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'Dare To Dream': Meet the 2 Howard County female chiefs

In Howard County, the police chief and fire chief have a lot in common. They're both confident leaders, with a focus on service. They both grew up in Maryland. And they both share a title: "The First."

WASHINGTON — The new police chief for Howard County, Lisa Myers, will be quick to tell you, she's just getting used to the gig. 

"Sometimes walking down the hall," she laughed. "I'll hear someone say 'hey chief, hey chief.' And I'll have to remember. That's me. That's me." 

Credit: Howard County Police Department
Lisa Myers was named chief of police in January.

Her counterpart in the fire department, Christine Uhlhorn, agreed. She always knew that she'd follow in her father's footsteps, and become a firefighter. But she never imagined she'd rise to chief. 

"I know (my father) would be extremely proud," she said. "He said many times... that one day I would be chief. I never said it. But he did. And he was right." 

Credit: Howard County Fire Department
Chief Christine Uhlhorn has wanted to be a firefighter her entire life

The two are connected by a lot. 

They both have a passion for service. They both grew up in Baltimore. They've both had lengthy careers dating back to the late 80's and early 90's. 

Then there's the historic title they share: "The First." 

Chief Myers is the first African American female police chief in Howard County, and Chief Uhlhorn is the first female fire chief in the county. Uhlhorn admitted it was tough breaking into the male-dominated industry. 

"There were no women in the fire service," she said. "When I was little, and when I knew that's what I wanted to be. But the voices I didn't hear say that were my father and mother. They encouraged me that I could do anything I wanted to. It wasn't an option that I wouldn't be a firefighter in my mind." 

Credit: Howard County Fire Department
Chief Uhlhorn began her career with Howard County in 1989

Myers echoed the sentiment. 

Growing up, she rarely saw female officers. The thought of entering the force first started decades ago when she got into a car accident. At the time, she was working as a civilian at the crime lab.

"One of the female sergeants came up," she recalled. "And she handled the call. And I looked at just how confident she was with handling the call. And just how compassionate she was with dealing with me as a new employee." 

Credit: Howard County Police Department
Myers began her career as a crime lab technician in 1990

From there, she decided to join the force, and built an impressive resume. Meanwhile, her counterpart, was doing the same. This winter, history was made, when they were both named chief at the same time. 

Now, the two are looking to inspire the next generation of female leaders. Uhlhorn said her message to young girls is simple.

"You can be anything that you set your mind to," she said. "Believe in yourself, and empower other little girls around you. Include them. And have dreams. Have big dreams. Because you can."

Credit: Howard County Police Department
Chief Uhlhorn and Chief Myers have become fast friends, in their new role

Chief Myers had a similar message: 

"I would say be confident in yourself," she said. "And dare to dream. And even if you don't see someone in that role, just have confidence in yourself that you can do it. And you can blaze a trail and be the first in that role for other little girls looking back."

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