The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce presented the Hon. Margaret Rose Henry, a former Delaware senator, with the Dick DiSabatino Award at its 184th annual dinner Jan. 11. The event, held virtually, was attended by nearly 800 elected officials and business and community leaders.
The Dick DiSabatino Award, named for former chamber Chairman Richard DiSabatino Sr., was established in the mid-1990s to recognize significant contributions that shape opinion and public policy in the state of Delaware.
The rare honor was last presented in 2019 to the Hon. Joseph G. DiPinto, former state representative. The award was given in 2013 to John H. Taylor Jr., executive director of the Delaware Public Policy Institute.
“She has made such contributions to our state in so many different ways and affecting so many different populations,” said U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Henry, who is known for her extraordinary commitment to public service with an emphasis on working to improve the lives of women, children, families, and the elderly.
Henry was the first African American woman to serve in the Delaware Senate and was one of only four women senators at the time of her election in 1994. She served as majority leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus and represented the 2nd Senatorial District.
Henry spent her professional career working in the nonprofit sector. She served in management roles with groups like Delaware Guidance Services, Girls Inc., Ingleside Homes, YWCA, United Way of Delaware, and Delaware Technical Community College. This diverse background in public service gave her an intimate understanding of the needs of the communities she served.
“She was a voice for all those who had no voice,” said Dr. Orlando George Jr., president emeritus of Delaware Technical Community College. “Her work to improve services for programs for children, families, seniors, and education, along with her passion for justice and equality, live on today.”
Besides being nominated to serve as majority whip and then majority leader by her caucus, Henry has also served on the board of trustees for the Medical Center of Delaware, the National Society of Fundraising Executives, and Wesley College. She spent time as a board member for the Ministry of Caring and the Brandywine Professional Association, and chaired the Delaware State Arts Council.
The 184th Annual Dinner featured four keynote speakers: James E. Glassman, managing director with JPMorgan Chase and head economist for Chase Commercial Banking; U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Kristen Welker, co-anchor of “Weekend Today” and White House correspondent for NBC News; and William Kristol, founder and director of Defending Democracy Together, political analyst, and network television commentator.