Category Archives: News

All in the Family: Parents and Kids find Inspiration and Self-Realization in State Leadership Programs

LM New logo SquareMLW_2017logo“It was life changing. I really believe that.”

That is how Kim Coble ‘04 describes the effect that participating in Maryland Leadership Workshops (MLW) has had on her two children.

Coble, vice president of Environmental Protection and Restoration for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, was so inspired by her own experience in Leadership Maryland, that she wanted her kids to have the same learning opportunity and exposure to diversity at a young age. So she registered them both for MLW, the division of Leadership Maryland that provides leadership development for middle and high school students.

“Leadership Maryland greatly expanded my appreciation for the state of Maryland,” she said. “You get exposed to things that you aren’t normally in your day-to-day life. My kids were at an age where I really wanted them to tap into their own skillset and I thought that MLW would help them do that. I was intrigued by a program that had a very creative approach to building leadership skills.”

In Leadership Maryland, Coble benefited not only from the increased knowledge and appreciation of the state, but also from being able to take an introspective look at her own leadership skills and talents. This was a benefit she hoped to see her children gain as well when she introduced them to MLW, and she was very happy with the result.

“They started to really see their own leadership strengths internally,” she said. “They felt confident in drawing on and applying those skills. Their confidence in themselves went way up.”

This continuum of leadership – the opportunity to provide these life-changing experiences to adults and grade-school students alike – is exactly what Leadership Maryland and MLW envisioned when the organizations merged in 2017.

Betsy Pakenas ’14 was also inspired to send her children to MLW after completing her Leadership Maryland class year.

“Leadership Maryland broadened my perspective of the state,” she said. “I went to places I’d never been to and I grew up in the state. There were places I saw and experiences I had that helped me appreciate the variety of opinions and cultures right here in our own state.”

Friend and classmate Jason Israel ’14 recommended that Pakenas send her children to MLW, and her 14 year-old daughter and 16 year-old son are now in their second summer of the program.

“I loved the thought of my children getting exposure to other students across the state the same way I did with Leadership Maryland,” she said. “Plus, it’s a camp about leadership. All of us could use a fine-tuning of our leadership skills.”

Pakenas saw the effects of the program in her daughter immediately. A month after returning home from the sleep-away camp, she applied her new leadership skills and initiative to start a Harry Potter Club at her high school. She also started an all-girl band for which she plays drums and books gigs around town. Her mother describes her now as “fearless in making things happen.” Her brother is looking to start a radio station at school.

Jason Israel’s recommendation of MLW was a passionate one, as he attended the program himself twice as a middle school student and returned as a staff member while he was a senior at the Naval Academy.

“At MLW, we truly believe that leadership skills can be developed through training and practice,” said Israel. “Because I’ve had that, it’s one of the reasons I went to the Naval Academy and one of the reasons I’ve sought leadership positions in my career.”

Israel described his experience at MLW as rewarding but demanding, with some of the workshops aligning with graduate school-level material.

“MLW challenges young people in a way that I don’t think they’re challenged in school,” he said. “That’s the big experience. MLW provides difficult problems and advanced workshops and makes everybody step up to levels that they don’t normally step up to. At the end of the week you feel like you’re a family. You’ve been through these trials together and you’ve had to work together. That’s the magic.”

Israel’s experience both attending and staffing the program pushed him to join the military, an experience that later affected his decision to join Leadership Maryland. His military career sent him around the world for over a decade, so he was very interested in the opportunity to become reacquainted with his home state.

Israel says Leadership Maryland presented him with endless opportunities and introduced him to incredible people who all work together to share and contribute to each other’s success.

“You learn just as much, if not more, from your classmates as you do from the actual program,” he said. “Going through the Leadership Maryland network, I found a lot of different opportunities. Alumni will often work to connect each other to opportunities. For example, I’m on the board right now for an organization run by one of my classmates.”

Now that the two programs have officially joined forces, Leadership Maryland and MLW look forward to sharing many more success stories from participants of all ages. Kim Coble offers the following message for parents considering MLW for their child:

“There is no doubt that MLW had a profound effect on my children. They gained self-confidence and were exposed to people and issues that they wouldn’t have been otherwise, especially as high school kids. Teenagers tend to be very focused on their immediate circle of friends and they don’t branch out a lot. Attending MLW exposes you to other kids from all over Maryland. You meet kids from all different backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, races, economic situations, and educations. MLW is simply a great experience for a kid and your kids should definitely attend.”

To learn more about Maryland Leadership Workshops, visit To learn more about Leadership Maryland, visit

Tuesday Update

All three programs are in full swing!

  1. ALS

Yesterday’s workshop was GRIT, with Ben and Jessica. Their “stick-to-it-tiveness” was tested as they explored the common pitfalls of challenging situations, learned and practiced strategies to enhance their own grit, and explored the power of having grit. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” – JFK

Most of the afternoon was spent on their project with Baltimore Corps. Games, tuning, and rec time also took place. The evening activity was a continuation of the “grit” theme – they played and Escape Room game.

2. Bridge


Delegates began with a workshop on Perspective, facilitated by Michael Hagan. Delegates examined gaps in perspective within their own group, considered perspectives beyond those held by their group, analyzed factors that widen perspective gaps, and developed strategies to bridge those gaps.

Their second workshop was Diversity, with Youcef and Libby. Delegates identified barriers to understanding diversity, distinguished between equality and equity, and examined the sources of privilege. Finally, they defined and explored intersectionality and how it impacts their own group.

Much of the afternoon was spent working on their practicum project. Games, tuning, and recreation time also took place. The evening activity was games facilitated by office staffer Courtney.

3. Journey

19895073_10154915215068458_487560500399423375_n 19989473_10154915215063458_329539525714381054_n 19884358_10154915214998458_7206576234919492314_n

The journey girls had a big day! They took a field trip to Echo Hill Outdoor School where they accomplished outdoor obstacle courses and high ropes activities as team building and self-esteem building activities.

There was still time for Tuning and some games once they got back to Washington College. The evening activity was all about Inner and Outer Beauty, as delegates explored what positive traits, inside and out, each of them possess.

Sunday and Monday Update!

Today is our first full day of programming for MLW Summer 2017! Our three smaller programs, Advanced Leadership Seminar (ALS), Bridge, and Journey are in full swing and we’ve never seen groups bond so quickly! Fast friendships have already been made.


After saying good-by to family , delegates went on a tour of campus with their staff members, ended up in their creatively decorated group rooms, and played ice-breaker games. Each program then had their first round of workshops:

ALS Public Speaking Delegates reviewed effective strategies for delivering speeches as well as managing meetings and other interactive spaces. they also reflected on their personal challenges with public speaking and identified opportunities throughout the week where they could practice and provide one another with feedback to improve their skills. 170710_111607_9

Pictured above – ALS Delegates at Morning Sing

BridgeSelf, Expression, and Identity with Michael and Steph. Delegates identified components of self and identity, recognized various modes of self-expression, related authenticity to self and identity, and discussed obstacles to authentic self-expression and their sources.


Pictured above – Bridge delegates in their first workshop

Journey What Does It Mean To Be A Female Leader? with Alison. Delegates examined the characteristics of leaders that they know and know of, recognized the development of women’s social and political rights throughout American History, identified challenges that women may face when taking on leadership roles, and discussed possible strategies to overcome the adversity that women face.


Pictured above – Journey delegates in their third workshop

Bridge and ALS delegates were introduced to their practicum concept:

ALS – Delegates are partnering with Baltimore Corps, a social impact organization focused on a citywide approach to equity and racial justice.  ALS delegates will be investigating four challenges currently facing Baltimore and will design integrated solutions to these issues. They will then make recommendations for entities like the City Council and the Board of Education.

Bridge – Delegates are being tasked with creating an event that tells the story of their generation using creative self-expression. They will be asked to think about the biggest challenges facing their generation, what events have defined them, what issues/causes are important to their peer group, and more.

Our evening activity is an MLW “first night” tradition called Visions. Staff share a poem, song lyric, or other quote that is meaningful to them personally and also serves as a way for the delegates to learn more about them.



  • Workshop – SPARKS with Jessica and Nia: Delegates explored what gives them their “spark” – joy, energy, purpose, and direction. They identified what obstacles can dampen their spark, and what best nourishes it.
  • Evening Activity – our version of “Minute to Win It” games.
  • Small group coaching (what we call “Tuning”), team building activities, and more time spent on Practicum filled the rest of the day.


  • Workshop – The Power of a Platform with Breana and Tres: Delegates learned about the benefits of an online platform, learned how to identify media bias, and developed online leadership and communication skills
  • Evening Activity – staff members shared their talents via mini-workshops on playing the drums, yoga, and dance.
  • Small group coaching (what we call “Tuning”), team building activities, and more time spent on Practicum filled the rest of the day.


  • Workshop One: Fundamentals of Leadership with Emily – Delegates created a list of skills that a leaders needs to be successful, recognized the importance of teamwork, identified the stages of group development, and practiced taking on different leadership roles.
  • Workshop Two: Building Healthy Relationships with Hemali and Oyin – Delegates learned about and evaluated what is and is not considered a healthy relationship, analyzed how our own action can affect others, and discussed how to maintain a relationship with others without compromising one’s own identity.
  • Introduction of Community Project – Delegates will learn about philanthropy, volunteering, the roles of non profit organizations in Howard County – specifically the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County – and select women leaders deserving of awards for their contributions to their community.
  • Evening activity – Zumba!
  • Small group coaching (what we call “Tuning) and team building activities rounded out the rest of the day.

Registered for MLW 2017? Get your Welcome Packet Here!

We’re so excited for MLW 2017 which is right around the corner! If you’ve registered for one of our programs, you can download your Welcome Packet below. It contains a welcome letter from your program directors, check-in details, packing list, campus map, and much more!

Bridge Welcome Packet

Journey Welcome Packet

MSEL Welcome Packet

SHW Welcome Packet

ALS Welcome Packet – available next week

Thanks to the Many #mlw13 Delegate Sponsors

MLW is committed to making the MLW Experience possible for any student, regardless of ability to pay. We awarded over $25,000 in scholarships in 2013. In addition, a number of Local Education Authorities, individual schools, and other entities provide support directly to their students to enable them to attend.  We’d like to thank all our sponsors for investing in their students and benefiting the entire program through their support.

If you are interested in sponsoring students from your community in 2014, please contact the MLW office at

  • Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils
    • Severna Park Middle School
  • Baltimore County Public Schools
  • Calvert County Public Schools
    • Patuxent High School
  • Board of Education of Caroline County
    • Colonel Richardson High School
  • Board of Education of Carroll County/CCSGA
    • Liberty High School
    • Manchester Valley High School
    • Century High School
    • Francis Scott Key High School
  • Cecil County Public Schools
  • Charles County Public Schools
  • Frederick High School (Frederick)
  • Urbana Middle School (Frederick)
  • Howard County Public Schools
    • River Hill High School
    • Hammond High School
  • Montgomery Village Middle School (Montgomery)
  • Paint Branch High School (Montgomery)
  • Prince George’s County Public Schools
  • Queen Anne’s Public Schools
  • St. Mary’s Public Schools
  • Talbot County Public Schools
  • Washington County Public Schools
  • Worcester County Public Schools
  • Maryland Association of Student Councils
  • Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School
  • Mid Shore Community Foundation

Tuition currently covers approximately 2/3 of the cost of the program. The balance is covered through grants such as the State Aided Educational Institution Grant (SAI) we receive through the Maryland State Department of Education as well as individual tax deductible contributions.  To donate, visit our Support MLW page.

For Immediate Release – 2013 MLW Programs A Huge Success!

Share your success with people in your community. Here is a press release you can cut and paste. Send it to local newspapers, listservs and other outlets who are interested in supporting young leaders in your community!

#mlw13journey #mlw13als #mlw13msel #mlw13shw


Contact: Ilaya R. Hopkins, Executive Director (301-444-8623)

Area students complete transformational leadership training programs provided by Maryland Leadership Workshops, Inc (MLW)

Germantown, MD  (August 5, 2013) — Maryland Leadership Workshops, Inc. (MLW), a 58 year old non-profit organization dedicated to student leadership development, announced today that over 350 middle and high school students from across the State of Maryland graduated from its residential leadership training programs held at Washington College in Chesterown, MD.  Eliot Pfanstiehl, Chair of MLW’s Board of Directors, made the announcement.

MLW’s programs transform middle school and high school students from every Maryland region into catalysts for positive change in their schools and communities.  Students engage in reflective, interactive, creative and fun activities to expand their leadership repertoire.  Students emerge from MLW’s programs confident, inspired, motivated and empowered with the skills necessary to realize their educational and human potential.

Maryland Leadership Workshops’ programs are designed for both experienced student leaders and those who show motivation to lead in their homes, schools, and communities.  Dr. Nancy Grasmick, former Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, has remarked, “MLW, Maryland’s premier provider of leadership training, consistently empowers youth to exercise leadership within their schools and community and achieve success in all facets of their lives.”

MLW believes that every problem, issue, and challenge faced by society can be addressed through leadership.  Youth are society’s greatest resource.  Through leadership MLW empowers youth to exercise leadership today and to become our leaders of tomorrow.  In proud partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Association of Student Councils and Leadership Maryland, MLW is a catalyst for bringing together and strengthening schools and communities throughout Maryland.

Information on the MLW student from your circulation area:


City of Residence:__________________________

Phone Number:____________________________

Age:________                  Grade_______________


Maryland Leadership Workshops, Inc. (MLW) is a not-for-profit educational organization that has been providing leadership training programs to Maryland middle school and high school students since 1955.  MLW is in proud partnership with the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC), Leadership Maryland and the Maryland State Department of Education. Please visit our website at


News Flash! Wait lists for Core Programs!

At this point, all 2013 MLW Core Programs (ALS, MSEL, SHW) are full. If you would like to be placed on a waitlist, please email and include in the subject line the program (MSEL or SHW) and WAITLIST REQUEST.

For confirmed applicants, summer packets will be sent in the mail next week with program information, a packing list and directions to Washington College.

To find out about the 2014 application, subscribe to the MLW Email updates on our home page.  Emails are sent out periodically throughout the year and announce when the application is available (most likely January 2014).

2013 Medical Forms HERE

Are you a 2013 delegate attending a core program (ALS, MSEL, SHW) or Journey?  Be sure to complete and return the 2013 MLW Medical Forms.  Forms can be mailed to:

MLW , P.O. Box 1792, Germantown, MD 20875

MLW is a Certified Youth Camp through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and part of that certification is the requirement of collecting this information.  The forms require emergency contact information (other than parent/guardian), brief health history, health care provider’s signature and contact information on the over the counter medication and prescription medication forms, a copy of your immunization record and a photocopy (front and back) of your health insurance card.

You can download the forms from the Apply/General Guidelines section of the website at


2012 Delegates Share Their Thanks

Excerpts from thank you letters written by 2012 Core Program delegates who received MLW Scholarship Fund support.

“You gave me an experience to work with other leaders…Thank you for believing in me…”

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity. These skills that I learned in one week will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

“I have been given many leadership opportunities in the past, but none of which I could afford and that is why I love MLW. They allow me to attend their camp even if I am not financially capable…By awarding me this scholarship you have lightened my financial burden. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community.”

“Being a part of SHW this year has definitely been an honor and will affect me in the future… Without your help I would not be the leader I am now.”

“I would like to take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart. This Week has been amazing and as a person I have learned, grew, and succeeded. The lessons I learned throughout the week will stay with me for a life time, and its all thanks to every staffer at MLW.”

“I have only been to two programs but in just those two weeks you have effectively completely changed my life. MLW is the reason I am involved in student council. It has instilled values into me that I will care with me throughout the rest of my life.”

“Like many things in life, hard work can get you far, but it is the blessings and thoughtfulness of others who can help get you even further-the camp wouldn’t have been possible without you. Period.”

“I am so grateful for this opportunity and this organization should know they have changed a young girl for the better. I hope this organization keeps doing what they are because this is truly a remarkable program.”

“MLW definitely was a beautiful experience and the program was fantastic. Thank you again for your contribution and allowing me to participate in the program.”

“Thank you so much for sponsoring me to come here…This week has truly changed my life and my perspective. Now I know that I can actually do something.”

“I cannot express how much I appreciate your support and assistance. I have truly had one of the best experiences of my life, and I had never been so in tune with what leadership is until now.”

“Thank you very much, very, very, very, very, very, very much. I had quite the experience this week I learned a lot, that what I will really take away this week, the knowledge I learned…So thank you once again. I love you MLW.”

“I honestly experienced one of my greatest experiences in my life and I have you, MLW to thank for that.”

“This program made me improve on being a leader as well as a person in general. I appreciate all the support and belief in me. Thanks again.”

“This week has been a great experience because I feel different, inspired, touched, and happy. I would not have been able to come to this camp if it weren’t for your help.”

Donate to the 2013 MLW Scholarship Fund at