Baltimore County Executive
Government, Public Service
A: I prefer to and often work very late, so mornings can be a struggle. Once I get up, I have enough time to take a shower and get dressed before my focus quickly turns to getting my four-year-old moving. Once she’s dressed, I try to have breakfast with my wife and daughter before dropping her off at school, heading into the office, or jumping right into my day virtually from my home office. Somewhere in between all of that, I complete a refresher of my daily briefings and work through any outstanding calls, emails or texts from the day before.
A: As Baltimore County Executive, I lead Maryland’s third largest jurisdiction, with responsibility for over 700 square miles and a diverse — and growing — population of about 850,000 people. As Executive, I lead County government, a $3.5 billion enterprise with a workforce of over 8,000. In local government, we handle everything from potholes to poverty, confronting issues like education, job creation, and public health, as well as road resurfacing, park maintenance, and issuing permits. Together, our team is in the business of helping our residents realize their fullest potential by providing as many opportunities as possible.
A: At the recommendation of my staff, I was just reading “The Business Case for Racial Equity” by Ani Turner and others as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s “America Healing” project. The takeaway is simple: striving for racial equity isn’t just the right thing, it’s also an economic imperative – leading to both opportunities for reductions in spending in health, housing and education, as well as considerable opportunities for wealth generation. This reinforces the work we’re doing in Baltimore County, holding equity as a core value while actively pursuing equitable decision-making as an explicit goal in our strategic plan.
A: Like every industry, the COVID–19 pandemic is fundamentally changing the way government operates. It has forced largescale innovation and required us to rethink how things are done both across the board and on the fly. We have successfully transitioned our workforce, which has historically been slower to adopt technology, to a largely remote work environment in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, the rapidly evolving pandemic has led to growing budget challenges, forcing us to be even more efficient and driving us to explore creative partnerships with non-profits and the private sector in ways that government has never done before.
A: To focus and make sure I’m as productive as possible, I rely on regular exercise. That can mean everything from a full weightlifting workout at the gym, to a long run, or even a powerwalk through my neighborhood. Mental breaks are critical too, either spending time in prayer or strategic daydreaming. Especially during the pandemic with large blocks video calls, it can be difficult to stay productive staring at a screen all day. Taking some time to take care of myself, while giving my eyes a break, helps me stay focused throughout the day and into the evening.
A: Family time is limited and precious. In a job that is never “9-to-5,” you have to fight for it and proactively schedule it. If you don’t make the time on the front-end, you’ll often find yourself scrambling — or even worse —missing out on moments you simply cannot get back.
About John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr.:
Baltimore County Executive John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr. is a leader who believes in transparency, accountability, and accessibility. As Executive, he has successfully fought for ethics reform, launched the County’s first data-driven decision-making platform, and led unparalleled community engagement efforts. Understanding the moral obligation to expand access to affordable housing, he led the charge to pass legislation that ended discrimination based on the source of a renter’s income. Since March, Olszewski has led Baltimore County’s public health, public safety, and economic recovery response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A former public school teacher and member the Maryland House of Delegates, Olszewski holds a Ph.D from UMBC and lives in Eastern Baltimore County with his wife Marisa and their daughter Daria.