When we set out to identify the 50 most powerful people in Baltimore, we first asked ourselves the obvious question: What is power? C C Is it money? No, but certainly many people on our Power 50 have lots of it. Is it political stature? No, but some on the list are politicians. Is it influence? Not quite, but everyone on our list has the ability to make people see things their way. C C No, as we pondered the concept of power, we decided it was this: All of those things—money, stature, influence (and, curiously enough, the nickname Chip)—in action. The people on our Power 50 are vigorously involved—making phone calls, cutting through red tape, setting agendas, and building (or toppling) kings. C C Familiarize yourself with these names. Because whether you know it or not, these are the people who hold Baltimore in the palms of their hands.
PETER ANGELOS Age: 74 Title: President and Managing Principal, Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos Nickname: The Greek Tycoon Power Play: Hometown muscle behind city’s most daring redevelopment project since the Inner Harbor. Power Source: Superlawyer from the streets of Highlandtown parlayed one of the nation’s largest class action lawsuits into a financial empire. High-profile owner of the Baltimore Orioles has his fingers in virtually every pie in the city—the biggest of which is his massive West Side redevelopment venture. He’s unfailingly charitable—he was Maryland’s first million-dollar donor to the United Way. And even when he loses, he wins: He “settled” for $150 million (instead of $1 billion) in fees for his work on behalf of Maryland in the national tobacco suit. Bottom line: A brilliant legal mind, a street fighter’s moxie, a bottomless war chest, and a desire to recreate the vibrant downtown of his youth makes Angelos the most important man in the city.
JOHN PATERAKIS Age: 74 Title: President, H&S Bakery and H&S Properties Development Corporation Nickname: Harbor Master Power Play: Fells Point bakery mogul is in the process of building a “city within the city” in his own backyard. Power Source: Just how successful is Paterakis? The $600 million Inner Harbor East project, which will ultimately be three times the size of Harborplace, is just one of the sesame seeds on the bun of his billion-dollar H&S Bakery empire. Bottom line: What Paterakis wants, Paterakis usually gets. However, his passion for legalizing gambling in Baltimore has thus far been unfruitful (despite rumors that he has pre-wired the Inner Harbor Marriott for slots). If he and his ally Bob Ehrlich can pull that one off, he just might switch places with Angelos on this list.
DAVID CORDISH Age: 63 Title: Chairman, The Cordish Company Nickname: The Mogul Power Play: Took two notorious failures—The Power Plant and The Brokerage—and turned them into entertainment and nightlife anchors that reignited stalled downtown development. Power Source: It took a developer of Cordish’s national stature to bring the big boys—the flagship ESPNZone, Hard Rock Cafe, The Improv, Barnes & Noble, et al—into Baltimore. Power Car: Jaguar XK8 convertible. Bottom Line: While much of Cordish’s branded entertainment district development takes place outside of Baltimore, he takes care of his hometown first.
RAYMOND “CHIP” MASON Age: 66 Title: Chairman, President, CEO, Legg Mason, Inc. Nickname: Mr. Baltimore Power Play: Enduringly popular financial king has managed to turn above-board decency into a power virtue. Power Source: In an era of mergers and acquisitions gone mad (R.I.P. Alex. Brown), Legg Mason remains one of the biggest employers in Baltimore and one of the most successful financial service companies in the U.S. All credit goes to founder and president Mason, whose conservative growth strategy has allowed him to steadily build the company into today’s juggernaut with $100 billion in assets under management. Bottom line: Mason’s a shrewd businessman and a nice guy (we couldn’t find anyone to utter a bad word about him) who uses community service (United Way, Hopkins, BMA, etc.) to add to his sphere of influence.
MARTIN O’MALLEY Age: 40 Title: Mayor Nickname: The Chosen One Power Play: Second term as Mayor virtually a lock (the Greater Baltimore Urban League tried to identify a viable challenger and came up with bupkus). And Bob Ehrlich can already hear his footsteps. Power Source: In three short years, has established himself as the most important political figure in Maryland (his cat-and-mouse, will-he-or-won’t-he gubernatorial candidacy had the city and state holding their breath). Part JFK, part William Donald Schaefer, he can command a room with his charisma, but does have a tendency to fly off the handle. Bottom Line: If he breezes into the State House, can the White House be far behind?
MAYO SHATTUCK III
Age: 49 Title: Chairman, President, CEO, Constellation Energy Group Nickname: The Power Broker Power Play: Single-handedly engineered turnaround of floundering $4 billion Constel-lation Energy Group. Power Source: Former Alex. Brown chief stuck it out for three years after the Deutsche Bank takeover before deciding to hang up his ticker tape. But instead of riding off into the sunset—he briefly pursued a job as head of the U.S. Olympic Committee—he was persuaded by old friend (and then-Constellation CEO) Christian H. Poindexter to rescue the 200-year-old company. Bottom Line: Handed a seemingly impossible task by Baltimore’s powers-that-be, former wunderkind lived up to the hype.
Age: 67 Title: U.S. Senator Nick-name: Senator Hon Power Play: Third-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate makes sure Maryland (and Baltimore) gets a piece of the federal funding pie. Power Source: After nearly two decades in the Senate, this pro-labor, tough-on-crime dynamo has never forgotten her social worker (or Fells Point) roots. Power Car: Buick LeSabre. Bottom Line: First woman elected Senator knows how to maneuver within the old boys’ network.
HOWARD “PETE” RAWLINGS Age: 66 Title: State Delegate, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Nickname: The Gatekeeper Power Play: In 2002 put his muscle behind Del. Lisa Gladden, virtually assuring that former ally Sen. Barbara Hoffman would not be re-elected to the newly formed 41st District. Power Source: With Hoffman out of the way, Rawlings became the city’s most powerful legislator. As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he exerts an almost godlike control over city and state contracts. Bottom line: Wields fiscal and legislative clout, plus enormous influence within the African-American community.
KWEISI MFUME Age: 54 Title: President and CEO, NAACP Nickname: Mr. Popularity Power Play: Gives instant credibility to any candidate or cause that he champions. Power Source: Scored an astronomical 87 percent favorable rating among potential mayoral voters—and he’s not even in the race! Received warmly in both board rooms and back rooms, he’s got a diplomatic demeanor, but still knows how to play hardball. Plus, he has the clout of the 500,000-member strong NAACP behind him. Bottom Line: Quite possibly the most important political bedfellow you can have in Baltimore.
NANCY GRASMICK Age: 64 Title: Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nickname: The True Believer Power Play: Pushing the state takeover of city schools (and demanding higher graduation standards). Power Source: Oversees $4.5 billion school system. The New York Times recently cited Maryland’s school system as one to be emulated. State’s SAT scores are fourth in the nation. Turned down chance to be Bob Ehrlich’s running mate, citing her commitment to the children of Maryland. Power Car: State-issued Ford Crown Victoria. Bottom line: After 10 years, continues to build on her strong reputation in what is a notoriously thankless, high-burnout job. But did her newly-approved standarized tests reveal further weaknesses in the system?
ELIJAH CUMMINGS Age: 52 Title: U.S. Congress--man, 7th District Nickname: The Negotiator Power Play: Got the mighty Johns Hopkins Hospital to slow down its massive East Side biotech development and address residents’ concerns. Power Source: Comfortably slipped into Kweisi Mfume’s political shoes. Unabashedly old-school Democrat isn’t afraid to take on the White House (see his objections to the war in Iraq) but still knows his way around the churches and community cook-outs of the city. Power Car: 2000 Mercury Marquis. Bottom Line: No one wants to be on Elijah’s bad side, partly because he takes such good care of his friends and partly because he has the power to roll over his adversaries.
C. WILLIAM “BILL” STRUEVER Age: 51 Title: President and CEO, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Nickname: The Re-Animator Power Play: City’s busiest developer, with friends in high places. One of his most recent projects, the $14 million renovation of Belvedere Square, inspired tenant Mayor O’Malley (his campaign HQ is there) to send a controversial letter to area residents urging them to shop at the market. Power Source: City’s king of adaptive reuse (American Can Company, Tide Point, Bagby Furniture Building) is also lending his expertise to Paterakis’s Inner Harbor East development project. He is socially conscious (his work with the State Board of Education and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation) and notoriously cantankerous (his ongoing feud with fellow developer David Cordish). Power Car: Kayak. Bottom Line: The American Can Company has stumbled and Tide Point didn’t quite live up to expectations, but look for the ever-ingenious Struever to rebound in 2004.
WILLARD HACKERMAN Age: 76 Title: President and CEO, Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. Nickname: Edifice Rex Power Play: The man who built modern-day Baltimore is still working (see Constellation Energy’s new office tower at 750 E. Pratt Street). Power Source: Only the second person to helm America’s 14th-largest construction company; has donated his time and money while overseeing the construction of HarborPlace, the National Aquarium, the Meyerhoff, and more (including less-publicized waste processing facilities). He gave Hackerman House to the Walters, sits on several boards, and is a major Hopkins benefactor. Bottom Line: Though he’s nearing his eighth decade, Hackerman remains one of the city’s biggest kahunas.
RICHARD O. BERNDT Age: 60 Title: Managing Partner, Gallagher, Evelius, and Jones Nickname: Political Pope of Baltimore Power Play: The strategic and fundraising mastermind behind O’Malley’s surprise victory. Power Source: The publicity-averse Berndt will no doubt cringe at seeing his name on this list, but his close ties to the O’Malley administration and presence on several high-impact boards (Mercantile, Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies) makes him an undeniable power player. Berndt’s firm represents several high-profile clients who have business before the city, including John Paterakis and Mercy Medical Center. The best part? Berndt is no dirty dealer; he’s twice been honored by Pope John Paul II. Bottom Line: Ranking member of the city’s new boys’ network.
WILLIAM BRODY Age: 59 Title: President, Johns Hopkins University Nickname: Head Honcho Power Play: After winding up Hopkins’ record $1.52 billion fundraising campaign in 2000, is now aiming for another $2 billion by 2007. Power Source: Former Hopkins doc took over as president of both the university and the health system in 1996. As steward of the 41,000-employee behemoth, has been systematically renovating and expanding the campuses. All this, and he’ll also oversee the hospital’s $1 billion East Baltimore expansion—a project that had potential to further alienate Hopkins from its neighbors, but has instead opened up new lines of communication with the community. Bottom line: Gives the imposing Hopkins monolith a much-needed human face.
FREEMAN HRA---BOWSKI Age: 53 Title: President, UMBC Nickname: The Educator Power Play: Turned UMBC from a tiny commuter school into one of the nation’s Top 10 tech universities. Power Source: One of the region’s few leaders to bridge the gap between Baltimore city and county. After taking over the UMBC presidency in 1992, Hrabowski landed seats on numerous powerful boards, including Mercantile, Constellation Energy, and the Baltimore Community Foundation. Bottom Line: No mere education wonk, the charismatic and formidable Hrabowski has earned his role as one of the top policy-makers of the region.
CAL RIPKEN JR. Age: 43 Title: President and CEO, Ripken Baseball Nickname: The Natural Power Play: Living legend still has the Midas touch. Power Source: Shoo-in Hall of Famer spent a career establishing himself as a wholesome, hardworking American hero. In retirement, is cashing in on that image with numerous product endorsements (for Esskay, Radio Shack, Century 21, and Frito Lay) and the Ripken baseball brand (including the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the Cal Ripken Youth Camps and Clinics, and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation). Bottom Line: What corporation or charity wouldn’t want to hitch their cart to the Ripken mystique?
EDDIE C. BROWN Age: 62 Title: President, Brown Capital Management Nickname: The Benefactor Power Play: Is fast on his way to becoming the city’s biggest cultural philanthropist. Power Source: In the past few years, the avuncular Brown, who owns the second-oldest African-American investment firm in the U.S., has given millions of dollars to the city’s arts and cultural institutions. His $6 million gift to Maryland Institute College of Art—and the subsequent creation of the Brown Center—was the single largest in the history of the school. Another million went to the Enoch Pratt Library, and $5 million went to fund a sweeping social/educational initiative program. Power Car: Mini Cooper. Bottom Line: Using his money to shape the arts and cultural agenda in Baltimore.
JAMES “CHIP” Di-PAULA JR. Age: 41 Title: Maryland Secretary of Budget and Management Nickname: Boy Wonder Power Play: Youngest-ever budget secretary decides who wins and who loses while eliminating state’s projected $1.2 billion shortfall. Power Source: DiPaula, a first-time campaign manager, orchestrated Ehrlich’s upset win. Number-crunching wizard now has the unenviable task (and awesome responsibility) of balancing the state budget. Bottom Line: Slot proposal is in intensive care. Has DiPaula’s job gone from difficult to impossible?
EDWARD ST. JOHN Age: 65 Title: President and CEO, MIE Properties Inc. Nickname: Office Park Ranger Power Play: After conquering Baltimore County, commercial developer has staked his claim in Anne Arundel County. Power Source: Capitalized on the phenomenon of the ’80s—the instant, no-frills office park—to build his development dynasty, one that has spread to Colorado, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. Recently tussled with Anne Arundel County residents who tried to halt his latest project—and emerged victorious. Bottom Line: Chairman of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce has changed the suburban landscape of Maryland.
ROBERT EHRLICH JR. Age: 44 Title: Governor Nickname: Favorite Son Power Play: Pride of Arbutus becomes Maryland’s first Republican governor in 34 years. Power Source: Charismatic Republican somehow managed to inspire “Democrats for Ehrlich” bumper stickers and beat the ruling party. However, after the initial euphoria of victory, the reality of maneuvering within a largely Democratic General Assembly set in. Bottom Line: Slot bill loss was a setback; so were his public squabbles with Speaker of the House Michael Busch. But if he can restore fiscal solvency without raising taxes, he will silence most critics and prove to be a formidable opponent in 2006.
BEN CARDIN Age: 60 Title: U.S. Congressman, 3rd District Nickname: The Advocate Power Play: Helped secure $28 million in federal grants for Maryland’s homeland security, including $4.3 million to improve defense at the Port of Baltimore. Power source: Liberal Democrat—the senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee—has added homeland security to his pet issues of pension, welfare, and healthcare reform. Bottom Line: Unassuming but successful Congressional vet uses squeaky-clean record and sharp legislative mind to win friends and influence government.
FRANK M. REID III Age: 52 Title: Senior Pastor and CEO, Bethel AME Church Nickname: The Preacher Power Play: Spiritual leader to a vast congregation network that is 14,500 worshippers strong. Power Source: Many city officials attend Reid’s church, including City Council president Sheila Dixon . . . and her opponent, Councilwoman Catherine Pugh. Bottom Line: A Reid endorsement virtually guarantees tens of thousands of African-American votes.
JAMES L. SHEA Age: 51 Title: Managing Partner, Venable Nick-name: Legal Eagle Power Play: Oversees Venable’s expansion into new territories while shepherding some of Baltimore’s most vital civic organizations. Power Source: Corporate defense wiz heads up the largest law firm headquartered in Baltimore. He chairs both Empower Baltimore Management Corp.—dispersing more than $100 million in federal funds—and the Downtown Partnership; and sits on the boards of the GBC, Mercantile, and the BSO. Bottom Line: Sixty percent of Venable’s business may now come from Washington, but it’s public service that keeps Shea vested in Baltimore.
RICHARD HUG Age: 68 Title: Chief fundraiser, Ehrlich for Governor Nickname: The Kingmaker Power Play: Raised a state record $10.4 million for Ehrlich’s 2002 campaign—eclipsing the vaunted Kennedy fundraising machine. Power Source: One of only several hundred GOP super-fundraisers (called The Pioneers) who can quickly generate millions by bringing out the Republican big guns, including Rudy Giuliani and President Bush (for whom Hug served in the 2000 election). Bottom Line: Fundraising ace infuriated City Hall by making overtures to raise money for some of O’Malley’s potential Democratic challengers in the mayoral race.
DAVID RAMSAY Age: 64 Title: President, University of Maryland, Baltimore Nickname: Gentleman and Scholar Power Play: Helped lay groundwork for West Side redevelopment by expanding the UMB campus. Power Source: London-born doctor took over stagnant UMB in 1994. Now all six professional schools and the graduate school are nationally ranked for excellence. Bottom Line: With $225 million in construction (and 3,000 new jobs) planned over the next few years, is positioning UMB (and himself) as cornerstones of the West Side renaissance.
ANTHONY DEERING Age: 58 Title: Chairman and CEO, The Rouse Company Nickname: Mall Magnate Power Play: Proved himself a worthy custodian of the Rouse legacy, taking calculated risks to grow the company while honoring the family’s commitment to community service. Power Source: Though it has been 35 years since Harborplace and Columbia, the Rouse Company is still vital to the economic health of Maryland. And thanks to Deering’s Las Vegas gamble (acquiring a giant land development firm) the company will have a chunk of the booming Western market, ensuring its vitality in years to come. Power Car: Mercedes 500. Bottom Line: James Rouse would be proud.
DAVID GILLECE Age: 53 Title: President, Colliers Pinkard Nickname: The Successor Power Play: Tapped in May by Wally Pinkard to helm Colliers Pinkard, making Gillece only the second non-family president of the $700 million commercial real estate firm, whose clients include Legg Mason, Piper Rudnick, and DAP. Power Source: Took an odd path to the top of a commercial real estate company: Had a top role at the Citizen’s Planning and Housing Association, and headed the Baltimore Economic Development Corp., the BDC’s predecessor. Now, has respectfully supplanted Wally Pinkard as the company’s go-to guy. Bottom Line: Knows how to sell Baltimore as a city, a concept, and a product; should weather business drought just fine.
WILLIAM MARIMOW Age: 56 Title: Editor and Senior VP, The Sun Nickname: The Headliner Power Play: The highly ethical boss of our town’s sole major daily. Power Source: Came to town a decade ago with two Pulitzers in tow; since he took over as managing editor (and then editor), The Sun has racked up three. Likes long investigative features, which helps lure good reporters from other papers. Bob Ehrlich is still giving him the cold shoulder (for The Sun’s perceived anti-Republican bias) but city politicians crave that all-important Sun endorsement. Bottom Line: When you’re the only game in town, you’ve got a captive audience.
STEWART GREENE----BAUM Age: 67 Title: President, Greenebaum and Rose Associates Nickname: Medical Miracle Power Play: With wife Marlene (whose cancer was cured at UM), gave $10 million to the University of Maryland Medical System for the newly named Greenebaum Cancer Center. Power Source: Real estate tycoon—and former chairman of the UMMS board of directors—spent the ’90s giving his fortune back to the city’s medical institutions (along with the $10 million gift, he founded the Children’s House at Johns Hopkins) and establishing college and medical scholarships. Bottom Line: UMMS has thrived thanks to his leadership and generosity.
ED HALE SR. Age: 56 Title: Chairman and CEO, First Mariner Bancorp Nickname: Local Hero Power Play: Hale’s $100 million Canton Crossing is—along with Inner Harbor East and the West Side redevelopment—one of the city’s most visible signs of rejuvenation. Power Source: Humble son of Highlandtown became a financial wiz with limited banking experience, founding First Mariner Bank, which just passed $1 billion in assets. His muscle-flexing around town—he out-bid John Paterakis for the rights to Canton Crossing—has even managed to attract the ire of another Highlandtown kid, Peter Angelos, thanks to plans for Hale’s First Mariner Arena to be festooned with splashy billboards . . . visible from Angelos’s office. Power Car: Lexus SC 430 convertible. Bottom Line: Hale’s wallet isn’t as big as some of Baltimore’s heaviest hitters, but a couple of other parts of him sure are.
WILLIAM CARDINAL KEELER Age: 72 Title: Arch-bishop of Baltimore Nickname: The Peacemaker Power Play: When the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse cover-up scandal broke, Keeler released one of the country’s most thorough and self-critical reports, naming 83 archdiocese priests who had been accused over the past 70 years. Power Source: Keeler heads the nation’s oldest Catholic See, with nearly 500,000 members. Though the Church has been scarred by the abuse revelations, Keeler has been contrite and penitent, calling the cover-up the “spiritual equivalent of murder”—which has helped satisfy parishioners. Is also a key figure in promoting Jewish-Catholic relations, both in Maryland and across the country. Bottom line: Having an Irish Catholic mayor ain’t going to hurt Keeler’s spiritual influence over the power players of Baltimore.
RABBI HERMAN NEUBERGER Age: 85 Title: President, Ner Israel Rabbinical College Nickname: The Bridge Builder Power Play: Adviser to many of Baltimore’s most influential leaders. Power Source: Wise, accessible, and morally unimpeachable president of the largest yeshiva campus in the world manages to foster dialogue, both between Jews and non-Jews and among the various sects of the Jewish community. Bottom Line: Sen. Barbara Mikulski told The Jewish Times that she once turned down dinner with Vice President Al Gore to dine with Rabbi Neuberger.
MARK JOSEPH Age: 65 Title: Chair-man and CEO, MMA Financial (MuniMae) Nickname: Multi-family Man Power Play: Recent acquisition gives MuniMae $7.5 billion in assets, making it America’s fourth largest multifamily housing manager. Power Source: Turned stability of multifamily housing (and a rare license to write Fannie Mae loans) into a steady growth strategy. A prolific board member, Joseph got his start providing housing for the homeless; he worked under Mayor Schaefer and helped found the Baltimore School for the Arts. Bottom Line: Most of MuniMae is based elsewhere; but Joseph’s never leaving Charm City.
CATHY HUGHES Age: 56 Title: Chairman, Radio One Nickname: Vox Populi Power Play: Continues to expand a media empire that reaches more than 18 million pairs of ears. Power Source: She was the first African-American woman to have her company on the NYSE; she’s been dubbed “the voice of the Black community.” Local ties include the boards of the Baltimore Development Corporation and the Maryland African-American Museum Corporation. Bottom Line: Urban radio’s Rupert Murdoch.
BOB EMBRY JR. Age: 66 Title: President, The Abell Foundation Nickname: The Wise Man Power Play: The Abell Foundation allocates funding to innovative social, health, education, and arts programs and invests in progressive local companies. Embry decides who gets how much. Power Source: When he’s not playing urban Santa Claus, the former head of the Maryland State Board of Education is one of the region’s most trusted intellectuals. Bottom Line: Keeps a low profile but continues to mold Baltimore’s civic conscience.
EDWARD “NED” KELLY III Age: 49 Title: Chairman, Pres-ident, and CEO, Mercantile Bankshares Corp. Nickname: The New Boss Power Play: Took over complete control of the 139-year-old Baltimore institution in March 2003; that same month, he pulled the trigger on Mercantile’s largest merger ever, buying F&M Bancorp for $500 million. Power Source: During H. Furlong “Baldy” Baldwin’s 25-year tenure, Merc had grown slowly and steadily; it’s the bank for Baltimore’s (and some of America’s) blue bloods. Kelly had just been named managing director at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York—but he liked the idea of running a less massive financial firm, and took Merc’s bait. His less-conservative style energized other Merc executives. Bottom Line: Kelly’s going to put Merc’s assets, stability, and reputation to work by competing with the big national banks for acquisitions—but is it all to make Merc a tempting takeover target?
FRANK BONSAL JR. Age: 66 Title: Founding Partner, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) Nickname: Rich Uncle Frank Power Play: Kept his $5 billion venture capital firm from being dragged under during the tech plunge: Today, it’s one of the most aggressive VC firms around. Power Source: Along with Chuck Newhall and Dick Kramlich, founded NEA in a St. Paul St. rowhouse back in 1978; Bonsal’s still running the show, and NEA—one of the country’s largest VC companies—particularly likes Washington/Baltimore area start-ups. Bottom Line: Bonsal beat the e-commerce crash, and is maneuvering to catch the next wave (biotech and health care).
JOHN MORTON III Age: 59 Title: National Premier Banking Exec-utive, Bank of America Nickname: The Money Man Power Play: Gave the green light to B of A’s $200 million funding for the West Side rejuvenation. Power Source: Morton, a U.S. Naval Academy grad, used to head up the bank’s Mid-Atlantic operations, based in Charm City. He’s a former GBC chair who once got members to kick in $500,000 at one meeting to fund an initiative to fight endemic homicide. Bottom Line: Though he’s no longer as wired into the city, Morton’s going to be watching his bank’s investment very carefully.
LEROY MERRITT Age: 72 Title: Chair-man, Merritt Properties Nickname: Building Baron Power Play: Continues to erect the shrines to capitalism that made him his fortune. Power Source: From humble block-layer to one-time partner of Ed St. John, Merritt went his own way in 1970 and fashioned a real estate dynasty—everything from warehouses to the Merritt Athletic Clubs to upscale office parks. Known for his terse business manner, Merritt nonetheless has a soft spot for kids, especially those with special needs, and he gives generously to the Harbour School, the Children’s Guild, the Norbel School, and the Living Classrooms Foundation. Power Car: Mercedes 600. Bottom Line: Office park titan is still going strong at 72.
WILLIAM DONALD SCHAEFER Age: 82 Title: Comptroller of Maryland Nickname: Mayor Emeritus Power Play: Willie Don’s demands are ignored at one’s own risk. Power Source: Former four-term Mayor and two-term Governor continues to play old-fashioned, grudge-carrying political hardball with those who don’t heed his words (see Schaefer spilling the beans about Gov. Parris Glendening’s love affair). Bottom Line: “Mayor Annoyed” has tenured clout in the town he built.
STEVE GEPPI Age: 53 Title: President, Diamond Comics Nickname: Cap-tain Comic Power Play: Continues to consolidate his hold on global comic book distribution. Power Source: His love of comics coincided with their rediscovery by America; movies and TV shows regularly plunder material from Geppi’s domain. As owner of this magazine and a minority owner of the Orioles, has invested in two of the town’s defining institutions. Bottom Line: Little Italy’s Horatio Alger turned cartoons into big-time cash.
PAT JESSAMY Age: 55 Title: State’s Attorney, Baltimore City Nickname: The Survivor Power Play: She’s repeatedly butted heads with golden boy Mayor O’Malley—and managed to get re-elected in a landslide. Power Source: Refuses to play ball with City Hall or the Baltimore Police Department on political hot-button cases; has proven herself to be as stubborn and independent as both those institutions. Bottom Line: Jessamy is one person O’Malley won’t miss when he leaves town for Annapolis (and beyond).
DR. BENJAMIN CARSON SR. Age: 52 Title: Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital Nickname: Baltimore’s Dr. Kildare Power Play: National folk hero performed countless brain surgeries this year (some quite radical) while battling prostate cancer. Power Source: Rose up from humble beginnings to become world-renowned neurosurgeon who gives back to the community with Carson Scholars Fund and inspirational speaking engagements. Like Cal Ripken Jr., his “name brand” gives instant popularity and credibility to any cause he aligns himself with. Bottom Line: Some budding entrepreneur should come up with a Dr. Ben Carson action figure—we’re sure it would fly off the shelves.
CHARLES W. NEW-HALL III Age: 58 Title: General partner, NEA Nickname: Adventure Capitalist Power Play: Newhall’s wealth and civic activism make him a must-have for aspiring boards and causes. Power Source: Health-care and biotech expert sits on 12 corporate boards and is the chairman of the BMA. Bottom Line: Has more power than he exercises; genuine affability and dedicated engagement to Baltimore.
WALTER S. THOMAS SR. Age: 52 Title: Pastor, New Psalmist Baptist Church Nickname: The Motivator Power Play: Organized Kingdom Conference 2003 that brought 2,000 people to the Baltimore Convention Center. Power Source: This month, follows up Kingdom Conference with the Women’s Retreat 2003. Counts Elijah Cummings among his parishioners (and Bill Clinton among his church’s guests). Bottom Line: Has potential to compete with Frank Reid as Baltimore’s most powerful African-American spiritual leader.
DON FRY Age: 47 Title: President, Greater Baltimore Committee Nickname: The Overseer Power Play: Early role in West Side redevelopment earned GBC a seat at the table; Fry pleads the tough case for bringing slots to Baltimore. Power Source: New GBC chief heads a metropolitan agency involved in nearly every aspect of Baltimore and its environs, from two new city biotech parks and the Hippodrome to drug treatment facilities and mass transit. Fry’s job is not just to identify problems but to propose and initiate solutions. Bottom Line: Seven-year General Assembly vet (and Harford County native) knows how to play the political game for Baltimore without annoying suburban officials.
WALTER PINKARD JR. Age: 52 Title: Chairman and CEO, Colliers Pinkard Nickname: Charm City Father Power Play: Try to find a major board of directors without Wally’s name on it: Pinkard’s civic investment is immeasurable. Power Source: Presided over W. C. Pinkard & Co.’s growth into a powerhouse during the booming ’80s and ’90s; merged with Colliers International; expanded into North Carolina and further successes. Devoted to Baltimore (he’s still a city resident), he’s signed on for nearly every power board in town: BCF, GBA, GBC, JHU, and MICA. Bottom Line: Gillece’s appointment as president of Colliers Pinkard gives Wally even more time for his beloved hometown.
GARY VIKAN Age: 56 Title: Director, The Walters Art Museum Nickname: Renaissance Man Power Play: Dynamic director, famed for his love of all things Elvis (and, more recently, for protesting the looting of the Baghdad National Museum), oversaw the Walters’ $24 million renovation; successfully transitioned gallery from esoteric collection to user-friendly museum. Power Source: Forged long-overdue partnership with BMA (but merger talks stalled) and helped bring Vivat! Arts Festival to Baltimore. Bottom Line: Medieval museum; modern director.
BILL FINE Age: 48 Title: President and General Manager, WBAL-TV Nickname: The Talking Head Power Play: High-profile boss of Balti-more’s most-watched news station. Power Source: Since taking over the station in 1998, Fine has become a visible and active member of the Baltimore community—sitting on several boards (GBC, Cystic Fibrosis, Shock Trauma, The Pride of Baltimore II) and making his earnest on-air editorials that often call for action based on the investigative work of the station’s patented I-Team. Power Car: Lexus ES 300. Bottom Line: How many other TV station GMs can you name?