B.E.S.T. Celebrates Black History Month


February 28, 2018

As Black History month comes to a close today, we wanted to honor special individuals who are very “close to home”. There have been many African Americans who have served Baltimore through their work for B.E.S.T. and we are honored to highlight three of them below: Vernon Reid, Diane Hutchins, and Theo Rodgers. We are grateful for their service to B.E.S.T. as esteemed members of our Board of Trustees. Their commitment to elevating African American students in Baltimore through education is truly to be celebrated – not just this month, but always.

Vernon A. Reid Jr.

Vernon A. Reid Jr. was born and raised in the Harlem Park neighborhood of Baltimore City. Upon graduating from Forest Park High School, he spent two years in the Naval Academy and then earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Towson State College (now Towson University) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Indiana State University School of Business.

Vernon has served on the Board of Trustees at B.E.S.T. since 1995, serving as President of the B.E.S.T. Board for three and a half years. His impact is far-reaching and we are grateful for his compassion and thoughtfulness for our B.E.S.T. students and families and for the city of Baltimore. Vernon also serves on the Board of the Enoch Pratt Library and on the Advisory Board of Baltimore Recreation & Parks.

Vernon recently retired from T. Rowe Price Associates after 29 years. T. Rowe Price honored his dedication and commitment to Baltimore by naming a new park in the neighborhood where he grew up. Visit the website: http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2017/11/27/vernon-reid-playground/ to learn more about this wonderful honor and surprise.

Vernon Reid (left) with two B.E.S.T. Gilman Students and Former B.E.S.T. Trustee, Chuck Knudsen

IN HER OWN WORDS

Diane Hutchins, B.E.S.T. Community Trustee, shares her experience on being an African American student at Roland Park Country School in the late 60s and early 70s. Thank you Diane, for paving the way for so many!

I am a statistic.

I am a Black female. My parents divorced when I was 12, so I grew up with a single parent. My parents divorced each other, but did not divorce me. While my parents had graduated from high school, my most well-educated grandparent had gotten to the 7th grade.

My mother made certain that I got a good education. That was something no one could take away from me. It also meant that she wanted me in a private school. I began full day schooling at 20 months. At age 5, I entered kindergarten at Grace & St. Peter’s School. Six years later, I became a student at Roland Park Country School. Four years after that, I became the first college graduate in my family.

I chose RPCS and for 52 years, I have had not one moment’s regret. I was not only the sole African American student in my class, I was for 3 years the sole African American student in my division of the school. There were some very difficult and hurtful and distressing experiences (most of which I never shared with either parent). Being the first Black child most of my classmates had ever met and known had lifelong impacts on them. Talk about only getting one chance to make a first impression.

My education was all that my mother hoped for. On my graduation day, she looked at me and said, “It was all worth it.” What she meant was that, after all of her years of working overtime and sacrificing so that she could pay my tuition, she saw her one and only child as someone who had the tools I needed to succeed.

She was right-in more ways than I can count-and I am forever grateful.

Diane Hutchins Yearbook Photos from Roland Park Country School

Diane Hutchins with fellow B.E.S.T. Trustee and B.E.S.T. Alumna, Nikki Hasselbarth

Theo C. Rodgers
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
A&R Development Corp.

Theo C. Rodgers is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of A&R Development Corp.,
a mid-Atlantic family owned residential and commercial development firm headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Rodgers co-founded the firm in 1977 and has guided its progress since its founding. A&R’s portfolio of 51 completed projects includes developing or co-developing projects ranging in value from $1 million to $152 million with an aggregate value of $900 million.

Prior to founding A&R, Mr. Rodgers was Vice President of H.G. Parks, Inc. an East Coast meat processing firm located in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Rodgers’ professional experience includes project engineering positions at General Motors and
Dow Corning corporations.

Mr. Rodgers joined the B.E.S.T. Board in 1991, served as President for eleven years, and remains very actively involved as a Trustee Emeritus. Additionally, Mr. Rodgers currently serves as a Johns Hopkins Health System Trustee, University of Maryland and Baltimore Foundation Trustee. Mr. Rodgers is also Trustee Emeritus on the Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Baltimore Community Foundation boards.
His prior governance experience includes Director/Trustee T. Rowe Price Funds, Director Baltimore Bancorp, and Vice Chairman/Director Injured Workers Insurance Fund of Maryland, Baltimore Development Corp, Baltimore Symphony Center, Caves Valley Golf Club, and Greater Baltimore Committee.

Mr. Rodgers has a B.S in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee State University and a MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Theo Rodgers (far right) with B.E.S.T. and Roland Park Country School students, RPCS Alumna Ashlee Tuck ’02 and Jean Brune, Retired Head of School

Theo Rodgers in the ‘90s congratulating a B.E.S.T. student