About the Center

Maryland had a long tradition of moderate, pragmatic leadership, with Democrats and Republicans coming together to build the university system, promote economic growth and plan for our state’s future.

Increasingly, however, Annapolis is becoming more like Washington. The incentives in Maryland’s political system are set up to elect and reward behavior that drives our public discourse toward narrow political extremes. As a result, actions are taken without considering the broader impact on our state’s families and businesses – with the computer services sales tax serving as one of the more recent and egregious examples.

It’s time to draw people back to the center – to find common ground on common sense policies where we can make progress. Center Maryland isn’t about people or posturing – it is about creating a platform to advance reasonable and responsible ideas.

Led by some of Maryland’s most successful political thinkers, strategists and fundraisers, Center Maryland will provide an effective counterbalance to the polarization and populism that too often wins the day in Annapolis.

Center Maryland recognizes that government cannot solve all of society’s problems. But government can and should be an effective partner – working with the private sector – to move our state forward.

Moderate political leaders understand the critical role played by entrepreneurship and innovation in lifting our state. The private sector is a force to be nurtured. And both government and business share a responsibility to return Maryland to the moderate, pragmatic leadership that has been central to our state’s success.

WHO WE ARE

Steve Kearney is co-owner of a strategic communications firm that helps clients win at the intersection of business, government, politics and media. In 2006 and 2008, he was a top strategist on two of Maryland’s most recent successful statewide campaigns. The Baltimore Business Journal hailed Kearney in its January 2009 POWER 20 issue, as one of three rising business leaders “gaining power in Greater Baltimore.” Kearney was a top adviser for more than a decade to Martin O’Malley during his successful campaigns for mayor and governor, serving as Communications Director for O’Malley in both elected offices. He also advised Cardinal William Keeler during the 2002-2003 crisis in the Catholic Church. He serves on the board of directors of Partners in Excellence, providing Catholic school scholarships to at-risk Baltimore children, and on the Greater Baltimore Committee’s President’s Advisory Council.

Martin G. Knott Jr. is an entrepreneur and co-Owner of Knott Mechanical Inc. and Wye River Technologies. Knott Mechanical is one of the Baltimore Metropolitan area's premier Commercial HVAC and Plumbing service providers, working with more than 300 customers including Johns Hopkins and Comcast. Wye River Technologies is a software development firm currently developing a wireless field force automation software for managing a wide range of service businesses. Knott served as the Chair of the O'Malley-Brown transition Team for the Department of General Services. Governor O’Malley appointed Knott to serve on the Governors Workforce Investment Board and the board of MEDCO, Maryland Economic Development Corporation, where he is currently serving as the Chair for both organizations. Knott also serves local charities, including President of the Signal 13 Foundation, and board member of Johns Hopkins Harriet Lane Foundation, the Baltimore Outward Bound Center and The Marion I and Henry J. Knott Foundation.

Damian O’Doherty is a strategic communications and policy advisor to corporate clients in energy, real estate, retail and transportation. He advises centrist officeholders and candidates. O’Doherty has served as top adviser to Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, and worked as General Counsel and Vice President of Government Affairs for the Mid-Atlantic’s largest real-estate trade association, GCAAR, where he built and led a successful coalition of interests to build a $2.4 billion highway in Suburban Washington. O’Doherty also was a counsel to a State Senate committee. He is a member of the boards of directors for the National Aquarium in Baltimore and Back on My Feet – a national homeless advocacy organization.

Howard Libit worked for 15 years as a reporter and editor at The Baltimore Sun – most recently as the paper’s top news editor, overseeing all local, national, foreign, business and investigative coverage. He also spent three years as City Editor, and worked as a reporter – writing about politics, the legislature, education and the environment. Currently, Libit is a strategic communications advisor, working with a broad range of corporate and nonprofit clients. He is a member of the board of directors of the Maryland Disability Law Center, as well as a board member of the Baltimore Jewish Council.