Active rights advocate wins scouting award

April 18, 1993|By Jodi Bizar | Jodi Bizar,Contributing Writer

When Constance Ross Beims joined the Girl Scouts, she promised to serve her country and help people at all times -- a pledge she has kept for more than 40 years.

A strong advocate for women's rights, racial harmony and nonviolence, Mrs. Beims was honored last week for her commitment to social issues when the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland presented her with its 12th annual Distinguished Woman Award.

She received the award, along with a gold Girl Scout pin Wednesday at the Stouffer Harborplace Hotel. About 200 Girl Scouts, administrators and sponsors attended.

"I was touched," Mrs. Beims said of the award. "I always just thought it was something for somebody else. . . . I am for all people who are not getting their fair share."

She was chosen from among 25 nominees. The recipient is selected by community leaders and former award winners.

A vice president of university relations and development at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Mrs. Beims, 54, was honored for her efforts in promoting women in the workplace and easing racial tension. As director of the Maryland Commission for Women from 1979 to 1981, she recruited women for government and academic jobs.

As deputy chief of staff for two years under Gov. Harry Hughes, she was chairwoman of the Task Force on Violence and Extremism, which convened a number of groups in an effort to promote racial and religious tolerance.

Those efforts led to the formation of the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence in Baltimore, said Robyn Washington, spokeswoman for the Central Maryland Council of Girl Scouts. The institute promotes the cultural aspects of minority groups as a way of easing prejudice.

"We don't just want to make it an issue of tolerance [among racial and ethnic groups], but a celebration of differences," Mrs. Beims said recently.

Growing up in Aberdeen, she joined the Girl Scouts when she was 10 years old, and she says much of her motivation for community work stems from her years as a Girl Scout. It was during her five years as a Scout that she developed an appreciation for helping people.

As a young adult, Mrs. Beims helped form a fair-housing group in Fallston. The 20 members worked with community leaders to ensure that real estate agents were not directing black home buyers away from white communities. "We thought it was important that the community be integrated," Mrs. Beims said.

In 1975, Mrs. Beims landed a job as a legislative research assistant for the General Assembly. She then worked as legislative liaison for the Maryland Commission for Women. In 1979, she became executive director of the commission. After working for Governor Hughes, she took the UMBC job in 1987.

The mother of four, she is a lifelong resident of Harford County. She lives in a 200-year-old home in Darlington with her husband, William Beims.

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