Leonardtown, MD -- This evening, Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer delivered remarks at the Southern Maryland ‘Democrat of the Year’ dinner honoring Dr. Kathleen O’Brien and other award winners. The following is a transcript of his speech, as prepared for delivery.
“Thank you, fellow Democrats. I’m honored to be here with you tonight to celebrate our ‘Democrat of the Year’ and to pay tribute to all those who have been working hard over the past year to advance the causes of opportunity, justice, and equality in Southern Maryland. I want to highlight in particular the enormous role that Democratic women have played in the fight for these values and for a better future for our communities and our country.
“This year, we are poised to make history by electing Hillary Clinton to be the first woman to sit in the Oval Office and be addressed as ‘Madam President.’ And I know all of us will be out there knocking doors, making calls, registering voters, and raising money to support her campaign and for down-ballot candidates, including Chris Van Hollen for Senate. I’m proud to be serving as your Representative in the House, and I’m counting on you to help me get out the vote for re-election as well.
“This year, we bid farewell to a woman who has served our state and our country for four decades in elected office and who is retiring this year – our senior Senator, Barbara Mikulski. She may be leaving office, but I know she will continue to be a force for positive change in Maryland for many years to come.
"Senator Mikulski, though, is one of many trailblazing Democratic women in Maryland. She joins a long list of Democratic women who, throughout our history, have stood up, spoken out, and worked tirelessly to advance an agenda of civil rights, equal opportunity, and social justice.
“Women like Lillie Mae ‘Ma’ Jackson, mother of the civil rights movement; pioneering state delegate and Senator Mary Risteau; and consummate fighter for education and opportunity – and my predecessor – Rep. Gladys NoonSpellman. And it’s no surprise that, like Senator Mikulski, a number of Democratic women in Maryland have come to political activism from the field of social work, where they dedicate their careers to improving the lives of others and strengthening communities.
“Our 2016 ‘Democrat of the Year’ honoree is a shining example of someone who is working to improve lives and provide hope to those in crisis. Dr. Kathleen O’Brien has been with Walden Sierra for more than forty years, serving in a variety of roles, including Clinical Director, Executive Director, and now C.E.O. She’s been a powerful advocate for children, families, and access to quality mental health care for all who need it.
“Dr. O’Brien has led efforts to make critical resources available to victims of domestic violence and co-founded the St. Mary’s family violence coordinating council. I’ve had the privilege of working closely with her and with the rest of the Walden Sierra team, who perform extraordinary work across Southern Maryland and Prince George’s County.
“Dr. O’Brien is putting into practice on a daily basis the social justice spirit that drives us forward as Democrats. It’s no wonder that she’s been chosen as our ‘Democrat of the Year.’
“I also wish to extend my congratulations to our other honorees this evening: Devin Bohanan – ‘Rising Star Award,' Alonzo Gaskin – ‘John G. Lancaster Award for Leadership,' Bill Bates – ‘Excellence in Service Award.'
“We are so fortunate to have all of our 2016 honorees working to build stronger communities, build a stronger Democratic party, and build a stronger future for Maryland and our country. Thank you all for the enormous contributions you are making to your neighbors and to St. Mary’s County.”