The Harford County Department of Community Services and Commission for Women celebrated the next generation of women leaders at the 2023 Leading Women Awards on March 15 at the Richlin Catering & Event Center in Edgewood, recognizing young women who are dedicated to compassionate community service and superior academic achievement.
“The successes of tonight’s nominees and their bright futures are wonderful,” Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly said. “They have achieved excellence in school, and they volunteer countless hours to improve the lives of others. I am happy to recognize them, and I look forward to seeing what they achieve next.”
Fifteen young women were nominated for 2023: Camille Duncan, C. Milton Wright High School; Linda Dillon Garcia, Edgewood High School; Kris Gray, North Harford High School; Caitlin Heiderman, C. Milton Wright High School; Ella Holbrook, Harford Christian School; Joycelyn “Joy” Jacobs, The John Carroll School; Jayla Kell, Aberdeen High School; Jasminder Kohli, Aberdeen High School; Rowan Maichle, Edgewood High School; Molly Martin, Havre de Grace High School; Divya Somuri, Bel Air High School; Imyjah Taylor, Aberdeen Middle School; Kiyomi Ton, C. Milton Wright High School; Makayla Webb, Edgewood High School; and Leah Wynn, Bel Air High School.
The 2023 Leading Women Award winners are Imyjah Taylor for grades 7-8; Joy Jacobs for grades 9-10; and Leah Wynn for grades 11-12.
Imyjah Taylor is a seventh-grader at Aberdeen Middle School who maintains a 3.7 GPA and is a mentor to sixth-graders. She is a student representative to the school administration to discuss and seek peaceful resolutions to protesting issues. As a member of the Word of Faith International Outreach Church, Imyjah sings in the choir, assists with Sunday school and helps with holiday outreach. Imyjah admires Madam C. J. Walker for her determination as an entrepreneur and the first female self-made millionaire in an era when black women were often disregarded.
Joy Jacobs, a ninth-grader at The John Carroll School, maintains a 3.89 GPA. She is a counselor in training with New Service Training Employment Program (N-STEP), a leader in training for St. Joan of Arc Camp Intervention and a member of the Youth Empowerment Society. As a Girl Scout for nine years, Joy completed her Silver Award with a mental health awareness campaign, providing peers at the Boys and Girls Clubs with bookmarks featuring calming techniques and emergency numbers if they need assistance. Joy also serves as a youth ambassador for the Association for the Prevention of Sickle Cell Anemia. She admires American businesswoman and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) Sheila Johnson for her willingness to tackle projects others would not consider.
Leah Wynn is a senior at Bel Air High School with dual enrollment at Harford Community College. With a 4.31 GPA, she is a member of several honor societies and the Student Government Association. She participated in the three-month MTM Foundation Business and Entrepreneurship program as the CEO of her company, the Wynn Company and 5 Keys to Academic Success. Leah is a student intern for both a genetic counselor of oncology at MedStar Franklin Square and an anesthesiologist and critical care specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She also volunteers her time with the Rotary Club and Young Enrichment Society and is a member of the Speech and Debate Team and Reach Club.
As winners in their categories, each young woman received a check for $500 from the Harford County Public Library and multiple citations from local elected officials.
Keynote speaker Claudine Adams is Chief Executive Officer and founder of Bravura Inc. “Success is as much about opportunities as following your passions,” Adams told the young women. “Look for them and be open to them.”
The late Violet “Vi” Ripken was honored as the 2023 Leading Woman of the Past.
Mary Hastler, chair of the Harford County Commission for Women, recounted the life story and community presence of the late Mrs. Ripken, who was honored for her dedication to her family, her community and serving at risk youth. She was a founding member of the Harford County Boys and Girls Club and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. Together these foundations have impacted the lives of thousands of youths in Harford County and throughout the country.
The commission would like to thank the Richlin Catering & Event Center for hosting this event and thank event sponsors Harford County Public Library, Harford Mutual Insurance Group and HarfordTV for their generosity.
The Harford County Women’s Commission consists of 15 volunteer members appointed by the County Executive and approved by the County Council. Their mission is to support the economic, social and political equality of women. For more information about the Commission for Women, please visit www.harfordcountymd.gov or contact 410-638-3389. Applications for the 2024 Harford County Leading Women Awards will be available in the fall.