Baltimore County Leader Insight: Patti Provance

Patti Provance. Associated Vice President. United Way of Central Maryland


A Special Interview: May 2024

This month, the LBC Class of ’24 developed their civic engagement plans, describing how they will be involved in the community as a result of their LBC experience. What do you think is the greatest challenge to fulfilling our desires to give back?
Having too many great ideas and causes to care about! LBC’s class of ’24 are already accomplished and engaged—brimming over with ways to do more for our region. Its infectious and exciting.

What strategies have you seen help successfully overcome that challenge?

    • Alignment! Find the places where your goals to give back align with your lifestyle or existing personal and professional goals. I work with an incredible group of civic leaders through my role at United Way of Central Maryland, and the ones who are able to accomplish the most are those who find ways to make it truly work for them. Many people with children want to share their commitment to volunteerism, voting, activism, and advocacy. Finding family friendly activities—whether its bringing your child to vote—or volunteering side by side is so gratifying. For those who work in workplaces with strong corporate social responsibility goals who are also looking for leadership opportunities can offer to lead a workplace based volunteer activity will give you a chance to give back AND stand out to your workplace leadership. It took me a long time to see this—I learned it from the volunteer leaders I work with closely!
    • Assess what’s already happening. Can you join a project that another organization or group is already leading, rather than start a brand new project?
    • Make sure the proposed solution or activity meets a need the community has identified/wants your help. The class said this again and again in different ways throughout the day—make sure any civic engagement work is grounded in the needs the community itself identifies.

How can leaders in the community support each other in their civic engagement endeavors?
Show up for one another. Most of the issues we are working on intersect in some way, and there is an incredible boost when we look out and see leaders we admire take up our cause—whether its online or in real life.

And if you are burned out and overloaded—take a rest and invite another leader to do so too. Take that time to fill your cup—whether it’s a nap, a walk outside, or turning off your phone. Give someone else permission to take a break!

What life experience has most shaped who you are as a leader?
Without a doubt, attending and graduating from Western High School. I was surrounded by young women striving to be their best, while receiving an incredible education. My time at Western solidified my commitment to other women leaders, to supporting black women in particular, and to Baltimore itself. I know I would not be the person I am today if I had not gone to Western. Go doves!

In your opinion, what personal trait is most important to being a good leader and why?
Can I name two? Humility and curiosity. Together, they keep you grounded, focused on the needs of others, and open-minded. I strive for this every day.