LA PLATA, Md. – College of Southern Maryland Board of Trustee Vice Chair Shawn B. Coates will celebrate his grandmother’s birthday today in a very special way. Last night, when the college’s Board of Trustees unanimously confirmed its next top leaders, it appointed Coates of Charles County as chair and Sonja Cox of St. Mary’s County as vice chair.
A senior leader in the United States government with more than 20 years of experience, Coates’ appointment follows the footsteps of his grandmother – CSM Trustee Emeritus Veronica Coates, who served as the college’s trustee from 1976 to 1993, including five years as vice chair and two years as chair. The beloved former community leader would have been 85 years old today. Veronica Coates passed in 2017, one year before Shawn Coates was appointed to the board by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
“I am very humbled and honored to serve,” Coates said following the notable vote.
Coates was selected as board vice chair July 1, 2020. The White Plains resident also serves as the scholarship chair for Morgan State University Southern Maryland Alumni Chapter; is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; a charter member of the Fort Washington Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and participates with the Black Executive Exchange Program.
A frequent speaker on topics of diversity, hiring, development and retention, Coates has presented at the Blacks in Government Conference and served as a panelist for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholarship Conference.
Coates holds a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and systems from Morgan State University and dual master degrees in business administration and information science from North Carolina Central University. He is also a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute and has received graduate certificates from the University of Maryland College Park and Harvard University. He is involved with Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society, National Society of Black Engineers, Golden Key International Honor Society, National Black MBA Association, Blacks in Government Association and African American Federal Executive Association.
Cox was appointed to the CSM Board of Trustees by Governor Hogan in 2019. She has worked with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) since 1999, and currently serves as the energy company’s president and chief executive officer (CEO). She is the fifth CEO in the cooperative’s 83-year history and upon her 2020 appointment to CEO, joined the ranks of women who serve as managers at 77 of the 941 electric cooperatives across the nation.
Before being appointed CEO, Cox served as SMECO’s Chief Financial Officer where she was responsible for managing SMECO’s power portfolio, human resources, customer billing, energy and technology, and accounting personnel.
Named one of the Daily Record’s 2016 Top 100 Women of Maryland, Cox is a graduate of the Leadership Maryland Class of 2010 and has served on several boards for various organizations in SMECO’s service territory. She is a member of the Board of Directors and Strategic Planning Committee for ACES Power Marketing, headquartered in Indiana. Prior to her appointment as a CSM trustee, Cox was on the college’s audit committee.
A resident of Leonardtown, Cox holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland and a master of business administration from Johns Hopkins University. She is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in Maryland.
Completing distinguished service as trustee chair is Jay Webster, of Calvert County. Webster was appointed to the board in 2016, served as vice chair starting July 1, 2019 and became chair July 1, 2020. He is vice president and part owner of Marrick Properties, Inc., providing oversight to senior management, and developing and implementing creative strategic development for the homebuilders since 1984. Previously he was affiliated with Century 21 as Jay Webster & Associates Real Estate Sales in Upper Marlboro.
“When I joined the board in 2016, I joined a seasoned group of professionals committed to the success of this college,” Webster told the board following the new appointments. “Now I am the seasoned member and I couldn’t be more confident in the skill and commitment of the current members of this board. It has been my honor to serve with you.”
Webster went on to commend and thank his fellow board members for their work and dedication to the college and faculty, staff and students for the past few years of the pandemic.
“The way that CSM has successfully navigated the pandemic is a result of this board’s hard work and it is a tribute to every single one of you,” he said. “I especially want to thank Dr. Murphy for her leadership and Larisa Pfeiffer for her unwavering support.”
CSM’s Board of Trustees is the governing body providing leadership and oversight of the college’s mission and policies. Coates and Cox will serve with fellow trustees Jay Webster, Kenneth W. Abell, Jose M. Gonzalez, Christy Lombardi, and Cordelia S. Postell, President Dr. Maureen and board liaison CSM Chief of Staff Larisa Pfeiffer.