The purpose of the Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation (AFHF), the non-profit leadership organization you manage, is to promote education excellence throughout America and help strengthen a competitive workforce to ensure America’s leadership in a 21st century global economy. How will its existence help to ensure a competitive workforce in Maryland?
The mission of AFHF is simple: To encourage and promote education excellence throughout America and to help strengthen a competitive workforce to ensure America’s leadership in a 21st century global economy. My grandfather lived by these principles. He also believed that America’s human capital is our country’s greatest resource, I do as well. To honor his legacy, we work to promote the ideal that every individual should be well- equipped to contribute to our economic infrastructure. AFHF works as a convener of ideas, opportunity, and people. We understand that by bringing these three components together, we can provide some of the building blocks needed to help others find their way to a better future.
You have a great pedigree, as well as significant legislative and business experience. What do you think has most prepared you for this run?
The short answer is my faith in God. Everything starts from there. I believe in servant leadership. From there, I’ve been blessed to have learned from great leaders who made time to teach me, and hardworking people who shared life lessons with me that helped me keep my feet on the ground about what’s important. I’ve also learned that successful policy, at any level of government, begins with mutual respect and a willingness to both negotiate and compromise for the common good.
We know that all races come with a unique set of challenges. What, if any, do you see with this run?
These days, I think that people are paying more attention to the bread-and-butter issues that affect their lives and their families’ future. They’ve grown weary of the political noise and are just looking for practical answers to help them navigate through difficult economic challenges. Whether they are both parents and the caregiver of a parent, a small business owner, a displaced worker or someone re-entering society’s mainstream, I think that people just want straight-talk and honest representation.
I also think that people want to be heard, clearly and often. While our nation is slowly seeing signs that the economy is turning around, for homeowners still underwater in their mortgages, families working two and three jobs to keep their heads above water, and seniors trying to manage the daily choices of medication over groceries on fixed incomes, people are looking for more than political jargon in this election. They are looking for someone who will keep their door open; someone who seek and receive their ideas, concerns and criticisms, [and] someone who is willing to work with anyone regardless of what side of the isle they sit on if it means getting the job done. As important, I think that people are hungry for someone that isn’t afraid to say, I stand on the ‘people first’ principle, even when it may mean standing alone.
Thank you for your incredible insight into the campaign and what your win could mean for a better Maryland. What, more than anything else, is the one thing that you want Maryland voters to know about you?
As the national battle continues to restore the Voting Rights Act, we know that the right to vote is a precious thing. By exercising that right, we honor those who have sacrificed so much to make it possible for us to cast a ballot. I would like to ‘earn’ the solemn privilege of representing the people of Maryland’s 4th Congressional District and work with everyone to help get out the vote.
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, www.wordsmithrapport.com.