Posts Tagged ‘Mary Jane Norris Port of Baltimore’

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2014
All Rights Reserved

Lord we thank Thee…for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful. Robert Louis Stevenson

The words of one of the most beloved poets best explain theGroup gratitude Kitch and I have for the priceless gifts we received in 2014 from our friends and family.

The year began with a memorable event at the Gateway Theater in Gettysburg. Thanks to the the kindness of Robert Monahan, Jr., the screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg was a perfect way to share the story of the Medal of Honor convention, the values associated with the Medal of Honor and the transformation of the students from North Plainfield, New Jersey who attended almost all of the convention events recorded in the documentary.

After the screening, we received this comment from a mother and grandmother who attended the screening:

IT REALLY SHOULD BE SHOWN TO THE SCHOOLS as the majority of the youth are not exposed to the humility, sincerity and dedication that you presented.


In March, we had the good fortune to participate in the Annual Ethics Conference at Marywood University. Organized by Dr. Murray Pyle and several of his colleagues at Marywood, it was a day of learning, and a priceless opportunity to make new friends and experience the beauty and the welcoming atmosphere of Kitch’s Alma Mater.

This is one of the transformational thoughts offered at the conference; There is no dichotomy between being a good person and being a success in business.

Dr. Murray Pyle “We thank you for the peace accorded us this day.”

On a beautiful march day, we traveled to Baltimore to attend the 15thIMG_5217aMJKD Annual Women in Maritime History Awards. Our friend, Mary Jane Norris was the honoree. During her acceptance speech she shared this thought: Do small things well, because they all add up.

Mary Jane we thank you for the gift of your example.

In April, Dr. Rex Dumdum, Jr. arranged a screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg at Marywood University. He attended to all the details of the event including dinner, a reception an afterglow, and the technical matters that make or break an event of this IMG_5597A250nature. Rex made sure there were no anxious or stressful moments before, during and after the screening.

It was an evening of community, friendship and learning.

There were no limits placed on the Q&A session. That enabled students, teachers and visitors to provide invaluable feedback. That experience inspired one of the students in attendance, Amber E. Clifford, to write a heartfelt comment about the documentary:

“Four Days of honor and Valor in Gettysburg is truly inspiring to those who are struggling to do what they know is right.”

Thank you Rex. You give special meaning to the words of Anna Sewell: “Good People make good places.”

In April, we participated in the annual Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast at the McCann School of Business in Wilkes-Barre, PA. ELL_5857_1_250

The facility was perfect for the event.

The people from the school were very pleasant.

The room where the event was held was an excellent choice for the session.

The members of the Express Pros team were very friendly and willing to do whatever they could to make everyone feel right at home. Their kind and welcoming way reduced the normal anxiety levels that accompany a presentation of this nature.

On that day, we met three radian faces of America, Kathleen Nolan Barrett and Kathy Barrett, Jeff Doran

In May, Amy Clegg invited us to participate in an Express Business Solutions Seminar in Scranton. Jack Smalley, the Director of HR Learning Amy Jack2and Development for Express Employment Professionals, gave an informative and inspirational presentation about leadership.

These are but two of the thoughts he shared with his audience:

Leaders are responsible. They leave the excuses behind.

Effective leaders do not accommodate falling stars. They encourage and reward excellence!

Jack Smalley is a man who exemplifies professionalism with heart.

Thank you, Jack for giving us the strength to encounter that which is to come.

In May, we traveled to North Plainfield, New Jersey for two screenings of our documentary. These events were organized by Tom Mazur. The screeningScreening 1_3_IMG_8045 at the High School enabled us to experience the ways in which the documentary resonates with students.

The comments students shared with us after the screening made the long and demanding days and nights of location shooting and editing worthwhile.

The evening screening showed us that adults relate to the messages in the documentary in very positive ways.

This screening gave us an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of the MB_Gift_8179retiring superintendant of schools, Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum. Without her belief in our work, we would not have been able to do what we have done in North Plainfield since 2009. That work may be over, but the positive memories will live on forever.

Later in the year, we joined a delegation from North Plainfield in Atlantic City. There we screenedFour Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg for a small audience at the New Jersey School Boards Association Convention. That venue proved the accuracy of Seneca’s words: It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

Several times this year, we had an opportunity to celebrate quiet heroes who make our world a better place because of their acts of kindness andIMG_4437 consideration. Many of these people are associated with Geisinger/CMC in Scranton and Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. Several articles in our blog record the competent and compassionate medical care Kitch received during her total knee replacement surgery.

To Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team of caring professionals an adaptation of Stevenson’s words best records our gratitude. We thank you for the hope with which we expect tomorrow.

In 2014, both Kitch and I spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital for tests and procedures. In our blog, we expressed our thanks to the people who did their jobs without noise or notice in an excellent and humane way.

Judy Bob200_9229sm

In October, we visited with our friends at Wilkes University. This occasion gave an old teacher a new classroom, and an opportunity to work with an impressive group of students who wanted to learn something about character education.

If you are looking for excellence in education, you need look no further than the creative work of Judy and Bob Gardner and their colleagues. What they are doing to enhance learning opportunities for students in the Education Department at Wilkes University is impressive.

Thank you Judy and Bob for giving us an opportunity to help you with the important work you are doing.

A few weeks later, we traveled to Luzerne County Community toIMG_6231 participate in the Annual History Conference. This year Bill Kashatus invited us to partner with Mollie Marti to tell the story of the life and legacy of Judge Max Rosenn. To do this we produced a new version of the Windsor Park Story we broadcast about Judge Rosenn in 2004. It was a sentimental journey to one of our favorite places with one of the most impressive leaders we have ever met, Judge Max Rosenn.


In November, we drove to Binghamton, New York to celebrate the naturalization of two of our very favorite people Viola and Rex Dumdum. Sitting in the historic courtroom where the ceremony took place gave us a better understanding of what America and the blessing of American citizenship is all about.

What a gift it was to welcome two magnificent citizens to America on their big day.

Perhaps the most challenging work we did during the year took place during the early morning hours after we had attended to our other responsibilities.

In January, shortly after the screening in Gettysburg, Kitch and I began to work on a book for our grandchildren. Designed to be a legacy gift, it is a visual narrative. It combines images from our Face of America project and several documentary projects like our What IsIMG_8304 for Article America? Series and our Miracle Project with the life lessons we have learned navigating the bumps on the road of life.

During their Christmas visit we presented the book as a surprise gift to the grandchildren and their parents.

In a way, it closed the circle for us.

An adaptation of the words in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Morning Prayer enables us to give thanks for the blessings of 2014 and look ahead to the New Year with hope:

Lord we thank Thee for the place in which we dwell… the peace accorded us this day…for our friends…give us the strength to encounter that which will come in 2015…that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.

Happy New Year!

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A Perfect Day at the Port of Baltimore

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Women Making History: A Perfect Day at the Port of Baltimore, March 21, 2013

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photographs Tony Mussari
Copyright 2013
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. John Wooden

The Day in Context

March 21, is known for many things.  It is the first day of spring and World Poetry Day.  For those who follow the astrological year, it is the first full day lindbergh_presentationof Aries. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. It symbolizes leadership

In 1928, Charles Lindbergh received the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 21, for his first solo trans-Atlantic flight.  In 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. lead 3,200 people in the start of the third civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

On this March 21, more than 200 people came together for breakfast at the Sparrows Point Country Club in Baltimore, Maryland, to celebrate Women in Port Security with a panel discussion and the presentation of the Woman of the Year award to Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, U.S. Coast Guard, Retired.

The Setting


Surrounded by water on one side and a golf course on the other, the country club sits majestically on the crest of a small hill. If you are looking for a beautiful setting, this is it.

If you are looking for beautiful people in all the ways that matter, one need only enter the banquet hall.  

In every corner of the room, one could feel the welcoming atmosphere of community, confraternity, celebration, diversity, inclusion and everything that America represents on its best day.

Each table was tastefully decorated with a patrioticIMG_2680_group centerpiece.  Colorful baskets of flowers were carefully placed around the room, and attractive signs acknowledged corporate sponsors and the history of the United States Coast Guard.

Mary Jane Norris, Manager, Port Operations Services, is a talented woman with a million dollar smile. She and her committee attended to every detail.

The Program


The program began with an inspirational presentation of the colors by a group of teenagers from Baltimore, and a patriotic expression of the Pledge of Allegiance by everyone in the room.

Rev. Mary Davisson, Executive Director/Chaplain the Baltimore Seafarers’ Center, read a thoughtful invocation prayer asking God’s blessing on everyone in the room.

Mr. James White, Executive Director of the Maryland Port Authority extended a warm welcome to the annual celebration of women.

Kathy Broadwater, Maryland Port Administrator,IMG_2648_intro introduced Vice Admiral, Sally Brice-O’Hara with words of respect and gratitude:

“She began her service at a time when there were very few women in the Coast Guard, and, frankly, many did not want women there. In common with past honorees, she stuck with it, did the job to the best of her ability and showed through her performance that women could do the job as well or better than men.”

“Our honoree rose to the rank of Vice Admiral and served as Vice Commandant of the entire US Coast Guard at the time of her retirement. To put this in perspective, in 2012 the Coast Guard had a little over 6,800 officers and only 3 were Vice Admirals- less than one percent of all officers. This is a significant IMG_2655_introbachievement for either gender. It’s particularly notable considering less than 19% of the officer corps was female at the time.”

The Honoree

Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara is a quiet, competent person who exudes dignity and class. When she approached the podium, the room filled with the quiet sound of expectation.

She began her remarks with a quote from one of the Coast Guard’s most famous pathfinders, Captain Dorothy Stratton:

Since we were untried, we knew that if one failed, we all failed.  That is why we triedDorothyStratton1sm so hard.

Those 20 words set the tone for a speech that captivated everyone in the room. It was compelling, candid, conversational and filled with examples of leadership and service.

She admitted that she felt that the weight of all women was on her shoulders, and she had a responsibility to be professional. She wanted to contribute and create opportunities for women in the Coast Guard.

When she entered the service she thought she would honor a six year obligation and then go on to other MVC-025S_250things, but that was not meant to be. In 2012, she had given more than 37 years to the Coast Guard.  She honored 19 different assignments, and she rose to the position of second in command.

This is how she summarized the important things she learned during her career:

1. Get as much training and professional development as possible;

2. It takes effort, self-study and extra work to move forward;

3. To survive in a dynamic era like the digital age you must learn to adapt;

4. Find several mentors. If you ask people for assistance they will respond;
Sally Mentoiring_250

5. Have patience.  It takes time to make progress;

6. When you experience negative examples of leadership, you learn how not to do things;

7. It takes energy, commitment and time to become a mentor. Become a mentor anyway;

8. Do not become a “Queen Bee.” Break down barriers and help other women move forward;

9. Select your partner carefully, because he or she is an essential part of your team;


10. When you are given a command position, select people who are not “yes” people. You will benefit from different ideas;

11. Always remember the team is paramount. We live in a no-fail environment. Everything is done in a team environment, and you must know and honor your responsibility to the team;

12. Be an open and honest broker. It will create the climate for the best decisions.


While Admiral Brice-O’Hara was speaking you could hear a pin drop in the room. Her compelling story and her thoughtful advice reminded me of the words of one of her heroes, Dorothy Stratton:

We wanted to serve our country in its hour of need. The Coast Guard gave us this opportunity and we did our job well. Semper Paratus.

Admiral Brice-O’Hara’s speech set the tone for the panel discussion that followed.

A Panel of Experts

Mistress of Ceremonies Cecilia Donovan was generous in her introduction of Margurite Cooper, Securitas Security Services, Susan Miller, MDTA Police Officer, Cindy Milligan, Pride International and Kristina Tanasichuk, President and Founder of “Women in Homeland Security” Organization.


Looking at these women, and listening to their stories and their advice to other women, I thought to myself if ever there was a portrait of the Face of America on its best day, this is it.

Margurite Cooper encouraged everyone in the room to hire only the best qualified people.


Susan Miller captured my attention with her honesty and sincerity. I want to help people, and I believe women bring a softer touch to difficult situations.

Cindy Milligan emphasized the need to adapt to change and to figure things out.  The ability to multitask and the desire for continuous learning are invaluable assets for employees.

Kristina Tanasichuk is a first generation American. She recommended that everyone should join organizations that do things they care about. That’s why she started “Women in Homeland Security.”

What Is Leadership?


During the question and answer session, each woman shared her thoughts about the qualities necessary for effective leadership.

“It’s got a lot to do with confidence.” Kristina Tanasichuk

“Leaders must be able to communicate effectively.” Cindy Milligan

“Leadership is about confidence, empathy, listening effectively and hearing what people say.” Susan Miller

“Leadership is about ethics, a sense of integrity and discipline.” Margurite Cooper

‘Leadership is about optimism, energy, accountability and integrity. A leader follows up on promises made.” Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara

After the panel discussion, people gathered in small groups to express their gratitude and make connections.

Final Moments

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched a number ofIMG_2680_groupSBO Coasties and Captain Kevin Kiefer approach Admiral Brice-O’Hara who was more than willing to answer their questions and give them encouragement.

Panel members willingly provided a business card to anyone who wanted to stay in touch with them  

In front of the room, Mary Jane Norris assembled her team for a group picture to recognize the individuals who made this event so successful.

Photographer Bill McAllen captured many of these “Kodak” moments.

America at its Best

We went to The Sparrows Point Country Club on March IMG_2614_fic21, to celebrate the life and accomplishments of a friend. We did not know what to expect. To our delight we discovered more than 200 living examples of America at its best.

We experienced a feeling of belonging that is central to the spirit of America.

We learned invaluable lessons about life and dealing with bumps in the road.

We were impressed and inspired by the people we met, the things we heard, the sense of community we experienced and the welcoming fellowship of people who are dedicated to the success of the Port of Baltimore, Women in Port Security, and America at its best.

Thank you Mary Jane Norris for giving us thisIMG_2680_MJN incredible opportunity.

Thank you Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara for your dedicated and impressive leadership, love of country and service to America.

The kindness, generosity of spirit Kitch and I experienced at the Sparrows Point Country Club on this brisk March morning demonstrated once again that the people who make America work are the heroes without headlines who do what they do in an effective way without noise or notice. They inspire others to reach up for the best edition of themselves, and they give truth to the words of Abraham Lincoln:

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.

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