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Women’s History Month: Leaders in Government


Category: County Manager’s Office

March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the contributions, achievements, and impacts of powerful women throughout history.

Talbot County has many women to be proud of, too many to highlight as was indicated recently on a popular social media post in “Growing Up in St. Michaels”. Talbot County Government decided to focus its efforts on highlighting Women in Government; here are some trailblazers to be proud of!

Nancy Clem and Sylvia Gannon

Nancy Clem and Sylvia Gannon, the County's first female Council members, were elected in 1982. In addition to their work on the Council, they served as leaders in our community.

Nancy Clem

Nancy Clem set her sights on supporting mental health and wellness at Channel Marker, where she was the Executive Director for fifteen years. She served three terms on the County Council, and also represented her Ward on the Easton Town Council. 

Sylvia Gannon. Image by Jennifer Madino.

Sylvia Gannon was part of the group which created the Waterfowl Festival in 1971, serving as a volunteer, board member, and committee chair and was inducted into the Waterfowl Festival Hall of Fame in 2015. She also played a pivotal role in the development of the Talbot Paramedic Foundation.  Gannon had a career with The Star Democrat for over 30 years and also served as an integral part of the Gannon Family Limited Partnership.

Blenda Armistead

Blenda Armistead

Blenda Armistead, Talbot County’s first female County Manager, was appointed in 1982

Blenda Armistead's career has focused on local government, finance, education, and community service. She served as County Manager and Finance Officer for Talbot County for 18 years. Throughout her entire career, she has been active in many community-based organizations, having chaired the Chesapeake College Board of Trustees on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Shore Health System Board of Directors, The Country School, Academy Art Museum, and the Easton Family YMCA.

A past member of the Easton Rotary Club, she has also served on the boards of Talbot Mentors, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the Waterfowl Festival, the YMCA of the Chesapeake and the Talbot Historical Society.

Mary Kay Verdery

Mary Kay Verdery

Mary Kay Verdery started working for Talbot County Government over 28 years ago, in 1992 at the Department of Corrections, rising through the ranks until she became Planning and Zoning Director in 2014. Now retired, she continues to work part-time as the County Grants Administrator.

"Having the ability to move up the ranks from a trainee to a department head shows the guidance and support provided by County leaders...I am proud to see more women in leadership/director roles now, continuing to guide the way. Women in Talbot County Government have the ability to be accountable, adaptable, creative, and are a vital part of the team," she said.

JoAnne Asparagus Murray

JoAnne Asparagus Murray. Image by Tom McCall

JoAnne Asparagus Murray was the first person to hold the position of Family Magistrate for the Second Judicial Circuit which covers Caroline, Kent, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties.  Family Magistrates provide families the opportunity to solve issues and avoid litigation and more.

In addition to her extensive career in the judicial system, she served on the Talbot County Board of Education for 11 years and as a trustee for The Country School for eight. She has also served on Mid Shore Pro Bono’s Advisory Committee, worked with Habitat for Humanity, Talbot Interfaith Shelter, the NAACP, and the Talbot County Education Foundation.

Keasha Haythe

Keasha Haythe

Keasha Haythe, the first female African American on the County Council, was elected in 2022.

Her background as an Economic Development professional has served her well on the Council, providing keen insight and innovative strategies. She currently serves as the President and CEO for Foundation of HOPE, Inc. which was established to help women and young girls with workforce development, financial literacy, and other education, teaching participants to be community leaders and viable contributors to the future workforce.

“Women’s History Month means celebrating women who exude grit, perseverance, humbleness and courage to be a positive example while helping and encouraging others,” said Haythe.

Lynn Mielke

Lynn Mielke

After a long and successful career as a lawyer, Lynn Mielke was elected to the County Council in 2022 and continues to serve our community as a volunteer for many organizations. 

She passed the Maryland State Bar in 1979, joining the law firm of Miller, Wheeler, Thompson and Thompson in Easton. She also served as an Assistant Public Defender for Talbot County in the early 1980s. In 1991, she became a certified divorce mediator, one of the first on the Mid-Shore. She operated a general practice, with a concentration in family law, until her retirement in 2016.

Over the past years, she has served on the boards of a number of volunteer organizations such as Mid Shore Council on Family Violence, Talbot County Mental Health Association, Talbot County Chapter of the American Heart Association, Talbot Hospice, The Dixon House, Washington College Alumni Talbot County Chapter, CASA, and Talbot County Pro Bono Committee.

To view more photos and see additional highlights for Women’s History Month in Talbot County, visit Talbot County Government on social media.

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Page last modified Friday, May 3, 2024 11:38:20 AM