Jan 30, 2015 01:50PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Greene’s travel itinerary to the top of the BWI Business Partnership—a hybrid advocacy/policy organization that promotes sensible regional economic and infrastructural growth—is one which officially began almost 11 years ago, when she landed the job after attending a breakfast during which her predecessor announced his retirement. But it’s really the culmination of a life-long journey that took flight during childhood.
“I grew up in a military family; an aviation family,” Greene tells. “My dad worked at Andrews, my brother was a military pilot, and so we had a love of aviation. That just played out. I went to my first airshow when I was five—went every year thereafter. My dad took me up in my first airplane ride when I was six. And we flew over our house. My mother put white sheets out on the laundry line so we could see it.”
After graduating college with a degree in sociology (Western Maryland College, now named McDaniel), “I was a social worker determined to save the world; one woman crusade,” Greene says with a hearty laugh. “I did that for a while and then really wanted a change. I said to my husband, when we were taking off on a flight to London, that my ideal job would be the head of public relations for BWI Airport. And I did it. I went back to get a graduate degree in public relations so I would have the paper qualification. And it was very rewarding to have that job.”
Greene remained at BWI Airport for 15 years, before departing in 1997 to pursue new opportunities, which took her to Washington, D.C. for about five years.
And so landing the BWI Business Partnership job after that serendipitous breakfast was like a coming home party for her. “D.C. is like another country,” Greene says with another laugh, which come easy and often during our meet and greet in her Linthicum-based office.
“Coming back not only gave me the opportunity to work in transportation with BWI, but also to be in a situation where I could give back in my local community. So this [the job] was a way of connecting, like my family, to aviation. It’s in my blood.”
Commanding the BWI Business Partnership has been a thrill ride for Greene, who on any given day could be whisked away to a meeting, conference, or convention. Recently, she attended a conference covering Amtrak initiatives in the northeast corridor; then an economic mobility forum in Baltimore; next it was an Urban Land Institute session on transit-oriented development. All of this adds to the vision of what the Baltimore-Washington corridor can become. And Greene has been a dynamo bringing that vision into focus.
Recent successes include bridging federal officials and legislators to grant an additional $10 million toward the widening of Route 175 in Odenton through Fort Meade. Another victory, when the gas tax went through two years ago, was getting weekend service on the MARC rail line.
“That’s the kind of transportation advocacy that we do. What we are really advocating for is greater connectivity in this region. The challenge is that there’s so much to be done, the money it would take to do it is immense. So we try to focus on things that have the greatest impact.”
Greene is equally ardent about building community through coalition. “We have to educate the public about the value of transit.” To that end, Greene and the Partnership helped form the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council—a collection of businesses, elected officials, and those interested in Fort Meade coming together to focus on what Fort Meade needs and how to effectively advocate for those needs. Greene served as the council’s first Chair. Today, the Army considers it a model for how communities can partner with military installations.
Reflecting on her first decade leading the Partnership, Greene says, “I feel I’ve grown the organization, it’s strong. I enjoy that. I enjoy that I feel a sense of community and feel partially responsible for taking the community to the next level.”
As for the next decade, I ask her if there’s a “big fish” yet to land. “I’d love to get the METRO to come out of D.C. and connect to BWI. That would be a nice ‘big fish!’”
If that connection is made, it would likely prove to be the hallmark of a career that has received its fair share of accolades. Greene has been a two-time recipient of the Commanders Award for Public Service, awarded by the commander of Fort Meade. She also received the Athena Award in 2009, annually given by the West County Chamber of Commerce to women leaders who have given back to others and developed others in their careers; an award that Greene is particularly proud of.
If ever she finds additional time to spend with her husband, Greene nods toward the direction of BWI airport and says, expectedly, that she’d love to…what else…travel more. It’s as clear as the skies that this visionary is always looking to make another connection.