Twice a year, over 100 amazing women, members of Power of 100, Chesapeake Women Who Care (Power of 100), meet at a selected venue to give their support to local nonprofits and to each other. Each member gives $100 to the organization, and then each member votes on where they believe the collected money would best serve our community. The organization thus far has raised nearly $100,000 for local charities. If you are interested in learning more or joining the Power of 100, visit www.powerof100chesapeake.com.
Once a month, we are honoring one of the many local women who make Power of 100 possible in hopes of shining a spotlight on all of their amazing members and the work they support. This month we talked to Power of 100 member Audrey Scott.
What personal or professional achievements and accomplishments are you most proud of?
Going to graduate school at age 50 to get my Master’s Degree; founder of Bowie Health Center, the first free standing ER in Maryland; Mayor of Bowie; Prince George’s County Councilwoman; Secretary of Planning on Governor Ehrlich’s Cabinet; General Deputy Secretary at HUD under Presidents Reagan and Bush; inducted into Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007; named a Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay 2015.
What local organizations are you involved with?
Chesapeake Charities Foundation, Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, Talisman Therapeutic Riding, Hickory Ridge Improvement Association, Chesapeake Republican Women, Maryland Automobile Insurance Commission, Philanthropic Education Organization (PEO), and others.
What prompted you to go back for your Master’s Degree? Any advice for people pursuing higher education?
I started my Master’s twice, once at Tufts as soon as I graduated and once at Harvard, but opportunities and life interrupted both attempts. When I wrote the last college tuition check for my number four son in 1986 when I was 51 years old, I enrolled in the Master’s Program at George Washington University and attended night classes for two years and graduated in 1989. It was refreshing and exhilarating, and I never wanted it to end. I would wish this experience for anyone wanting to start or finish a degree. There’s a totally different perspective and appreciation for learning when you’re the oldest or one of the oldest students in the class, when you return to the classroom after a long hiatus.
How did you get into politics?
I never intended to “get into” politics, but when I was living in Bowie with four young sons, I made several trips to the emergency room at Prince George’s Hospital including one for a split chin from falling off a bicycle and another for a broken leg from a soccer game. I decided at that point that Bowie needed its own hospital. With a group of friends, mostly other housewives (Power of 100!!!), we completed the Certificate of Need (CON) and got State approval to build a 176 bed hospital in Bowie. Just a few months later, the state imposed a moratorium on all new hospital beds, so we proceeded and built everything except the beds, which turned out to be the first freestanding emergency room in Maryland. I served as Chairman of the Board for 27 years. Without realizing it, during the four years of preparation, development and construction, I was building name recognition and a support base that encouraged me to run for office. My first elective office was for Bowie City Council and after one year on the Council, I ran for Mayor (6 years), and that began my political career… General Deputy Assistant Secretary at HUD (12 years), Vice Chair Prince George’s County Council (8 years), State of Maryland Secretary of Planning (4 years).
You mentioned you visited Antarctica. What was it like?
When I graduated from college, I had an opportunity to apply for the Overseas Dependent School System, which was run by the State Department (that’s why I didn’t finish my Master’s the first time!). I taught for two years in France, then two years in Japan, and finally spent two years in England. The experience was nonparallel and imbued a sense of travel in me that is still unsatisfied, even though I have visited all seven continents, the latest of which was Antarctica, my favorite. Antarctica is pristine. I was on an Expedition Ship which is like a floating classroom; no cruise ships are allowed in Antarctica. There were two lectures daily on the environment, exploration, astronomy, whales, seals and penguins… all led by experts on the expedition team. We saw orcas, sperm whales and humpbacks, all five types of penguins and six species of seals… all up very close and personal. We went ashore on the continent twice and sometimes three times daily in zodiacs, which are black rubber rafts. The scenery is breathtaking; huge icebergs and sweeping glaciers against a clear blue sky. It was an amazing experience. I was there for the month of February during their summer so the temperatures were mainly in the 40’s, which was fairly comfortable. The one drawback was that my luggage never arrived, so all the special equipment I had purchased, like walking sticks, and insulated waterproof leggings, ski masks, goggles, etc. were not available to me. I spent the entire month in borrowed clothes! I wasn’t going to let missing luggage spoil a trip of a lifetime!
What sort of advice would you give to women looking to succeed in their careers?
I believe everyone, especially women, wanting to advance in their careers or enhance their education needs to be open to opportunities and needs to be flexible and ready to take risks. It is never too late nor are you ever too old to finish something you started a long time ago or to start something new. Also, take advantage of mentors and those who have gone before, people who can help you avoid the pitfalls or embarrassing mistakes. Most importantly, do what makes you happy, know your passion and follow it.
If you would like to learn more about the Power of 100, Chesapeake Women Who Care or to become a member you can go to their website at: https://www.powerof100chesapeake.com/