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Woman of the year likes to stay behind the scenes

September 11, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - When the Business and Professional Women's Organization of Hagerstown asked Sharon Leatherman if they could name her "Woman of the Year," she told them she would think about it.

"She said, 'I like to do things, but I don't like to be recognized,'" organization member Donna Smith said at a banquet honoring Leatherman Monday evening.

If you ask Joanne Saltzberg, who served with Leatherman on the Maryland Commission for Women, she'll tell you that humble attitude is what has allowed Leatherman to achieve so much for the community over the years.

"I learned from her about leadership," Saltzberg said, explaining that Leatherman is the only person she's ever known who doesn't let concerns over who gets credit stand in the way of getting things done.

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For example, three years ago, when the governor disbanded the Legislative Agenda for Maryland Women, a group that pushed for state legislation on behalf of women and children, Leatherman took the initiative to send e-mails to former members and help reorganize the group as the independent Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women.

"She stepped back, led and let everyone else get the credit," Saltzberg said.

Leatherman, who serves as executive coordinator of the United Methodist Appalachian Ministry Network, has held leadership positions in Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused, the League of Women Voters, and Church Women United. She helped organize and currently chairs Women At The Table, a Washington County group that encourages and trains women to run for public office.

Former state Sen. Patricia Cushwa commended Leatherman for her work as district administrator for her husband, Victor Cushwa, during his time in the state Senate.

"People say behind every great man is a great woman pushing him, but actually I was the one pushing him on issues. Sharon was the one up front pulling," Cushwa said Monday. "Vick was noted as a wonderful constituent worker, but guess who did all the work?"

Leatherman, true to her reputation, was quick to defer the credit.

"I don't believe anyone does anything by themself," she said.

Leatherman will be the guest speaker at the Hagerstown Business and Professional Women's Organization's Oct. 1 dinner meeting and will be awarded a governor's citation on Oct. 20, said Sandy Mills, the organization's Woman of the Year chair.

The group has been giving the Woman of the Year award since 1972 to recognize women who have distinguished themselves in their careers or communities and supported policies and ideas that benefit women, Mills said.

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