beatty Memorial Award from the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, the Legislator of the Year Award from the Domestic Violence Network of Maryland, and the First Citizen Award from the Maryland Senate. She also was inducted in the Daily Record’s Maryland’s Top 100 Women Circle of Excellence.

For her incredible public service, leadership and work to make Maryland stronger through effective policymaking, education and civic involvement, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is pleased to award the 2023 Public Service Award to Senator Delores Goodwin Kelley.

Inspire MD is an annual celebration that gathers Maryland’s community of leaders, changemakers, entrepreneurs, influencers and professionals for an evening celebrating the people and organizations that make Maryland unique. Featuring networking, entertainment, food, drinks and festivity, the event is ticketed and open to the public.