Retirement didn’t last long for Marlene Lieb, former Associate Vice President for Continuing Education at Harford Community College (HCC). Although she celebrated her “last” day Friday, July 13, she’ll be back at the growing educational institution in October as the new Liaison for Strategic Business Partnerships.
“When Dr. Golladay [president of Harford Community College] offered me the opportunity to continue working with many of the community colleagues with whom I have established relationships, on a part-time, flexible basis, I was thrilled to accept,” Lieb says cheerfully. “It is an exciting time to be involved in Harford County, as we transition into a larger community, welcoming new businesses and new residents.”
Lieb started her career at HCC 31 years ago, progressing over the years with added responsibilities, increased scope and changing job titles. In her last position, Lieb understood the importance of being visible and actively listening to do her job successfully.
“In order to be effective in continuing education at a community college, I had to be continually involved in the community being served,” she says. Adding, “Members of the community are the primary source of information regarding program development, as the college strives to address the vocational and training needs of our community residents.”
Parlaying that information into effective programs and initiatives is Lieb’s strength. As Harford County was experiencing its economic boon, Lieb seized the opportunity to assist new business owners with their entrepreneurial dreams by establishing the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on the campus of HCC in 1996. “Nearly 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners have been served by the SBDC at Harford Community College because of Marlene’s leadership, wisdom and support,” credits SBDC Director Russell Teter. “The impact on the community will last for generations. She leaves a true legacy.”
Legacy also accurately describes Lieb’s initiative in bringing business people together to learn the inner workings of Harford County, enabling them to become true community leaders. “The Harford Leadership Academy is a community development program offered in collaboration with the Harford County Chamber of Commerce,” she explains. “In its 22nd year, the program has graduated nearly 800 leaders who have assumed positions of influence throughout this county. After passing on coordination of the Academy, I re-energized the HLA Alumni Academy and established the HLA Ambassador group.”
Vanessa Milio, CEO of the Harford County Chamber of Commerce adds, “You can’t think of the Harford Leadership Academy and not think of Marlene Lieb. Marlene understood that in order for the program to be successful it needed to stay relevant to the changes in the county. She continuously reached out to graduates for their ideas and perspectives. Her passion for Harford County and for equipping leaders to give back to the county touched every session she led.”
The success Lieb experienced in recognizing the value of bringing like professionals together influenced the establishment of similar groups or events as well like the Susquehanna Human Resource Association, the New Vision for Women’s Conference, the Public Safety Training Institute, the Annual Conference for Nonprofits and the Annual Administrative Professionals Conference to name a few.
Lieb’s influence in the community is not limited to the advancement of businesses and professionals. She is very active in causes and programs that assist women. She helped establish the safe house as a board member of SARC (Safety, Awareness, Resources, Change), which works to end domestic and sexual violence and stalking. She is a lifetime member and past president of the American Association of University Women where she created the annual Resnick Award Luncheon that recognizes one junior woman from each county high school who excels in math and science. In addition to setting up the SBDC, she also initiated the women’s business program there and re-established the international ATHENA Women’s Leadership Award. And, as an avid swimmer, she co-founded Mermaids on a Mission, a fundraising swim across the Bush River to raise awareness of and funding for the elimination of breast cancer.
But, one of her most recent endeavors is also one in which she takes the most pride. “The Women’s Giving Circle started two years ago as a grassroots effort in the living room of my friend, Jayne Klein. The generosity of the dynamic women members has already impacted nine organizations that serve women and children and has the potential to significantly impact the level of philanthropy of Harford County women.” In its first year, the Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) awarded $20,000 in grants and scholarships to local organizations supporting women and children like Tabitha’s House, LASOS, and Upper Bay Counseling and Support Center. Now in its second year, it is 90 women strong with the potential to cast a much wider net of aid and assistance.
“I rarely make things happen alone,” Lieb admits. “All of the initiatives I mentioned have been because of the collaborative work of many. I do seem to have a keen knack of identifying ‘partners’ whom I know can help me achieve the desired goal.”
This knack will be critical in her new role at HCC. “The leadership at HCC recognizes the importance of community partners in fulfilling our mission. In my position, I will act as the conduit between community business leaders and members of the college community who can influence an outcome. I will be focusing much of my energy on relationships we have fostered with Aberdeen Proving Ground and the associated government contractors. Our academic deans and faculty are exceptional educators who devote their time to student learning and development. I will help carry the message of their outstanding work and the capabilities that Harford Community College has to offer, and bring back to the college opportunities for their involvement.”
Although Lieb’s new position will be part-time, county residents will likely feel full-time benefits of her continued influence on creating a better place to live and work. “This community has been amazing at embracing new initiatives,” proclaims Lieb. “In my 31 years of representing HCC in this community, I have managed to connect hundreds of people who have done amazing things. The two critical elements of establishing and maintaining solid relationships are sincerity and trust. Fortunately, those come naturally to me. If I get involved in something, it is because I sincerely care about it and my colleagues can trust I will do what I promise.” I95