Resident Spotlight – Shawnte Perry

Shawnte Perry arrived at Marian House on October 15, 2020, after being incarcerated for 25 years. As a young woman she made poor choices about the people she befriended and got caught up in their behavior, adopting it as her own. At the age of 15, she spent a year in detention and then the next 24 years in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW).

Shawnte had only completed 9th grade at the time of her incarceration. She started her GED preparation upon first entering MCIW and finished in one year. She then enrolled in college courses through The Goucher Prison Education Partnership. When asked about her desire to further her education, Shawnte replied, “being incarcerated is whatever you make of it. I did everything I could to work on my degree while I had the opportunity, and it was offered for free. I was always a good student despite my poor choices.”

Because of her desire to learn and her good behavior record while at the correctional facility, Shawnte’s attorney pleaded with the Judge to grant her release to the Marian House program in 2020. The judge researched Marian House and determined that Shawnte was ready to resume her life outside of MCIW.

Shawnte is grateful to be in the Marian House program. She said, “After having a roommate and being in a bunkbed for 25 years I was so thankful to have my own private room. It gave me great peace of mind to have time alone. I thank God every day for being at Marian House.”

Shawnte has taken advantage of everything we offered her at Marian House and after completing the Job Readiness Program, obtained a job at the Baltimore Aquarium as a Guest Services Representative. When asked how she likes working she replied, “I love my job and get to meet at least 1,000 people every day. I am trained in different jobs throughout the Aquarium so there is never a dull moment.”

Shawnte completed her coursework towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies in the fall of 2020, shortly before coming to Marian House. On June 15, 2021, Shawnte graduated from Goucher College, one of the first women in nearly 30 years to complete a bachelor’s degree through coursework offered onsite in a Maryland prison. 

Her years of taking college courses had finally paid off! 

When asked what her future goals are she stated, “I want to eventually become a counselor or therapist. I want to help people with their struggles and mental health issues. I also know that I will eventually have my own place and I have never had a place of my own. I know Marian House will help me to succeed.”

Reflections from the Outgoing Board Chair, Don Mattran

I had the privilege and honor to serve as the Marian House Board Chair for the past two years and have been on the Board since 2015. I am proud to have served with such an outstanding group of volunteers to ensure the fulfillment of the Marian House mission.

Don Mattran, Foundry Wealth Advisors

My time as Board Chair has been fulfilling and I am proud of the progress we have made these past few years. At the beginning of my term, we launched a three-year strategic plan that focuses on three areas: The Power of Our Program, The Power of Progress and Expansion, and The Power of Building Relationships. I am pleased to say that upon completion of two years, we have done an outstanding job in moving our strategic plan goals forward.

I made a few changes while in leadership that you may not know about. I took the opportunity to introduce an informed consent agenda approach for our five board meetings each year, giving us more opportunity to engage in lively discussions around topics related to the Marian House programs and outreach. Adopting this meeting format allowed us to also spend time on Board education in topics such as effectively using social media and other helpful tools to help us be good ambassadors for Marian House.

Our board meetings are packed with content, and don’t leave much time for open conversation. To keep the Board connected and engaged between our meetings, I scheduled “Fireside Chats” on Zoom, giving Board members the opportunity to express concerns, ask questions, and to engage in informal discussions.

I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this great organization these past few years. I am honored to pass the baton over to our new Board Chair, Karen Albert. I have every confidence in her ability to lead us into the future. Although my time as Board Chair is over, I am not leaving the Board. I will continue to serve as Chair of the Finance Committee and will continue to work on Board Development. The mission of Marian House has touched my heart forever. My favorite event at Marian House is the Thanksgiving Dinner with the residents of Marian House I, where everyone in the room expresses their thanks and shares a wonderful meal.

While we could not hold the dinner in 2020 due to COVID, once this special event resumes, I will be there and will attend for the years to come! Thank you for allowing me to serve and for being a part of the Marian House family!

Don Mattran, Foundry Wealth Advisors

Volunteer Spotlight – Karen Albert

Welcome Karen Albert – New Chair of the Marian House Board


We welcomed Karen Albert as the new Chair of the Marian House board of directors on July 1, 2021. Karen has been involved with Marian House since 2008, when she joined the board and the advancement committee. During her first year on the board, she was the co-chair of the very first 5k, an event that is celebrating its 13th year in 2021. Karen continued to serve on the board and on various committees until 2018, when she took a brief hiatus. She rejoined the board in 2019, quickly assuming the position of vice chair and chair of the board development committee. 

When asked what she most looks forward to in her new role, Karen responded, “I have seen Marian House evolve and grow tremendously over the years I have been involved. I look forward to working with my fellow board members and the leadership and staff of Marian House to continue to develop and execute on strategic plans that will continue Marian House on its path forward. I feel there is so much opportunity for Marian House to serve more women and the board can play an important role in ensuring that is possible. It is my honor to have an opportunity to lead the board for the coming years.”     

Karen will lead us as we complete year three of our current strategic plan and will guide us through a new strategic planning process for 2023-2026. Karen stated, I am thrilled to be associated with Marian House at a time when so many positive things are happening.
The Marian House board of directors will do our best to elevate the visibility of Marian House in the community and help more women move from dependence to independence.”

When Karen is not giving of her time, talent, and treasure to Marian House, she holds the position of Vice President, Head of Internal Audit, and Internal Control for Constellium. Constellium, headquartered in Paris, France, is a global leader in the manufacturing of high value-added aluminum products and solutions.

Karen is a member of Executive Alliance, a Maryland based organization focused on accelerating the success and leadership of accomplished women by expanding their impact and influence through advocacy, education, and mentorship. Karen was recognized as a Daily Record Maryland Top 100 Woman in 2020. On a personal note, Karen has been married to her husband John for 22 years. They are dog lovers and currently have two yellow labs; Cali is 7 and Jules is 3. Marian House board and staff look forward to working with Karen for the next few years in her new leadership role.

Congratulations Shawnte Perry

The Goucher Prison Education Partnership

One-on-One with GPEP Alumna Shawnte Perry


Shawnte Perry, a fall 2020 graduate, and two fellow GPEP students who graduated in the Spring 2021 semester, are the first women in nearly 30 years to complete a bachelor’s degree through coursework offered onsite in a Maryland prison. They join former GPEP students who completed their college degrees after release from prison and students who earned Goucher bachelor’s degrees while incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution – Jessup. A young teenager when she went to prison, during her incarceration, Shawnte earned her high school diploma as well as completed her college education. She is now home. Shortly after this interview, Shawnte participated in the Class of 2021 Commencement ceremony on Goucher’s main campus.

Why did you decide to enroll with Goucher College? I always had a desire to further my education, so Goucher was the perfect opportunity.

Please describe a specific memory that was important to your college experience. During my college experience I have had many encounters that could be deemed as important. There were so many instructors that have left a lasting impression on me just by being so caring and effective in their role to us. Peter Mallios was one of my favorite instructors because he was always so passionate about teaching.

You earned your Goucher College Bachelor of Arts degree this past December. What do you want people to know about your journey to your degree? Well, the first thing that I would say is that the journey definitely was not an easy one. I had to stay very focused and decide to never give up no matter how hard things got.

How does it feel to be a college graduate? I am immensely proud of myself for seeing it through to the end. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and believe that obtaining my degree will help me a great deal with my future endeavors.

What will it mean to you to walk in the Goucher College graduation ceremony this spring? Being able to walk across the stage finalizes it all for me. I have dreamt of this day for many years. My family and friends have all told me how proud of me that they are. They also have shared that they did not expect anything less of me. It felt great knowing that they were so supportive and believed in me so much.

How do you hope to use your education in the future? Reaching the goal that I have set for myself… to become a therapist.

What would you say to a current student who has felt frustrated or considered giving up? I would say to them that seeing it through to the end will be the greatest feeling of accomplishment in the world that they could possibly feel, outside of those that are mothers… then I would say that it is the second best feeling of accomplishment. Always consider your future and never give up on yourselves.

You have shared that you were incarcerated at 15 years old and were released from prison late last year. You spent a year in detention and then the last 24 years at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. This spring, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Juvenile Restoration Act banning life without parole for juveniles. There is increasing public conversation about juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons and youth given long prison sentences. Is there anything you want to share about that? It was not easy spending the rest of my adolescence and early to mid-adult years incarcerated. I deserved to do some time for committing a crime, however, I changed my life and learned the lesson, earlier on. I did not have the opportunity to come out early and show that I could be an honest productive citizen and get back into a natural flow where I probably could have had better opportunities to make a long-lasting career for myself and make the best of the rest of my younger years in society. I believe that no youth should be incarcerated past a certain amount of time. The punishment to be away from all the things that you once knew and the people that you loved is a deep pain within itself. The public needs to believe in the structure of the system that they vote on and have helped to create. This includes the rehabilitation of an individual once they have been incarcerated and that at some point, they have to trust that they will make wiser decisions in life once given the chance. Time pauses for no one… a lot of life occurrences will take place that youth will miss out on if they are behind the wall… life experiences that once it goes by, they could never get back.

What level of education had you completed before you went to prison? Before my incarceration, my highest level of education completed was the 9th grade. I had just begun my 10th grade year when I left home.

When you were 15 years old what did you think your life would be like at 41 years old? I would have definitely been a psychiatrist or psychologist by now. Somewhere in the DMV with my own office and set of clients. Helping people as I have always desired to do.

How does your life now compare to what you imagined? Getting my certification to become a licensed therapist is definitely on my active to do list. I feel like I am starting all over from scratch, well I am… so right now I am just starting my path to an actual career at 41 instead of already being secure in doing what I love already. Another challenge, yet as always, one that I am up for.

In your time as a college student, what role do you think you played for other college students in their educations? We all showed support to one another. I encouraged others in their journey, just as others had encouraged me. I would like to also believe that I set an example of what they are all fully capable of accomplishing as well. I would love to see them in the same position that I am in right now. I am proud of them for remaining active students and will be equally proud to hear about them all graduating soon as well.

What are you up to now? I am currently at Marian House [a community for women and their children in need of housing and support services] where I just finished my last set of groups, one being Job Readiness, which gives me the greenlight to start my job search. I have a lot of opportunities out here that I can get into, however, I am searching for a job that not only pays well, but also one where I am making a difference in people’s lives. Basically, I want a job that turns into a career that I desire to wake up and go to everyday.

The Goucher Prison Education Partnership Get Involved To find out more, or volunteer, teach, or donate, please visit GPEP I 410-337-6033 I
GOUCHER I college


If you’re interested in exploring monthly giving, please reach out to Beth at 410-467-4246 or





Thank You to Our Donors & Volunteers

Thank You to Our Donors & Volunteers



Thank You to Our In-Kind Donors

Adora Allen

Chick-fil-A Hunt Valley

Giant, 33rd Street

Giant, 41st Street

Giant, Cockeysville

Giant, Timonium

Valencia Hardy & Friends

Target, Towson

Wegmans, Hunt Valley


Thank You to Our Volunteers & Staff

Demetria Boyd

Kristin Goorevitz

Hana Hasan

Anita Hilson

Colleen Kilchenstein

Victor Konen

Peter McIver

Beth Myers-Edwards

Psalms Rojas

Eleanor Smith

Ryan Smith

Gina Weaver

Sister Sue Weetenkamp, RSM

John Weigel

Stacey Weigel

Terry Weigel

Shelley Wilson


Thank You to Our Wine Donors

Bradley’s Wine & Spirits, Jacksonville

Eddie’s Liquors, Baltimore

Fairgrounds Discount Beverages, Timonium

Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer,  Hunt Valley

Pinehurst Wine Shoppe, Baltimore

Shawan Fine Wine & Spirits, Cockeysville

Wells Discount Liquors, Baltimore

Wide Roots, Baltimore

Wine Source, Baltimore

Individual Wine Donors

Karen Albert

Karen Bellesky

Demetria Boyd

Colette Colclough

Kathleen Dombrowski

Anne Fader

Sister Kathleen Feeley, SSND

Sister Missy Gugerty, SSND

Keri Kemmerzell

Mary Penczek

Ashleigh Pierce

Eleanor Smith & Jacki Szimanski

Mel Tamsiti

Terry Weigel

Nicole Wildart

George Takei – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

George Takei in 2016
Photo: Andrew Lahodynskyj/Toronto Star via Getty Images

An actor and activist, George Takei’s resolve came from his experiences while detained with his family at a Japanese internment camp from ages 5 to 9. The Takeis rough life continued afterwards, as they were left with no capital and were forced to live on L.A.’s Skid Row, an area known for a large homeless population.

The young Takei persevered and attended both the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated with both his bachelor and masters degrees. Though Takei wouldn’t reveal his sexuality until 2005, he lived openly among peers as a gay man and worked as an activist for several LGBTQ organizations.

He also became involved politically in Los Angeles, narrowly losing an election for City Council in 1963 and later serving as part of the Southern California Rapid Transit District where he cast the deciding vote to build the city’s subway system.

Takei remains one of the most prolific figures to have firsthand experience of the Japanese internment camps and has committed his advocacy to ensuring the horrors are never lived again by another set of people.


Called by the Spirit

Written by Sister Kathleen Feeley, SSND,
Marian House Board Member

Sister Sharon Brunier, a School Sister of Notre Dame, (SSND), lost her heart  to the ministry at Marian House—helping women begin a new life after personal struggles—on August 15, 1987, the day she joined the staff as a pastoral counselor. She has always felt that the Holy Spirit led her to Marian House, and she has never left. 

Sister Sharon’s earlier ministry was teaching in SSND schools in Maryland and South Carolina for 15 years. She left the South to obtain a master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling. Upon her graduation, she began looking for an appropriate ministry. At a large SSND gathering, Marian House Board member Sr. Ellis Denny told her that Marian House, a co-sponsored ministry of SSND had an opening for a counselor. Sr. Sharon applied and was hired by then Executive Director Sr. Marilyn Graf, RSM.

After serving for 11 years in that position, Sharon felt the need for a change. A new counselor replaced her, and she took a six months sabbatical. She had not intended to return, but she found that her heart was still there. She took a position in the Development Office, reaching out to current and potential donors for six years. Then the position of Education Coordinator opened, and she found that she could combine her talents as educator and counselor.

For the past 17 years, Sister Sharon has worked with Marian House women to achieve educational goals by first counseling them on the power that education brings, and then helping them to set goals and achieve them.

One of her bittersweet memories is of Dawn, who completed Marian House I, and moved across the street to supportive housing at Serenity Place with her three-year-old son, her only family. Dawn really wanted to obtain her GED. Sister Sharon worked with her, and she passed all the exams but math. Dawn was ready to give up. But Sharon was not. She tutored her and worked with her until Dawn finally passed math. But obtaining her GED was only one of Dawn’s dreams. Sadly, those dreams were left unfulfilled. Dawn died four years later after a valiant battle with cancer.

Sister Sharon is a Spirit-centered woman. After 34 years of fruitful ministry at 949 Gorsuch Avenue, she feels blessed to still be where her heart led her: to the women of Marian House.



Giving Spotlight – Stephanie Hay

Stephanie (Steph) Hay works as a Lab Tech in East Baltimore and lives in the Homeland neighborhood of Baltimore City. She visited Marian House for a Thank You Thursday tour in 2019 after learning about our work online through Charity Navigator.

She has been a monthly donor ever since. Steph was looking to support a women’s organization and was impressed with the level of support provided to program participants, the length and depth of the program and the focus on holistic healing. 

Steph has been a long-time and faithful donor with her church. She finds working with oncology patients through her job tremendously rewarding, but was looking for another way to contribute to those who haven’t been as lucky to have the blessings and support that helped her on her own path forward. 

She believes in monthly giving because she knows “it’s the most effective way to financially support” the good work of Marian House and the automated giving helps her to be efficient with her time and ease any worries about  forgetfulness when life gets too busy. 

Recurring donations are especially valuable to Marian House because they are a reliable source of income and have a higher giving and retention rate from year-to-year. Having a committed group of loyal supporters helps bolster our annual campaigns and sustain us through lean times. With the economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, this has never been more important.

You can set up automated donations in any amount and schedule based on your budget and personal finances. As little as $25 monthly earns you a spot in the Marian House Community of Care. Monthly donations can be set up through by e-check, credit or debit card. You can suspend or adjust this giving at any time. 

Monthly donors can choose to receive tax acknowledgments monthly by mail or email or elect to receive one statement at the end of the tax year, cutting down on extra paperwork. Monthly donors can also participate via payroll deductions through special programs like the Maryland Charities Campaigns, United Way, etc. Check with your company to see if they have a payroll deduction program already set up to assist you. 

If you’re interested in exploring monthly giving, please reach out to Beth at 410-467-4246 or






Keya Gardner is a recent successful graduate of the Marian House program. She has much to be thankful for but that has not always been the case. 

Keya describes her early years as difficult, indicating that she was always getting into trouble and “running with the wrong crowd.” Keya’s parents had an abusive relationship. Her mother had a substance use disorder, and left the father when Keya was 10 years old. Keya began to use alcohol and drugs at the age of 12, and soon she, too became addicted.

Keya attributes the behaviors that led to an 11-year incarceration when she was 24 years old to much pent-up anger throughout her childhood. Upon her release in February 2019, Keya went to a recovery program where she spent 6 months addressing her substance use issues. 

Keya entered the Marian House I program in the fall of 2019. When asked what she most enjoyed about Marian House, Keya responded, 


“Everything! They helped me readjust to society. They taught me how to budget and how to keep to a schedule. They provided the structure I needed. I don’t think I ever got a warning for bad behavior!” 



Keya took part in the Job Readiness program, a requirement for all the women in Marian House I. During mock interviews on the last day of the class, she scored so well that she was accepted into the Johns Hopkins on-the-job training program for an administrative position, the first Marian House resident to do so. Upon completion of her training, Hopkins did not have an administrative position available. Instead, they offered her a job in another area until a Talent Acquisition Specialist position opened up. “They didn’t want to lose me,” Keya stated. Keya is often mentioned by Johns Hopkins as one of their best employees. She has definitely set the bar high for future referrals from Marian House to Johns Hopkins! 

Keya moved on to the Marian House II program on March 2, 2020, and enjoyed the independent living that comes with that setting. Keya said,

“Marian House really prepared me for living on my own and having to be responsible for my life.”

After working at Johns Hopkins for a year and saving a substantial amount of money, Keya moved into her own apartment on February 28th, 2021. Here she is reunited with her two daughters Tay (18) and Liyah (13). They live in a 3-bedroom, 2 ½ bath house with a fenced in back yard. She is still working at Johns Hopkins and hopes to pursue CNA / GNA training in the near future. She also works part-time as a House Manager at a local drug treatment program. “I am in a good place and look forward to  the opportunities in store for me and my daughters in the future,” said Keya.

The future is bright for Keya and her daughters. We are so glad that she found her way to Marian House and we are proud to call her a Marian House graduate!





Thank You

Our 2020 Giving Tuesday campaign broke previous records. We had an outstanding number of donations made in a 24-hour period, far exceeding the expected number of gifts that we might receive.

We know there are many worthwhile organizations to support and we are fortunate that you have chosen Marian House as the beneficiary of your giving. Thank You!