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Mentor. Leader. Steward.
Denise Carnaggio, ATHENA Award Recipient 2012

June 2012

Denise Carnaggio is considered one of Harford County’s greatest assets. As a volunteer steward, she’s actively mentoring youth while leading crucial economic development transitions in her position as deputy director of the Harford County Office of Economic Development.

Denise Carnaggio

As the newest recipient of the Athena Award 2012, an award presented to a woman living and/or working in Harford County who portrays a high-level of excellence in business or profession, Carnaggio has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way and, most especially, has opened doors of leadership opportunity for women.

From 4-H to BRAC
Her greatest joy is working with young people and a busy schedule doesn’t stop Carnaggio from serving various organizations, including the Harford County 4-H program, Parks and Recreation, teaching Sunday School at her church, and volunteering at several local schools, and for several committees and boards (see sidebar).

“I was very surprised and humbled by being part of the group of accomplished women nominated for the ATHENA Award,” Carnaggio reveals. “I realized the [finalist] announcement was about me when I heard the word 4-H.”

Carnaggio says she is most proud of the way that Harford County and the region pulled together to help in the BRAC transition and make people feel welcome in the community. “It was teamwork and that’s the only way that happens,” Carnaggio remarks. “Families needed to relocate and the empathy part of understanding what others were going through and trying to help them through that process was important.”

Denise Carnaggio’s Community Outreach• Army Alliance Board (Secretary and Founding Member)
• Northeastern Maryland Technology Council Board
• Association of the Army, Aberdeen Chapter (AUSA) Board
• Fisher House Ball Planning Committee
• University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Office Board
• Futures 11 Planning Committee for Harford County Public Schools (HCPS)
• Lt. Governor’s BRAC Local Committee, Co-Chair, Transportation
• Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness Program • Advisory Committee-HCPS
• World Language Task Force-HCPS
• STEM Program Advisory Group-HCPS
• “Heroes on the Home Front” Award-APG

Jim Richardson, director, Harford County Office of Economic Development, believes that Carnaggio understands the big picture and commends her great attention to detail and ability to deal with the military and protocol with ease. “As far as putting a plan together, Denise has transitioned with BRAC and coordinated our countywide effort to accommodate BRAC,” Richardson remarks. “She is an integral part in the Harford Awards program, Army Alliance and many other organizations we take for granted.”

Denise Carnaggio, and David Craig, Harford County Executive

In addition to the ATHENA Award, Richardson says Carnaggio won the employee of the month twice for Harford County and the Governor’s Citation in 1993. “[The awards] are recognition of the contributions she’s made to improve the quality of business life in Harford,” Richardson continues. “She’s great to work with, that’s the bottom line, and she gives the department and the people of Harford County 150 percent every time.”

Legacy Programs
Carnaggio dedicates herself to assisting others with entrepreneurship, perceives technology transfer opportunities, and helps businesses with expansion and proper resources. Her collaborative efforts and grass roots leadership allowed a number of programs to launch. Carnaggio says, “[My] greatest joy is developing legacy programs and having others succeed me and transform them into even stronger programs that have impact for years to come.”

Reflecting on the challenge of putting herself through college, Carnaggio feels extremely dedicated to mentoring young people about key life choices. “I work with the ATHENA mentoring program through HCC, a program started by the ATHENA Award recipient in 2009, Content McLaughlin. I mentor women as well as young men, and I’ve worked with a lot of individuals with their career choices,” she says.

And most of all, Carnaggio attributes her strength and dedicates her ATHENA Award to her husband Jim and children Cortney, an oncology nurse at Johns Hopkins, and Bryan, a graduating HCC student. She calls her staff “teammates” and gives all of the credit to her family, believing as she says, “We are all in it together.”