From nun to business woman to publisher: J. Deborah 0...


November 01, 1992|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

From nun to business woman to publisher: J. Deborah 0) Sterrett has been them all

What do you do after you've been a nun, a principal and a business owner?

If you're J. Deborah Sterrett, you become a newspaper publisher.

That's exactly what the 46-year-old Woodlawn entrepreneur has done with Metropolitan MBE News and Network, a new monthly about minorities in business.

"The fact of the matter is there's no forum for minority- and women-owned businesses. Nothing really targets their interests," she says.

She has plenty of experience. After 19 years in education -- and seven years with the Oblate Sisters of Providence -- she took $500 in savings and started Allied Corporate Enterprises Inc., a firm that sells medical equipment and furniture.

For five years, she fought "the old boys' network," faced rejection and struggled to find her niche. Her perseverance paid off: The company is expected to net more than $500,000 this year.

"The paper gives me a second chance to work out what I've learned," she says.

The effort has caused her to lead a double life of sorts -- running her business by day, working on the paper at night. On weekends, her husband and two teen-age daughters often help out.

Their aid allows her more time to concentrate on writing her letter from the publisher, which so far has been a tough task.

"I'm not a journalist, so I have to have my stuff edited," she says. "In that case, the publisher yields. It's one of the few cases."

As the founder of one of the city's most successful free concert series, Margaret Budd has plenty to boast about: Broadway stars, good acoustics, standing-room only crowds.

But ask her about her priorities, and she quickly replies: Family comes first.

It some ways, that should come as no surprise. Balancing music and family has been part of Ms. Budd's life since she declined a Fulbright Scholarship and got married in 1950.

"The surprise was that I met my husband and didn't go ahead with the big concert career," says Ms. Budd, 62. "There's more to life than music."

More indeed. Today she has five children, four grandchildren, a husband and a home in Roland Park.

She also has an enviable reputation as a local musician. But in addition to playing the organ, she has organized the Second Presbyterian concert series for the last six years, wooing Broadway singers, BSO musicians and international organists to the Guilford church. (The series continues today at 7 p.m. with a performance by the Baltimore Consort.)

But while she seems to exude serenity, she has faced some hairy moments. During a recent concert with opera singer Spiro Malas, the accompanist showed up with only minutes to spare before the show.

A snafu here and there doesn't deter her. Ms. Budd is already planning the series for next year.

She says, "I have more ideas and offers than I can possibly fit into one season."

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

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