Posts Tagged ‘Mary Jane Norris’

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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America At Its Best in Baltimore: Mary Jane Norris

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

America At Its Best in Baltimore
Mary Jane Norris: A Radiant Face of America
Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us. Louisa Mary Alcott

On a blustery and overcast March morning, we began our Face of America Journey to Baltimore, Maryland. Our destination wasBest Western plus the Sparrows Point Country Club, a beautiful facility located on the water’s edge of Chesapeake Bay Tributaries. We knew we could not make the trip in one day so we stayed overnight in the Best Western Plus Hotel and Convention Center.

It was a wise choice. The atmosphere was pleasant. The facility was clean, and the members of the staff treated us with courtesy and respect. We had a wonderful meal in the dining room thanks to our waitress Emma and the chef. They went out of their way to accommodate our dietary restrictions.

IMG_5248_  ign

After a good night’s sleep, we packed our bags, and we made our way to Sparrows Point to attend the15th Annual Women in Maritime History Awards ceremony. Our dear friend Mary Jane Norris was the honoree.

Mary Jane is Manager, Port Operations Services for the Port ofIMG_5217aMJKD Baltimore. She personifies everything that is admirable, decent, good, inspirational, kind and wholesome about our country.

Everything about Mary Jane affirms what Emerson wrote about friendship:

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.

Everything about the Women in Maritime History event, the location, the table arrangements, the food, the participants, the speakers and the message they share, speaks to America at its best.


The program began with the Presentation of the Colors byIMG_5061_memorial a group of high school students, the Pledge of Allegiance and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

A memorial tribute to Tony Buccini an outstanding employee of the Port of Baltimore, a young father and a courageous warrior who inspired his colleagues during his battle with cancer, brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance.


Rev. Mary Davisson, Director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center touched the heart of everyone in the room with her 106-word gratitude invocation:

Gracious and loving God, thank you for the astounding energy and dedication of our honoree, our speakers, and everyone assembled here. Thank you for all the gifts which you give us to share, and for the generosity of planners and donors who made this celebration possible. Watch over the port community. Help us to treat one another, working at sea or in the port, with wisdom and justice. Stir us up to share with future generations the privilege of faithful work, and grateful generosity. And now, bless all who grow and transport and prepare and serve our food, and fill this time with your presence. Amen.

Kathleen Broadwater, Deputy Director of the Maryland Port Administration, introduced Mary Jane, with carefully chosen wordsIMG_5158_award designed to draw a memorable word picture of this vibrant woman with a million dollar smile: inspirational, engaged, an encyclopedia of Baltimore and the port, the Mayor of the port and one of its best ambassadors, a woman of integrity and loyalty, a problem-solver, a true leader who is respected at all levels and sectors of the industry.

Mary Jane accepted the Woman of the Year Award. She carefully placed it on the table in front of the podium. She then took a deep breath, smiled and shared these ten points to describe the secret to her success in business and in life:

1. Provide opportunities to others. If you don’t step down, how can others step up?

2. Affirm others with kind words and kind acts.

_MJ speaking

3. Put God first, then family and friends.

4. Never give up on your education. Once you have it, it’s yours forever.

5. Show interest in opportunities to learn in informal ways. Find a group that aligns with your interests and goals.

6. Get involved by offering to help.

7. Seek out role models and mentors who can teach you what you need to know.

8. Work like everyone is watching you, because inevitably someone is watching you.

9. Do small things well, because they all add up.

10. Do what you say you are going to do, because it’s the basis of your reputation.

When Mary Jane finished her remarks, she received a well-deserved and enthusiastic standing ovation.

IMG_5175_ Dr Lindsay

The keynote speaker, Dr. Dawn Lindsay, President of Anne Arundel Community College, added more joy to Mary Jane’s moment when she spoke these words: Mary Jane Norris is a great choice for this award.

Dr. Lindsay gave an insightful and informative speech about the role of women in the transportation industry. For every fact she presented, she had a practical and wise suggestion:

1. To encourage more women to get involved in the transportation industry she recommended the creation of an internal leadership program to prepare the next generation.

2. To guarantee quality replacements when incumbent leaders retire, she proposed a succession plan.

3. Because Gen X and Gen Y employees think about work differently than Millennials, she suggested making the work environment more appealing and enjoyable.

4. To help employees advance, she emphasized the importance of mentoring programs.

Dr. Lindsay is a very effective speaker. She knows how to craftIMG_Guests sentences that register with her audience. These are a few examples:

We must choose to encourage one another.

We must give back knowledge to the next generation and work collectively and creatively to attract women.

The working world has changed, and we must enlist allies who will give honest feedback to help women reach their goal.

We must hold ourselves accountable.

Women need to empower other women.

You can either push down or pull up. Let’s pull up.

This is sound advice from a woman who made it to the top of her profession, advice that enabled Mary Jane Norris to make it to the top in her chosen profession.

When Dr. Lindsay finished her remarks, she took her place on a panel IMG_5190_panelwith Lorraine Andrews-Warnick, Living Classrooms Foundation Director of Masonville Cove Environmental Education Campus, Diane Young, Supervisor for Technical Programs in the Career and Technical Office for Baltimore Public Schools, and LCDR Stephanie Morrison, Chief of Waterways Management Division at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore.

Each panel member responded to questions posed by Mistress of Ceremonies Cecilia ‘Cece’ Donovan.

These are a few of the starred thoughts from the discussion:

Kids are not growing up with soft skills and experience in workplace values. (Lorraine Andrews-Warnick)

Our students don’t know what they don’t know. We need toIMG_5187_panel 3 establish teacher externships. (Diane Young)

Mentorships, formal and informal, are very valuable. (LCDR Stephanie Morrison)

Internships and mentoring are very important to find out about the field. For students to grow, it is important that they find a person they would like to be like. (Dr. Dawn Lindsay)

The panel identified several values that students should cultivate if they want to live successful and productive lives.

1. Respect for self and others.

2. A strong work ethic.

3. Set short and long-term realistic goals.

IMG_5187_panel 4

4. Accept responsibility for your actions.

5. Think about what you can do for others.

6. Competence.

7. Integrity.

8. Honesty.

9. Commitment.

10. Cultivate the gift of an open mind.

Mary Jane Norris knows in very real ways the importance of these IMG_5203_familyvalues. She has made them an essential part of her personal honor code. That is why she received this prestigious award. That is why so many people came forward after the event to express their congratulations and best wishes. That is why she is a quiet hero and a radiant face of America on its best day.

As Kitch and I made our way to the parking lot, we were taken by the beauty of this place and the moment we had just experienced. Looking at the American flag flying majestically inIMG_5228_ Flag adj the cold March wind, two thoughts reverberated in my heart and my mind:

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. William Arthur Ward

Good people make good places. Anna Sewell

On this wonderful day, the room overlooking the rippling water of the Chesapeake Bay was filled with the sights and sounds of good people who represent America at its best.

In our humble opinion, it was a very good place to be.

(Digital pictures by Kitch and Tony Mussari)

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