Less Than A Year Before Bridge Fiasco, Maryland’s Dem Gov Put A DEI Consultant On State’s Port Commission

Previous governors appointed people with in-depth transportation experience — Karenthia Barber was a politically-connected DEI consultant and public speaker
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) and Karenthia A. Barber (Maryland Port Commission)
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) and Karenthia A. Barber (Maryland Port Commission)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) put a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant on the Maryland Port Commission just months before a container ship crashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. The supply chain on the East Coast and beyond now hangs in the balance as authorities will have to swiftly undertake complex feats of engineering to reopen the port and, eventually, the bridge.

Moore named Karenthia Barber to the Commission last August. The headline of the press release announcing the hire hailed her as the “first black woman to serve as Maryland Port Commissioner.” Her Ports Commission bio says she is “the Founder and CEO of Professional Development Associates, LLC. [sic] a consulting practice that provides leadership and workforce training, coaching, and diversity, equity and inclusion audits and consulting,” and a volunteer for the Maryland Democratic Party.

According to an interview with Barber posted to the port website this January, part of her job was to bring her DEI expertise to the commission.

“In the words of our Governor, I want to make sure the MPA is leaving no one behind — that we are broadening our impact, our revenue, but also expanding the net of inclusion,” Barber said.

Barber did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire on her qualifications. The Port Commission website says it “establishes policies directed toward improving the competitive position of the Port of Baltimore within the international maritime industry. Commission meetings are held once a month and include a session open to the public. Members of the MPC are appointed by the governor.” Its March 7 meeting included a “Safety Program Annual Report.”

The three current commissioners who were appointed by past Republican governors have expertise in managing major transportation hubs or maritime ventures. They are Edward McDonald, who served as chief of staff for the Maryland Department of Transportation; David Richardson, the former chief of staff at the Maryland Aviation Administration; and Brenda Dandy, who co-founded a marine business.

Moore — the state’s first black governor — appointed Barber and two other commissioners: Sandy Roberts, an attorney who has practiced civil rights and international transactions law and operates an airport concessionaire business; and Scott Webb, a member of the International Longshoremen’s Association labor union who worked on the water.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MARCH 27: Workers continue to investigate and search for victims after the cargo ship Dali collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse yesterday, on March 27, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Two survivors were pulled from the Patapsco River and six missing people are presumed dead after the Coast Guard called off rescue efforts. A work crew was fixing potholes on the bridge, which is used by roughly 30,000 people each day, when the ship struck at around 1:30am on Tuesday morning. The accident has temporarily closed the Port of Baltimore, one of the largest and busiest on the East Coast of the U.S. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Scott Olson/Getty Images

After a cargo ship collided with a pier on the Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, leading to the massive bridge’s collapse, supply chains across America hang in the balance as authorities manage a cleanup of the Baltimore port that includes removing the wreckage of the bridge so that cruise ships and cargo freighters can pass through, determining how the catastrophe might have been prevented, and constructing a new bridge.

Barber’s website positions her as a professional motivational speaker, and pictures her hobnobbing with various Democrat politicians. It says Barber is “recognized as an engaging, inspiring and educational world class speaker” and hails her as a public speaker.

“Ms. Barber provides keynotes on a range of topics including: Leadership; Diversity, Inclusion and Equity; Generations At Work, and Communications,” it says.

Her bio said she served as chair of the Board of Trustees of Maryland Automobile Insurance, and the website said she had done “workshops and training sessions” for clients that included the U.S. Navy.

Her father was also a member of the longshoreman’s union. But there was little evidence of substantive maritime experience by Barber; the website said the goal of consulting at various agencies she worked was to “drive invention, inspiration, and innovation.”

Her biography brags that “the Baltimore native is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Baltimore (MD) chapter The Links, Inc., a national service organization of prominent Black women.” It also states that Barber is a recipient of “the Living Legend Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Less Than A Year Before Bridge Fiasco, Maryland’s Dem Gov Put A DEI Consultant On State’s Port Commission