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Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame Awardees Gloria

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Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame

The Honorable Gloria Lawlah (Retired)

Nominated by: Oretha Bridgewaters Simms, Alpha Kappa Alpha

Born in Newberry,  South Carolina in 1939, Gloria Gary Lawlah is a teacher by profession.  She completed her undergraduate education at Hampton University earning her B. S. Degree in Social Science in 1960 and a Masters of Arts Degree from Trinity University in 1970 with a major in English and Administration.   She served as a teacher and administrator in the District of Columbia Public Schools from 1965 to 1995. Moving to Prince George’s County Maryland in 1973 with her husband Jack and three children, John, Gloria and Gary, she met Congresswoman Gladys Noon Spellman who so inspired her that  she immediately became actively involved in politics, serving as third vice president of the NAACP and supporting its efforts to integrate the Prince George’s County Public Schools. 

In 1982, she was elected to the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee and then to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1986. Four years later,  in 1990, she was elected to the Maryland State Senate on a “Pro-Choice”  platform becoming the first Prince George’s woman in history elected to the Maryland Senate. She served in the Maryland State Senate until 2007 and served  as Federal Liaison for Bowie State University. 

During her tenure in the Maryland General Assembly,  in addition to sponsoring bills providing billions for education,  she secured funding and co-sponsored legislation that led to the construction of National Harbor in Oxon Hill with the Gaylord Hotel as anchor, chaired the commission to rebuild the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, moved to relocate the Metro Green Line terminus to Branch Avenue, sponsored legislation for construction of all six casinos to include MGM and sponsored the construction of a new Oxon Hill High School.

She was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to Secretary of Aging for the state of Maryland, serving two terms from 2007 to 2015. During her tenure,  she led policy initiatives to address the needs of the rapidly growing population of seniors, in general, and for the increasing number of seniors who suffered with forms of  dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. She also implemented strategies to encourage seniors to “age-in-place” extending their lives while saving millions in tax dollars.

Senator Lawlah is the recipient of numerous awards,  including the Prince George’s County Women’s Hall of Fame, 1992; Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Bridge to Educational Excellence in Maryland Public Schools, University of Maryland Dental School Humanitarian, 2002; The Daily Record Maryland’s Top 100 Women and Pfizer Visionary Leadership, 2004; Health Facilities Legislator of the Year, 2006; Women in Government Outstanding Service, 2013 and Women Legislators of Maryland Lifetime Achievement, 2022. She is the founder and organizer of the 1000 Maryland Women Political Action Committee, and serves as president of Women Legislators of Maryland Foundation, Incorporated. 

She is an active member of numerous community organizations and continues to mentor women running for and elected to political office.

“Learn from the past, focus on the present and prepare for the future.” – Gloria Lawlah

Full biographies are displayed online at the at the website of the Maryland State Archives at

A physical exhibit of all the honorees is displayed on the campus of
Notre Dame of Maryland University

Maryland Commission for Women
51 Monroe Street, Suite 1034
Rockville, Maryland 20850