Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Ann Cipriano Rees
MSA SC 3520-16889


Ann Cipriano Rees is a woman of extraordinary caliber devoted to improving the lives of those in Charles County, Maryland. As a resident of Charles County for forty years, Rees’ volunteer work in her community has changed the lives of many for the better, and especially has improved the lives of victims of domestic abuse.

Rees, an interior designer by trade, has always held volunteer and philanthropy work very close to her heart. As a board member of Habitat for Humanity in the early 1980s, Rees worked hard to collect funding for building homes for the impoverished in Charles County. She donated a large amount of personal income to the project, and even helped design the interiors of the houses.1 This Habitat for Humanity project was the beginning in a very long and active career of volunteer work for Rees.

Rees met with the then Governor William Donald Schaefer and other elected officials in the late 1980s to discuss plans to build a shelter devoted to housing battered and abused women in Charles County. She fully embraced her fundraising ingenuity and gathered donations for the project, along with securing a plot of land to begin construction of the save haven. The project, sadly, “became a victim of the ‘NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome” and all movement on the shelter came to a halt.2 This, however, did not stop Rees from achieving her dream of opening a safe house for domestic violence victims.

In 2013, Rees opened the shelter in Charles County for domestic violence victims. She worked with various local service groups in order to open the shelter. Rees named the shelter Gayle’s House after her close friend Gayle A. Cooke. Gayle was murdered in 2000 when trying to protect her daughter from an estranged boyfriend. Gayle’s murder, while tragic, attested to the necessity of a safe and protective place for those who are facing danger and violence in their home. Rees understood this, and channeled her energy into completing the safe house project in memory of Gayle.

In the years prior to opening Gayle’s House, Rees pursued many other volunteer and philanthropy activities related to furthering women in society. She volunteered at a women’s homeless shelter in Charles County, Children’s Aid Society, and LifeStyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc, and also became an active member in the Zonta Club of Charles County.3 Zonta Club, founded in 1919, is an international women’s organization that aims to elevate and advance the status of women worldwide.4 Rees formulated and organized many service projects and fundraising events for the Zonta Club of Charles County, including the Annual RAVE Walk. The RAVE (Rape and Violence Eradication) Walk “helps local nonprofit agencies provide services to victims of sexual assault as well as domestic and teen violence prevention and recovery programs in Southern Maryland.”5

The walk, dedicated to Gayle Cooke, aims to raise money for many programs in Southern Maryland that revolve around advancing women, including a scholarship at College of Southern Maryland for survivors of domestic violence in Gayle’s name. Rees was incredibly instrumental in forming and funding this scholarship. In 2013, Rees said that the scholarship committee has “awarded $17,500 in scholarships to 12 courageous women, all survivors of abuse, all taking the next step in their lives to improve their status and be role models for others in the same situation.”6 The walk will celebrate its tenth year in 2014.

Rees’ work stretches beyond furthering women and protecting domestic violence victims, showing her endless level of compassion. After her son died in 2004, Rees found solace at the monastery of the Carmelite nuns of the Carmel Port Tobacco. As a form of thanks to the nuns, Rees began volunteering at and supporting the monastery. She began a fundraising campaign on behalf of the monastery and raised more than $100,000 in less than six months in order to build Mary’s Prayer Garden, a place where all can go to experience the solace and healing that Rees received from her time there.7 Rees’ selfless benevolence is clear through her many different types of volunteer projects.

Although Rees does not devote herself to volunteer work for the recognition, she has received many awards for her extensive work. She was named “Charles County’s Most Beautiful Person” in 1990 for starting a program providing holiday baskets to seniors living by themselves and Philanthropist and Volunteer of the Year by the Charles County Community Foundation in 2010.8

Ann Rees completely dedicates her life to service towards others. She is always striving to help all, especially those who are victims of domestic abuse. Her volunteer work has positively changed the lives of many women who feel helpless and trapped by supplying them with the neccessary resources. Rees is a true humanitarian for women everywhere, and, without a doubt, earns her induction into the 2014 Women’s Hall of Fame. 

1. Ann Rees 2014 Women's Hall of Fame Nomination Packet. Return to text

2. Ibid. Return to text

3. Ibid. Return to text

4. "Who We Are: About Zonta International," Zonta International, accessed June 26, 2014, Return to text

5. Gretchen Phillips, “Group to hold anti-violence RAVE walk on Saturday; Zonta event planned in memory of Cooke,” SoMD News, October 12, 2011, accessed on June 26, 2014, Return to text

6. “10th Annual Zonta RAVE Walk Raises $30,000,” Southern Maryland News Net, November 12, 2013, accessed on June 26, 2014, Return to text

7. Nomination Packet. Return to text

8. Ibid. Return to text

Biography written by 2014 summer intern Sharon Miyagawa.

Return to Ann Cirpriano Rees' Introductory Page


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