Nearly 30 years ago, when Phoebe Stein, executive director of Maryland Humanities, was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, she got one of the last seats to hear Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison speak. “I hung on every word,” says Stein. “I understood about every other word. But I knew that I wanted to be involved in whatever she was talking about. Her conviction that language matters, that literature can change people’s lives, has guided me ever since.” In her professional capacity, Stein serves as the vice board chair of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Maryland Humanities works to inspire both individual and community-wide change through its free educational programming. “We hear from teachers who use our One Maryland One Book program in the classroom that students who never finished a book before have become active participants in both reading and discussing, and feel they ‘can do anything now,’” says Stein.