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Leadership Letter

This year’s Grants Showcase really illustrated how AAWGT invests, informs and inspires. One by one, last year’s grantees told their stories, showing us how their work in our community makes a real impact on vulnerable women and families.

We heard how My Sistah’s Keeper teaches financial literacy, life skills, goal setting and self-introspection to women with low incomes. Charting Careers explained how they are working to break the cycle of poverty with a mentor-focused approach that begins with tutoring and reading and continues with college and career guidance.

Marshall Hope Corp. and the Anne Arundel County Food Bank described the needs in the County that their baby pantries are designed to help meet.

Annapolis Immigration Justice Network explained their work providing legal representation to immigrant children. Court Appointed Special Advocates presented on their advocacy for abused and neglected foster children to support their transition from the court system to a safe and stable home.

HOPE For All told us about their continuing work to provide beds, furniture, clothing and household items to women and children as they transition from homelessness. And Rebuilding Together described the critical home repairs provided to low-income homeowners who, without their help, would be facing homelessness and foreclosure.

If you multiply all of the lives changed through grants to nonprofits large and small, you have the impact that our giving circle has in our county. Thank you all for being a part of AAWGT!


Maryann Gosnell, President
Susan Cook, Vice President

One More Grant Campaign

We’ve made a lot of changes this year – new member contribution levels, a simplified grant application, leaning further into trust-based philanthropy, revising the bylaws – but one thing remains the same: we want to be able to make as many grants as possible to local nonprofits serving women and families in our community.

As this year draws to a close, please consider donating a little extra to our Grant Fund so that we may fund one more grant in 2023. We have set a goal of raising an additional $25,000 by December 31 for the 2023 grant cycle. This amount would be above and beyond your regular membership contribution. That extra $25,000 would allow us to support at least one additional deserving nonprofit in 2023.

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With pledges of several thousand dollars already in hand, I’m confident that we can meet this ambitious goal in the next couple of months.

Giving is as easy as clicking HERE. This link takes you to our Donate page at the Community Foundation. From there, you simply fill in the amount of your donation in the box titled “One-time Donation Amount.”

Please consider joining the “One More Grant” campaign to help us do even more in 2023 for deserving women and families across our community and to further elevate the impact of our collective giving..

Maryann Gosnell
President, AAWGT

Grantee Spotlight:

Center of Help: Strengthening Families Program

The Center of Help’s mission is to empower, educate and connect immigrants with resources to promote self-sufficiency and to advocate for the successful integration of the immigrant community into Anne Arundel County and the surrounding areas.

For over 20 years, Center of Help has served as a vital resource for immigrant families. From citizenship and English classes to children’s programs, they provide educational opportunities and extend a welcoming hand to our neighbors. They are a one-stop resource center that assists immigrants to overcome challenges, navigate systems and achieve self-sufficiency to break cycles of poverty.

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The AAWGT grant is being used to fund one cycle of their Strengthening Families Program, a 14-week course for 14 families. Participants will learn new ways to connect with each other through bonding activities and practical lessons around communication, age-appropriate expectations and effective behavior reinforcement techniques.

Benefits extend beyond participating families by training parents and youth in relationship and “refusal skills” that decrease instances of generational issues like addiction and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). The CDC defines ACEs as potentially traumatic events that occur during childhood including abuse or neglect, violence, death of a family member, substance misuse, mental health problems, parental separation or incarceration. When immigrant families learn protective skills and build positive relationships through the Strengthening Families Program, children are less likely to experience ACEs and the probability of social problems in future generations is lessened. The program complements the Center of Help’s approach of working holistically with its clients across the entire spectrum of their needs.

An important outcome of the program will be parents and adolescents reporting that they have learned additional information regarding gang recruitment techniques, signs and risk factors for gang involvement and more communication regarding gangs. They expect that the majority of families will report a positive change in their children, themselves and their families as a result of participating in the program.

2022 AAWGT Founders’ Award

“I am honored and thrilled to receive the Founders’ Award. The changes that were made to the grant application process would not have been possible without the help from an amazing grants team. Karen Smith, Ginger From, Barbara Haight, Susan Cook and Judy Coughlin were a true Dream Team – hard working, supportive, open minded and fun to work with. It’s also important to recognize the role of the reviewers and team leaders who were willing to embrace the many changes to the grant process. And, of course, the endorsement by the Steering Committee was critical to success. AAWGT is fortunate to have so many intelligent and wonderful members who want the best for our community. I am grateful for the support from the entire organization.” — Cindy Whittle

The 2022 Founders’ Award was given this year to Cindy Whittle. Cindy was assistant chair of the Grants Committee in 2021 and chair in 2022. As assistant chair, she worked with then chair Susan Cook to completely rethink and revise the grant application. She spent hours researching best practices in the areas of grants, speaking with grant makers and grantees, and learning about trust-based philanthropy. Thanks to her efforts, our application was simplified with fewer questions and was targeted toward diversity, equity and inclusion.

It was a monumental task, but she deftly led the effort.

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Cindy also led a meeting of our membership where she explained the ideas behind all the changes, thereby eliciting 100% support.

As Grants Committee chair in 2022, Cindy demonstrated time and again that she wouldn’t ask members to do anything she wouldn’t herself take the time to do. Thus, she was always available to answer questions and work through issues.

Cindy worked to educate grant reviewers on the new application process. She also helped streamline the review process. Her capacity to think creatively and explain these new ways of reviewing grant applications was amazing. Her calm demeanor and dedication to the giving circle were critical to the success of the changes her committee proposed.

She is now planning on moving onto the Grants Systems Committee – one that will certainly benefit from her many skills.

Cindy is shown above with the engraved clock and flowers she received upon being named the 2022 Founders’ Award winner.

Read more about the Founders’ Award and all the amazing members who have received it HERE.

2022 Grants Showcase

AAWGT members and guests learned about 19 local nonprofits working with women, children and families at our annual Grants Showcase on September 13. Eleven of those local nonprofits are 2022 grant recipients. Eight of them received grants from AAAWGT in 2021, and made presentations at the event.

Thanks to our members, in 2021 we were able to grant $130,000 to those eight incredible organizations that are making positive changes for women and families in our community. This page on our website, has a list of all our grantees over 16 years of grant making.

Poverty Amidst Plenty VII: Moving Forward Together

The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County has published the 2022 Community Needs Assessment, Poverty Amidst Plenty VII: Moving Forward Together. The report provides an overview of the issues in our county that impact the economy and quality of life. It was prepared and written by Pamela M. Brown, Ph.D.,with assistance from Alexander Alty, Lisa Kovacs and Cindy O’Neill. Click here to learn more and to download a copy of the report.

Upcoming Events

Book Group: A great way to get involved, meet other members and learn something new. Be sure to register for these meetings on our website.

November 9: Education Meeting: Adult Literacy in Anne Arundel County. Register here.
November 15 (members only): Zoom likely: Annual Book and Film Planning Meeting

Racial Equity Study Group: All members are invited to join this group. Just send an email to Betsy Chotin or register through our website so that you will get a link to the monthly Zoom meetings, held the second Tuesday of the month from 4-5 p.m. Members are welcome to just listen in or participate. Now rounding out our fourth year with over 70 members, we address topics both historic and current, bring in speakers and listen to each other, all to learn for ourselves or figure out new ways our giving circle can expand what we do through grants, education programs and outreach. No homework, no obligation. Just come and see what our ever-growing group has to say!

Upcoming AAWGT Education Program

Adult Literacy in Anne Arundel County

Wednesday, November 9, 2022
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm via Zoom


Jane Seiss, Excutive Director, Anne Arundel County Literacy Council
Susann Felton, Math and High School Tutor and Trainer
LaToya Saunders, Literacy Council Alumna and High School Diploma Graduate

Our speakers will set the stage for the evening by describing the state of adult literacy in Maryland and in Anne Arundel County, where 20% and 15% of adults respectively have a low level of literacy. The ramifications of low reading ability are felt in all areas of life, including health, household income and outcomes for children. The Literacy Council, which has been providing services since 1977 and has a membership of over 300 tutors, offers a wide range of free, weekly, one-on-one services to help both adults and youth build their literacy skills.

To register, please click HERE. Follow the registration questions all the way to CONFIRM; your confirmation should arrive within seconds. If you have any questions about registering, please contact for assistance. The Zoom link to join the program will be sent the day before the event.

Fall AAWGT Business Meeting

Our Membership Committee has proposed, and the Steering Committee has approved, new contribution levels of membership in Our October 19 business meeting was well attended and featured an explanation of the changes in store for grants in 2023, the presentation of the leadership slate for next year, an update on the new membership tiers, the presentation of the Founders’ Award (see story below), and the first-ever “Name That Grantee” game that tested our members’ knowledge of this year’s grantees.

2023 Officers, Chairs and Assistant Chairs

President: Susan Cook
Vice President: Margaret Davis
Treasurer: Ellen Shiery
Assistant Treasurer: Mary Smith
Secretary: Kathleen Kryza
Assistant Secretary: Liz Gillette

Education and Program Committee: Kate Fritz, chair; Cassandra Moore, assistant chair
Event Logistics: Lisa Ausherman, chair; Nikki Morris, assistant chair
Governance Committee: Sue Russell, chair; Katherine Barnett and Barbara Goyette, assistant chairs
Grants Committee: Karen Smith, chair; Ginger From and Jean Mitchell, assistant chairs
Grants Systems Committee: Barbara Haight, chair; Cindy Whittle, assistant chair
Leadership Development and Nominating Committee: Michelle Hellstern, chair; Elaine Shanley, assistant chair
Marketing and Communications Committee: Linda Eggbeer, chair; Donna Anderson, assistant chair
Membership and Outreach Committee: Sue Pitchford, chair; Shelley Rubin and Cathleen Sparrow, assistant chairs
Post Grants Evaluation Committee: Caroline Purdy, chair; Bev Nash and Shari Friedman, assistant chairs Web/IT Systems: Maryann Gosnell; chair; Joyce Patten, assistant chair

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These new membership contribution levels were developed after discussions with other giving circles and with our leadership. We believe the change will build on our 16-year legacy of improving the lives of under-served women and families in Anne Arundel County.

As of October 1, 2022, the AAWGT contribution levels will now be:

  • Lifetime: $12,000 (donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation)
  • Sustainer: $1,075/year
  • Ally: $575/year
  • Catalyst: $375/year
  • Friend: $175/year

The $75 administrative fee continues for all levels of membership with the entire contribution remaining tax deductible. A lifetime member’s donor-advised fund pays the member’s annual dues of $500 per year, with the member paying the $75 administrative fee each year.


We would like to increase the number of AAWGT members and, at the same time, make membership more financially possible for more women. We recognize that not everyone can afford to pay $575 or $300 to join AAWGT. Our members are very generous, and we doubt they will reduce their dues payment under this new system – and are hopeful they will perhaps even increase it. By expanding our contribution levels, we are hoping to be more inclusive and to be more representative of our community. We believe these potential new members will have perspectives and talents that will be highly beneficial to AAWGT.

Our ultimate goal is to increase the money available for grants. As in the past, we also encourage members to make additional donations to the Grant Fund and to the Endowment Fund. The bottom line is that we want to generate a larger pool of grant dollars by encouraging an ever-growing number of members to give what they can at their comfort level.

The membership levels will be reviewed in two years’ time to see if our goals have been achieved.

Why diversity, equity and inclusion matter:

A more diverse, equitable and inclusive membership will provide more and different perspectives, which will enhance our work in the county. Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical as we continue to grow, change and innovate. Continuing to embed these values within AAWGT offers opportunities to engage the greatest number of stakeholders in every aspect of our mission. Our collective philanthropy encourages outreach to women in a variety of roles and circumstances who share our commitment to our mission.

Changes to membership level upon renewal:

These new membership levels will take effect on October 1, 2022. Each member’s usual renewal date will not change. When it is time for a member to renew, she will receive her usual email notice and at that time, she can choose among the five contribution levels outlined above.

Membership level confidentiality:

Personal membership levels are considered private and will remain undisclosed. The number of people who will know what a member has paid will be kept to an absolute minimum, with everyone understanding the importance of confidentiality.

Conflict of interest issues:

We hope this proposed new membership structure will encourage more nonprofit staff to become AAWGT members. Our governance team has written clear guidelines to prevent conflict-of-interest issues when an AAWGT member is also a founder, director, trustee or staff member of a nonprofit that is applying for a grant or serves on our Post Grants Evaluation Committee or our Grants Committee. These guidelines have been in place for some time and are reviewed frequently. They are available upon request.

We couldn’t have achieved this monumental change in our contribution levels without the hard work of many of our members. Thank you to all who brainstormed, reviewed, researched and collaborated to make it possible.

Grantee Spotlight:

The Community Alliance of South County – Camp: A Week of Possibilities

The southern portion of Anne Arundel County accurately reflects the phrase “poverty amidst plenty.” Its lack of public transportation, medical and other community resources led to the formation of the Community Alliance of South County (CASC). Through collaboration with neighbors, local businesses and government, their aim is to identify needs, and advocate for, offer and support sustainable programs that will positively impact our community. Their projects focus on transportation, food access and nutrition, community outreach and education and youth. Their current project came about when principals and school counselors shared that many of their students suffered from inadequate nutrition, often had shoes that didn’t fit, and generally didn’t have the same opportunities as other children in the area.

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Research has shown that when children living in poverty can participate in a range of activities and be exposed to backgrounds different from their own, they develop better social and emotional skills that are essential to success in school, careers and life in general. Camps focus on developing these skills and, thanks to AAWGT, ten children from South County (ages 8-11) were able to attend week-long overnight camps at Camp Letts and the West River Methodist Camp this past summer. Kids swam and canoed for the first time, excelled at games and gained craft skills. Best of all, they formed new friendships! Both the children and their parents reported that they LOVED camp! The two campers in the photo are wearing tee-shirts they created at camp.

To sustain the development of social and emotional skills, the ten campers are meeting once a month with volunteers from CACS to socialize and continue focusing on these skills. The volunteers will also be working with the parents to help them apply for camp scholarships for their children to attend next year. They are hopeful that these campers will have another chance to return to their friendships at camp and, in addition, at least ten new children will be able to have the same opportunity.

Women’s Charitable Giving is Continuing to Gain Momentum!

Mary Spencer, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, provided a commentary on charitable giving that was recently published in the Capital Gazette. “As women continue to make strides in the corporate and entrepreneurial world, there is also a growing trend in women’s giving. While women have long been thought of as taking the lead when volunteering talent and time, and they still do at 45%, women have also been slowly gaining momentum in another philanthropic category – charitable donations.” Mary went on to cite AAAWGT as an example of the growth of giving circles. Read the entire article here.

Celebration of Philanthropy

The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County will hold its annual Celebration of Philanthropy on November 3. Our very own Tatiana Klein will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award for her commitment to philanthropy in our community. Read more about Tatiana’s volunteer work here.

We are very proud of Tatiana and the difference she makes working with many local nonprofits. As CFAAC said, “Described as deeply caring, tireless, passionate, dedicated, hard-working, a leader and the ‛ultimate advocate,’ Tatiana’s volunteer efforts extend throughout the community and her commitment to improving the quality of life for Hispanic and other youth is unparalleled.” We couldn’t agree more!

Tech Expertise Needed

AAWGT has used Zoom for many meetings and education sessions in 2021-22. Zoom has made it possible for us to meet and learn despite the pandemic. As our resident Zoom expert, Susan Cook, moves into the president position next year, we are looking for a member who can help handle Zoom technical support in 2023. Susan can provide training as needed. Please contact if you are interested. Thank you!

Not a Member Yet?

Please email us at if you’d like to be added to the invite list for our next prospective member event.

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AAWGT is a component fund of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County
AAWGT is a member of Philanos: Accelerating Philanthropy through Women’s Collective Giving

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