CMC Board of Directors Appoints Shawn Coates as Board Chair and Sonja Cox as Vice-Chair


Vice President of the College of Southern Maryland Board of Trustees Shawn B. Coates celebrated his grandmother’s birthday in a very special way. When the college’s board of trustees unanimously confirmed its next top leaders, it named Coates of Charles County as president and Sonja Cox of St. Mary’s County as vice president.

Credit: College of Southern Maryland

A top United States government official with more than 20 years of experience, Coates’ appointment follows in the footsteps of his grandmother – CSM Trustee Emeritus Veronica Coates, who served as the college’s trustee from 1976 to 1993, including five years as vice-president and two years as president. The beloved former community leader would have turned 85 today. Veronica Coates died in 2017, a year before Shawn Coates was named to the board by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

“I am very humbled and honored to serve,” Coates said following the notable vote.

Coates was selected as vice chair of the board on July 1, 2020. The White Plains resident also serves as scholarship chair for the Southern Maryland Alumni Chapter of Morgan State University; is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; a founding member of the Fort Washington Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and participates in the Black Executive Exchange Program.

A frequent speaker on the topics of diversity, hiring, development and retention, Coates has presented at the Blacks in Government Conference and was a panelist at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholarship Conference. .

Coates holds a bachelor’s degree in information science and systems from Morgan State University and a dual master’s degree in business administration and information science from North Carolina Central University. He is also a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute and received graduate certificates from the University of Maryland College Park and Harvard University. He is involved with Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society, National Society of Black Engineers, Golden Key International Honor Society, National Black MBA Association, Blacks in Government Association, and African American Federal Executive Association.

Cox was appointed to the CSM Board of Directors by Governor Hogan in 2019. She worked with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) since 1999, and currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the energy company. She is the fifth CEO in the co-op’s 83-year history, and upon her 2020 appointment as CEO, she joined the ranks of women who hold leadership positions in 77 of the 941 electricity co-ops across the country.

Prior to being named CEO, Cox served as Chief Financial Officer of SMECO, where she was responsible for managing the energy portfolio, human resources, customer billing, energy and technology and accounting staff of SMECO.

Named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Daily Record in 2016, Cox graduated from Direction Maryland Class of 2010 and has served on several boards of various organizations in SMECO’s service territory. She is a member of the Board of Directors and Strategic Planning Committee of ACES Power Marketing, headquartered in Indiana. Prior to her appointment as CSM trustee, Cox served on the college’s audit committee.

A resident of Leonardtown, Cox holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in business administration from Johns Hopkins University. She is a Certified Public Accountant in Maryland.

Jay Webster

Jay Webster of Calvert County is completing distinguished service as Chairman of the Board. Webster was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2016, served as Vice Chairman effective July 1, 2019, and became Chairman on July 1, 2020. He is Vice Chairman and co-owner of Marrick Properties, Inc., ensuring senior management oversight, and developing and implementing creative strategic development for homebuilders since 1984. Previously he was affiliated with Century 21 as Jay Webster & Associates Real Estate Sales in Upper Marlboro.

“When I joined the board in 2016, I joined a group of seasoned professionals committed to the success of this college,” Webster told the board following the new appointments. “Now I’m a seasoned member and couldn’t be more confident in the skills and commitment of the current members of this board. It was an honor for me to serve with you.

Webster went on to congratulate and thank his fellow board members for their hard work and dedication to the college and to faculty, staff and students over the past few years of the pandemic.

“How CSM has come through the pandemic is the result of the hard work of this council and it is a tribute to each and every one of you,” he said. “I especially want to thank Dr. Murphy for her leadership and Larisa Pfeiffer for her unwavering support.”

The CSM Board of Trustees is the governing body that provides leadership and oversight of the college’s mission and policies. Coates and Cox will serve along with fellow trustees Jay Webster, Kenneth W. Abell, Jose M. Gonzalez, Christy Lombardi and Cordelia S. Postell, Chair Dr. Maureen and CSM Chief of Staff Larisa Pfeiffer.

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