‘Trailblazer’ Elizabeth Hewlett to retire from Prince George’s planning board

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Elizabeth M. Hewlett, a fixture in Prince George’s County government for more than two decades, will retire as head of the bi-county Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) announced on Monday.

Hewlett is in her second stint as head of the county planning board and the M-NCPPC, an agency that manages land-use matters in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

She was first appointed by the legendary former County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) in 1995, becoming the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post. She was re-appointed by Rushern L. Baker III (D) in 2011.

Alsobrooks asked Hewlett stay on after she became executive in 2018, even though her term had expired.

“Betty Hewlett is a trailblazer … and she has served us all with great passion, determination and grace,” Alsobrooks said in a statement. “I am truly grateful for her commitment, for her contributions too numerous to recount, and for what is certainly a lasting impact on the fabric of Prince George’s County.”

Her retirement takes effect at the end of 2021.

“It’s been a joy. It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work with the men and women of the commission,” Hewlett said. “It’s been a wonderful experience. I gave it everything I had.”

In addition to her service on the planning commission, Hewlett served on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the body that provides bus and subway service in the D.C. region.

She also served as head of the Prince George’s County Census Complete Count Committee in 2010 and 2020.

Last year, Hewlett talked about the historic rise of Black women to positions of power in Prince George’s.

She noted that when she came out of law school in the 1970s, there were very few Black women lawyers in the county courthouse — and there were no Black female judges.

Hewlett helped mentor many women during her tenure, including Alsobrooks.

“None of this was happenstance. I’m here to tell you that,” she said last year, in reference to the expanded opportunities available to women and people of color. “Some of us have some battle scars.”

Speculation about Hewlett’s replacement has centered on two members of the County Council — Derrick Leon Davis (D) and Todd Turner (D) — who are term-limited and cannot run again in 2022.

Davis called Hewlett “an icon.”

“She has served nobly for many, many years,” he said.

Turner said Hewlett would leave “big shoes to fill.”

“Betty served the County well for a long time and established a strong legacy,” he continued.

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