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Neighbors Convene for Community Conversation

Gathering at Henderson-Hopkins school brings together leaders from neighborhoods, Johns Hopkins.

More than 100 leaders and activists from neighborhoods near The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center gathered over dinner Thursday evening at the Henderson-Hopkins school to discuss issues that affect East Baltimore.

Paul Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, hosted his annual Community Conversation meeting, where he introduced Kevin Sowers, president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Melissa Hyatt, vice president of security for Johns Hopkins Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University.

Rothman underscored the institution’s commitment to being a good neighbor, noting that the school of medicine is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

“Hopkins is here forever,” Rothman told the community leaders and activists who had gathered for the dinner. “We want to make sure the neighborhood succeeds and thrives.”

Attendees brought up issues related to affordable housing, neighborhood parking, crime and employment.

Sowers told the group that East Baltimore reminds him of the community partnerships he led during his years in Durham, North Carolina, as president and CEO of Duke University Hospital.

“This city and this neighborhood felt like home as soon I got here,” said Sowers, who joined Johns Hopkins in December 2017.

Hyatt, who joined Johns Hopkins in April after more than 20 years as a leader in the Baltimore Police Department, said the officers she supervises are ambassadors, both for Johns Hopkins and for the city of Baltimore.

“When our team delivers solid customer service, it reflects well on Johns Hopkins and on the whole city,” she said.

Hyatt said her plans for the security team include a program designed to help defuse dangerous situations. Integrated communications and tactics training, she said, is something she brought to Baltimore’s police and that can be useful at Johns Hopkins.

“When we see situations that could benefit from de-escalation, we’ll be trained to handle them,” she said. “And Johns Hopkins will be the first private institution to have that kind of training.”

Rothman cited progress made since last year’s Community Conversation. In the past year, he said, Johns Hopkins Medicine has hired 900 residents who live in nearby neighborhoods and communities. The institution’s summer jobs program employed 461 students from Baltimore high schools this year. Rothman was especially proud of The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s dedication to hiring citizens returning to the neighborhood after incarceration.

“Last year, we hired 138 returning citizens,” he said. “I’m proud to say that’s far and away the largest number among Baltimore’s employers.”

Finally, Rothman pointed to HopkinsLocal, the program designed to support Baltimore’s local and minority-owned businesses. “In the three years since we started HopkinsLocal,” he said, “we’ve spent $63 million with local vendors that we used to spend outside our area.”

Still, Johns Hopkins leaders say they recognize that more can be done. Sowers encouraged the neighborhood leaders to stay in touch. “If something about Hopkins is bothering you, we want to hear about it.”

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