Showing Up and Leading Our Voices for Prince George’s County


I firmly believe that good things eventually happen when you commit to showing up. To that end, it was only logical that I join the Greater Washington Community Foundation in the launch of Voices of the Community (VoicesDMV) at the Prince George’s County Ballroom.  I am convinced that if spaces are created for the most promising talent and the brightest ideas to emerge, the possibilities are endless.   

Prince George’s County is already a good place to live. 

It was gratifying to be in a space in which so many people, not only cared about Prince George’s County, but also believed in the County.  As one of my conversation partners that night stated, “Prince George’s County is already a good place to live.  With the proper investment, we have an opportunity to take it from Good to Great (stealing from management guru, Jim Collins).

Nearly five years ago, when my wife and I relocated to the Metro DC area, we made a decision to live, worship, and raise our two boys in Prince George’s County.  We could have chosen some of the local areas often profiled as being a better choice for families with school-aged children. But we were convinced that Prince George’s County was for us.  Even amidst some of the negative press, both warranted and unwarranted, we have not regretted our decision. At the community conversation, we discussed everything from healthcare to education, from housing to transportation, from crime to overall community well-being. We also separated the real issues from the ‘fake’ news. What became evident is that all of us who showed up desire a community built by design and not as a reaction to perceived crisis or merely by accident.   


Even evident during the night’s dialogue, one of the areas that is often scrutinized about Prince George’s County is public education.  While there have been times in which we have wanted more out of our school’s, our oldest son has excelled.  Many times that required action on our part as parents, but in making a decision to enroll him in the local public system, we also were committed to showing up and making our children’s education a joint effort between us and the school.  We believe in placing high expectations on those who serve our children, but we also believe that in order for any community endeavor to succeed, we must also show up.


By attendance alone, it was clear that people in Prince George’s County are willing to show up.

By the attendance alone, it was clear that people in Prince George’s County are willing to show up. Perhaps the most valuable thing that I took away from joining this conversation is that Prince George’s County is comprised of people who care. As we discussed perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, not everyone agreed, but everyone communicated a shared interest in seeing Prince George’s County thrive and flourish.

In the end, my hope is that this conversation leads to a stronger investment in the people that have decided to make Prince George’s County home.  We can point to so many individuals that are already engaged in small scale interventions – family, church, mentoring, fraternities and sororities, etc. – that are worthy of being acknowledged, but are typically small scale and under-resourced.  I often muse about the impact that a collective effort of adequately resourced folks with ‘skin in the game’, committed to the long path would have. As I stated before, the possibilities are endless.


If you have questions or would like more information about the VoicesDMV initiative, please contact Melen Hagos at You can also sign up to get email updates and a final copy of the report at

Susan CaldwellComment