Seven Women Who are Making it Happen

The Change Maker

Gretchen Maneval, Candidate for Maryland State Senate

Baltimore County native and Towson High School graduate Gretchen Maneval has spent her life serving others. This fall, she’s hoping to serve in Annapolis as the senator for Maryland’s 42nd District. Through her work with AmeriCorps, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City as well as cities in the Lower Eastern Shore, she has already effected legislative and practical change in and around Maryland.

“I’m running for office because I see the need for more leaders who have actually worked in our communities, and who know the nuts and bolts of budgeting and program development so that legislation not only benefits our communities but is grounded in sound fiscal decisions that use our tax dollars responsibly,” she says.

The Entrepreneur

Michele Tsucalas, Owner of Michele’s Granola

In her early 20s, Michele Tsucalas spent a summer on the New England coast and fell in love with a neighborhood bakery’s granola bars. When she returned home to Maryland, she got to work trying to come up with her own granola, eventually peddling her most successful recipes at the local farmers market.

Twelve years later, Michele and her team of 40 prepare about 12,500 pounds of award-winning granola each week in her small-batch bakery in Timonium, which is 100 percent wind-powered. To pay forward her good fortune, Michele created Give One for Good Food in 2013 to donate 1 percent of the company’s gross sales to organizations working to create a healthier, more equitable food system. To date, Michele’s Granola has donated more than $100,000. 

Favorite Teacher

Rachel Valsing, Towson High School Teacher and Art Educator of the Year

Rachel Valsing is a fine arts teacher at Towson High School and recipient of the Maryland Art Education Association’s 2017 State Art Educator of the Year. She is a MICA graduate, National Art Honor Society sponsor and has facilitated school mural projects as well as student-led art exhibits and performances for the 11 years she’s been teaching in Baltimore County.

Through lessons, artist talks and residencies, she strives to connect the work of practicing artists in Baltimore to her students and also designs professional learning workshops for art teachers throughout Maryland.

The Real Estate Pro

Ashley Richardson, GBBR 2018 Realtor of the Year

Ashley Richardson has been turning the key to her clients’ dream homes since she became a real estate agent in 1993. Selling real estate is in Ashley’s DNA; her grandfather worked for Grempler in the 1970s and 80s before it was bought by Long & Foster.

Now a top producer for Long & Foster, Ashley has been recognized as the 2018 Realtor of the Year by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors. She also served as president of the Baltimore Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors. She is proud to say she works seven days a week, letting no phone call or email go unanswered. 

The Lifesaver

Laura Clary, GBMC Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program Manager/ Prevention Magazine’s America’s Most Amazing Nurse

Laura Clary is a bit of a nursing celebrity, recently named Prevention Magazine’s America’s Most Amazing Nurse for her incredible tenure at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Under Laura’s leadership, the GBMC SAFE program has expanded to not only treat adult victims of sexual abuse but children under 13 as well. Her staff also works with victims of child abuse, human trafficking, intimate partner violence and nonfatal strangulation. 

Raised in Essex and educated at CCBC, she is proud of her roots.

“The relationship that my nurses and I have with the Baltimore County Police, Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office and our local community service providers is phenomenal,” she says. “Each and every day we work to provide the best care for victims and patients. I cannot imagine doing this work anywhere else.”

The Artistic Duo

Deborah Bedwell & Susan Patz, Co-Founder and Board Member

In the summer of 2017, when Baltimore Clayworks announced it would be closing its doors for good, the community mourned. The ceramics studio had been a beloved part of Baltimore County for 37 years. More than just a place to learn pottery, Clayworks had often reached out to the most marginalized populations in the area, including children from low-income neighborhoods and the incarcerated.

That’s where Deb Bedwell and Susan Patz stepped in. Both were integral in the Clayworks Community Campaign to save the organization despite its financial trouble. They recruited 70 volunteers to restore the old buildings. A new board of directors was appointed, and the campaign raised almost a half-million dollars to fire up the kilns again last November.