UMBC alumna Adrienne A. Jones makes history as Maryland Speaker of the House

Published: May 2, 2019

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, in gold and black, poses with UMBC Retriever mascot, in front of a crowd of people, during an evening celebration.
Adrienne Jones with UMBC mascot True Grit at UMBCs 50th anniversary celebration. Photo by Marlayna Demond 11 for UMBC.

UMBC made history again yesterday as alumna Adrienne A. Jones ‘76, psychology, was unanimously voted Maryland’s next Speaker of the House. Her swearing in was a historic moment for the state. Jones – who has served as Speaker Pro Tem since 2003, and a delegate since 1997 – is both the first African American and the first woman to serve in this role.

The vote followed an intense day of caucusing during which the two Democratic front-runners wound up stepping back to endorse Jones, reported the Baltimore Sun. With the final vote for Jones – 139-0 – and a standing ovation from all, the room burst into applause.

“I think the last time I felt this ecstatic was when UMBC beat UVA,” said Del. Mark Chang ‘99, psychology, who jumped from his seat to second the motion to close nominations before the final vote was made. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person. I’ve always had such respect for Adrienne, especially because she’s a UMBC alum, and a fellow psychology major.”

Jones stepped in to lead the General Assembly several times during this year’s session while former Speaker Michael Busch was in the hospital. When he passed away on April 7, just a day before the end of the legislative session, Jones stepped in yet again to close the session on a somber note. The vote yesterday was conducted in a special session.

“Delegate Jones exemplifies what we want to see in elected office today – leaders who are working hard for the good of all people,” said UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. “Like so many of our alumni, she is making a real difference in people’s lives. We are so proud of her.”

Fellow UMBC legislators and other members of the Retriever community quickly took to social media to share their excitement about the vote.

“As a UMBC alum, I am incredibly proud today that one of our own has ascended to the Speaker’s position,” said Del. Haven Shoemaker ‘87, political science. “Speaker Jones is a tireless worker, extremely dedicated, and will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the State of Maryland. I wish her nothing but the best.”

“This is a big deal,” said Del. Charles Sydnor, III, ’00, policy sciences, noting the historic overtones of Jones’ accomplishment. “I’m extremely excited. She’s the right person for the job.”

Todd Eberly, Ph.D. ’06, public policy, an associate professor at St. Mary’s College, tweeted: “Last week Adrienne Jones was willing to walk away from the Speaker race and now she is the Speaker. A person willing to give up power is precisely the type of person we should entrust with power.”

At the 2018 Annapolis Alumni Reception (L-R):  Delegate Charles Sydnor, III, ’00, policy sciences; Speaker of the House Adrienne A. Jones ‘76, psychology; President Freeman Hrabowski; Delegate Haven Shoemaker ’87, political science; and Delegate Mark Chang ’99, psychology.

Jones, who in 2003 was named a UMBC Outstanding Alumna of the Year, discussed the importance of public service at an alumni reception in Annapolis last year.

“Having UMBC alumni in the Senate, House of Delegates, the Governor’s Office, state agencies, advocacy groups and nonprofits is a great asset,” she said.

“As public service professionals, we share the same camaraderie and ‘True Grit’ as we did as UMBC students.”

See additional coverage in The Baltimore Sun.

Featured image: Adrienne A. Jones celebrates UMBC’s 50th anniversary. All photos by Marlayna Demond ‘11 for UMBC.


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