He’s a former two-term state’s attorney for Prince George’s County who is now a partner in the prestigious K Street law firm of Leftwich & Ludaway. She’s the chairman of the Prince George’s delegation in the Maryland House of Delegates and a candidate for lieutenant governor of Maryland.
At the characterization that they are a “power couple,” however, Glenn Ivey, 52, laughs heartily. Jolene Ivey, also 52, has a similar reaction.
“We find that pretty amusing,” she said with a soft chuckle. “We’re always buried in laundry and trying to get our children to soccer practice.”
The hectic lives of the two professionals, who are the parents of five boys, kicked into even higher gear when Maryland Attorney General Douglas S. Gansler, a candidate for governor in 2014, tapped Jolene Ivey to run for lieutenant governor alongside him.
“I am proud to be the first African American woman to run for lieutenant governor,” Jolene Ivey said at a news conference on Oct. 14. “When we win, history will be made when I become the first Democratic African American woman lieutenant governor in this nation’s history.”
Said Glenn Ivey, “I’m looking forward to being the husband of the lieutenant governor of Maryland.”
Supporting each other is the secret to the success to their 25-year marriage, the Cheverly-based couple said. Glenn Ivey was supportive when his wife, a former Baltimore TV writer and producer and former press secretary for then-Rep. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), decided to stay home with their sons, Alex, David, Julian, Troy and Aaron—now 23, 20, 18, 16 and 13, respectively. During that time, she co-founded Mocha Moms, a support group for stay-home mothers of color. Ivey served as president from 1997 until 2002. Glenn Ivey also has a daughter, Joanna, 26, from a previous relationship.
In 2006, Jolene Ivey was elected to the House of Delegates, at the same time Ivey ran unopposed for his second term as the Prince George’s State’s Attorney.
“The real pressure was when my wife and I were both serving in office,” Glenn Ivey said. “That was also the same time Julian…had a role in The Lion King on Broadway and we had to take turns shuttling him back and forth to New York.”
The boys missed mom’s cooking and lobbied for dad to improve his culinary skills.
“They got together and bought me a cookbook,” Glenn Ivey said.
That commitment to family—and to public service—was forged in both as children, the Iveys said. Glenn Ivey, who attended Princeton and Harvard Law School, and his older brother, Gerald, who is also a successful lawyer in D.C.—grew up in Rocky Mount, N.C., during the height of segregation. Their mother, Vivian, worked as a librarian at Black schools and their father, Van, eventually landed a job at the Department of Labor helping to implement President Johnson’s anti-poverty initiatives.
Glenn Ivey recalls following the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists as they fought for desegregation.
“It had an immediate impact on our lives,” he said. “My mother was able to work at different schools. You could go to the public pool, try on clothes at the downtown department stores, or eat at restaurants…You could see how it made a difference in your life and I was drawn to that.”
Not far from the Iveys, in Goldsboro, N.C., Jolene’s father, Joseph Stephenson, was born and raised. He was a decorated military man who, after leaving the service, taught in Prince George’s high schools for 20 years.
Jolene Ivey said her father and stepmother, Gigi Stephenson, nurtured in her a love of community service and advocacy in their Northeast Washington home.
“They were always a good example of how to be good citizens in the world,” she said.
But running for public office was never her plan, said Jolene Ivey, who earned a bachelor’s in communication at Towson and a master’s in journalism from Maryland.
“I decided to run for public office because it is a great vehicle to make things happen for people,” she said.
In Annapolis, she has often focused on issues related to women, children and families. If she is elected, her agenda will include working with Gansler to increase the minimum wage, close the achievement gap and improve diversity in government.
“It is exciting to be in a position where I’m going to be able to have a real impact on the direction the state is heading,” she told the AFRO.
Jolene Ivey’s racial identification has become something of a subhead in the coverage of the campaign. Though light-skinned enough to be mistaken for White—her birth mother was Caucasian—Jolene Ivey identifies herself as African American.
“It doesn’t affect me inside because I know who I am—I’m Black,” she said. “My family is Black…and I’m the mother of five Black sons. The only issue arises when other people make assumptions about me based on my outward appearance, but I can’t do anything about that.”
The confusion has had its benefits.
“When someone has said something racist to me, assuming I’m White, I have the opportunity to put them in their place,” she added.