50 women to watch 2014

October 08, 2014|By Batimore Sun Media Group staff

The Baltimore Sun canvassed readers, sources and leaders to determine the area’s most intriguing movers and shakers of 2014. Here's our list:

Keshia M. Pollack

35, associate professor of health and policy and management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Keshia Pollack spends a lot of time thinking about kids walking to school on Baltimore streets, service members riding in Humvees on the battlefield and Major League Baseball players in the line of a fastball.

She's spent her career making sure there are safe and healthy environments for them, through better sidewalks, more stable equipment and even shock-absorbing masks.

When she was in college she planned to go to medical school and treat individuals, but was moved by a class in public health to expand her reach to just about anyone who faces injury while working, playing or just walking.

"In medicine you can have a great impact one on one" she says. "Public health is a field for people who care about the greater good of human beings. It's about promoting real and lasting effects through policy changes."

That means not just doing the research, but translating it for decision-makers around the state and country. Sometimes it's as basic as how to set off bike lanes from auto traffic.

To that end, Pollack recently became interim director of the Health Impact Project, a national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The group promotes use of health assessments to uncover ways of improving public health in nontraditional areas such as transportation, housing and natural resource planning. The model is already gaining recognition, she says.

For example, her research was considered by federal officials in charge of the federal food stamp program, called SNAP. Pollack found program cuts could lead to increased spending on public health programs and worsen public health because people without access to good food could develop diet-related health problems such as diabetes.

Pollack's work tackles problems in so many ways that it "greatly broadens what we do in public health," says Ellen J. MacKenzie, chair of Hopkins' Department of Health Policy and Management.

Pollack's enthusiasm and natural leadership abilities influence policymakers and students alike, MacKenzie says. They even have had an impact on her colleagues. At a recent department retreat, Pollack insisted on an exercise break.

"She had video and we were all dancing around," MacKenzie says. "She convinced all of us to do that."

— Meredith Cohn

Kim Martini

47, director of business development, Armada Hoffler

Virginia-based Armada Hoffler plans to break ground this spring at 3200 St. Paul St., its first Baltimore project as a developer. Kim Martini, a former mortgage banker who scouts deals for the company, says the real estate investment trust wants to boost its development presence here, expanding from its role as a construction contractor. (The firm built much of Harbor East.)

Building relationships can be tricky in male-dominated real estate. "I set the boundaries up front and early," she says. "You don't ever want to have them get the wrong read."

— Natalie Sherman

Tracy L. Steedman

50, partner, Niles Barton & Wilmer LLP

Attorney Tracy Steedman has written the book on construction law — literally. Steedman, whose cases involve high-profile developments including the Horseshoe Casino, co-edited the new American Bar Association guide to subcontracting.

The fast-talking partner says experience as a bartender has given her an edge in court and the skill to "talk to people on their level," she says. "You hear people's problems all the time in bars and you work long hours, which is exactly what I do now. The only difference is now I can be sued for malpractice."

— Natalie Sherman

Pamela Gilmour

60, CEO, Financial Fitness

Since launching Financial Fitness in 2010, Pamela Gilmour has helped a growing client base by advocating for financial and physical health.

An accountant and financial planner who does yoga, runs and hikes, she sees parallels between the two arenas. She tells clients that ignoring health will cost money and makes referrals to trainers and doctors.

On the flip side, paying attention to accumulating wealth can reduce stress and lead to a healthier lifestyle. "I am passionate about fitness and money," Gilmour says. "I look at my mission as continuing to impact people, families and small businesses, one at a time."

— Lorraine Mirabella

Dr. Briana Walton

44, urogynecologist, Anne Arundel Medical Center

When it comes to urology and gynecology, "there used to be a separation of church and state," says Dr. Briana Walton of Anne Arundel Medical Center.

But she's broken through that wall into the emerging field of urogynecology, which has Walton doing everything from delivering babies to performing pelvic reconstruction surgery. Walton also co-hosts the hospital's "docsTALK," a health talk show.

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