- M.P.A.’19, The University of Baltimore
- Director of Public Affairs and Community Outreach, Baltimore Police Department
- Staff for Mayors Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Catherine Pugh
- Specialist in forging community connections
Lindsey Eldridge, M.P.A. ’19, majored in broadcast journalism at Morgan State University. After she graduated with highest honors during the recession of 2008, finding work was a challenge. “For months my job was applying for jobs,” she recalls. “People would tell me I didn’t have the experience they wanted, and I needed a job to get experience. I began to think, maybe communications is not for me.”
Now Eldridge has come full circle as the director of Public Affairs and Community Outreach for the Baltimore Police Department. Baltimore’s is the eighth largest law enforcement agency in the country, and since Eldridge began the job early in 2020, “It’s been a whirlwind!” she says. Although navigating remote technology, fluid pandemic concerns, and incidents of crime around the city is a constant challenge, “We just keep pushing forward,” Eldridge says. “What makes it work is the expertise of my excellent team, and the relationships we have in the community.”
Eldridge has built community connections throughout her career. In her first job post-college, with a Washington, DC-based organization called Leadership Directories, she worked with government officials. “I had the opportunity to practice the business skills I needed for my future, like how to send a proper email and call someone in a professional manner,” she recalls. After a few years, wanting to return to Baltimore, she took a job in the administration of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“I tried to learn all I could about city government and Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s platforms,” Eldridge recalls. The uprising after the tragic death of Freddie Gray “was a rough time for the city,” she recalls. “Making sure people know that you care, and following up to build a foundation of trust, was more important than ever.”
Eldridge recalls some memorable moments: “One day a voice on the phone said, ‘Hi Lindsey, this is Vice President Biden and I need to schedule a call with Mayor Rawlings-Blake.’ I had the opportunity to meet First Lady Michelle Obama, too.”
“ Our department has truly made great strides in the last few years. We are very focused on what the community wants, needs and deserves. We want to be worthy of their trust.”
Next, Eldridge took on a scheduling role in the administration of Mayor Catherine Pugh. “One of my favorite projects came about during this time,” she says. “I helped put together an event for 100 faith-based organizations, to share information about how city government could help them grow and develop. It’s still one of my proudest achievements.”
During her maternity leave after the birth of her first child (she’s expecting her second this fall), Eldridge approached the Baltimore City Police Department about a new position. “I was fortunate to take on the role of Community Outreach Coordinator and create it from the ground up,” she says. She then served as interim Communications Director before moving into her current position. Throughout her tenure, Eldridge has worked to bridge gaps between the police department and the community.
“Our department has truly made great strides in the last few years,” she says. “We are very focused on what the community wants, needs and deserves. We want to be worthy of their trust.”
Eldridge says she is inspired by the words of Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. “The Commissioner says ‘Build relationships that were never built, build on current relationships, repair broken relationships, and know that your every action will do one of those things,’” she explains. Eldridge hopes the peaceful protests in Baltimore after the tragic death of George Floyd reflect progress toward forming more positive community connections.
One of her goals is to encourage more women to join the Department. “Women make up 16 percent of our organization with the national average only around 11 percent. By 2030, we’d like to be up to 30 percent,” she says.
Eldridge says she values the different perspectives women in law enforcement provide. “The spokespersons for the Mayor, City Council, Fire Department, State’s Attorney and Police are currently all women,” she notes. “I feel a sisterhood with these leaders. We need to keep breaking that glass ceiling so young women coming after us don’t have to.”
Her approach to new challenges, Eldridge says, is “making sure I’m acting with integrity. Commissioner Harrison also says ‘Right is right even if no one else is doing it, and wrong is wrong even if everyone else is doing it.’ When I stay grounded in integrity, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
Paula Novash is managing editor of the magazine.