Jennie M. Forehand was a remarkable American businesswoman and legislator known for her dedication to public service, commitment to various causes, and outstanding achievements in both the business and political arenas. Let’s explore the life and accomplishments of this influential figure.

Early Life and Education

Jennie M. Forehand was born on December 17, 1935, in Nashville, Tennessee. She pursued her education at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her academic journey continued at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Relations in 1958.


Forehand’s career was marked by versatility and a strong work ethic. She ventured into various professions, including teaching, serving as a juvenile court probation counselor, and working as a statistician. However, she didn’t stop there.

Political Career

Jennie M. Forehand made a significant impact in the field of politics. She represented Montgomery County and its 17th district in the Maryland House of Delegates for four terms between 1978 and 1994. Her dedication to public service extended when she served in the Maryland Senate from January 11, 1995, to January 14, 2015.

Notable Contributions and Advocacy

Transportation: Forehand was a staunch advocate for transportation issues, actively participating in the MD-DC-VA Regional Transportation Planning Board. Her efforts played a pivotal role in overseeing the strategic development and federal funding for rail and roadway development in the region. Notably, her advocacy contributed to the construction of the Inter-County Connector (ICC), a key regional transportation project.

Health: Passionate about health-related issues, she played a crucial role in making Maryland “smoke-free,” earning recognition from the American Cancer Society. She was also a pioneering legislator, being the first in the nation to propose prohibiting genetic-based discrimination in health insurance and workplaces. Forehand actively supported the expansion of local health care resources, including the creation of Hospice Caring, a facility for individuals facing the end of life and their families. She was a strong advocate for mental health services, delivering speeches on depression based on her mother’s experience with severe clinical depression.

Economic Development: Recognizing the potential of emerging technologies and trends, Forehand was an early advocate for the biotechnology industry in Montgomery County. She introduced legislation to promote venture capital investment in start-up companies and facilitate community-based “business incubators.”

Environment: A supporter of Program Open Space to protect park and recreation areas in the State, Forehand actively defended POS programs in her district. She served on the Department of Environment’s Task Force on Attaining Federal Air Quality Standards and initiated the first pilot program to test emissions from diesel trucks. She continued to sponsor and advocate for environmental legislation.

Women: Jennie M. Forehand was a trailblazer in advocating for women’s rights and issues. She took the lead on various important topics, including domestic violence, access to daycare, family leave, child support, reproductive freedom, and greater representation of women in the judiciary. Her efforts earned her recognition as a “Trailblazer” from the Women’s Bar Association and a place in Maryland’s Top 100 Women Circle of Excellence.

Retirement and Personal Life

After a dedicated career in politics, Senator Forehand retired in January 2015, choosing not to run for re-election in 2014. She enjoyed a fulfilling personal life, being married and having two children.

Awards and Recognitions

Throughout her illustrious career, Jennie M. Forehand received numerous awards and recognitions for her exceptional contributions to various causes. Some of these awards include:

  • 2009 Maryland Department of Transportation Champion of Traffic Safety
  • 2008 National Institutes of Health Director’s Award for Leadership & Biosafety Oversight
  • 2007 Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) Award
  • 2006 Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work MD State Senator of the Year; UMBI Biotechnology Leadership Award
  • 2005 Citizens’ Review Board for Children Champion for Children Award; Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Clean Air Advocate
  • And many more.

Jennie M. Forehand’s legacy lives on through her tireless dedication to public service, advocacy for important causes, and her pioneering spirit in politics and business. Her contributions have left an indelible mark on Maryland and beyond, inspiring future generations to follow in her footsteps.