When Adrienne Jones entered Baltimore County government in the 1970s, she was prepared for a field dominated by men. “I have four brothers,” she says, “so a male world was nothing new to me.”
Indeed, it didn’t stop her from leading several local agencies throughout much of her 38-year career in government. In 1997, the death of a state delegate in her district led her to apply for an appointment to the general assembly. She has since won five elections and ascended to House speaker pro tempore, third in line to succeed the governor.
Jones is the first black woman in Maryland to occupy the position, and one of only eight women who currently hold the second-highest post in a state House. Although much of her legislation focuses on education, she sees an anti-discrimination bill as her signature achievement. While working in Baltimore County’s Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs, Jones noticed a high number of complaints about hate crimes against people because of their sexual orientation. So in 2005, Jones convinced her colleagues in the general assembly to modify Maryland’s hate crimes statute to include worker protections based on sexual orientation. “I feel strongly that every citizen,” she says, “should be treated fairly and with respect.”