Barbara Coleman, Maryland Legal Aid, Employee of the Year

For almost 35 years Barbara Coleman has tried to “be the person who stays behind the scenes and do the work.”  And what work that has been.  As a Senior Paralegal at Maryland Legal Aid she is the person who keeps people from getting evicted, who fights with Social Security to ensure her clients get their benefits.  As her boss and nominator Blake Fetrow noted, “Barbara is able to get results for clients that even the most gifted attorney within our organization could not hope to achieve.  She has built relationships, knows the resources available, and knows how to get things done in Howard County. Time and again, she has prevented homelessness, sometimes by convincing the most jaded landlord attorneys to give tenants a second chance.” She is, he noted, almost a social worker, since she will then work with the client to keep them from repeating actions that led to an eviction effort.”  She is also involved in the community, serving on the Community Action Council, on the Board on Homelessness, and on the Howard County Coalition of Geriatric Services (COGS). Her commitment and infectious personality make her amazingly effective, and admired. But maybe the real measure of her impact and dedication are clients like the couple who call her every week or when they get a new puzzling bit of official paper and trust her advice.  Maybe it’s Mrs. Wainright, who would bring Barbara a cupcake, and whom Barbara would  take the time to later visit at the Lorien Nursing Center to help her with Social Security. 

Barbara says she entered this field because when she was growing up her Dad died, and no one told her Mom for several years that the family was entitled to Social Security benefits. “I made up my mind that there must be other people out there who must need to know.”  Barbara’s impact in her community is in the thousands of clients and colleagues who admire and respect her because they see that for her it is more than just a job, it’s a calling. Howard County is fortunate that Barbara Coleman is there to help them.

Barbara Coleman Video

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