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Annual “Philanthropic Five” awards presented to five young professionals who have created positive change locally

BALTIMORE (April 11, 2018)United Way of Central Maryland announced its 2018 “Philanthropic Five” award winners: five young professional leaders who have created meaningful change in central Maryland through an extraordinary commitment to volunteerism in one or more of the following areas: education, housing, employment or health.

This year’s winners include Ashley Fennig, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Alex Montanio, Gordon Feinblatt LLC, Derel Owens, Top-Notch Kidz, Shantell Roberts, Touching Young Lives, Inc. and Meredith Zoltick, Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition.

The organization will recognize the “Philanthropic Five” during its seventh annual Emerging Leaders United (ELU) Young Professionals Conference on Friday, May 11. More than 400 local young professionals are expected to attend the conference, which convenes from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore. Topics and workshops include ways to make meaningful change in the community as well as personal and professional development. Henry Timms, the founder of #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, will be the conference keynote speaker. Timms is also the author of New Power, which explores the trend toward an open, participatory and peer-driven approach to work, activism and popular culture.

United Way’s ELU is a network of more than 1,500 young professionals that provides unique opportunities to give back to the local community as well as social, networking and professional development events. The Young Professionals Conference is ELU’s largest event.

“Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it requires all of us to raise our hands and roll up our sleeves to help those who need it the most,” said ELU Director Jeremy Rosendale. “United Way is pleased to honor these five young leaders who are fighting for positive change and inspiring their friends and colleagues to do the same.”

The 2018 Philanthropic Five Award winners are:

Ashley Fennig

As a senior associate to the business development and strategic alliances team at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Ashley Fennig supports the exploration, development and management of business opportunities with corporate and strategic partners. Ashley is an advocate and ambassador for Shatterproof, a nonprofit aimed at reducing the devastating impact of addiction. She has been involved with many local community and charitable organizations including Cool Kids Campaign and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Maryland’s Finest.

On winning this award: “I am very honored and excited to win this award. I want to use this as a platform to tell my peers that it’s important to find your passion and get involved. If you don’t know what your passion is yet, take your stories, hobbies and tragedies — and use it for good!”

Alex Montanio

Working as an associate in the litigation and healthcare teams at Gordon Feinblatt LLC, Alex Montanio engages in a variety of pro bono legal work and community service efforts. She enjoys coaching law school students in advocacy competitions as well as serving on several boards and committees, including the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation Board of Directors and the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap. Alex sees volunteering as a way of paying forward all the support she has received from her mentors and hopes to continue to empower other young people to recognize their ability to improve their own communities.

On winning this award: “It is an incredible honor to be included as one of ELU’s 2018 Philanthropic Five. It is easy to look at the news and think there are too many issues that need to be addressed, but this award confirms that every effort to tackle problems and to create more opportunity for others to succeed is worthwhile.”

Derel Owens

Derel Owens is the owner of Top-Notch Kidz, a Baltimore nonprofit that he created in July 2016 after observing the desperate need for a free mentoring youth outreach program in West Baltimore. The organization serves underprivileged youths by engaging, encouraging and ensuring that their “top-notch” goals, dreams and aspirations can be achieved. The organization continually collaborates weekly with other organizations all with one common goal to have a positive impact on our community.

On winning this award: “My passion to give back to my community supersedes any personal recognition. I pray that this award, combined with hard work and positive impact, encourages others to follow their own ambitions and to pursue the path of uplifting their communities and grassroots organizations.”

Shantell Roberts

Shantell Roberts’ passion for advocating for maternal and child health began in 2011 after the death of her one-year-old daughter. After suffering this heartbreak, she began working to ensure that similar tragedies like this did not happen to other families. She has expanded her efforts and has founded Touching Young Lives, Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the health and well-being of infants and children. Shantell is currently an Open Society Institute Community Fellow and has worked with hundreds of children in Maryland with a goal of preventing untimely infant or child deaths by providing families with the essential resources they need.

On winning this award: “Every day is a new experience and a new opportunity to assist families that are most in need. I am just one finger of a mighty fist pushing families into a position where they can become the best possible versions of themselves. As a bereaved mother, this award reminds me that my daughter’s death was not in vain and that her legacy lives on as I continue to touch young lives.”

Meredith Zoltick

Meredith Zoltick is a volunteer, board member and overdose prevention trainer with the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition. She is also part of the BRIDGES coalition that advocates for safer consumption sites. Prior to moving to Baltimore, Meredith also volunteered at HIPS, a harm reduction based drop-in center, needle exchange, and outreach organization in Washington, D.C. She has been doing direct service, harm reduction and social justice-focused work for more than 10 years. She works as a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital on the inpatient infectious disease unit and at two buprenorphine clinics in Baltimore City.

On winning this award: “Winning the ‘Philanthropic Five’ award is such an honor. I am grateful that the work of the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition is highlighted. I am also so thankful for my coworkers who nominated me for this award as I learn so much from them each and every day.”

To learn more about the Emerging Leaders United Young Professionals Conference and register, visit www.uwcm.org/elu.

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United Way of Central Maryland fights for the education, financial stability and health of every person in every community. United Way programs include 15 Family Stability sites, which keep families in their homes and out of shelters, and On Track 4 Success, a program that helps young students stay on track to graduate high school.

The organization’s work is supported by the ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report, which revealed that more than a third of Maryland’s working households cannot afford the state’s cost of living, and the 24/7 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline that provides information and referrals on human service needs.

Learn more at uwcm.org.

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