A Room With A View
Bishop McNamara High School Names Steve & Dianne Proctor Leadership Center
By Raoul Dennis
The walk nearest to God may be clear but for many it may not be the easiest of earthly paths.
Steve and Dianne Proctor make it look easy as their walk in faith, leadership and service throughout the county community has touched hundreds of lives over three decades. Specifically, their work and commitment has led to the unique recognition of the Proctors at Bishop McNamara High School at the April 19 naming of the Steve and Dianne Proctor Leadership Center.
“I didn’t really know at that time [when I first came here] what Steve did but it felt like he had the Midas touch: Every time I asked for something, Steve said ‘I’ll take care of that. Don’t worry about that.’ And then he did. And he did it again and again and again.” said Marco Clark, then-principal of Bishop McNamara High School.
“We wanted this room to be named for the Proctors because while we may have students that graduate from here and go on to Ivy League schools [and impact the world] we want our students to know what leadership looks like," explained Clark who is now president and CEO of the school. "The best leaders are humble. We want them to be successful in life but what success really means is that you go out into the world and you make it better. Use the talents and gifts that they have been given and they serve others humbly.”
Clark also cited integrity, loyalty and faith as determining factors of the kind of leadership BMHS wants its students to identify with.
The school leader shared some of the great work the Proctors have provided the BMHS over 20 years. “Steve and Dianne Proctor have been generous supporters of the school, served as champions and advocates for our students, programs and new initiatives, and have been instrumental in securing additional resources and supporters to help advance the school's mission,” Clark says. “They are also amazing ambassadors for the school and have personally assisted students and families in need, providing students with individualized resources and support necessary for their particular needs. Steve and Dianne have also served as members of our Campaign Steering Committee, using their experience and leadership to help spread the word and develop plans for the various projects associated with our Faith. Family. Future! Capital Campaign,” he says.
The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The Proctor Leadership Room can hold approximately 30 people seated, and 50-60 people auditorium-style at one time. Several classes have already taken place within it, and students have used the space on several occasions for group meetings, such as our Engineering Club, and our Anchor Project (which helps students acclimate to Bishop McNamara and get involved with more activities on campus).
“We have also held luncheons and lectures for large groups of students, including a scholarship luncheon during which students got the opportunity to meet the scholarship benefactors who funded their scholarships to attend Bishop McNamara, and guest lectures from career experts such as American University Professor Gemma Puglisi,” reports BMHS Communications Specialist Santana Questa.
Questa says the Leadership Center also features natural lighting to promote positivity, along with an interactive projector and board, and mobile workstations to encourage group work.
Ironically, neither Steve nor Dianne attended BMHS as students.
“I originally came to BMHS because of my faith and belief,” Steve says of he and Dianne’s first contact when searching for a school for their son Trey in 2000. He was impressed with the school but it was the results that it delivered that truly hit him. “My son and his friends were immature and silly when they came in as freshmen but by the time they graduated in 2004, they were academically but socially ready for prime time. BMHS turned him into a college freshman ready for the world. I was blown away.”
Seeing these results prompted Steve to do something profound – and unusual for a parent with a graduating student. He joined the BMHS board. “I went on the board when Trey graduated,” he says. “I knew that I have to give back. Looking at what they did with my son, I wanted to help do that for others.” As a result, the Proctors have remained active participants in getting whatever BMHS has needed for 20 years.
Over the years the Proctors were responsible for aiding the school in achieving dozens of resources and financial gains. “Through their volunteer efforts, numerous sponsorships and generous contributions to student scholarships and school initiatives, Steve and Dianne Proctor have truly made a difference at BMHS,” wrote Clark.
A Near Miss
The Proctors originally fiercely declined the dedication. The Proctors were adamant for the longest time that someone else was more deserving of such a unique opportunity, BMHS leaders say. It ran counter to the Proctors’ core to be out front with their benevolence. They eventually countered offering the names of Steve’s uncle or grandparents to honor for instilling in him the value of education as the great equalizer. But BMHS insisted that the dedication be more contemporary.
Dianne smiled broadly though shyly while responding to questions about the decision to finally accept the dedication. “They were persistent,” she says of the committee’s efforts insisting that the Proctor name be added. “We really didn’t want it this way but we finally agreed to the honor.”
Steve explains a certain strategy to the acceptance that would lead to more exposure for the school. He says BMHS is making great things happen with students and changing lives. The dedication would bring the attention of his contemporaries in the business and political communities to the school.
“We finally said yes because BMHS needs to be recognized for what they are achieving in Forestville MD.,” he says. “These students are achieving at the highest levels. There is a 100% graduation rate and 98% of these students went on to go to four year schools including all 8 Ivy League colleges and universities. We hoped we could bring friends and colleagues to see this and we knew they would like what they saw. This move would give BMHS more exposure.”
Humble Path Builders
The Proctors, though unassuming in all respects, hold high social and leadership standing in the region. Founded by Gregory Stephen Proctor in 1995, G.S. Proctor & Associates is the largest minority-owned and operated lobbying firm in the state of Maryland. It’s consistently ranked among the top 10 lobbying firms in the state. Generating over $2 million in annual business and hosting over 100 clients, the company has offices in La Plata, Washington DC, Upper Marlboro and Annapolis. G.S. Proctor & Associates have led signature projects in the state including assisting in the establishment of Old Line Bank headquarters in Prince George’s (the only bank to have a headquarters in the county. The bank, where Steve is now vice chair of the board, has since gone public and is now on NASDAQ) and several land deals that represent an evolving multibillion dollar economy in the county. The firm’s recent land deals include Owen’s Glenn in Brandywine MD and consulting work and minority partnership on the Brandywine Crossing project.
But the firm and its leadership have always worked beyond the norms of a traditional lobbying agency. A 2006 Prince George’s Suite Magazine cover story, “Mastering the Game,” chronicled Proctor’s consistent philanthropy: “Keep grace under fire, build wealth but above all, give more than you take” read the feature’s opening deck. Under Proctor’s vision, G.S. Proctor & Associates has been a political and social bridge builder, a benevolent force for underserved communities and a pioneering source in creating innovative methods to bring opportunities for education, expansion and growth to small businesses.
“I want to express my deep love and gratitude for having a relationship with Steve and Dianne Proctor,” says Michael Chiaramonte of Michael Chiaramonte & Associates, a healthcare, hospitality and investment services firm. Chiaramonte is a longtime friend of the Proctors. As contemporaries who were born and raised in the county, Chiaramonte and Steve Proctor have been business colleagues and confidants for years. “You say that about people but with the Proctors it truly is an honor because you’re with [people] who are more giving, more loving and more dedicated to the Holy Spirit [than others]. They live their credo. They live their words. They’re not just words for them. When they say ‘family and faith matter a lot,’ [if] you follow them around for 24 hours and you see them lay that out on the street, in the church and in places like this.”
Decision-makers at McNamara created the leadership center to give students a space to gather, work and study but wanted it to embody the virtues of servant-leadership.
Honoring The Proctors
The atmosphere at the naming of the Steve and Dianne Proctor Leadership Center had the appeal of an extended family reunion – one that included the most influential leaders in the state. Some 200 family, friends and leaders including congressmen, state delegates, a state senator, business leaders, mayors and community trendsetters attended.
Congressman Steny Hoyer: “Their commitment to education and providing opportunity is extraordinary. Their deep and abiding faith continues to call their commitment into action. The new leadership center named for them will be a place where students not only learn to be leaders but where they too can learn what it is they value.”
Hoyer presented the Proctors with a United States flag flown previously over the U.S. Capitol.
Congressman Anthony Brown: “Over the 20 some odd years that I have known Steve and gotten to know Dianne, I have learned why they are great. It’s because they understood what Dr. King meant when he said that everyone can be great because everyone can serve. That’s exactly what Steve and Dianne have been doing their entire adult lives.”
Brown presented a certificate to the Proctors.
Maryland Senate President V. “Mike” Miller: “I represent 140,000 people and I have staff to do constituent services. But they can’t get wells dug, they can get permits through. They can’t do those types of things. But Steve and Dianne can get it done.” As the Maryland’s elder statesman and one of its most influential leaders in modern history brought his characteristically raucous and anecdotal remarks to a close, he became quietly serious. Looking at the honored couple from the podium, with great emotion: he simply remarked: “I love you.”
BMHS Alumni Parent Rosie Allen-Herring: “They are the same in private as they are in public. They are professionals who truly care about the communities they serve. It’s honor to be here to celebrate not only your generosity but your leadership. You live your faith every day. Your work here will produce academic scholars and leaders who will take not only this school but this county, this state and this nation by storm.”
Prince George’s Business Roundtable President Jim Estepp (shared by James Estepp, Jr.): “Nancy and I have known Steve and Dianne for over 25 years. I have a son that is a graduate of Bishop McNamara and that makes the honor being bestowed upon Steve and Dianne even more important to our family. On behalf of all of our members and family we congratulate Steve and Dianne on this incredible honor that they are receiving. They are two of the most humble and caring people I know yet you can travel far and wide and everyone knows them, appreciates their contributions to society, respects their many business successes, loves them for their generosity and for not forgetting where they came from.”
At 31, and now serving as Vice President of G.S. Proctor & Associates, Trey Proctor is poised to be the next generation of leadership within the Proctor Company. On this night, the younger executive is learning a different lesson from his parents.
“It’s awesome seeing the way the foundation is laid. I’m looking 25 or 30 years down the road and at what kind of impact I can make in terms of the impact to the community and individuals within the community,” he says.
The atmosphere grew more magnetic after blessing of the new leadership center by Rev. Roger A. Soley of the Most Holy Rosary Church.
“It’s wonderful to have our family here tonight,” says Dianne Proctor as her two year old granddaughter worked the room named for her family as if were a personal racetrack. The Proctor presence included Diane’s mother, Lillian (her dad died some 10 years ago) and Steve’s parents, Stephen Proctor, Sr. and Carolyn Proctor.
“This is such a blessing and a very special honor and we’re humbled by it,” Steve says. “It’s great to see the number of people that turned out. I hope that we can get more people to support McNamara. They are doing so much in the community. Obviously, they are located in an area with some economic challenges but to see them succeed and to see the team thrive not just academically but socially is just huge. It’s incumbent on all of us to give back and partner with them. They are making the leaders of tomorrow.”