Big Fish

Big Fish, Lifeline

Helping Veterans Move From Military to Civilian Life: A Q & A With Leaders of COMMIT

1 Written by: | Monday, Jul 21, 2014 11:30am

Commit supporters John Harbaugh and Gen. Odierno with Commit Co-Executive Director Matt Eversmann and his wife Tori.

Commit supporters John Harbaugh and Gen. Raymond Odierno with Commit Co-Executive Director Matt Eversmann. Photo by Jessica Kartalija via Facebook.

For hundreds of service men and women re-entering civilian life, the transition can be a challenging and unsettling one. They grapple with how their unique skills and training translate to the civilian workforce and question whether they will find a job that fits their individual goals and needs. While assistance programs existed to address these issues, there remained a gap in information, confidence and imagination for these veterans.

In 2012, Anne Meree Craig and Guy Filippelli collaborated to launch a branch of The COMMIT Foundation, an organization formed to mitigate the gaps. Through mentoring workshops, one-on-one transition assistance, and corporate education, the group strives to make the transition back to civilian life an easier one. The Baltimore program is one of eight across the country, in cities in Northern California, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. Read More →

Big Fish, Columns, Featured

Big Fish: Baltimore Artist Greg Otto Tackles The Cylburn Mansion — And Takes On A New Town

2 Written by: | Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 9:40am



Greg Otto’s crayon-colored, Pop-Art inspired paintings of Baltimore landmarks – the Domino Sugar factory, the Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Hippodrome and hundreds more – have made him one of Baltimore’s most recognized and beloved artists. For nearly 30 years he has drawn inspiration from the quirky buildings of Baltimore’s industrial past, famous landmarks and storefront churches alike, distilling their beauty and zapping them with color. Towering or tiny, dignified or drab — they take on new glamour when seen through his eyes.

And we’re not the only town that loves him. His work received national attention a decade ago, when the American Institute of Architects/Chicago asked him to paint a series of Chicago’s awe-inspiring buildings for the 2004 AIA Convention there.

A few years ago he began work on a group of paintings of New York City – a city Otto has been fond of since the early 70’s, when the legendary abstract expressionist art dealer Betty Parsons included him in her stable of artists. At the time, Otto was working in a style that could hardly more be different than his current color-infused canvases – minimalist abstractions in pencil on paper which are both subtle and fascinating, and which he is still returns to occasionally. Read More →

Big Fish, Featured, Schools

Meet Baltimore’s Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year

1 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 11:00am

Sean McComb Headshot

As the school year winds down, it’s an apt time to reflect on those teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty. You know who they are. They’re the teachers who are willing to come in before school, and stay after the final bell rings, to work with kids who didn’t quite grasp a concept during class. They’re the teachers who are champions for their students as much as they are purveyors of information. They’re the teachers who wake up something latent in students that translates into a lasting impact. They’re teachers like Sean McComb. Read More →

Big Fish, Culture, Featured

New MICA Head Samuel Hoi Talks About the Creative Economy (It’s Booming), Art and Moving to Baltimore

2 Written by: | Monday, May 05, 2014 11:14am



Samuel Hoi will arrive in Baltimore on July 1 to become the new president of MICA, taking the reins from the much-admired Fred Lazarus. Sammy (as he is known) is coming from Los Angeles, where he has spent 14 years as president of Otis College of Art and Design. In his time there, he has increased enrollment, tripled the endowment, added new buildings to the campus, implemented Otis’s first comprehensive strategic planning and branding efforts, and overseen the creation of distinguished academic programs such as Creative Action: Integrated Learning, Graduate Graphic Design and Graduate Public Practice. Read More →

Big Fish, Featured, Money & Power

Big Fish Q&A with Maryland Delegate Heather Mizeur

0 Written by: | Monday, Apr 07, 2014 8:38am



Gubernatorial candidate Del. Heather Mizeur’s platform is so unapologetically progressive, it makes some of her fellow Maryland Democrats look downright right wing. Her position on marijuana is to outright legalize it. She proposes a broader expansion of pre-kindergarten programs and a higher minimum wage increase than either of her party rivals, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. And her stance against hydraulic fracturing in the state is utterly unambiguous. Read More →

Big Fish, Health and Fitness

Moving the Goal Posts: Catching Up with Molly Shattuck

5 Written by: | Monday, Mar 24, 2014 12:15pm


Molly Shattuck has grabbed the attention of Baltimoreans ever since becoming – at the age of 38 with three young children – a Baltimore Ravens’ cheerleader, the oldest in NFL history.

We watched her appear on the reality television show “Secret Millionaire” in 2008, as she and her mother, Joan, lived for a week on “welfare wages” and passed out checks totaling $1 million to needy residents of a small town in rural Pennsylvania. Three years later, she released an exercise video and started a website called Vibrant Living, showcasing a healthy-lifestyle approach that she lives and advocates.  Now, the recently separated wife of former Constellation Energy CEO Mayo Shattuck has written Vibrant Living, the book. (Available at and Read More →

Big Fish, Featured

Big Fish Lawrence Lanahan on Journalism, the City, and “The Lines Between Us”

0 Written by: | Monday, Mar 10, 2014 12:00pm


Freelance radio and print journalist Lawrence Lanahan, senior producer of Maryland Morning from 2010-2013 was the project leader for “The Lines Between Us,” WYPR’s an ambitious year-long project about inequality, race, class, and community in Baltimore. The series recently won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award – the broadcast journalism equivalent of a Pulitzer.

“The Lines Between Us,” was lauded by Columbia University as an “exploration of housing, education, jobs, history and social networks - described not only by the experts but by those who earn their expertise through lived experience – this series performed a real service to the people of Baltimore.”

Along with being rising star in journalism (“not a growth industry” he says to anyone considering it for a career; it’s more of a calling) Lanahan is a new father, and a musician. His first album in ten years drops this summer, and its going to be soulful. Can anyone say trifecta?

Give this man a microphone. Read More →

Big Fish, Featured, Money & Power

Interview with U.S. Treasury Under Sec. Mary Miller

2 Written by: | Monday, Feb 24, 2014 11:00am

Under Secretary of the Treasury Mary Miller

Under Secretary of the Treasury Mary Miller

Mary J. Miller, Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Treasury, is the first woman to hold that position in the institution’s history. The longtime Guilford resident is “responsible for developing and coordinating Treasury’s policies and guidance in the areas of financial institutions, federal debt financing, financial regulation, and capital markets.” She also currently serves as Acting Deputy Secretary for the Treasury until the confirmation of former Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation Sarah Bloom Raskin as the first female Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

“Secretary Geithner was serving at the time of the highest number of women at top jobs at the Treasury ever,” Mrs. Miller says.   “I’ve felt lucky to have this opportunity.” Read More →

Big Fish, Featured

John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium, Talks About Fish, the Environment and a Healthy Chesapeake

1 Written by: | Monday, Feb 17, 2014 12:30pm


John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium since 2011, wants you to know that “three of your next five breaths come to you courtesy of phytoplankton, the tiny marine plants that produce most of the planet’s oxygen.”

With me, he talked about the interconnectedness of every thing on the blue planet, moving from the West Coast to Baltimore, the importance of education that happens outside of school,  his favorite sea creatures including oysters and the mantis shrimp (which is having a pop-culture moment) and the powerful influence of wonder.

The three truths he’s learned remind us that there is profoundly bigger picture: “Hope is the world’s most powerful motivator.  Everyone is downstream of someone else.  We humans are not Earth’s only experiment. ”

What is the goal of the Aquarium?

Our mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.  These treasures can be places, animals, plants, ecosystems, habitats, and communities—both human and non.  Ultimately, our vision is to fundamentally change the way humanity views our life-giving, interconnected, world ocean.

What would you like visitors to come away knowing?

That the ocean and all its tributaries—from the magnificent Chesapeake Bay to a backyard pond or stream—are both relevant to their lives and essential to their ability to live healthy, thriving lives.  Further, that the opposite is also true: an unhealthy planet marked by scarcity and diminished diversity is not one that will support humans.  We have a historic opportunity to make this connection and do something about it, but the clock is ticking. Read More →

Big Fish, Culture, Featured

Meet the New Head of the Contemporary, Deana Haggag

5 Written by: | Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 1:00pm

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Olivia Obineme

At 26, many young adults are just starting to figure out what they want to do with their lives, or at least how the heck they’re going to support themselves. Then there’s Deana Haggag. In June of 2013, the 26-year-old was appointed director of the newly named and recently re-opened Contemporary. The former Contemporary Museum had suspended operations in May of 2012 after failing to raise funds for a new location. A newly minted graduate of MICA’s master’s degree program in curatorial studies, Haggag stepped up to head the museum, which is now nomadic. Sans a brick and mortar location, it will focus on presenting experiential art throughout the Baltimore community via collaborative programming with a variety of artists. In other words, it’s up to Haggag to steer this anchor-less ship in a fiscally responsible manner while delivering contemporary art experiences that will attract and energize audiences. Recently, I caught up with Haggag to find out how this bright, witty twenty-something plans to execute such a lofty plan.

You were an art history and philosophy major at Rutgers before pursuing your MFA at MICA in curatorial studies. Are you a practicing artist, a champion and appreciator of art, or both?

I am definitely not a practicing artist. I can barely write my name legibly. I happen to love the arts. I love defending the arts. When I applied to art school, I also applied to law school. Art school was a pipe dream. People told me lawyers aren’t getting jobs, there are too many lawyers, so you may as well do something you love.

As part of your master’s degree thesis, you worked with Gallery CA, a 90-unit artist residence in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, to better define the mission of the gallery for its residents and the broader community. Elaborate on that a little, and explain how that experience prepared you for this position.

City Arts is the building where Gallery-CA lives; it’s one of the first models of subsidized housing for artists. When the gallery was built, it didn’t have a solid plan for how it would work. When I went to school at MICA to study curatorial arts, someone had pitched activating the space. I worked closely with the building’s owners, and the larger Baltimore arts community, toward this goal. Read More →

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