August 5, 2019

Senate Decades Series 1990s Senator Gloria Lawlah

A Maryland State Senator from January 9, 1991 to January 10, 2007, Senator Gloria Lawlah proved a clearly effective leader for the Maryland Senate over the decade that was the 1990s.

Born in South Carolina, Lawlah would become a teacher by trade. She completed her undergraduate education at Hampton University in 1960 then her graduate education at Trinity College in 1970. That commitment to and appreciation for education would lead her to the classroom as both a teacher and as an education advocate and administrator.

Lawlah would become keenly interested in politics after moving to Prince George’s County in the 1970s with her husband Jack. The two would decide to raise their family in Prince George’s County and work for the betterment of their community. Lawlah would become intimately involved in efforts to integrate Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Lawlah would begin her political career in 1982 upon her election to the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee. She’d subsequently seek election to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1986 and the Maryland Senate in 1990. Both efforts would prove successful as Lawalh would serve as a member of the House of Delegates from 1987 to 1991 and then the Maryland Senate from 1991 to 2007. Her successful election to the Senate in 1991 would make her the first woman to hold such office in the history of Prince George’s County.

Her time in the Maryland General Assembly would see her awarded on numerous occasions with recognitions from advocacy organizations throughout Maryland and beyond. She’d be selected by the Prince George’s County Board of Trade as its Citizen of the Year in 2000, as the recipient of the Award of Excellence from Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 2002, and as Legislator of the Year by the Health Facilities Association of Maryland in 2006. She’d also prove a true leader for Prince George’s County serving as the Senate Delegation Chair for the county from 2004-2007.

Lawlah’s career in public service would take a new turn upon her selection by Governor Martin O’Malley to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of Aging. Lawalh would serve in that position working to protect and promote the interests of older Marylanders from 2007 until her retirement in 2015. She’d leave behind a strong legacy of activism and a clear commitment to service that would span the decade that was the 1990s and far beyond.