Skip to content


Meet the 2024 Inspire MD Award Winners

Apr 17, 2024

Get ready to be inspired! The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize several outstanding Maryland business visionaries, entrepreneurs and community leaders at our 2024 Inspire MD event.

This year, we are honored to present an esteemed inductee into the prestigious Maryland Business Hall of Fame, introduce the inaugural recipient of our Community Impact Award and recognize the exceptional achievements of five inspirational young Maryland professionals as our 2024 Rising Stars. In addition to these honorees, the Maryland Chamber will also pay special tribute to the first responders, emergency personnel, volunteers, and others involved in the rescue, recovery, and rebuilding efforts following the recent Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

Maryland Business Hall of Fame Inductee: Lawrence E. Kurzius

A headshot of Business Hall of Fame inductee Lawrence Kurzius

Lawrence E. Kurzius, Executive Chairman of the Board at McCormick & Company, will be inducted into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame. Mr. Kurzius has filled many executive leadership roles at McCormick since joining the company in 2003 following the acquisition of Zatarain's, where he previously served as President and CEO. His accomplished career also includes leadership roles at Quaker Oats Company and Mars, Inc. A graduate of Princeton University, Mr. Kurzius currently serves on the boards of Elanco Animal Health and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Public Service Award Winners: Key Bridge First Responders

Photo of debris and wreckage removal in wake of Baltimore Key Bridge collapse in support of reopening the Fort McHenry channel.

The Maryland Chamber will present the first responders, emergency personnel, volunteers and others involved in the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts following the recent Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse with the 2024 Public Service Award. Representatives from the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, Key Bridge Response Unified Command and the Baltimore City Fire Department are expected to be in attendance.

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visuals do not imply or constitute endorsement.

Community Impact Award: Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland

Live Casino Maryland logo

New for 2024, the Community Impact Award, presented in partnership with Maryland Nonprofits, honors businesses embodying outstanding community service. Our inaugural recipient is Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland. With community giving as part of its core mission, Live! contributes over $1 million annually through monetary and in-kind donations, supports diversity initiatives, provides spaces for local events, and empowers team members to volunteer thousands of hours. From senior leadership to frontline staff, Live! prioritizes uplifting the region it calls home.

Rising Star Honorees

A headshot of 2024 Maryland Rising Star Award Winner Jonathan Arons

Jonathan Arons, External Communications & Community Relations Manager at Giant Food

In his role at Giant Food, Jon Arons oversees strategies to build strong relationships with community organizations, media and customers across the regions Giant serves. He has been instrumental in supporting Giant's partnerships with local food aid programs like the Maryland Food Bank, helping raise over $282,000 through the company's Lend a Hand for Hunger campaign in 2022-2023, while also coordinating hundreds of volunteer hours from his Giant colleagues. Beyond his day job, Jon serves as the Executive Co-Chair of Giant's PRIDE Business Resource Group, fostering an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ associates and customers. His exceptional contributions were recognized with his receiving of Giant's 2022 Presidential Award, as well as his being named a 2023 GenNext Award winner by Progressive Grocer magazine.

A headshot of 2024 Maryland Rising Star Award Winner Wayne Dorsey

Wayne Dorsey, Founder & President of The Safe Ride Foundation

Wayne Dorsey is the President of The Safe Ride Foundation of Frederick County, with the mission of stopping impaired driving through innovative solutions; he originally founded the organization in 2015 at the age of 23. The foundation's flagship "SOS Safe Ride" mobile app has directly prevented over 17,000 instances of drunk driving in Frederick by providing safe transportation home for intoxicated individuals and their vehicles via a network of community volunteers. For his pioneering work, Dorsey has earned the Maryland Governor's Black History Month Community Leaders Award, Frederick County Touching Lives Award, as well as the Frederick County Impact Award. When he is not leading the charge against drunk driving as a social entrepreneur, the Frederick County native enjoys skateboarding, playing instruments, teaching combat sports and performing stand-up comedy.

A headshot of 2024 Maryland Rising Star Award Winner Arion Long

Arion Long, CEO of Femly

Arion Long, the visionary Chief Estrogen Officer of Femly, is upending the FemTech industry with groundbreaking products for women's health. Her patented innovation — the world's first touchless vending machine for pads and tampons — is changing the landscape of period care access nationwide. Femly's dispensers, which can be found in schools, offices and medical facilities across 25+ states, use sensor technology to provide no-cost organic menstrual products via a simple wave gesture, removing cost and accessibility barriers. Arion's fearless entrepreneurship has earned recognition from Google, Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams, among others. Despite nearly losing her own life, Arion continued to persevere after suffering a stillbirth, channeling her experience into creating more dignified period care solutions to address health disparities.

A headshot of 2024 Maryland Rising Star Award Winner Emily Tunis

Emily Tunis, President and COO of Hardwire, LLC

Emily Tunis is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Hardwire, LLC, a highly successful manufacturing firm based in Worcester County. Under her leadership, Hardwire designs and produces critical armor systems for the U.S. military, law enforcement and security applications while creating family-supporting jobs in a region with traditionally seasonal employment. Emily's vision has grown the company to over 90 full-time employees, and has expanded its innovative product lines to include items like the world’s lightest body armor and the Emergency Response Shield that has been donated to schools across three Maryland counties. Despite her demanding roles as an executive and mom, Emily selflessly dedicates time to supporting local organizations through board service and philanthropic initiatives benefiting her community. Her passion for STEM education and workforce development is demonstrated through Hardwire's internships and partnerships with schools and universities, as well as the championing of regional economic progress.

A headshot of 2024 Maryland Rising Star Award Winner Emily Uhlman

Emily Uhlman, Founder of ButterWorks Bakery USA

At just 14 years old, Emily Uhlman founded her successful bakery business ButterWorks Bakery USA in 2020. Her remarkable achievements and entrepreneurial spirit at such a young age have earned her widespread media recognition and acclaim, including being named Best Bakery and Best Dessert in the 2022 Baltimore Sun Readers' Choice awards. In addition to running her thriving company, Emily makes a point of giving back through her Cupcakes for Caregivers initiative, which has donated over 1,000 free cupcakes to fire departments, police stations, hospitals and nursing homes. She also volunteers by speaking to students to help inspire them to fearlessly pursue their dreams.

Join us to celebrate our award winners and the Maryland business community

Don't miss your chance to join us in celebrating these remarkable honorees and experiencing the energy, connections and excitement that make Inspire MD an annual can't-miss event! The evening will feature networking opportunities, live entertainment, themed food and drink and more in an atmosphere that celebrates Maryland's thriving business community.

Experience the energy and drive that makes Maryland so unique and strong. For tickets to help celebrate these awardees and for event details, visit