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Bridging needs between Fort Detrick, community

Many people think of Fort Detrick as a single entity, a military base focusing on medical research.

Gloria Parsley’s job is to educate the public on the many facets of Fort Detrick.

Parsley, 54, is marking her first year as executive director of the Fort Detrick Alliance. An independent Maryland organization, the alliance works with elected officials and businesses on matters concerning Fort Detrick, its Forest Glen operations in Montgomery County, and educating the public on the importance of the base to the economy.

“It takes a lot of people skills, working with the board of directors, management skills, and finance and marketing,” Parsley said in an interview at the alliance’s office at the Frederick Innovative Technology Center Inc.

There are 41 entities at the base, including the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and representatives of all the armed forces. There is also the 1110th Signal Battalion, which provides communications around the world.

There are about 11,000 employees at Fort Detrick’s “mission partners,” as Parsley calls them.

She has a business background and saw the importance of working to bridge the needs of the government base and the community. Some help comes from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The alliance recently worked with FITCI on a technology showcase to educate folks on the many entrepreneurial biotech and related startup firms using the incubator.

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Parsley came to Maryland in 1979 and got a job with the American Veterans Association in Washington. That same year, she met her husband, Joe.

Besides five children of their own — four daughters and a son — the Parsleys have been foster parents to 40 children in 24 years, Parsley said.

Parsley graduated from Frederick Community College and Hood College in business studies and is pursuing an MBA through the University of Phoenix online. She formerly owned a management firm that dealt with international clients.

With her experience in fundraising, administrative work and community activities, Parsley saw the position with the alliance as a perfect fit.

Projects have included collecting $8,000 for backpacks for children of employees at Fort Detrick during the sequestration. In Frederick County Public Schools and libraries, the alliance has programs on science, technology, engineering and math.

“My husband is a big component in fundraising,” Parsley said, referring to his business at the Shell service station and carwash on the Golden Mile.

Thomas Gladstone, the alliance’s president, praised Parsley for her work.

“We would not have the robust and ambitious schedule of events and activities without Gloria,” Gladstone wrote in an email.

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