MACo Mourns the Loss of Long-Time Academy for Excellence Colleague, Aisha Washington

Aisha Washington, who served as registrar for the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance through the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, passed away on Thursday, September 2, 2021.

MACo and MML members working toward their Academy for Excellence certificates will remember Aisha as a friendly and helpful steward of the Academy program, guiding Fellows in understanding their credit needs and tracking their progress through the Academy. MACo joins her family, loved ones, and colleagues at the University of Maryland in mourning her loss.

Robert Orr, Dean of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, shared this touching statement last week:

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I inform you of Aisha Washington’s passing earlier today. This is a sudden and unexpected loss that profoundly touches us all.

Aisha was a beloved and treasured member of our family. In her 17 years with the School, she established herself as a true pillar of the community, dedicated to pushing us to be the best we could be, both personally and collectively. 

Aisha had an innate ability to bring people together in difficult times, and for difficult conversations, all the while ensuring people felt included, accepted, empowered and a valuable part of the community. This past year as our community struggled to develop and deepen our anti-racist agenda, Aisha created and implemented a Black Friday webinar series that not only attracted amazing speakers, but also deepened understanding and cooperative spirit within our community. 

She readily accepted any challenge, was first to bring ideas and solutions to the table, and shared selflessly with all of us her time, passion, and compassion. Yesterday, while meeting with me and her OEP colleagues about our future plans, she came forward with new ideas, and, characteristically, volunteered to take them forward. She embodied selfless leadership as well as anyone I have ever met. 

Aisha was the consummate professional, and proud face of the School to people across Maryland, single-handedly anchoring programs such as the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance and the Executive Elected Leadership Program. She was a one-woman walking network. One spin with Aisha across a conference ballroom floor and you pretty much knew everyone in the room. Aisha faced significant challenges in her life. But as one colleague told me, “she was the strongest person I ever knew.” She was a woman of deep faith, who lived her values daily, and who never let the challenges stand in her way. She possessed an indomitable spirit, combined with an endearing humility.

She was a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority who embodied the values and the sisterhood of that proud organization. She was even known to recruit colleagues to join the local chapter and to drive them to meetings. 

Aisha was a woman of the world. She travelled around the world, appreciating cultures different from her own, and always, always connecting with people, whoever and wherever they were. Her mother told me “Aisha never met a stranger,” which we had the pleasure to observe every day during her time with us.  

We at SPP have lost a colleague, a friend, a leader — a giant of a human being. We will always be indebted to her for the creativity, vision, and passion she brought to everything she did. We will want to honor and celebrate Aisha’s life and legacy. I will be in touch with you all as soon as we are able to gather ourselves to plan a fitting tribute to our dear, dear friend.

With great sorrow and deepest appreciation of what you all bring to our family at this hard time,

–Bob

Tributes and condolences are being accepting online. Aisha’s funeral will be held in Chattanooga, TN, on Sept 10.

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